Beginner looking for guidance on recording process

Hello good people I wonder if you can steer me to some reading material or otherwise help. I’ve been using Ardour a bit now, reading the manual, and yet still basically confused about how to approach recording. When I was recording in the 90s on a 4-track cassette machine, I could just dive in, even if I was still learning, say, the bass part to a song, and record over and over and over with the understanding that once I get a good take, I would not do any more. I would have the good take. After reading some in the Ardour manual, it sounds like Tape mode would simulate this, yet Tape mode is not suggested for normal use. This has me confused. I would like to do things the smart way. I guess I like the idea of being able to undo mistakes, which it seems is a feature of Normal mode. However if I just dive in like I did in the analog days using ardour’s Normal mode, then for each take I’ll end up with another layer, with the most recent take being the only one that ends up in the mix? What If I’m not a very good musician and it takes me 27 takes? Do I care about layers 1-26? Or just ignore them?

I think I read somewhere that playlists are what might be something I should be making use of. But is my process so different from that of others’? I’m certainly a beginner with Ardour, and not so sure I should be going to an advanced feature right now, if playlists are an advanced feature.

Any guidance for a newbie would be much appreciated. Thanks to all


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So based off your post, number one piece of advice:

Don’t overthink it.

Seriously, jump in, it doesn’t matter that your way may not be the most ‘ideal’ way to do it, it matters if it works or not, and all the methods you posted CAN work. There is often more than one right way to do things in audio, so try them all until you find the one that works best for you if you need to. But above all don’t spend so much time worrying about ‘missing out’ that you never get work done.

That being said, to answer your specific question. As I mentioned above all of these can work. The Tape mode is not recommended for many cases in part because it is very limiting, it locks you into certain things very early. I would personally suggest staying in normal mode, and having the 27 layers if you want, because it may be that you decide layer 13 is what you really like, not layer 27. And honestly storage space is cheap enough these days noone cares about the other 26 layers you aren’t using, but you can always switch to layered mode (Where you see all 27 takes you recorded) to delete them as well, in fact this is common practice for ‘comping’ takes, or compiling all the best parts of each take into your finished product.

At this point I would suggest not diving to deep into playlists, they can be powerful, but can also add a layer of confusion that may not help you much yet.


@seablade is right on here. Stick with normal mode. If you always go with the last take (I usually do), then you can ignore the prior takes, or if it bugs you that they’re there, you can go ahead and delete them from the timeline. Also, IF you do prefer a take that isn’t the last take you can always right click on whatever region, and select “Choose top” to decide which take will be the one that plays on that track.

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Also, I’m about to completely remove tape tracks/mode from the current codebase.

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