We’re back with another FAQ Friday for you! The featured question from today’s video is this:
If you were starting a semi-professional project studio, how would you allocate the money you have to spend?
In order to answer this question, I have to start by asking a question: Are you an instrumentalist? I have been in some professional studios that don’t have any gear outside of recording gear, but that may not be the best path for you to take when setting up your studio. The reason I start by asking that question is if you are looking to record local bands and artists from your area, and you want them to sound good, you will want to have a few instruments available for them to use. The reality it, this may be their first experience in the studio, and they may come in with a guitar or bass or drum kit that is barely playable. This is something that has happened to me many times!
My last studio had a rental/rehearsal business as well, so I took advantage of that, and this helped me make sure that I could get any piece of equipment of any instrument I may need. When I came to build this studio, I knew I would not have access to that rental business anymore, so I had to think of a solution for that. This is why I have tons of guitars, basses, amps, pianos, and other equipment here. So, if you are planning to record bands, you will probably have to allocate a little bit of your budget to buying some instruments.
To start, at least one decent bass guitar would definitely be worth it. I have three main basses here: a Mexican jazz bass, a Peavy 240, and a BB Series Yamaha. When purchasing you instruments, you don’t have to spend exorbitant amounts of money! I purchased each of these basses used, and the most expensive one was $600. Of course, I love super expensive handmade basses (who doesn’t?) but they are not necessary, especially when you are just starting out! You can still get a great sound from a used, inexpensive bass. Next thing I would have is one or two electric guitars; something with single coils and something with humbuckers. These can also be purchased used, of course!
As far as amps, that’s a pretty contentious thing these days. You could get away with using a lot of high quality virtual amps and have one or two amps available with cabs, or you can rely on the band bringing theirs. I personally love amps, so we have a lot of lovely amps here, including a Deluxe Reverb, a Pro Junior, the Carl Martin Roadies amp, and a few more. We have tons of options, but we typically use one or two, so if you can set aside some money for an amp, do it! I would go for something small are portable.
In terms of a drum kit, TAMA and Yamaha both make affordable drums, and again, this is something you can buy used. The most important thing to think about when buying a drum kit is to make sure the hardware still works and things aren’t drooping all over the place, ad that you keep the skins relatively fresh and well-tuned. More than anything, drums are about how you hit them and how they’re tuned. You can probably get a used drum kit, snare included, for roughly $500.
The next thing you should do is get yourself a USB keyboard. You’re going to need something to trigger the sounds in your DAW. These keyboards can start at $100 or less, so not a huge expense. In terms of your DAW and computer, that really is up to you! It all depends on what you prefer, what you are familiar with, and what you feel most comfortable with!
For your interface, you know I love Audient, because they have inexpensive interfaces that have great sounding mic pres. If you are not going to be doing live drums, you can start with a simple two input interface and then you can expand from there. If you have at least eight though, you’ll be sure you have enough inputs to record a drum kit and a number of other things all at the same time and get a great performance.
When it comes to speakers, you can choose to spend a lot of money, or not a lot of money, it really depends on your budget and your space. I have a pair of Cali LP6’s, which I use every day and absolutely love, but if you can’t afford a pair of speakers or you are in a space where you can’t play speakers loud enough to work on, then you should invest your money in a really good pair of headphones instead. For mixing, try to start at around $200-$300 for a pair of headphones. For entry-level headphones, Audio Technica has some great ones, and of course, Focal has incredible headphones on the higher end.
Overall, you could be looking at roughly $5,000, or a little bit less, if you are blending used and new equipment. To keep costs down and make things more cost-effective for yourself, don’t be afraid to buy used! Just make sure you are paying attention to what you are buying and ask the right questions to make sure you are getting the right value for your money. If you want all new equipment, you could be looking at well over $5,000. The budget for your studio will really depend on your needs. Will you be recording bands? Will they need equipment? Do you want all new, or are you going to buy some used as well? It all depends on what your needs are and how much you are willing to spend!
Watch the video below for the full answer along with the answers to other FAQ Friday questions!