I released my first album (if you could call it that) in high school.

I knew literally nothing about recording. All I knew was that I had written these 8 songs, and I wanted to record them.

A few months later, I was selling CDs all over the place.

Equipment list for that album: free software and that little stick mic that used to come with desktop computers (for dictation or something).

Freshman year in college, I borrowed a few condenser mics and a mixer, and I recorded my second “album.” 10 songs, all performed live straight to a stereo track.

Sophomore year I finally bought my very own condenser mic, a tiny mixer, and a cheap keyboard. I set about recording a more “full band” album (and by full band, I mean me on acoustic guitar and vocals, and everything else played by me on the keyboard…epic.)

That project consisted of only 6 songs, and I never even got around to really releasing them or making CDs or anything.

That’s when I really started to learn about audio. I was taking recording classes and getting to work in real studios. I got myself a small Pro Tools rig, my first Mac, and a second condenser mic.

Wanna know how long it was before I released my next album? A “proper” album?

Six years.



Quick recap for you:

8 songs – high school
10 songs – freshman year of college
6 songs – sophomore year of college
10 songs – 6 years later

Do you see what happened there? As I learned more about audio and the “right” way to record and mix music, I actually recorded and released less and less music.

You would think that as I amassed better gear and better skills that I would also release more music, but that wasn’t the case. As my studio evolved, my musical output dropped off for over half a decade.

Was the problem the gear? Of course not. The problem was ME. I had learned what “proper” recording was supposed to look like, and I developed a bit of an elitist attitude. (“There’s no way I’m going to start working on a new album until I get a better mic. Otherwise the recordings will all be crap.”)

It’s that stupid thinking that kept me from making music.

And it kept me from getting better, too.

All the time I spent learning techniques and playing around with equipment, I wasn’t really improving.

You don’t get better unless you work on real stuff. Real music. Stuff you’re going to release to the world.

So put down the gear catalog and get to work.

See, this is the whole vision behind Dueling Mixes. We want to give you a place where you can put in the hard work and get a MASSIVE payoff — in the form of better mixing skills, a growing portfolio, increased confidence, and less regrets about what you should have been doing with your music for the last few years.

Time to pony up and commit to getting better.

We can help.

Get signed up here:


Joe Gilder
Home Studio Corner

2 Responses to “How Good Gear Almost Ruined My Music”

  1. Jason

    I want to thank you for this. I just started partnering with a label on music row to write songs. i was always happy with writing, then recording on my computer through an four channel mixer through the sound card. Then the cool toys came into the picture. Adobe audition, Firewire digital mixer with VST 8 independent channels. I started reading about mixing, mastering, full band blending,etc. eventually the project was so broad that i lost focus on why i was doing it, BECAUSE OF THE SONG WRITING! (Don’t worry the caps are me yelling at myself!) I am going back to an analogue sound with me and my guitar. Might throw in a snare brush and shaker for a little rhythm, but nothing excessive. This article really redirected me to what I love, the creativity more, with less. THANKS!

    • Joe Gilder

      Glad I could help, Jason. I was just thinking about this this morning actually. The song we’re mixing for Dueling Mixes this month was featured in a cool video about extreme speed long boarding. Anyway, the mix used in the video was one the band had done before submitting the song to Dueling Mixes, so it was different from my mix or Graham’s mix, but it was still good…because the SONG was good.
      The mix is really so much less important than the song. Yes, you can ruin a bad song if you don’t know enough to get a decent mix, but you can’t save a horrible song with mixing (or production, or editing, etc. etc.).


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