When you record a demo version of an instrument to overdub on top of, it’s called a scratch track.

They determine the song’s pace and structure. As a result, documenting everything else is a lot simpler.

Certain lyrics, for example, may trigger various drum fills. The drummer will be aided in staying on tune by a scratch voice recording.

Scratch recordings aren’t supposed to be used in the final mix. To obtain a better performance, you’ll probably want to re-record the instrument.

Once and a while, a scratch take is so wonderful that it remains.

When Is a Scratch Track Necessary?

Scratch tracks may be beneficial to almost any music. Here are a few of the most frequent applications.

1. Other Performers Being Recorded

You’ll need a scratch track if you’re recording other people, whether you’re in a band or hired instrumentalists.

The use of a metronome will not keep everyone on track.

2. Someone else is in charge of production

If you’re going to have someone else produce your music, you’ll want to offer them a scratch track to work with.

This allows them to experiment with various concepts before you ever enter the studio.

It also provides them with a strong basis on which to build the session. When it comes time to record the actual thing, you won’t have to spend time figuring out the pace and laying out the framework.

3. Using a Metronome for Recording

You’ll probably need a scratch track if you’re not recording with a metronome.

You may have difficulty unless you’ve thoroughly practiced the content.

4. Music that is not conventional

Scratch tracks are essential if you’re creating experimental music.

A metronome may not be adequate to keep you in time if the song’s speed or time signature changes.

The same is true of songs with unusual structures.

Set up a scratch piano or guitar to make sure you understand everything.

Which Instruments Should You Use to Create Scratch Tracks?

A scratch track isn’t required for every instrument. In reality, for any particular song, you’ll usually only need one or two.

Choose instruments that can be recorded quickly. You don’t want to spend too much time on scratch tracks since they don’t need to be flawless.

1. Vocals

The most frequent scratch track is probably vocals. Because they are often the main point of a song, every other instrument must be designed to fit around them.

You may make certain recording choices without a scratch voice that end up hurting the music.

You might, for example, play a couple extra licks on the guitar that interfere with the melody. Alternatively, you might use an amp tone that clashes with the voice.

2. Guitar

The second most common instrument for scratch recordings is undoubtedly the guitar.

It sets the chord progression as well as the beat. As a result, you’ll have a solid basis to expand on as you record other instruments.

The guitar is often accompanied by drums and bass. A scratch track may assist you in ensuring that everything fits together securely.

3. Piano

For the same reason as guitar, piano may be a wonderful choice. It serves as a solid basis for a large number of tunes.

How to Record a Scratch Track

Scratch tracks are easy to make. But first, you’ll need the following items:

  • Computer
  • Audio interface
  • Microphone
  • DAW

The basics of recording are as follows.

Are you just starting out? Reaper and the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 are two low-cost alternatives worth considering.

Because scratch tracks are designed to be changed, any microphone will suffice.

Create a track in your DAW, arm it for recording, and start playing after you’ve gathered all of your gear.

Scratch tracks do not have to be flawless. It’s OK if you make a few errors.

You’re fine to proceed as long as the majority of the notes are correct and you’re keeping time with the metronome.

Performing scratch takes with passion and emotion, on the other hand, may be beneficial. After all, you’ll want to be in the proper frame of mind when you record the other instruments!

How long you utilize the scratch track is entirely up to you. When recording the instrument in the scratch recording, though, you’ll probably want to mute it.

Final thoughts

Scratch tracks are a simple answer for issues that may arise during the production of your music.

By putting down a basic scratch track, you can save hassles and lost time.