Garageband Workflow and Productivity Tips


Well, I’ll continue to add to this post as I go along. I use Garageband everyday. Of course now that I’ve started, this will quantumly move me on to Logic I’m sure, but maybe the same tips in Garageband will apply in Logic as well. Also, I’m sure I’ll never completely leave Garageband. It’s too much fun! Anyway if you have some tips you’d like to share too, put them in the comments and I’ll add them to the list. Or if you have questions leave a comment, and I’ll try to find the answer.

  • Copying a region – You can always select the region then in the Menu select Edit>Copy>Paste, but there’s an easier way: Select the region with your mouse pointer, hold down the option button and simply drag the region with your mouse.
  • Deleting a track – Select the track (mouse over the track and left click the mouse. You’ll know it’s selected when the region on the very left that contains the tracks controls, which is normally gray, turns a color, either blue or green, depending on whether its a real or software instrument track. Once the track is selected, hit Command + delete, and it will delete the whole track.
  • Mastering – Well, this isn’t a tip about mastering per se. I know close to little about the subject, and desperately want to learn more. But if you haven’t already noticed after cutting what you think is a good sounding song, the export feature with Garageband is atrocious. It’s so bad I don’t see how the product can ship with it. If you check the “Auto Normalize” feature in preferences the tune will sound fine but the volume is way too low, which I find ironic because it touts itself as a feature that gives you “full” loudness. If you don’t check that feature you’ll get the volume you want, the volume you hear when you play the song in Garageband, but the exported MP3 will sound annoyingly fuzzy. Both unusable. Why can’t I have an MP3 that sounds like what I’m hearing when I play the tune in Garageband itself? Well you can only it’ll cost you $60. There’s a program called “Wire Tap” for Mac which records accurately any sounds coming from your Mac’s sound card. You fire up Wire Tap hit record and then press play on Garageband, and it will capture the tune exactly as you are hearing it. $60 sounds too high for this feature and it is, although Wire Tap is a solid program from a solid company and it’s useful in other situations as well. Having not moved up to Logic or Logic Express, I’m wondering what their exporting features are like. Anyone know?
  • Recording – Hit the “R” key to start recording and the Space bar to stop recording. A little easier than using your mouse to click the record button and the stop button, especially when you have a guitar in your lap.
  • Relieving an Overtaxed CPU – I’ve noticed especially when I have a lot of tracks, the play head will stop in the middle of a song or my Midi Controller is not being as responsive as it should. I learned today that you should “lock” all the software instrument tracks in this case. This temporarily turns the software tracks into sound tracks which relieves the CPU usage. The Lock feature is that little padlock icon underneath the name of the track. You simply click it. Then later you can un click it to restore it to a “green” software track.
  • Splitting a Region: Again this can be accomplished with Edit>Split once the track is selected and the play head is in the right spot where you want it split. But I also find it easier to simply hit Command + T
  • Vocal Recording – Well this tip may only apply to me but the general principle may apply to more. I bought a condenser mic from Guitar Center 5 years ago for about $200.00. It’s a good looking solid device: Audio-Technica AT-3035. I used it for years with a stand alone BOSS-1600 DAW. Seemed to work fine. In Garageband, although overall the sound was great, I got a lot of hiss and popping especially on my “S,” “Ch,” and “T” sounds. I scratched my head for I do have a screen in front of it. Well yesterday I Googled it. Turns out it has a couple of switches on it that reduce that very thing. Tried it out last night and a new World opened up. I could get a clear, loud sound without all that nasty popping. 5 years later I learn this! So if you run into some kind of problem like this, check your mic’s documentation for all the settings, or if you’ve lost them Google it. By the way this AT-3035 has glowing reviews from all the places I surfed. Everyone of them said its the best diaphragm mic for the money hands down. I think you can get one for only $100 now. So if you’re in the market for a vocal mic, you might check it out.

Other Resources:
  • Synthopia.com – “Garageband Tips & Tricks” by Jeff Tolbert – Nice page of tips. I especially like the last one which deals with editing the drum loops that Garageband comes with to add some fills and variation to make them sound less monotonous and more spontaneous. Learned what the word “paradiddle” means: 4 16th note snare hits in succession. I knew the sound. Didn’t know there was a word for it. I can hear it in my head during a song when I want a “paradiddle” and he shows you how to make one.

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