Back in 2006, my band had a gig in NY. Our bass player of the time had a girlfriend. Yes, one of those girlfriends that every musician has encountered at one point or another. We ended up getting stiffed by the promoter, and the girlfriend insisted that I pay him what his cut would have been, since I “was the singer.” The evening ended with a shouting match and him quitting the band. As we drove back home, I assumed that the band was done.
A shot in the dark ad on Craigslist turned up a bass player that had just moved to Philadelphia from Venezuela. He learned a couple songs from the CD, came to our rehearsal spot, and killed it. Luck would have it that he was not only a world-class bass player, but also a professional audio engineer back in Venezuela. He was here so that his wife could attend grad school.
He and I became great friends, and he taught me the fundamentals of recording and production. As years passed, I read everything I could, watched as many videos as I could, visited as many other home studios as possible, and practiced. These years have seen me waste money on holy grail gear, and discover indispensable gems that cost me less than a lunch at Chipotle.
Now it’s time to pay it forward.
While the Internet has been arguably one of mankind’s greatest creations, it has enabled a lot of nonsense into the world of recording.
A visit to any recording forum will expose you to an avalanche of misinformation that is being spewed by someone that knows nothing about the topic, and that heard it from someone else that knows even less. “You can’t get a professional recording without X preamp” or “without y microphone, you may as well not even record,” or even better “if you buy this $3400 A/D converter, bathe it in unicorn blood under the waxing moon at the 43rd parallel, you will sound like John Lennon.”
Let’s work with what we’ve got.
Little known fact: the engineers that designed all of that Neve equipment back in 70’s are laughing at us right now. They never would have imagined that people would obsess over getting the original Marinair transformer for their preamp, because without it, your band will go from sounding like Zeppelin to sounding like Guitar Center on Black Friday. They picked these components because they were around—that’s it.
Now, maybe your Focusrite Scarlett and a Shure 57 is what you have. You can record with that. Maybe you have a Squier Tele that you switched the pickups out of. You can record with that. It’s not about the tools—it’s how you use them. You have equipment that captures sound more accurately and with .0000001% of the limitations of the stuff that the Beatles recorded with. If George Martin had a laptop with a Presonus Firestudio Project, the results would have still been amazing (maybe even better?)
It’s not the tools; it’s knowing how to use them.
I’m looking forward to sharing some content that I’m creating for you, as well as sharing valuable content that I’ve found from other sources. The hope is that you’ll learn, you’ll enjoy recording, and that you’ll get that sound that you hear in your head without banging your head into a wall.