RECORDING AN ALBUM USING MY COVID GEAR
Originally Posted February 6, 2022
Judging by the recent boom in guitar sales during Covid, I’m not the only one who spent too much time watching YouTube videos about guitars and guitar gear and spending way too much money buying gear. I’ve got a good case of GAS and my wife would agree.
Buying and testing gear has been a great hobby for me and I don’t regret it. Those little hits of dopamine from those last-second bids on eBay really helped get me through some dark days. Sorry to anyone I sniped.
Now I should explain, I’m not some pro musician who has a need for lots of gear. When I was young I hoped that would be me, but that ship sailed and sank to the bottom of the ocean long ago. I work a stable 9-5 job like many of you. I still jam with my buddies in the basement a few times a month, but we don’t gig. Sometimes we write songs, but that’s rare these days.
My buddies are all talented, but there are no virtuoso players. Let’s just say, that given our lifestyle (adults with full time jobs, families, and other obligations), I don’t see us breaking through that ceiling and that is perfectly cool with me. We’re having fun, being creative, drinking beer, and making music and I estimate that is better than about 98% of the population. Life is good.
It’s a lot of fun and I really look forward to, but I need more. I really love to write. In high school and college I played in bands that were focused on writing original music. Some of the members of those bands are successful working musicians now. I’ve had the opportunity to work with hugely talented players, and although I don’t have the skills to perform on that level, it doesn’t stop me from trying. Over the years I’ve written some wonderful songs, and I’ve written some real stinkers. I love the process, so even the stinkers were worth the time spent on them. After all, learning through failure is still learning.
That being said, I’ve collected a heap of guitar, bass, and recording gear over the course of Covid (and I have plenty from the before times too). I don’t want to start a museum, so if I’m going to keep this stuff I need to use it. All of it.
My goal is write and record an album or albums (what IS an album anyway?) using each piece of gear here. Honestly, I’ll never get through it all… but like I said, I’m not ashamed to fail.
I’ve started writing and demoing riffs, but up until now I haven’t done much more than that. I tend to get distracted by new fun side projects (like last week I picked up a P-bass and now I’m rewiring it). Distractions like this are fun, and they might be helpful to the ultimate goal, but more likely than not they’re just pushing me away from time in my home studio. If nothing else, that P-bass is one more bit of gear I need to work onto this album.
In fact, this blog is just another one of these distractions. However, my hope is that I will spend a few minutes writing my plan for the album here, to share with you. Then I can use each post to build a plan with short-term achievable goals to help keep the album moving forward.
For instance, yesterday I cataloged my riff ideas and gave them all working titles. I took a few notes about my favorites and sorted my least favorite ideas into another folder on my computer for later use (or disposal). Then I took stock of the level of development of each song noting factors like BPM, key, number of song sections, relatively completeness of the format, etc. After that, I went to the first song on the list “Amnesty for Asking” and shuffled clips around to try and come up with a draft arrangement. I should mention that these recordings are ROUGH. there are plenty of aimlessly noodled licks, a few of which may be the basis for something better, but most is stream of consciousness garbage. It’s ok, I just want to see if I have enough material that I’m enthusiastic enough about to invest the effort to continue. If so, then I’ll put in the work. I developed a cool motif with slow bends that I really like and it sounds pretty cool with a fuzzed out rhythm guitar (maybe I can use my MXR Submachine). With a bit of work, it could be a ShoeGaze banger. We’ll see.
Today I will probably experiment with my new HX Stomp as an interface as I rerecord some of the better clips. Again, this is just another demo so I’m not looking for perfection and I think calling up some HX stomp presets may be the quickest way get to success. If nothing else, it will help me learn how to use that glorious little box.
Although, right now it is early morning and I’m still in bed. The day may go another way. I may have to do chores around the house and in all likelihood will lose my motivation before I get to the studio. I may prefer write another blog post – this has been fun. Perhaps I’ll start doing a rough arrangement of another song from the list – who knows. If I think of it, maybe I’ll tell you next time.
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