Edjumacate Me

Discussion in 'Recording/Live Sound' started by JDJ, Sep 30, 2006.

  1. JDJ

    JDJ Member

    Jan 5, 2002
    About 15 years ago, I had a small Tascam 4-track recorder, a cheap drum machine, a bass guitar, and my 1961 SG. I made about 20 hours of finished recordings and had a blast.

    Fast forward to today, and, with a wife and three kids, I wouldn't mind getting into amatuer recording again -- both for sanity's sake and because some of the kids are getting into music.

    I currently possess a couple electrics, a modeling amp, (have a nice Clark tube amp on order), and an acoustic. No bass guitar.

    I'm interested in setting up a simple bedroom studio. And I mean bare bones. Nothing fancy. No moniters, just headphones. What are my options?

    I assume that, it I don't want to mic my amp, then I probably need some sort of digital signal processor with some effects. I really like the tweedy and voxy models I get out of the modeling amp. A touch of reverb is all I tend to use. I'd also like a signal processor that can permit me to lay down bass lines with my six-string and provide simple drum tracks. I don't sing (unless tipsy), but I wouldn't mind having the ability to add vocals.

    I also assume that I need some sort of mixing/recording device. I imagine that you can get some which have so much hard drive memory that tapes are a thing of the past. How about the ability to burn to a CD?

    And finally, what about doing all of this on the computer? How does that work, and what are the advantages and disadvantages?

    Thanks for any advice.
  2. ZenFly06

    ZenFly06 Member

    Dec 30, 2005
    So. Cali
    Go directly to www.tweakheadz.com do not pass go do not spend a dime until you absorb what you read there...

    Seriously it's a great site to catch up on the myriad of options available to the modern home recording [FONT=&quot]aficionado.[/FONT]
  3. JDJ

    JDJ Member

    Jan 5, 2002
    Will do. And just for kicks, I was browsing GC and saw the GuitarPort Riff-thingy. Seems interesting. Any thoughts?

    EDIT: Good lord! I could spend a full week reading that site!!
  4. clayville

    clayville Member

    Mar 25, 2005
    There are many people in a similar situation to you (me, for instance), and there are almost as many answers as there are people who have made the leap.

    But you can get your feet wet for practically nothing. Honest.

    Essentially, all you really need is some recording software and a way to get your guitar into the computer -- and you'll be quite surprised at how decent the results can be for a hobbyist. You don't mention what platform your home computer is, which matters for the very basic entry level advice.

    A) If you have a recent Apple, kick the tires on Garageband as your recording software. In the grand scheme of things its pretty simple and intuitive, but can make a great noise.

    B) on a PC there are several freeware options including:
    http://audacity.sourceforge.net/ (also works on a Mac)
    To that software you can add a host of "plug-ins" -- little computer applets the host software recognizes and that act like pedals or rack devices. There are hundreds and hundreds of free ones of those too. These ones are pretty decent for the most basic stuff:

    Most of the recording freeware generates .wav files. But you can get freeware converters to knock the files down to mp3. I use iTunes to burn CDs for friends from those.

    You also need an analog to digital converter or pre-amp get your guitar signal into the computer. There are very good solutions designed for the purpose that run from $200-$600 or more (often bundled with killer software) like these
    and gizmos like the GuitarPort that include that function, but to start you can get by with as little as one of these:
    (with an appropriate step-down patch cord to go from 1/4" guitar cord to 1/8" mini input).

    You also need some sort of signal generator to act as an amp. That can be upstream from your "digital interface" (the converter/pre-amp) as an external soundsource, or downstream as software emulation. There's a huge range of options here, including GuitarPort, PodXT and other modelers and multi-fx units, the line out of a real amp, a few pedals that also act as a pre-amps (like the Damage Control "Womanizer" or a Vox Tonelab), or a range of software options like Amplitude, Amp Farm, Guitar Rig and more. You might have a pedal lying around that would give you enough signal to get it done already.

    When I started the journey you're beginning a couple years ago, I used a DigiTech multi-fx pedal into an iMic into Kristal freeware with the plug-ins above into a PC laptop and had a blast playing along to backing tracks for practically nothing. Since then I've upgraded to a dedicated Mac and Mbox/ProToolsLE system, mostly using a Womanizer pedal for blues and classic rock tone. I play synth bass with one finger on a cheap midi keyboard in the bundled software that came with PTLE. Drums are trickier... but I can get OK results with the loops in Garageband (I'm on a Mac).

    The hardest part at the beginning is getting you connections right, keeping you record levels well below 0db (digital level peaks are nothing like analog ones), and getting a grip on the capabilities of what can be enormously complex software.

    But it's a heck of a lot of fun. 'Hope that helps.
  5. Carlier

    Carlier Member

    May 15, 2006
    Antwerp, Belgium
    Around 300 euros: Presonus Firebox (you need a firewire connection, 6pin)

    Around 100 euros: Emu soundcard (you need a little mixer, I use my
    old 4track tape recorder as a mixer)

    The reason I'd pick these is because they both include Cubase LE free, so you can get started right away.

    Good luck!

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