Real instruments - do we need any?

Discussion in 'Mixing & Song Critique' started by anonymous, Feb 18, 2002.

  1. anonymous

    anonymous Guests

    Feb 10, 2001
    Something else I thought we could chew on:

    I happen to have a very fine piano in my studio. It's one of the things that sets me apart from a lot of other studios in my area, so it helps with creating my "niche". I even get a number of projects from other studios when the artist wants to add some "real" piano tracks. I could conceivably survive without it, as plenty of clients aren't using it as a major part of their projects, but it definitely generates business.

    I've been considering getting a decent drum kit (DW's maybe?), and I've heard a lot of people here discussing their guitar/guitar amp collections.

    I guess my question is, do others find it important to supply real instruments to their clients? In the case of drums and guitars it's not that much of a hassle for the musicians to bring their own. But in the case of a grand piano or a B-3 it's more than just a conveninece.

    I do keep a large collection of percussion instruments around. I find it very handy in case the artist is inspired to try throwing on a tambourine, shakir, or triangle track when the inspiration strikes.

    So, what are others doing?
  2. Scott Gould

    Scott Gould Active Member

    Oct 22, 2001
    Pt. Charlotte FL
    I keep about 40 or 50 instruments in my studio - pianos, Hammond, guitars, basses, brass, percussion, etc. etc. -, so when somebody gets inspired, they can just go for it. It also helps when somebody comes in who doesn't maintain his axe (happens more than I'd like), or wants to record an acoustic guitar part - but has a $200 pawn shop special...

  3. anonymous

    anonymous Guests

    Feb 10, 2001
    "do others find it important to supply real instruments to their clients? In the case of drums and guitars it's not that much of a hassle for the musicians to bring their own. But in the case of a grand piano or a B-3 it's more than just a convenience."

    Very good question..

    I have kinda gone overboard on recording gear and have few instruments at the studio and v little back line.. But that said rental co delivery is just an hour away so I regularly get in Ampeg B15 bass amps, Marshall stacks etc..

    If feel the instrument list I want is endless and a slippery slope!

    For those studios located away from the big music center cities I would imagine having back line and some instruments would be kinda essential...

    How does it work out for everybody?

    Les Paul standard
    1953 Gibson SJ accoutic
    Various gtr direct / pre amp gizmos
    Marshall JMP1
    Digitech Valve FX

    I don't even have a midi keyboard! :)
  4. UTS

    UTS Guest

    Two years ago we bought a Yamaha Recording Custom Drumkit, which I regulary change skins, have a nice set of snares for and bought some great Zildjian Cymbals. Every single drummer I have been recording since then has been playing over that kit and told me how much he loved it.....I think it is an important point to have the right instruments available. I rather mix a great drummer, with a great kit on cheapy equipment than a lousy drummer with a Newsound Kit on great gear....


  5. Mike Simmons

    Mike Simmons Active Member

    Nov 5, 2001
    Home Page:
    I keep a few things around, mostly stuff from when I was a player. If space and budget would allow I'd have more. As of now a couple basses (Rick set-up for "Magical Mystery Tour" sound and a 5 string ZON) thru a V-4B, an acoustic strung in "Nashville" tuning, an accordion, a bunch of small percussion toys an old 6 string silvertone and an Italian 12 string electric. I have a basic midi set-up with a Fatar weighted keyboard controller. It's not much but gets some ideas flowing from time to time.

    I got the idea to have the Nashville tuned gtr on this forum (from "Bears's gone Fission" I think) and it gets added into a lot of acoustic tracks I've done recently. So I'm always picking up some great idea here!
  6. davemc

    davemc Guest

    After a couple of years of trying to tune crap drums. I went out with my drummer at the time and got a Pearl BLX (birch) kit. I had always liked Birch :D to record with, cost US1,000 for 8 piece and cymbals..

    This made an instant difference to my drum sound, as the kit is tuned in my drum room it always sounds good. :w:
    Since I have added a 6 1/2 DW maple snare and Maple and brass pearl piccolo snares for variety.
    I got some 13" hats to keep them down.

    I brought a Bass for the same reason as the Drum kit, although it is only used when the bass players is $*^t.

    As I play Guitar I keep my stuff at the studio. 2 G&L's, Les Paul Junior, Soldano, Marshall and Line6 amps.
    This make a difference in CD's as we can layer different tones down than one amp and one guitar.

    I know I have got some extra work as I have a drum kit in the studio, guitars are mine anyway so I do not care.
    I also do not charge rental for the stuff, I just look at it as an incentive to record with me.
  7. Richard Kuschel

    Richard Kuschel Member

    Aug 15, 2001
    I have a bass that a lot of people really like. 1982 Fender (cbs) reissue of the 1962 Jazz bass. and offer it to any player that has a really crummy instrument. For some reason bass players have worse instruments than guitar players.

    I also have a selecion of guitars, (Les Paul, Strat, Tele) but those don't get as much use. I believe that this is due to the fact that the guitar is a very personal instrument. The same goes for my amps.

    A good acoustic flat top is great for those who are neophytes and don't have an instrument that plays in tune.

    FWIW, I keep a complete set of guitar tools on hand and can adjust, strobe and perform minor repair in the studio.

    Next, I plan to purchase a good 5 piece set of drums. This will make some drummers that use my studio really happy. There are two fine drummers that come into my studio that own really junky drums in bad condition and these would make my life a lot happier when they come in.

    Two of the best drummers around though wouldn't use a studio set as they keep their instruments in absolutely perfect condition and have developed their sounds carefully and thouroughly.

    These guys don't take any amount of time to set up as they are ready to record as soon as the microphones are set.

    I had an acoustic upright piano, but there wasn't enough demand for it for me to keep it in proper repair and clients weren't willing to pay for tuning. (Which should be done just before the session)

    When I get a larger studio, I will have access to a small grand which would see more use as it sounds better and holds tune better.

    I have a Yamaha KX88 controller and several piano modules that work quite well in the meantime.

    I don't keep the guitars or amps that I own at my studio and only offer them for use to bands who are already doing work in the studio.

    If a group of kids that I don't know approaches me and asks if the studio provides instruments and amplifiers, I simply tell them that I don't and it is up to them to bring in their own gear. I believe that this helps curtail potential :mad: ripoffs. :mad:
  8. anonymous

    anonymous Guests

    Feb 10, 2001
    Some of the best drummers around here are also some of the laziest, and for most sessions would just as soon walk in and play someone else's kit! :roll:

    If you do enough tunings per year, you can usually negotiate with a local piano tuner for a "bulk rate" discount. In my case i was able to negotiate a $50 rate (down from the usual $80) which I pass directly on to the client. I pretty much insist on on a pre-session tuning, although sometimes I can get away with one tuning for a two consecutive day session, with me whipping out my trusty tuning hammer to spot tune a couple of strings from time to time.
  9. Ted Nightshade

    Ted Nightshade Member

    Dec 9, 2001
    Great thread!
    Much praise to the keepers-in-tune of fine pianos in the studio. A tuning hammer is essential for pulling up one string of a unison here and there even soon after piano tunings.
    An option for those who can't afford a really fine piano for the studio (a waste of time, money and effort to chase around most pianos) is the Kawai Mp9000 stage piano. The best fake piano and the only one I would use. Big wooden keys and a very convincing sound in the hands of a good player. Of course it won't do for solo classical stuff, but what do you expect.

    "After a couple of years of trying to tune crap drums. I went out with my drummer at the time and got a Pearl BLX (birch) kit. I had always liked Birch to record with, cost US1,000 for 8 piece and cymbals.."

    I've heard a lot of good things about birch for drums. Those companies making them advertise them as "pre-EQ'd" for recording. They say recording engineers like them! Any comments?
    I too am looking at such things just now. Any thoughts on the best size of bass drums? Are deeper bass drums better for recording?
  10. sign

    sign Guest

    Yeah, birch is great for recording. I have a Premier Genista which has a wooden snare too.
    I bought it for the drummers in order to have a good drum sound.

    But drummers seem to be the most self opinionated musicians sometimes and prefer to use their own kit.

    I also have a number of vintage keyboards, Hammond, Rhodes, Grand Piano, analog strings and a harmonium from 1906.

    Nothing beats a real piano, Hammond or Rhodes!
  11. SlideMan

    SlideMan Guest

    Real instruments kickass.

    First I bought a 6'10" Schimmel Unikaat grand piano that stays in tune like a MOFO. (That sucker weighs almost 1,000 pounds. An equivalent Yamaha or Steinway weighs well under 600 pounds.) Even Steinway bigots have to admit that it sounds great.

    After I discovered that no microphone/preamp combination could make up for a lame acoustic guitar I got a 60's Gibson 12 string that needed a lot of work. $400 odd bucks later I had a really nice guitar.

    Bought a 62 Fender Bassman head, and a teeny 1947 Gibson amp, had 'em both hot-rodded by Eddie Ciletti. Bought another 62 Bassman head and kept it stock. Bought a '72 Fender Super Reverb.

    Keyboard lust reared it's ugly head again, and a friend gave me a Hammond 105 organ. So I bought a 122 Leslie, and had the Hammond rebuilt. The Hammond repair guy lined me up with a Canadian vintage keyboard guy, who sold me a stereo Fender Rhodes in mint condition, followed by a Wurlitzer 200A piano in great repair.

    The latest additions are an Ampeg B15N bass amp, and a Marshall JCM 2000 something or other that has 20 delicious tube watts, and a Fender Deluxe Reverb. Also 70's SG, 1965 Fender Mustang, and some Fender 2x12 bottoms.

    Sessions come just for the grand piano. Sessions come just for the Hammond. The Rhodes and Wurly haven't brought in sessions yet but they will. The amps are great for layering sounds and inspiring musicians.

    Life is too short to record shitty instruments and amps.

    Jeff Roberts
    Upper U.S.
  12. faganking

    faganking Member

    May 22, 2001
    I truly believe that by having many of these things 'on hand and working', can and will over time, make a noticeable difference in the work your studio draws. There is no question that having a *good* piano, a fender rhodes and a hammond organ will always draw clients. (you just wouldn't know that they *didn't* call you). But...after collecting two baritone guitars, a 12 string baritone guitar, a tele, a Les paul, a Dan Electro, an electric sitar, a (perfectly intonated) Jazz bass, a harmonium, good tambourines and a '63 gold sparkle Ludwig drum work took off. People can relate to this more readily then your slammin' mic pres. So many scenarios:Often the guy with the killer, way expensive DW set *wigs* over the different vibe of the old Ludwig kit. "What's that? An organ? Can we use it?" There's two more hours of studio time while they play with that. I believe guitar pedals also play into this. As well as having many 'monster cable' type guitar cables, a plethora of guitar picks (the player may not be aware they are using, for example, too thin of a pick). Tools! I have seen ALL of this make a difference in a studios' success many times thru the years.
  13. sixpence

    sixpence Guest

    I play a few instruments so I always have stuff to hand. I've no real gem intruments. The best of my guitars is a Parker P-38, which is a really good guitar. I've a squier Tele, a Hohner Steinberger(everyone wants to play it!), a Hohner solidbody semi and an Ibanez Acoustic (Which records really well). Pride of place is the Rhodes I rescued from a friends garage. It had been sitting there for six years since it was last used for his bands final album. Even drummers wants to sit at it and play!
    Basswise I've a OLP Musicman (which will be a real one soon) and a good 5-string Peavey. I spent time with all my guitars setting them up properly and with good intonation.
    I've a Yahama Midi Kit on the way (neighbours prevent a real kit-which would have been cheaper). Basically I'll be reahearsing and recording with this. The gear gets me work and helps a lot in the writing process.
  14. Ted Nightshade

    Ted Nightshade Member

    Dec 9, 2001
    Damn, I would be thrilled to find all that in a studio somewhere. Major Kudos. I have tons of instruments but I might not have so many if I had wandered into one of these hands-on museums described above.
    Since we got the Kawai MP9000 and a Suzuki Hammond Module the real hammond and the real rhodes stay in the closet. This after years of hauling both everywhere, because nothing else would do. Now the Kawai and Suzuki do it all. Manley tube DI is a permanent part of the Kawai. Vintage Ampeg V4 into Leslie 122 crossover and the Hammond stays in the closet. In the hands of the right player!
    I wish I had a '72 or so Fender Jazz Bass. That would round out the arsenal quite nicely.
    TreeWorks chimes are outrageous, and a few triangles and a bell lyra are handy too.
  15. Greg Malcangi

    Greg Malcangi Member

    Oct 12, 2000
    Hi Littledog,

    It all depends on what you are doing. If you are working with top pros, they would never dream of using anything other than their own instruments. Particularly the top drummers, who are usually contractually obligated to use drums from one particular manufacturer.

    I'm lucky in that my wife is a percussion soloist and she currently has about 1400 percussion instruments; ranging from the obvious drum kits to a 60" tam tam, an entire gamelan orchestra and just about everything you can imagine inbetween! It sure does come in useful.

  16. Ted Nightshade

    Ted Nightshade Member

    Dec 9, 2001
    :eek: You ARE lucky! :eek: I'm jealous!
  17. Ted Nightshade

    Ted Nightshade Member

    Dec 9, 2001
    Who's your wife, anyhow? Evelyn Glennie?
    I'm a sucker for solo percussion! Got to hear it! :w: Ted
  18. Greg Malcangi

    Greg Malcangi Member

    Oct 12, 2000
    Hi Ted,

    How did you guess? I thought I left it criptic enough so that no-one would know.

  19. Mike Simmons

    Mike Simmons Active Member

    Nov 5, 2001
    Home Page:
    hmmm... maybe your homepage info was a hint!

    Nah!... Ted is probably just psychic!

    Man, you guys must have some serious storage space at your house. ;)
  20. Ted Nightshade

    Ted Nightshade Member

    Dec 9, 2001
    Actually I didn't look at your homepage, but Evelyn Glennie is a major inspiration to me, and probably the only full time solo classical percussionist in the world. You didn't say classical, but if there's someone else out there doing solo percussion with a 1400 piece collection, I want to hear that too!
    One time I checked out "Light in Darkness" from the local public library and it changed my life forever. The opening solo vibraphone part made me reconsider all my ideas about music and recording, and our whole act had to be retooled to make room for the vibraphone, gongs, et al. We had to remake our whole vision, it was so earthshaking.
    Also from Evelyn's website I found a link to John Piper, the past master of vibraphone squeak and rattle eradication, who gave me a lot of great advice, some stabilizer bars, and some great mallets, all of his design.
    What a profound honor to make your acquaintance.
    Say hi for me! :w:

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