Once upon a time, if you wanted to create the sound of a full rock band, you needed to enlist a drummer, lock down a jam space so you wouldn’t be evicted from your apartment, and corral a couple other musicians to join on keyboard, bass etc. Scheduling jams involved coordinating nights off, and you were lucky to get in one or two solid rehearsals a week. In 2018, all of that has changed. The thrill of getting together a solid group of folks to create that full band sound is still exhilarating, but it’s not the only way to make progress on your project, not by a longshot.
While young musicians coming of age in 2018 have a range of affordable options for composing and performing that would have seemed impossible ten years ago, older generations are still adjusting to the technological advancements. If you grew up working a part-time job so you could afford an electric guitar and a vintage tube amp, you probably have a sentimental attachment to the warmth of analog, despite the fact that this type of equipment is fussy and expensive to repair. When you embrace digital, you can plug a guitar directly into your computer and access a broad range of amazing MIDI tones. This cuts out the need for an amplifier (you’ll still probably want to invest in a practice amp) when recording demos.
In fact, there are so many flexible options available to musicians today that it’s always a good idea to stay on top of new technologies, inventory what you own and treat your gear setup as an ever-evolving entity. For the remainder of this post, we’ll explore four hot tips on how to optimize your gear and save yourself money. Long & McQuade stores typically have the best selection of music equipment in any given city and knowledgeable staff – a great place to start when you’re shuffling things around or considering a new piece of gear.
- The Percussion Conundrum
Drums are tricky: they are incredibly loud and take up a ton of space. There was a trend for a long time of playing electric drums, but most drummers feel a bit goofy working with these awkward kits and they have fallen out of favour. In a performance setting, you see a lot of drummers integrating MIDI pads with their real drum kits, which can be incredibly effective. However, for recording purposes, MIDI drums sounds can be programmed easily on a grid as placeholders until it’s time to go into the studio. Digital drum machines such as Roland’s TR-8 are a lot of fun as well – though a bit pricey – and favoured by people making EDM and Dubstep.
- Mixing Analog & Digital
While there are still some analog purists out there, you have to have a lot of money to put together a full rig this way, and in the current gig economy most artists are facing, that’s no easy feat. Give yourself a break, trade in that $3000 Moog Synth and use the money to fill out your rig with several useful tools. Once you’ve got a solid batch of demos and a record deal, you can get a new Moog and that vintage tube amp with killer tone!