What Is A Scratch Vocal? Wednesday September 29 2021, 7:00 PM
Yona Marie
Singer, Songwriter, Producer.
What Is A Scratch Vocal?

What Is Scratch Singing?

Scratch singing is the process of recording vocals that will soon be scratched and replaced with better vocals. Scratch vocals are often used in songwriting to lay down melodies and lyrics that are not finalized and will often change.

I personally like to record scratch vocals since I write songs in my home studio almost daily. Scratch vocals allow you to comfortably sing multiple takes to get a feel for what will fit your song the best. 

What's The Difference Between Scratch And Demo Quality? 

Scratch-quality vocals are usually lesser than the quality of a demo.

Demos are recorded when the songwriter has a near-final or final version of their song that is either being sung by someone not intended for the final song or being recorded in quality that is not as high as a professional studio would be.

The intent of demo vocals is usually way more serious than scratch vocals. Some demo vocals wind up still being used in the final master of a song after some mixing edits. 

Related Post: What Is Demo Quality And When Does It Work Best?


What's The Difference Between Scratch And Guide Vocals?

Like demo vocals, guide vocals are recorded in a more serious way than scratch vocals. Guide vocals are often recorded for other singers to mimic the guide in a choir setting.

The guide vocal is a high-quality version that other singers can follow without wondering if there are any mistakes being made in the guide vocal.

You can think of guide vocals as higher quality vocals than demo vocals and scratch vocals since guide vocalists usually sound really great and know their stuff.

How Do You Record Vocal Scratches?

Even though scratch vocals are usually lower in quality than demo vocals, they are typically recorded in high-quality environments with the intention of being placed within that same session.

On the other hand, demo vocals can often be recorded with a phone or a tape recorder just to demonstrate a point.

Scratch vocals are recorded the same way professional vocals are recorded, and it's just the singer's delivery of the vocal that makes it scratch quality.

The singer may sing the wrong words, maybe make up a melody on the spot, or may not be putting the correct emotional interpretation into the delivery of the vocal. 

Related Post: I Thought I Could Sing Until I Recorded Myself


Where Else Are Scratch Vocals Used? 

Scratch vocals are also used in the world of voice acting.

Similar to singing or rapping, voice actors require a lot of practice for their scripts and play around with takes that will ultimately be "scratched" and rerecorded until they finalize their creative project.

Scratch vocals come in handy in voice acting when editors need to get a feel for how long a phrase will be, someone is auditing to see if their voice is a good fit for a project, or an actor is trying to decide the best emotional inflection to add to their phrases. 

Some poets and spoken word artists may also use scratch vocals if they are looking to record their performance but are still in practice mode. 


Scratch singing is a super handy technique in the creative process of songwriting and singing that you may want to use more often!

While scratch vocals are lower in quality compared to demo or guide vocals, they serve an important purpose in laying down melodies and lyrics during the initial stages of a song.

Scratch vocals allow artists to experiment, try different takes, and get a feel for what fits their song best. Demo vocals, on the other hand, are recorded with a near-final or final version of the song, often using lower-quality equipment.

These types of practice recordings find application beyond music in the world of voice acting, where they help actors practice, determine the ideal emotional inflection, or assess their fit for a project.

Overall, scratch vocals serve as a stepping stone in the creative journey, helping artists refine and perfect their artistic vision.


Yona Marie

As a session singer, writer, and producer that has worked with over 300 clients to provide high-quality jingles, singles, and features, Yona spends her time creating and marketing new music and helpful resources for creators. Check out Yona’s latest releases on her Spotify, her Youtube and share if you like it!

If you are in need of singer, songwriter or song producer services, see what Yona Marie can offer you on her services page.

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