I was having a conversation with my buddy Pete Woj the other day.

Pete’s a cool guy. For one thing, he’s bought just about every tutorial video I’ve ever released (which makes him very popular around HSC headquarters), but he’s also big on APPLYING what he learns.

Anyway, we were talking about recording equipment. He was debating buying a new audio interface and wanted my opinion.

But then he listened to one of my recent podcasts and answered his own question.

On the podcast I was talking about another guy who asked me the same question. When I asked him how many albums he had made using his existing interface, he said, “None.”

My advice to him was to make a bunch of music on it before buying more gear.

Pete responded:

“That’s kind of applicable to me. I have what I consider to be nice hardware, and I don’t feel like I’ve made enough music to warrant buying more…I feel very blessed to have what I have, and I decided to make a lot more music with it before buying more.”

‘Twas a “proud daddy” moment for me. 🙂

Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE good gear, and I love buying new equipment…but I also recognize that buying stuff is a fantastic way to put off making any actual music.

We can easily become excellent gear purchasers rather than excellent music-makers.

I know I beat this horse a lot around here, but it’s because I need to be reminded as much as you do.

All the gear in the world won’t magically make me produce amazing-sounding recordings that people will want to listen to.

You know what will? Making music.

Lots of it.

Invest in YOU before you invest in stuff.

Here are some ways to do that:

  • Spend time getting better at guitar.
  • Practice your microphone technique.
  • Write a song (or finish one of those songs you started).
  • Edit a session.
  • Finish a mix.
  • Re-mix a song you’ve already mixed.

Or…invest in some training that will help you get better results.

I’d start with my Understanding EQ videos. They’ll help you finally understand what those EQ knobs do (and how POWERFUL they are in helping you get fan-freaking-tastic mixes).

Click here to get started:


9 Responses to “A Crucial Conversation About Gear”

  1. Jon

    New to your blog and production too! First let me say that as a musician of 24 years I have experienced similar fate. I remember being overseas in the military with nothing more than a God-awful acoustic guitar that I purchased for maybe $30 that was worse than one of those kiddie beginner guitars you buy at Wal Mart. No way I was bringing my pride and joy overseas, Too much risk… But Some of the best songs, riffs, and jam sessions came using that guitar. Why? Because there were so few music related distractions. However, Some of my most unproductive periods as a musician were during the periods of trying to find a studio, find other musicians, looking for gigs, looking for gear, etc… It’s so easy to get off the creative track it’s not even funny. Sooner or later you will look back and say “I haven’t created a darn thing lately”! I am at a point now however where I find it challenging to balance the time I spend progressing my knowledge of audio production and actual music creation. But as long as I am doing something I figure it’s a good thing

    • Joe Gilder

      This is an awesome comment, Jon.

      I agree, it’s easy to be distracted. Actually making music is risky…you might end up with something that doesn’t sound very good, so you stall.
      I’m all for learning new things (obviously), but I recommend coming up with a good ratio of learning to implementing. Maybe for every hour you spend learning something, you spend 2-4 hours trying out what you learned?
      I think it should probably be at LEAST 1:1. Half your time is spent making music.

  2. Michael

    Right now I have the least amount of gear I’ve ever had. And the mic I use is borrowed from the guy I sold it to. I’ve completed seven albums in seven years and with each one I’ve gotten rid of more unused gear. I’ve progressively learned with each album I can do a lot with what I had at the moment – and with what I have now. I think most of us go through this progression of shuttering gear as our skills at recording and mixing improve. And I think it’s good to sometimes put yourself in a place of limited resources in order to “upgrade” those skills. You really can do a lot with a little – push yourself.

  3. Chelo 430

    Joe, hoping not to bother with questions, I got one! i love your view on this topic, but I have a serious problem, my interface (Presonus fs2626) which was toootally awesome for the price, died!, so instead of investing on some stuff I need to keep working, I’m gonna have to re investin an interface, but I’ve been working with borrowed or rented mics, DIs and stuff, and I’m finally getting a few gigs, so I need at least an 8 input interface, enough mics ( don’t have) and stands ( dont have), I was thinking of going towards a higher end interface, thr RME ff800, since this one has 4 preamps an additional exceptional DI besides the pres, and looots of analog line ins and digital ins, which teases me in order to build an external pre rack in the future, and use mic pres 1 and 2 in my dead interface since luckily those pres work because of the insert points, and I’ll look for a dual pre or something in the future, but this already is a lot of money, so I wont be able to afford any mics or anything else to keep working and I only own an SM 57 and a great modded apex 205 chinese ribbon mic, but I record mostly rock bands I was looking forward to buying mics for drums recording mostly since if chose correctly they would work for any other application I need. So the question finally to you and fellow site visitors is, would you go for a cheaper interface in order to have the rest of the gear or invest in the interface and keep trying to work with borrowed or rented gear and even rented studios which considerably reduce my profits since I dont charge that much in order to get bands to work with me, any hint? Please. PS: I made lots of tiny gigs and home recordings as well as 4 finished EPs with bands with my little gear so it’s not my hungry consumer talking.

    • Jon

      I would definitely go for a less expensive interface (such as the Tascam us1800) and then cover your other bases, such as drum mics–which you will DEFINITELY need if you’re planning on recording drums. 2 mics ain’t gonna cut it.

  4. ChrisPorro


    my take is use you gear until you can hear it’s shortcomings. “this
    pre-amp is too noisy. this compressor does not add the harmonic
    distortion i prefer. this speaker has a very uneven bass roll off.” you
    should be able to hear your new gear does not have these issues or is
    different in some you prefer. then i’d say you are ready for the new
    gear. otherwise it’s kinda guess work.

    i’ve had a guy in my studio ID mics just from listening to them. i was
    impressed. i bet he knows what he’s paying for when he makes a purchase.
    i don’t subscribe to people being born with golden ears. imo it’s about
    years of active listening. the more you do it the better informed your
    purchase decisions will be.

    • Sam Bates

      Great words! However, I’ve found sometimes that an upgrade was what I needed to be able to hear the flaws with old gear. Especially true with monitors! Sound advice though (pun intended 🙂


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