Recording Strings Without Breaking The Bank

RRecording strings remotely and using overdub teams is a great alternative to using virtual instruments or hiring large sections. By recording remotely, you are able to save time and money, while even managing to achieve a greater product.


For starters, many of the expenses related to studio time, players, copyists, and engineers can be drastically cut, or even eliminated when using remote players. Logistics and administration are decreased and you’ll save by utilizing remote recording and overdubbing when it comes to recording larger string, brass, or vocal ensembles.

Second, since you don’t need to be present during a session, and you don’t need to slave over the mock up, a lot of time can be saved. In addition to saving time on production end, the turnaround time can be quickened. Since musicians are recording remotely, they can start to record as soon as they’re given their pieces.

Third, recording a large ensemble in one room can start to get really messy in post production. By overdubbing ensembles, you have control over each .WAV file and can avoid problems that stem from bleed.

Common problems with recording strings and some tips to avoid them


  1. Use multiple instruments, varied mic/player placements, different microphones, ask players to make very subtle variations in articulation, vibrato, etc.
  2. The “1 then 3” rule – With instruments in tenor range or higher (violins, flutes, singers, trumpet, etc.), doubling may result in phasing issues. Make sure to at least TRIPLE each voice to avoid phasing, or simply settle for one voice.

Less is more: Since you have total separation and control in post, you can use panning to create a bigger sounding ensemble with less tracks than it would take recording an ensemble in one room. Often overdubbing 27 strings can achieve a fullness that’s comparable to recording a 40-piece section live.

Score Preparation/Instructions for recording strings

  1. Review charts to make sure notes/articulations are accurate.
  2. Send a reference that shows the sound/vibe you’re looking to achieve.
  3. Speak with the player(s) and describe your vision of the track. Just like working with players in a studio, it’s paramount that everyone’s on the same page and understands your intention.
  4. If the goal is to blend existing MIDI strings with live performances, make sure the click track matches the MIDI files. In our experience, many samples tend to fall slightly behind the click.
  5. If you don’t have charts, ask if players can transcribe from your audio or MIDI.

Delegate the string arrangement: This can save time, especially if you’re clear about your vision. Hire improvisers who can convey the vibe without a chart when appropriate.

  1. Record a scratch voice-over track with specific notes spoken in real time. You can even sing melodies.
  2. Send references that convey examples of techniques you would like to have included in the arrangement.
  3. Be clear about where and when you’re hearing the entrance/exits of the strings, horns, choir, etc.

Our team at Christian Howes String Recording helps composers and producers around the world save time, money, and hassles while augmenting their work. We provide orchestral sections as well as small ensembles and solo work in all styles, including tracking, arranging, as well as full production needs. Feel free to check out some of our work samples here and call or email us for a quote related to your project. You’ll be surprised at how affordable it can be to add strings. Why fuss with virtual instruments?