- TURN OFF YOUR PHONE!! I do not mean set it to vibrate! No texting, no phone interaction whatsoever.
- An Assistant Engineer never volunteers an opinion to the Artist or the Producer (ever!).
You will be far better off to say “I don’t know” if asked, even when you have a clear and strong opinion.
- The Assistant Engineer exists to make the Engineer look good, even when you think they are making a mistake. If you see a piece of gear that the Engineer had adjusted improperly, point it out only to them, when no one else can hear, and in the most political of ways. For example, “Bob, is this limiter ok?”
- An Assistant Engineer never smokes weed before a session, or does any other drugs, even when offered by the Artist, the Producer, or the Engineer, and never drinks an alcoholic beverage before or during a session, and never with the clients unless they invite you out for a beer, in which case you drink only one!
- Take a shower before the session. Don’t wear dirty stinking clothes or shoes. Use some mouthwash, and don’t wear your vampire deterrent garlic to the session.
- A good Assistant Engineer can substantially reduce the amount of things that an Engineer has to deal with.
- Never ask “why” in answer to an Engineer’s request, but If you don”t know how to do something requested, tell the Engineer. Ultimately it’s up to them.
- You may ask the Engineer why he used this or that technique or piece of equipment AFTER everyone else has left the studio. Don’t always expect to get a coherent technical answer to any particular question. Engineers learn what works for them, and that’s how they approach many recording situations. They do not necessarily know the technical why of something they do, but they do know they like the way it sounds. As an assistant, you will not always share the
Engineer’s opinion of his techniques, but that must never become an issue, and more importantly, the Engineer must never know.
- The Assistant is the most obvious representative of a studio and its technical capabilities, and ideally the Assistant may know as much or more than the Engineer about using the particular equipment at the studio.
- As an Assistant, you have to create a positive atmosphere for the Engineer and the other session participants. You do this in ways that are as subtle as possible.
- Always pay attention to the session. Don’t be inspecting EQ set ups and taking notes for your education. Do assist the engineer with keeping copious notes of pertinent information about the recording set up and location points. Try as much as possible to be invisible.
- Never betray your opinion of the music, the engineering, or any other aspect of the session by facial expression or body language. If directly asked by anyone involved, a simple “I like it” or “sounds good” is the best answer. Whatever you do, in no case offer any suggestions, critiques, arrangement ideas, or any other musical opinion, or recording suggestions, whatsoever! You can learn from what you perceive as an Engineer’s mistakes, but you must never correct them or they will never hire you again.
- If you are going to get coffee or any other refreshments, try to ask if anyone wants anything, but never interrupt a conversation or the session work flow.
- Never ask anything through the talkback system unless you have a specific request from the Engineer or Producer to do so.
- An Assistant Engineer is not a person who offers “creative” recording ideas. The Assistant never volunteers “we got a cool snare sound with a Nakamichi mic” or “I love backwards echo on snare drum.” An Assistant never offers anything to do with recording technique or music. He always defers to the Engineer or Producer.
- The ultimate objective is for everyone to have such a positive and productive experience that they will want to come back to the studio and work with the assistant again.
- Best book for the Assistant Engineer: “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie.
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