Grouping instruments in Pro Tools brings along a great deal of control and functional commonality. But when recording, sometimes all you need is to recall a selection of tracks without grouping faders, mutes, and other functions. In this free video tutorial, we will show you how to quickly jump between groups of unrelated tracks and put them into Record Ready, Solo, Input, or Mute when tracking and overdubbing.
Selection Groups vs. Instrument Groups
A selection group is not the same as a traditional instrument group in Pro Tools. For example, instrument groups like drums, guitars, vocals, or keyboards are useful when moving blended tracks in a mix, up or down in volume by category. Need more drums? Move any fader in the drum group, and the rest will follow while keeping perspective with other tracks in the group. These groups can also have linked pans, record buttons, mutes, solos, and input buttons if you wish.
A selection group, however, behaves differently – it's merely a selection of tracks you can specify to your needs in a session. It doesn't link faders or panners across the group. I use this to create and control recording scenarios within a large template where I don't want all my tracks in record all the time. For example, if I have a five-piece band whose guitar player doubles on electric and acoustic guitars, and a keyboard player who is going to be jumping between five different instruments over a session, I narrow down my recording options with a selection group.
Setting Up Your Selection Group
First, select the tracks you want to be in your group. Make this the players who are tracking when the song is in record on the first pass. It might be drums, bass, electric guitar and piano, but not acoustic guitar, Rhodes, Wurlitzer, B3 or others. Once you've selected these tracks by holding command and clicking the track names with the mouse, hit the Enter key on your numeric keypad or choose New Memory Location from the Pro Tools Memory Locations Window. This is the same familiar pop-up you see when you make a marker. Then name your selection group. I use TRACKS and then the instruments in my group like EGT for electric guitar, and PNO for piano. Then, give it a high number in the window at the top left of the pop-up. I always use 21, but this could be any number out of the way of any session markers you'll make later. Lastly, under Time Properties choose Selection (not Marker) and hit Return on the keyboard.
That's it! Now, by clicking on your track selection group in the Memory Locations window (Command+5 on the numeric keypad), or using period+<selection group number>+period, you can quickly select disjointed groups of tracks and put them into record with the Shift+R shortcut. This tip will save you a great deal of time when you need to get the band into record while keeping them engaged creatively.
Watch this free video to see all these tips in action.