Yesterday I gave you some advice on what to buy (or what NOT to buy) with your Christmas cash this year.

Today I’ll give you an example of why I like to buy creation tools over recording or mixing tools.

I’m finishing up a client project this week. It’s one where I’m wearing lots of hats – producer, performer, arranger, mixer, masterer (?).

The entire project has taken longer than I originally expected, mainly because I’m a bit out of my element. It’s a style of music I don’t normally make, and I’m having to come up with parts that I don’t normally come up with. The result has been a lot of trial and error, mixed with some good ol’ procrastination.

Since I don’t know exactly WHAT I need to do on a particular song, I put it off. (That’s so lame, I know.)

Well this week, I decided to ignore all my other projects and focus on getting just THREE done. (I wrote to you about this a few days ago.) This client project is one of my three.

So I sat down in the studio this week and listened to what I have recorded so far, and I was pleasantly surprised with how well it was turning out. But there were some synth parts I needed to add. So I added them.

But there was still something missing. The song needed an extra layer of something…so I reached for my cheapest electric guitar and got to work. (More on that in a second.)

Because my 6-month-old twins were napping at the time, I couldn’t fire up my Vox and record guitar. Besides, I was needing more of a Fender tone anyway. Then it hit me. I own one of those Tech 21 Character Series Blonde pedals. It does a really good job of emulating a bunch of different Fender amps.

Rather than turn my nose up at it, I knew I had to get some work done, so I dug it out of the closet, plugged it in and listened.


The tone was great. Perfect for the song. So I recorded.

I mentioned using my cheapest guitar. My two nicer electric guitars BOTH had dead pickups at the time. I hadn’t gotten ‘em fixed yet. Normally I would just hold off on recording until the guitars were fixed, but not this time. It was time to make some serious progress on this project. So I plowed ahead.

Then on another song I needed something crazy. So I played around on my Line 6 M9 pedalboard until I found this ridiculous-sounding synth patch. It made my guitar sound like a gnarly synthesized string section or something. Perfect.

I laid down the part with a little delay, and it added a whole new life to the song.

What’s the point of all this?

First of all, I had a blast. I had been intimidated by this project, but once I got in there and started trying stuff, I remembered how much fun this all is.

Secondly, you’ll notice that none of the cool stuff that happened had anything to do with recording or mixing gear. It was guitars and pedals and synth patches.

Creation Tools.

That’s where the fun is. If you’ve ever had a blast while mixing a song, it’s because somebody had a blast RECORDING that song.

If your mixes are stale and lifeless, it’s probably because you didn’t have very much fun while recording it. Perhaps you have a very good technical recording of a very bland song and performance.

No bueno, amigo.

You have to have fun. Not just for yourself. For the music. It really makes a difference.

Want to hear a perfect example of this?

Go sign up for Dueling Mixes, and check out the song we’re working on for this month. I can tell you that just from listening to the tracks, you know the people who recorded it were having a blast.

AND…the song and tracks are amazing.

You don’t want to miss this. Lots to learn, lots to mix.

Get on it here:

Joe Gilder
Home Studio Corner

P.S. We’re 5 days into the 12 Days of Christmas Giveaway. Don’t forget to sign up if you haven’t already!