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Longtime Musician Totally New to Recording

Discussion in 'Recording' started by tomminsj, May 25, 2010.

  1. tomminsj

    tomminsj Guest

    I just joined this forum because I havent been able to find a whole lot of information regarding my current situation, so hopefully some posters here will bear with me and help me out. Here it goes:

    I'm a longtime guitarist who has just recently discovered the world of digital music production. While at college my best friend/drummer got into making mashups with Ableton, and after showing me his stuff I started playing around with the VI's and beat making functions on my little Ableton and FL Studio demos. Since then I've gotten pretty hooked and have decided it's time to take my music to the next level. This is where I'm stuck.

    While I've always enjoyed writing and composing songs by myself on my guitar, I'm literally clueless as to how to start recording and producing music on my computer. I've done some research and have a pretty solid (but very basic) understanding of Ableton and FL Studio, and I have a fairly good idea of how the recording process works, but havent been able to find much guidance on what actual tools and programs I'll need to get started.

    I'm actually clueless to the point where I don't know exactly what questions to ask, but here it goes:
    -I'm looking to do both some live guitar recording as well as digital sampling and beat production. I've heard Pro Tools, Reason and Ableton thrown around as some of the top music software programs, but that they accomplish different tasks. What programs will be best for recording guitar riffs, and what program should I use for digitally producing beats and MIDI instruments? What program is best for arranging these parts into a song?
    -I'm completely lost on hardware. I know I'll need sort of audio interface as well as a MIDI keyboard controller, but I'm not sure. Besides my computer, my software and some microphones, what other tools will I need? Any low-cost suggestions for a beginner are appreciated.
    -I've heard there are some good books on this subject, so if anyone can suggest one that could answer these questions I would appreciate it.

    If you've read this far into the post, thank you for your patience. Again, I'm a complete beginner here with some big ideas who needs at least a basic home studio to make them happen.
  2. Guitarfreak

    Guitarfreak Distinguished Member

    Feb 21, 2009
    Welcome. If making amateur recordings is your gig, then you don't need to spend too much (relatively speaking of course). You can get by with very little actual equipment... but that doesn't mean you won't WANT more equipment :cool:

    First and foremost, before we go on. How much are you willing to spend to make your first mixes? What computer are you planning on using?
  3. tomminsj

    tomminsj Guest

    As far as my budget I'd prefer to not spend more than a week's paycheck, which is about $600-$800. Less would be ideal of course. I'm also a PC guy and have a pretty stable Dell Inspiron with good RAM and memory. Thanks for the help.
  4. Guitarfreak

    Guitarfreak Distinguished Member

    Feb 21, 2009
    Another very important question. How is your guitar gear? Do you get good tone with it, or are you hoping that some 'studio magic' can make it sound better?
  5. tomminsj

    tomminsj Guest

    I'm pretty set with my guitars. Got a few nice amps-- an old Vox stack, some Marshalls, and a Line 6 Modeling amp to play around with, and switch between my Ibanez SA320 and a Fender Strat. Like I said, I'm a pretty serious guitarist with almost no digital mixing or recording experience.
  6. Guitarfreak

    Guitarfreak Distinguished Member

    Feb 21, 2009
    If you are satisfied with your guitar tone, then that is all that matters. To record what your amp is putting out you will need no more than a single dynamic mic (around $100) and an XLR digital interface that will convert the signal into digital language that the computer understands. For the mic, a popular choice is a Shure SM57. The Audix i5 is a great choice for a cab mic as well. I own them both and they are both great mics and both have their strengths and weaknesses.

    If you want to record vocals as well then you could grab an SM58 (cheap, workhorse vocal mic, lasts forever). I use a PreSonus Firebox for the interface. It was about $300 around the time I bought it, but it is discontinued now and you could probably grab a used one off ebay for around $150. You need FireWire for this. If you would prefer to buy new, then there are other units in the PreSonus line around the same price point that are worth looking into.

    Obviously there are a lot of options here and the choice is up to you, but I get by with my equipment. Skip M-Audio if you like getting your money's worth, and skip Behringer if you like your investments to last a long time.

    I use a Mac, and I'm not the most well-versed in PC audio software and whether or not the included plugs and instruments in a given package are worth a damn, so hopefully someone else can chime in and suggest a good software package.
  7. tomminsj

    tomminsj Guest

    Thanks, thats a huge help. Finding the right interface was my biggest question, and I'd been looking into PreSonus so I think I'll definitely go with that now. Also thanks for the mic suggestions.
  8. Guitarfreak

    Guitarfreak Distinguished Member

    Feb 21, 2009
    Also, almost forgot. You are going to want to get a pair of monitors as well. Look for a nice pair between $250-500 a pair. Some starting points are

    KRK RP5 (I own these)
    Samson Rubicon R5a (I almost bought these, it was a close call)
    Mackie MR5
    M-Audio BX5a
    Tapco S-5
  9. FlyBass

    FlyBass Active Member

    Oct 31, 2007
    Central Indiana, USA
    As for a DAW program -- if you buy a new Presonus interface, it will come with a version of their Studio One software. It gets good reviews, so I would start with that. If you buy an older version of a Presonus interface, the original owners might throw in the lite version of Cubase that came with it -- again, another worthy program.

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