Welcome to Day 6 of 31 Days to Better Recordings.

As you’re evaluating your rig, you may find yourself neck-deep in a Sweetwater catalog. With thousands of items vying for your attention, it’s easy to develop tunnel vision.

You need to occasionally break free and think outside the box. There are so many creative ways to add on to your studio, but sometimes you’ve got to look for them.

Here are a few places to start.

1. IKEA

Do you know about IKEA? I thought it was a household name, but then I recently met several people who hadn’t heard of it.

Basically, IKEA is this huge warehouse store. They produce anything and everything you could want to decorate your home. Furniture, lighting, all sorts of stuff.

The great thing is that they produce everything in bulk, and it’s all really inexpensive.

It may not seem immediately obvious, but a lot of the items sold at IKEA can be easily converted for studio use. For example, if you watch my latest studio tour, you’ll see that I used their $15 Rast nightstand to make an 8-space wooden equipment rack.

Jon over at Audio Geek Zine is actually the first person to turn me on to a lot of IKEA studio “hacks.” Check out his article on how IKEA makes great studio furniture. (The article may be missing pictures. Jon’s site recently fell victim to a server crash…bummer.)

2. Cinder Block Monitor Stands

Here’s an odd one I came across over on velvetron.com.

So you’ve got your studio monitors, but you’re running out of room on your studio desk. Or perhaps you want your monitors to be a little bit higher, more ear-level.

There are lots of monitor stands out there (I own these On-Stage stands), but they can be a bit expensive, starting at around $100 for a pair. When you’re using $300 studio monitors, that math simply doesn’t add up.

But you still need something, so why not use four cinder blocks as monitor stands?

I was surprised at how well they seemed to work. Something to consider…

3. Guitar Pedals

Looking for effects for your mixes? Not convinced you want to buy a rack-mount reverb or effects unit? That’s understandable. Those can get fairly pricey. But what about guitar pedals?

Do a quick search for guitar pedals on Craigslist, and you’ll quickly find a whole host of cheap, used guitar pedals. Not a guitarist? No problem, you can run any sort of signal through a guitar pedal, and this can be a great way to change things up in the studio and capture new, exciting sounds.

Listen to this podcast I did on using hardware inserts in Pro Tools. I talk about how I used the delay pedal in my guitar pedalboard to add a nice slap-back delay to a lead vocal on a song I mixed.

4. Toys and more…

The guys over at the Home Recording Show podcast know all about thinking outside the box. They always give me great ideas for cool ways to get new sounds. For example, check out Show #75 – Homemade Effects and Demos.

Jon also has created a sample library of sounds he recorded while breaking a bunch of toys. It’s called Toys Breaking.

Day 6 Challenge

In the comments below, share with us something new you’re going to try in your studio that you’ve never done before.