Before covid 19, the UK had Brexit and with that car crash decision I immediately upgraded everything in my home studio in anticipation of items becoming more expensive or difficult to locate. My instinct was right as now our currency is in freefall and many standard items are impossible to locate.

The benefits of a permanent set up

None of us knew just how covid would change the ability to record and perform music. The home studio upgrade really came into its own over the last two years and I wrote and recorded a staggering amount of material. These days, recording has never been more affordable and its possible to create sonically excellent material. I’m always surprised that some singer songwriters don’t invest in key gear that is invaluable in getting down musical ideas. Having a studio on hand 24/7 where there are no noise problems, is invaluable. Its also given me the opportunity to explore my extensive musical instrument collection and to my complete surprise I’ve been working almost exclusively with electric instruments. In previous years I had recorded three albums with only acoustic instruments. Now I’ve gone all “Bob Dylan” and everything is on six string, tenor and baritone electric guitars.

Key studio gear

The last two years have been quite a trip and I’ve already blogged on some of the key items that have proved invaluable in studio recording. Many of these are literally gamechangers in writing and sparking creative ideas and include the UAD Arrow interface, Reaper DAW, Synergy analogue tube pre amos, Zen Drive 2 guitar pedal, Austrian Audio mics and the Acme DI unit.

UAD Arrow

The UAD Arrow has been terrific as a really stable, sonically superb audio interface. The UAD plugins are in my view by far the best sonically and really spark creativity. Crucially the Arrow is really easy to use and is invaluable in the studio.

Zen Drive pedal

This Zen Drive 2 pedal has been used extensively on all the Heartache tracks and it is quite extraordinary in terms of how great it sounds. Here you can get all those elusive dumble guitar sounds. Its no surprise to me that Eric Johnson and John McLaughlin are both big fans of this hard to get unit. There are countless overdrive pedals out there, but this one has that edge which is why I use it a lot on recordings. The only other overdrives that match this are the Egnater/Synergy units that I use and especially the COD MTS modules which is now super rare.

Austrian Audio OC818

I now only use Austrian Audio mics as they are just superb. The OC818 in particular is the best vocals mic I have ever come across, just superbly responsive. When I got it, I was so impressed that I re did some of the previous vocal takes. These mics work equally well with all manner of electric and acoustic guitars.

Danelectro Baritone Guitar

This is an unusual guitar in that its very different to any other instrument I own. Sonically it sits in between a bass and a six string electric. I use this extensively on a new track “Crack Dracula” This is a really interesting addition to the studio tools and provokes a totally different way of playing. Its also the most inexpensive instrument I have ever bought and as a bonus it looks super cool!

The Acme is brilliant as a DI unit and especially for bass. Its built like a tank and is another piece of gear that is exceptional in recording situations. Its super easy to use and of course is based on the classic Motown DI units that featured on so many classic tracks.

The invaluable home studio setup

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