When considering using a commercial studio versus a home studio, you have to weigh the benefits and costs.
Keith Olsen and Ozzy Osbourne during the studio sessions for the 1988 album, No Rest for the Wicked. A commercial studio’s accoutrements improve recording quality, but a professionally trained listener can give you educational input worth its weight in gold.
In the December 2012 issue of Premier Guitar, I interviewed producer/engineer Keith Olsen for a “Studio Legends”feature. Towards the end of the interview, Olsen talked briefly about the quality of gear in relation to the quality of song when it comes to the final results we achieve with our recordings, and why using a professional studio might be a better idea than recording on your own. Since the primary focus of my monthly column the past several issues was how to choose gear for your studio, this seemed worth discussing a bit further. The following are some conclusions I drew from Keith’s comments:
• Even the least-expensive gear on the market is capable of making excellent sounding recordings.
• There is a trade-off between doing your own recordings versus hiring a studio and/or an engineer to do the recording for you. That trade-off involves the time required to learn various software packages, how to operate the gear, the expense of buying and owning the gear, and the time that all of this takes away from practicing your instrument, writing a great song, or perfecting your performance.
• The quality of the song is more important than the quality of the gear.
• A good performance of a quality song trumps any gear issues or recording quality issues.
Keith certainly knows what he is talking about and I agree with all of these points. Who am I to argue with his track record and well-earned insight? At the same time, I don’t think that Keith was necessarily telling us not to own home studios or make our own recordings. These days, you have to ensure that the music you deliver to a record label or offer directly to your audience is the best it can be. The internet has proven to be a great leveler when it comes to music distribution and promotion, but that also means that thousands of musicians and bands are competing with you for attention and dollars. The music you put out must be of high quality, and that includes recording quality.
When considering using a commercial studio versus a home studio, you have to weigh the benefits and costs. I am the first to trumpet the value of a professionally designed and equipped studio. Acoustic issues are removed from the equation and you have the expertise of a full-time recording professional. This way, you can keep all your focus on making music, and not have to split your brain by having to deal with the recording component as well. Perhaps most important, there are few distractions. When you’re on the clock in a commercial studio, you’ll find your attention stays focused on what you are doing.
On the other hand, owning the gear means you can take your time. You don’t have to worry about the clock ticking and studio fees mounting up. You may even feel freer to experiment in the comfort and privacy of your personal music room than in a commercial studio environment. Best of all—once you finish a project—you still own the gear and can put it to work on future projects. And, as Keith says, you can make great-sounding recordings on even the least expensive gear that’s available today.
I would also point out that very few of us call up a music retailer and place an order for a complete studio all in one go, have the entire lot dropped off at the front door, and then spend months learning how to set it up and use it. Most of us acquire one or two pieces of gear at a time, slowly building up our recording rigs and learning how to use each addition as it comes in. With careful balance, you can learn to record while also maintaining your chops, writing songs, and perfecting performances.
If you do opt for a commercial studio and a professional engineer to record your music, there can be tremendous educational value from making recordings of your songs in progress—for composing, for trying various arrangements, or just to hear what your music sounds like from the perspective of a listener. Hearing yourself played back through studio monitors or headphones reveals all the flaws—and also spotlights the good parts—so recording is a tremendously valuable tool for improving your playing.
Likewise, it can be valuable to record your band during rehearsal or at writing sessions. It’s very difficult to be truly objective when you are in the midst of a song run-through, or when everyone is caught up in the heat of a fully inspired, compositional moment. Being able to listen back later when everyone can focus is useful in many ways—from checking out song ideas, to remembering ideas that have been cast aside, to verifying that all parts are being played correctly and in tune. The tape doesn’t lie, so using it as the final arbiter of truth makes it easier to correct problems without hurting anyone’s feelings.
All of these points add up to—in my mind, at least—compelling reasons for having a recording rig of your own and putting it to work regularly. By all means, when your music is polished, consider using a commercial studio and a professional engineer. The benefits easily outweigh the costs. Or, if you do feel capable, use your home rig to make your final recordings. Perhaps you’ll find the perfect balance by combining the benefits of home recording for certain things and utilizing a commercial studio for the things you can’t do as well at home. No matter what direction you go, the ends justify the means when it comes to recording!
Mitch Gallagher is the former editor in chief of EQ magazine. He’s written more than 1000 articles and six books on recording and music technology, and has released an instructional DVD on mastering. His upcoming book is entitled Guitar Tone: Pursuing the Ultimate Electric Guitar Sound. To learn more, visit mitchgallagher.com.
Kick off the holiday season by shopping for the guitar player in your life at Guitar Center! Now through December 24th 2022, save on exclusive instruments, accessories, apparel, and more with hundreds of items at their lowest prices of the year.
We’ve compiled this year’s best deals in the 2022 Holiday Gift Guide presented by Guitar Center.
Sporting custom artwork etched onto the covers, the Railhammer Billy Corgan Z-One Humcutters are designed to offer a fat midrange and a smooth top end.
Billy Corgan was looking for something for heavier Smashing Pumpkins songs, so Joe Naylor designed the Railhammer Billy Corgan Z-One pickup. Sporting custom artwork etched onto the covers, the Railhammer Billy Corgan Z-One Humcutters have a fat midrange and a smooth top end. This pickup combines the drive and sustain of a humbucker with the percussive attack and string clarity of a P90. Get beefy P90 tone plus amp-pummeling output with the Railhammer Billy Corgan Z-One.
Patented Railhammer Pickups take passive guitar pickups to a new level with rails under the wound strings lead to tighter lows, and poles under the plain strings offer fatter heights. With increased clarity, the passive pickup’s tone is never sterile.
Railhammer Billy Corgan Signature Z-One Pickup Demo
For more information, please visit railhammer.com.
Designed for utmost comfort and performance, the Vertigo Ultra Bass is Mono’s answer to those who seek the ultimate gigging experience.
Complete with a range of game-changing design features, such as the patent-pending attachable FREERIDE Wheel System, premium water-resistant and reflective materials, shockproof shell structure and improved ergonomic features, the Vertigo Ultra Bass takes gear protection to the next level.
The Vertigo Ultra Bass features:
- Patent-pending FREERIDE Wheel System that allows for wheels to be attached on the case in no time, giving you the option to travel with it seamlessly
- Upgraded materials, including a water-resistant 1680D Ballistic Nylon outer shell, plush inner lining and new reflective trim for maximum backstage and night visibility
- Enhanced protection with a shockproof shell structure and heavy-duty water-resistant YKK zippers for protection from the elements
- Improved ergonomics and functionality including added back support and load-lifting detachable shoulder straps with side release buckles
- Flexible storage options with added space for touring essentials
The Generation Collection of acoustic guitars features the exclusive Gibson Player Port designed to offer a unique and immersive sonic experience.
The G-Bird, the newest addition to the Generation Collection--represents the glorious legacy of the Gibson Hummingbird colliding with modern sonic enhancement through the Gibson Player Port to add a new dimension to the G-Bird sound. The Gibson Player Port allows players to hear more of themselves as the audience hears it. With a tone that is crisp and resonant, all of the Gibson Generation Collection acoustics are designed to be comfortable to hold and play for long periods of time. All Generation Collection guitars feature the Gibson Player Port, slim, lightweight bodies, a flatter fingerboard radius, Walnut back and sides, Sitka spruce tops, and a stunning Natural finish. Additionally, the new G-Bird, and the G-200 and G-Writer are equipped with LR Baggs™ Element Bronze pickup systems which amplify deep bass and crystal-clear highs.
The G-Bird represents the glorious legacy of the Gibson Hummingbird with modern sonic enhancement through the Gibson Player Port adding a new dimension to the G-Bird’s sound. The G-Bird features a stunning solid Sitka spruce top and solid walnut back and sides for the ultimate in crisp, resonant tone. This square-shoulder dreadnought delivers all the rich low end and well-balanced mids and highs the original Hummingbird is famous for. The TUSQ nut and saddle, along with chrome Grover Mini Rotomatic tuners, deliver solid tuning stability so you can spend more time playing instead of tuning. The utile neck, with its easy-playing Advanced Response neck profile, is so comfortable you won’t want to put it down. The G-Bird also comes equipped with an LR Baggs Element Bronze pickup system, so it will always sound as good to your audience as it does to you. The G-Bird also comes equipped with an LR Baggs™ Element Bronze pickup system, so it will always sound as good to your audience as it does to you. The G-Bird is available in Natural finish. A gig bag is included.
Modeled after Gibson’s pioneering small-body parlor acoustic guitars from the 1930’s, the G-00 is a top choice for blues and fingerstyle guitar performances. Despite its more compact size, the G-00 achieves a full, balanced sound. The G-00 fills any room with rich tones-which players can hear like never before, with the exclusive Gibson Player Port. Like all models in the Gibson Generation Collection, the G-00 is handcrafted in Bozeman, Montana, by the same highly--skilled craftspeople who make all Gibson acoustic guitars. The G-00 features a beautiful solid Sitka spruce top and solid Walnut back and sides for tone that sounds crisp and resonant. The slightly thinner G-00 parlor-sized body is exceptionally comfortable to hold and play. The TUSQ nut and saddle along with the Grover Mini Rotomatic tuners, deliver solid tuning stability so you can spend more time playing instead of tuning, and the utile neck with its easy-playing neck profile is so comfortable you won’t want to put it down. The G-00 is available in Natural finish. A gig bag is included.
The G-45, a round-shouldered jumbo, adds the Gibson Player Port to its famous “Workhorse” J-45 style body, which is Gibson’s best-selling acoustic guitar of all time. On the G-45, players can now hear more clearly than ever how this beloved guitar responds to every style and technique of playing. Powerful one moment and soft the next, the G-45 delivers all sounds with incredible dynamic range in an elegant, medium body size. The G-45 is part of the Gibson Generation Collection and like all models in this collection, it is handcrafted in Bozeman, MT, by the same highly skilled craftspeople who make all Gibson acoustics. It features a solid Sitka spruce top and solid Walnut back and sides for tone that sounds crisp and resonant. The G-45 features a slightly thinner round shoulder body is exceptionally comfortable to hold and play. The TUSQ nut and saddle, along with the Grover Mini Rotomatic tuners deliver solid tuning stability, so you can spend more time playing instead of tuning, and the utile neck with its easy-playing neck profile is so comfortable you won’t want to put it down. The G-45 is available in Natural finish. A gig bag is included.
Gibson’s impressive range of square-shouldered guitars have become an expressive standard for rock, pop, folk, and country artists. The G-Writer is known for its wide range of sounds, from gutsy and loud, to soft and sweet; they are superb for all styles and shine, whether strumming chords or fingering intricate solos. The G-Writer comes ready for the stage or studio with an LR Baggs Element Bronze pickup system and the ear-opening Gibson Player Port. The G-Writer is part of the Gibson Generation Collection and like all models in this collection, it is handcrafted in Bozeman, MT, by the same highly skilled craftspeople who make all Gibson acoustics. It features a solid Sitka spruce top and solid Walnut back and sides for tone that sounds crisp and resonant. The G-Writer features a slightly thinner cutaway body, is more comfortable to play and provides effortless access to the upper frets. The TUSQ nut and saddle, along with the Grover Mini Rotomatic tuners deliver solid tuning stability, so you can spend more time playing instead of tuning, and the utile neck with its easy-playing neck profile is so comfortable you won’t want to put it down. The G-Writer is available in Natural finish. A gig bag is also included.
Gibson built its first “Super Jumbo” SJ-200 as a custom order for country and western singer and film star Ray Whitley, who desired a big, loud, and deep flat-top over which to croon. The SJ-200 quickly became a staple of cowboy singers and horseback troubadours, and then country music, 60’s folk stars, and onto every acoustic guitar genre that has followed. Ray would be proud to hear the booming sound from the Gibson Player Port on the new G-200, which comes ready for the stage or studio with a LR Baggs Element Bronze pickup system. Like all models in the Gibson Generation Collection, the G-200 is handcrafted in Bozeman, MT, by the same highly--skilled craftspeople who make all Gibson acoustics. The G-200 features a beautiful solid Sitka spruce top and solid Walnut back and sides for tone that sounds crisp and resonant. The slightly thinner G-200 cutaway jumbo body is exceptionally comfortable to hold and provides excellent access to the upper frets. The TUSQ nut and saddle, along with the Grover Mini Rotomatic tuners, deliver solid tuning stability so you can spend more time playing instead of tuning, and the utile neck with its easy-playing neck profile is so comfortable you won’t want to put it down. The G-200 is available in Natural finish. A gig bag is also included.
G-Bird | Generation Collection
For more information, please visit gibson.com.