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How to Record – Lesson 14: Basic Pro Tools Editing

Hi, it’s Warren Huart here. Hope you’re doing marvelously well.

Today, in lesson 14, we’re going to do basic Pro Tools editing. I’ll show you just some really simple techniques I use to edit. The Grid mode, the Slip mode, Shuffle, etcetera, etcetera. We’ll make it very straight forward.

Okay, so as ever, please subscribe, go to and sign up for the email list and you’ll get a bunch of goodies, and thanks ever so much for watching and supporting the channel, I appreciate it. You guys rock.

Okay, so let’s get started. Here we have an Alexx Calise session that we’ve used a couple of times before. Let’s take this guitar part here. I didn’t really edit it heavily at all, it’s basically my live performance, but let’s use it just as an example just to edit a little bit tighter. So here we go, here’s the track.


That’s pretty tight. What I do here — and this is a good tip — is I would print a DI as well an electric. So you see, there’s a DI for this track here. Make this one larger. So there’s a DI here to this track here. So that’s pretty tight there. Now, let’s just go into group here. If you look over to the left hand side here, you’ll see these little circles here, and those are all the groups that are being use at the moment. So if I undo that one there, just the group of the DI and amp is shown.

Now you see, that’s pretty tight. I’m on a grid at the moment, so if I wanted to make this super, super tight, I could use the grid, and you see here, I’m a little ahead, so what I would do normally is I would make sure I’m in Tab to Transient, which is up here, see, it says Tab to Transient, and I would just tab through until it goes to the front of — see there?

I’d hit the B key with this activated, the A-Z button activated, I hit the B key. Like that. Then I’ll tab to the next one. Then I’ll cut. So now, that’s been cut, and then what I would do is I would highlight. So I’d double click on it like this, then hit Command+0, like this. Boom.

Now, let’s snap that to the grid. Now, when I’m snapping things to the grid, I’m always careful, because I might not want it to be exactly on the grid, I might want it to be slightly ahead, so if I do want it to be slightly ahead, I won’t cut exactly on it, I might cut in front of the beat, and then snap that to the grid. Command+0, and then pull it back like this.

So to here. And now, what I have is it slightly ahead, and just being a little bit more exciting. Okay. I’ll put a fade in, I’ll highlight, like this, and I hit the F key with the A-Z button engaged, remember? And that will do it.

Now, I’m zooming out, I’m hitting the R button. Okay, so let’s try it again. We’ll try it on this one here. I choose where I want it to be. So here’s my cursor here. See my cursor? I’m going to the front of the beat, where it is on the DI, clearly, and then I’ll hit the B, and then I’m going to hit Tab to Transient. Go to about here. B. Then zoom out using the R key. Using the R key, I’m zooming out, now I’m highlighting the whole thing, now let’s cut out. I’m hitting Command+0, and it’s snapping like this. It snaps to the Grid.

And I can pull this over, and there we have an edited guitar.

Now, let’s have just a quick listen to those guitars there. Here is my freshly edited first few chords of the chorus.


Cool. So now let’s do the same trick on this hand guitar over here. That was the left hand pan one, here’s the right hand pan one. So we’re going to go to the front of here. So we’re zooming in. See, I’m hitting the zoom key. The zoom key is, for me, is Command+1, for you, you could just click on it here, or it’s F5. You can hit F5 up here.

So you either hit F5, Command+1 — so now what I’ve done is I’m to the front of this. Now, here’s our Slip mode here, which to me, is Option+2, or you could literally just click on it here, or it is F2. So you can hit the F2 key, or the Option+2 key.

I don’t use the F2 key, because it wasn’t available when I first started using Pro Tools, so it’s really up to you. Okay, so now what I’m doing is cutting the front of that beat. Going to zoom out with the R key. I’m now going to Tab to Transient, cut it here, highlight the whole thing, which is double clicking on it, hit Command+0, and boom, it snaps to the front of the beat. Put a fade in here.

So the fade to the left there is D. So what I’m doing, I’m going to the front of it here, and I’m hitting the D key, and it’s drawing a fade like that.

Zooming back out using the R key, I’m going to the front of this beat, and it’s an interesting one. There’s a little bit of a pick scrape across it. So that’s the actual down beat there, where it’s strong. What I was doing there is I’m using — I’m using Command+2, you can do that with F6. There’s the Trim tool. So that’s trimming it. Which is actually where I want it to be, so I don’t have to do anything with that.

Now I’m hitting R and zooming back out again, and I’m tabbing to transient. Again, the same kind of thing, this is the sharp transient that I want on the beat, so I went into Slip mode, which for you, could be either F2 or Option+2. Okay, and now I’m hitting the B. Okay. I’m zooming out. Have a look at it. Cut there. Highlight the whole thing. Command+0, and it snaps to the grid, and it’s not a case of just snapping things to the grid, you need to know where you want it to feel, like where I put the cut is where I want the feel to be.

See, here is the strong transient. That’s just a pick scrape, so if I zoom out, for instance, I’m still doing this in Slip. Here’s a strong transient there. Cut it there. That’s pretty accurate. That one is pretty good.

Okay, alright, so let’s highlight that one. Highlight that one. Drag it across. Here’s a little trick I’m going to show you. So I’m dragging those all across where I want the edit point to be. Now, quite often, what I will do is — let’s just say I’ve edited, I don’t know, 100 different edit points. Let’s highlight this section here, and what I’ll do is I’ll go Command+8 and bring up Beat Detective, and I’ll just do Fill and Crossfade, and I’ll set it to 5 milliseconds, and it will do all the fades.

You can also do a batch fade as well, but that was just a quick way of putting in all the fades for me. I do that all the time.

Okay. Alright. So now I’m highlighting it. We’ve got the two guitars and the drums. Give it a listen.


Tight. Now what I’m careful to do is I don’t go crazy, crazy on the tightening. I — on those ones there, hitting with the drums is totally cool, but here you see, if I go to Grid, we’re in Grid mode here, and then we go up to grid here. We’re in bars at the moment. Let’s just say we go to eighths. We can see that most of this is pretty on. See where I’m highlighting? There’s a few times it’s not.

Sometimes on the transitions — now the question is, do you want to go in there and Grid every single one of these? Look at this section here, it’s almost exactly on. This is all me playing live, but here, it’s a little on top in places, so what do I do? You know, maybe we’ll just kind of, like, I go to Slip, maybe we’ll cut a little behind the transient and in front of the grid, say like this, highlight, and then what I’ll do is I’ll do C+V, and that copy and pastes it onto itself, then I hit Command+0, and it drags the whole thing back.

Now, it’s still ahead in places, but it’s not perfectly perfect, and it’s also not edited every single time, so you won’t hear this continual edit. Let’s have a listen.


So let’s do the same thing with this one up here. This actually goes to here, so you hear — see what I’m doing? I’m in Slip, C+V, Apple+0, pulling it back slightly. Let’s highlight those first two bars.


Throw in the bass, just for the heck of it. So the bass feels like it’s slightly too far behind here. Very slight, so what I’m doing is I’m just doing a quick edit like this. Highlighting. C+V. Pull it forward. Might be a little too much for me. Split the difference here. Highlight. Like I said, you can do batch fades as well.

That’s basic sort of editing there. Okay, so let’s do a couple of other fun things. What I’m going to do is I’m going to go into All, which is every single piece of audio. We’ll go to MIDI, so we can see a little better here. See the whole section here. Let’s have a listen to this reintro.


Even though I’m in all, which means, normally, I would solo like this… When I come out of group, I hit Control and Solo and I can just solo one thing at a time.


So that’s a little keyboard line I did. So let’s have a listen.


Okay, so let’s just say for instance, I like the — I do like the edit, but let’s just say we wanted to double this section. So it’s a repetitive line, so this is what I’m going to do, since there’s decay on these guitars, etcetera, I’m going to do this.

So I’m going to take the middle here, middle two bars, and now, what I would do is you’ve got your middle two bars here, is I would — so that you don’t disturb all your markers, you also have to highlight your markers and everything as well here. See the markers? Where you have Riff and Verse 2? So what I’m doing is I’m highlighting the whole section, like such, and then what I’m going to do is I’m going to go to Shuffle, which would be F1 or Option+1, and then what I’m going to do is I’m going to do Option+R, 1.

See what it did? It pasted those four bars in, and shuffled everything up correspondingly.

Alright, let me undo and do it again, so you can see it. Alright, I’m in Grid. Let’s go back to Grid, which is F4. So I highlight the middle two bars, and then with the Shift key, I just click above, holding the Shift key down, and then I’ve got all of those things here, so there’s tempo changes, there’s markers, etcetera, they’ve all been highlighted, and then go to Shuffle after I’ve done this in Grid, which is F1 or Option+1 for you, or whichever one you want to use, then I’m hitting Option+R, number of repeats 1, hit okay, and now I’ve doubled the length of my reintro.

So let’s have a listen.


Cool. Double the length. Now you say, “Why did I take that middle section?” Well, it was two sections. It was two keyboard parts that were exactly the same. If I took the first one, I would’ve also taken — I’ll highlight with the cursor — all of these decayed guitars would’ve been repeated. So we didn’t want two sets of decayed guitars, and I didn’t want to take the last half, because the last half had the breath vocal and stuff hanging over, going into the next section. So I took the middle part of it, which is the last chord and the first chord.

Now what I would do is I would highlight that whole area like this, and I would go back to our old friend, which is Command+8, Beat Detective, and I would use the fades on that, and there you go.

Now it’s putting crossfades in that whole section for me, quicker and easier than if I went through the whole thing to do myself.

Alright, so that’s using the Shuffle function. Be careful. When you’re using Shuffle, and you accidentally do it, your whole track can go out of time. This leads us back to this.

Let’s just say the whole track DID go out of time. What would you do? Well, let’s go in and test that idea. So, here we have this keyboard part here. Let’s pretend we didn’t do this edit, and we were like, “Oh no, everything feels out of time.”

Well, go to Spot. So Spot here is F3, or Option+3, depending on what you’re using. Then what I would do is I would — now I’m in Spot. You take the hand tool, and you click on it. You see here? It gives the original user stamp, and then it gives you the time where it’s at at the moment. Vocal Comp. See? It’s saying it’s exactly one bar off.

So, original user stamp, and there is the start point now. So if this was just a vocal that was out of time, I could put the user stamp, go back up there, hit okay, and boom, it will go back to where it originally was.

So that’s a useful kind of tool. Let’s do it one more time. Undo. We’re just hitting Z. I’m clicking on it. It’s got its original time stamp, and that’s where it is now. So I hit the up button, and I’ll hit okay, and it will go back. Up, okay.

So what it’s doing now is it’s taking everything back to where it was, so if you’d accidentally edited in Shuffle and everything was out of time, you could go back and basically Spot it back to where it originally was.

It’s also useful for when people send you tracks, and they may have recorded into your session, but they don’t send you the session. You just get the audio, so you can spot it and see if it goes back to the right place. It’s a good little trick. So the Slip mode, as you’ve seen before, is basically out of Grid, so you can edit any way you’d like, like this, and we usually work in Slip for most of the time, and then use Grid if you’re just trying to push things back in time, but 99.9% of the time, I’m in Slip.

Shuffle you’ve seen, Grid we’ve done a couple of times before in previous lessons, but if I go to F4 again and it goes to Grid, there’s a couple of things I could do. Now, I could edit really randomly like this, and not be in Grid, and then, let’s just say I cut it out, I was in Grid, if I hit Grid twice, I get Relative Grid.

Now, what Relative Grid is, I can pick it up, and I can move it around, and it will keep the distance from the grid line. What that means is it will preserve the feel. So it doesn’t just snap it to a grid point, so if this guitar — well, this is a keyboard part, but if this keyboard part is slightly ahead, which it is, I like the way it feels, I can just cut it out and move it like this left to right.

So that’s what Relative Grid is. It just keeps it relative to the grid. It’s a nice little function. You don’t think you’re going to use it very often, but you will. You’ll find that every now and then, it’s pretty nifty, because I can do a quick edit of something, I can edit to the front of the transient, which might not fall onto grid, so if I edit the front of the transient and put it on the grid line, it will be perfectly in time.

But I might not want that perfectly in time, I might want that guitar to be slightly ahead, or this keyboard to be slightly ahead like it is. If I show you exactly what I mean, if I go in here, you’ll see that it’s, [emulating keyboard], it’s slightly ahead. It’s part of the excitement of the keyboard line.

So if I did this, normally, and copied it out, and then was in regular grid, all that’s going to happen is this. It’s going to — oh dear, the whole thing now has lost the feel. So if I move it, it’s lost the feel. If I go to Relative Grid, and I move it, it will maintain the same feel. So it’s slightly ahead and it keeps it exciting.

So that’s the usefulness of Relative Grid. It’s great for editing whole sections and moving them around in the song and just keeping the feel consistent.

Marvelous! Well, thanks for watching. Please, as ever, subscribe, and go to Produce Like a Pro and sign up for the email list, but most importantly, leave me any questions and comments, and please, you know, tell me about your editing tricks! All of us have our own quick ways of editing. I’m very much into the quick keys, and I’ve been doing the quick keys since the 90’s. I don’t use the cursor to select, I don’t go up and click on things as much, I use my left hand a lot, and — the quick keys have changed over the years, so I actually use some of the older ones from back in the mid to late 90’s.

But anyways, please leave your questions below, tell me everything that you do, let’s have a great discussion on it, and thanks ever so much for watching!

Warren Huart

Warren Huart

Warren Huart is an English record producer/musician/composer and recording engineer based in Los Angeles, California. Learn more at

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