Six Smart Tips for Recording Cover Songs and Making Them Your Own

It’s nearly impossible to learn the ropes of songwriting or instruments at all until you’ve learned a few cover songs.

Besides, the benefits of familiarizing yourself with covers and recording them are your own are three-fold:

  • Covers are an awesome way to get noticed and discovered in the social space: many musicians have exploded in popularity due to YouTube covers, for example
  • You pick up on song structure and the concept of chord progressions and transitions, all essential pieces of songwriting
  • The more covers you learn, the more ideas and inspiration you have for your own songwriting repertoire

That said, recording your own covers and ensuring that they stand out to potential listeners means taking the songs of others and making them your own. If you’re looking to record betters covers, consider the following six pieces of personalizing someone else’s track and giving it your own vibe.

Pick the Right Songs

For starters, you need to pick songs that both complement your voice and aren’t completely overdone. While there’s nothing wrong with covering popular or conventional songs, consider also learning some deep cuts from a band. Pulling from a list of infamously over-covered songs such as The Beatles’ “Yesterday” won’t do much to set your cover sets apart from the crowd.

Play With Your Presets

Much of your covers’ ability to stand out boils down to production. When recording, strive to make adjustments to your presets beyond the default settings to fine-tune your distinct tone. Furthermore, you can pull new sounds from this ultimate list of free massive presets to give yourself even more tones and styles to add to your repertoire.

Try a New Tempo

Sometimes speeding up or slowing down a track is the most straightforward way to put your own spin on a cover. For example, modern punk rock mixes of 80’s songs are traditionally popular and make for some totally off-the-wall covers. On the flip side, Lady Gaga’s stripped down piano version of her own “Poker Face” is said to exceed that the original due to its soul and simplicity. You never know what effect a new tempo might have until you try for yourself.

Vary Your Melody

Making small adjustments to meter and melody is another smart way to put a personal touch on a cover track. Finding variations of a melody may require some practice, but breathes new life into a classic song in a way that’s striking but respectful of the original. Just make sure not to overdo or make drastic changes as fans familiar with the original might be turned off by your interpretation.

Throw in Some New Instruments

There’s no rule saying you can’t use a guitar in your cover where there was a piano in the original track, right? Covers such as Jimi Hendrix’s guitar-only rendition of the “Star-Spangled Banner” are a testament to the power of trying out new instruments to achieve new sounds.

Don’t Create a Complete Imitation

Combining all of the aforementioned tips, don’t simply parrot your desired cover note-for-note. Perfectly recreating the original song strips it of any potential personality and doesn’t give listeners a reason to check out your song in the first place.

Recording covers is a fairly straightforward process; however, making them your own requires a bit more attention to detail. By sticking to these tips, you can lay down cover songs with your signature sound while still complimenting the original.