How did you record your very first album? My first one was a doozy. Imagine a clueless, 17-year-old version of Joe, hunched over an old PC in his parent’s living room, playing guitar and singing into the skinny little diction microphone that came with my parent’s computer.

You know the mic I’m talking about, right? It’s the same mic the computer nerd used in Ocean’s 11 to communicate with Brad, George, and the rest of the gang. Here’s a picture to jog your memory.

So you’ve got this mental picture, right? I’m sitting there with some recording software my buddy let me borrow, thinking I’m the coolest thing since sliced bread. After all, I was recording an album!!

You couldn’t pay me enough money to release those recordings to the public now. However, it was that first experience with recording that got me hooked.

Years later, I’ve gone from being a kid with $10 microphone to having a fairly nice home studio. (Click that link to check out the video tour of my studio.)

Do I have the best setup in the world? Not even close, but I do have a nice setup, and I can get some great-sounding recordings out of it.

How Did I Get Here?

Did I simply go out and buy up a bunch of gear? Not at all. In fact, it was several years before I even got an Mbox, Mac Mini, and Pro Tools. I bought the gear as I got better.

As I’ve said before, Gear Acquisition Syndrome won’t solve your problems. Better gear does not a better engineer make. (Does that make sense? I think it does if you say it out loud.)

In fact, buying up a bunch of nice gear could ruin your dreams of having a home studio. I had a particular customer at Sweetwater. Let’s call him Bob. Bob is a classic example of buying too much too early.

Bob had wanted a home studio his entire life. He saved up a huge sum of money to make it a reality. (We’re talking less than an Avalon, but more than a Corolla.) He had never recorded a lick of audio in his life.

We spent hours on the phone putting together this big system. It took a long time to explain how everything worked, and I had to basically build up his recording knowledge from scratch.

I urged him to start small, but he wanted to go all out, so we did.

The result? I called Bob six months later, and he had still not recorded a single note. He had un-boxed everything, put gear in the rack, made sure it all powered on okay, but that was it.

Bob was overwhelmed. He didn’t know where to start. He was paralyzed. He had a room full of gear that would make any of us drool; yet he didn’t know how to use any of it.

Baby Steps

Any “What About Bob?” fans out there? Remember the “baby steps?” I honestly picked the name “Bob” before deciding to talk about baby steps. 🙂

If you focus too much on the gear and not the process, you’ll end up frustrated and overwhelmed. At that point, you may be tempted to give up music and recording altogether and take up boating or something. I don’t want that to happen.

What did I do? I took things slow. I studied a lot. I learned from people who knew more than me. I then took what I learned and tried to make sense of it on my own. I messed up a lot. I ran into a lot of obstacles, but I slowly learned how to overcome them.

Got a question? Leave a comment.