Tree House Studios
by Bobby G. Frasier
Web Address: thetreehousestudio.com
Contact: Craig Hannay, Owner
I was looking for place to hold a birthday party: mine... really gonna do it up that year, put a band together with old friends, play guitar, sing, eat, drink, and be merry. I was speaking with an audio engineer friend of mine, Jason Losett, regarding my dilemma—a place to do it. He said, “You should do it at the studio I work at. I’ll ask Craig, I’m sure it won’t be a problem.” Cool, a studio. Now that would be perfect! So, I went to check it out.
What I discovered is that Tree House is the ultimate home studio, laid out like a concert stage, with all the best gear at your disposal. When the stage lights come on, the place exudes vibe. Craig Hannay is the sole proprietor of Tree House. He’s done well in commercial real estate, but he doesn’t want to talk about that. No, let’s talk guitars, and playing, and guitars, and recording and guitars (I really like this guy!).
Tree House has been a private facility for 3 years, but I understand you are going to open it for business to a select few. What do you feel makes Tree House unique?
Well, first off, we have the studio proper set up like a stage. It’s really, really comfortable. I built this place so that a core group of guys, who’ve known each other since they were kids, could have a place to play. We are all married, have kids and other lives, and wanted a place where we could go and just flip a switch and start playing. And that’s what we have. We have all the amps, guitars, monitors, PA, drums, keyboards & percussion that we could possibly want at our disposal. At any time, there are at least 60–70 guitars and basses available. At first, we just wanted a place to play, but then I thought “What about recording?” So I added the control room to the mix, with an ISO booth, and now we have the best of both worlds. Everything in the studio proper is wired into the control room, of course, so if we’re jamming along and want to record, my engineer, Jason Losett, is at the ready to push record. Recording our performances just makes us better—you can really tell if you are getting into a rut, both with your playing and with your singing. And let me tell you, Jason is fast on Pro Tools.
When did you start playing and what were your influences?
Like all kids of my generation, I was influenced by The Beatles. I picked up the guitar at age 13 and started learning songs. But what really set me off, and gave me my passion was when I heard Neil Young. Learned all the songs. And then, for me, along came The Grateful Dead. Jerry Garcia has been the biggest influence in my playing and musical style.
You have an exact replica of Garcia’s Tiger guitar—all 14 pounds of it. How did you obtain this?
It’s a bit of a mystery [laughs]. I’m a collector, but I don’t collect guitars simply for their collectability; they have to play. It doesn’t matter if it’s $25 or $25,000, it has to be something I want to play.
As an example, I have 6 Ruokangas from Finland & 6 acoustics from Jeff Traugott, Santa Cruz, CA, but I also have a $150 Recording King, because it plays nice, and came with a hat. Custom Taylors, such as the Cujo and the PS14-C, adorn the walls, with the obvious complements of Martins, Guilds, Gretsch, Gibsons, etc. Did I mention there is a walk-in humidor to house the acoustics?
Jason, what kind of recording set up do you have at Tree House?
We have a Pro Tools HD3 rig with a Control 24 work surface. All the interfaces and computer are housed in a custom, sound isolated rack to eliminate fan noise. We have an Aviom monitor system, so everybody gets their own headphone mix. That is key to getting a good performance. For speakers, we use Genelec 8050s and JBL LSR4328s. We also have a Genelec subwoofer. Our outboard gear runs along the best lines: Neumann, Manley, Focusrite, Avalon, & TC Electronic to name a few mics, pres, EQs and processors. Out in the studio, the PA is mixed with a Yamaha M7CL digital board. We have Lab.gruppen amps and L-Acoustic monitors. The Bose Sticks with subs work great in this room for “front-of-house,” as it were. Everything is really top notch.
Craig is opening the studio to artists who want a special experience recording or getting their live show together. You’ll have to talk to the man first, not a receptionist or studio manager, but the owner, the soul of Tree House. Well hello, Mr. Soul…
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