Wearing the Producer Hat: Special Interview with Ben Gortmaker

I have a real treat for you this week.

Remember Ben Gortmaker? I interviewed him about his fantastic album All’s Lost, All’s Found a few years ago.

This week Ben is back to talk about the ever-important topic of PRODUCTION.

As home studio owner’s, we’re pretty good about wearing the musician hat and the engineer hat, but what about the producer hat? Methinks it gets neglected. And that can mean disaster for your music.

In this episode, Ben shares valuable insights into topics like:

  • Songwriting (how a simple shift in your songwriting approach can help you make better recordings and mixes later)
  • Recording with what you have (proof that you don’t need to own a dozen microphones to make good recordings)
  • How to juggle the different hats you wear in the studio (and how you must embrace your inability to do them all at the same time)
  • How to uncover an unending supply of production ideas (that you can “steal” for your own music)
  • The single most important part of the entire production process (skip this at your own risk)

Plus a ho’ bunch mo’.

Listen now, and before you finish, leave a comment below, letting us know if we hit a nerve, if this is a topic you want to learn more about in the future.

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A Crucial Conversation About Gear

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. (more…)

8 Powerful Home Studio Lessons

I’ve been recording in my home studio for years.

I’ve recorded in a hallway at my parent’s house, in a dorm room at college, in a tiny (and really messy) bedroom I shared with a roommate, in church sanctuaries, in lots of apartments, in a log house, and finally in 3 different rooms in my current house.

The one common theme? NONE of those places were designed to be studios.

That’s the beauty and the frustration of working in home studios. All those imperfections make for a challenging (but immensely rewarding) environment for making music.

Over the years I’ve learned countless valuable lessons, but today I want to share with you eight of the most POWERFUL lessons I’ve learned. These are things that have made a dramatic impact on the quality of my recordings.

Here we go… (more…)

Make a Big ol’ Mess

Last week my wife Pam and I took on the task of refinishing our kitchen cabinets. They were very dark, so in an effort to brighten up our kitchen, we refinished them with a nice white color.

The problem with working on cabinets is that once you take them off the hinges, you’ve got to put them somewhere. So our entire kitchen and dining room was covered in cabinet doors. PLUS you get the added bonus that all of our cabinets were wide open, leaving plenty of things for our 1-year-old to get into.

Needless to say, our kitchen was a MESS.

And that’s exactly how it needed to be.

The mess kept us motivated.

The longer it took us to finish the project, the longer we had to live in a disaster area. The motivation to get our house back in order far outweighed the desire to be lazy and take our sweet time.

And there’s a big ol’ lesson here for us studio folks, too. (more…)

Ask Joe #34 – Adding “Umph” to Guitar Tracks

Another week. Another podcast. Got some really good questions this week. If you sent one in, thank you.

(It is quickly becoming very popular.)

Got a burning question? (Or just a regular question?) Ask away here:


Happy listening!

Topics covered:

  • Tips for adding extra “umph” to guitar tracks
  • Amp simulation
  • Re-amping
  • Recording with a newborn baby
  • Mic Preamps
  • Drum Overheads
  • Fader levels
  • Thunderbolt
  • Limiter thresholds
  • Solid State Drives

Links from the show:

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Welcome to Mistake-ville

What’s the deal with everybody being so anti-mistakes?

We want everything to be perfect, or at least we want people to see us as “mistake-free” people who have their act together.

You know what I call those people? Booooooring.

A friend of mine is a well-known producer here in Nashville. He’s worked with lots of major artists and has some serious clout. But you know what I like about him? He makes mistakes, AND he doesn’t mind telling you about them.

Just the other day he told me about a concert he was asked to play bass for. The band called him the day before, and he agreed to play. (more…)