March 13, 2022
So there are a few basic pieces of equipment I should describe from the start. This won’t be a comprehensive list, but it will include the gear I will use in just about every session including my computer, DAW, interfaces, and speakers. I’ll additional posts when I get into specific tunes if people are interested. (By the way, I am not sponsored by anyone so my opinions are my own.)
I suspect if you’re reading this, you’re probably just getting started with your studio. This gear is used in my basement project studio and it’s not used commercially. It’s all decent quality, and much of it is affordable but it may be more than most new recording engineers want to spend. Just be aware, you can put together a much simpler rig than the one I’m describing for a lot less money. For instance, you don’t need two interfaces and you don’t need an outboard mic pre like the DBX 286s I describe below.
I’m using an off-the-shelf Mac Mini running Monterery purchased in 2020. It’s got the Apple M1 chip with stock 8GB memory and 256 storage. I’m using a pair of old mismatched monitors, a gaming keyboard (because it lights up), and a standard mouse. I had been using Garage Band, but I started a trial of Logic Pro and I love it. I think it’s the most intuitive DAW I’ve worked with. It was easy for me to make the switch as a former ProTools user. I love the Drummer feature, especially for early demos. The biggest downside is that it only works on Apple computers.
I also have a Microsoft Surface Laptop running Cubase. I don’t do much recording with it because I find Cubase really stifles my workflow. The Surface only has one USB jack, so it’s not really convenient for recording, but it’s nice to keep around if I want to move to a comfy chair and write lyrics or if I want to listen to demos outside of my little home project studio.
I’ve got some old KRK Rockit 8s. They’re about 10 years old and still get the job done.
Right now I’m using two. The first is a Focusrite 18i8. I use it when I need to mic up anything like my amps, acoustics, or vocals. Sometimes I use a DBX 286s through a line input. This gives me the option of compressing sounds in the analog world before I route the signal to the A/D converters.
The second interface is my HX Stomp. I just got this and it’s quickly become my default guitar tracking tool. There are a ton of programable sounds for when I want to do custom recording, but often I just call up a preset to do some quick demo work. It’s really nice to get right down to work without having to set up a lot of gear. I can also use it as a DI for re-amping later. This is super convenient for when I want to work early in the morning and don’t want to wake up the neighborhood.
Guitars and Amps
I’ve got a bunch that I own, but right now the two I use the most are my Fender EOB Strat and my Fender Noventa Jazzmaster. I love the Strat for anything single-coil, and with the humbucker in the bridge position, I can quickly switch gears if I need to. I also love the Sustainer. The Jazzmaster is a cool change of pace, and the P90s make for unique tones.
My main amp is a 15 watt Fender Bassbreaker on the clean channel. It works great as a pedal platform and it has plenty of gain if I want to get heavy.