I would say that you want the main rhythm parts in place...drums, bass, rhythm guitar,
piano possibly. If those sorts of instruments are going to be used, they need to have a
pulse which the singer will react to. If you record say acoustic guitar or piano with a
vocal first, you tend to find that that pulse is very different, and sometimes it's just
impossible to then overdub the other elements in the way you want. It's catch 22
sometimes...the singer needs to hear the vibe of the track, and the band need to know what
the vocal is doing. One way is to track some elements of the track together with a guide
vocal, then do some more overdubs before going back over the vocal. The advantage of
having a guide vocal early in the process is that overdubbed parts can work with the vocal
rather than against it.
There are lots of ways to go...I've done things to a
programmed shaker, I've started with drums and bass, and I've done a guide vocal and
guitar live together in free time and then just overdubbed everything to that. Don't be
afraid to start again if you think you're going wrong. Don't be afraid to nudge things a
little bit if you have to. Don't be afraid to redo a part if it subsequently doesn't work.
It's a lot easier when you have a band with defined parts who are rehearsed and toured.
It's tricky when you're slightly writing as you go...the goalposts can move!