A common dream among many musicians is to have a space where you can practice your instrument, record tracks, and share your talent with your target audience. A studio is a space where we can do all of these things in a comfortable and efficient setting. These days, it is very easy to set up a studio for cheap. In this article, I will give some ideas on what goes into a studio for beginners as well as for more advanced musicians wanting to take their art to the next level…
Before you begin
First, it is important to assess your needs as a musician. Do you want to create a studio just for practice, for recording albums, or both? What do you want to do in your space? Also, you need to think of a budget; studios can be made very cheaply, or you can go all out! Once you do this, you will have a better idea on where to start your build.
I want to start by speaking to the absolute beginners on the guitar. I think the best way to start a “studio” is to have what I call a “Practice Space”. A practice space is similar to a studio, but it is not the best for making recordings. A practice space is a studio specific for getting the most out of your practice time. Once you advance on your instrument, then you just have to add the recording elements to create a full studio.
First, find a space in your home you want to put your haven in. If you have an empty office space, that is perfect! If not, find an area of your home away from distractions and clutter. Next, we have to add all the tools necessary to practice our music! Here are some ideas on what you can add…
- Your guitar on a nice stand: when your instrument is out in the open, you are more likely to practice!
- A practice journal: a journal allows you to keep track of your practice, and what you need to improve on for the next session.
- A comfortable chair: preferably without armrests!
- Guitar accessories: capos, books, extra strings, and picks galore!
- A bookshelf: keep all your music books organized and presentable!
Creating a budget studio
I recorded my first album after I graduated high school, and my equipment only cost me about $50! I had a guitar with an input, and I had an iRig that plugged into my cell phone where I could record into the GarageBand app. This can technically be a “studio”, but I think we can do better!
If you are only recording for solo guitar, it is very easy to create a studio for under $500. The first thing a studio needs is a computer for you to work at. A designated computer in the studio is where you can record music, edit tracks, share your music, create album covers, and more! I recommend having a desktop computer that can sit on your desk, and you can also get a pair of high-quality speakers to plug into the monitor. If you have a laptop, that will also work just fine! Whatever computer you choose, just make sure it has enough storage for you to download whatever recording software you need.
Treating the acoustics
Once you have your room planned, we then have to consider the acoustics. You might notice that your chosen room has an echo when you talk or play. These echoes might be nice in terms of playing for ourselves, but they can interfere with our audio recordings! To fix this, we can hang foam panels, which helps to get rid of the echoes of the room. It is much easier to work with an audio recording that is plain, rather than try to edit a file to get rid of the background noise. Echoes and reverb can be added later!
Digital Audio Workstation
Once your computer is set up, you are ready to install the software needed to do your work. The digital audio workstation, commonly called the DAW for short, is where you can edit your recordings. GarageBand on the iPhone is technically a DAW, but here we will discuss computer software. Many people use Pro Tools, which can be pricey. I have friends who recommend Reaper, which gets the same effects as Pro Tools but can be bought for about $60! Do your research and find what station works best for your needs and budget.
In order for your DAW to pick up the recordings you create, you will need an interface that plugs into your computer and your instrument or microphone. If you are on a budget, you can get interfaces that connect to the USB port on the computer! Some interfaces will also have more than one input, so you can record multiple tracks at once. However, some interfaces are not guitar specific, so I recommend finding one that is so you do not have to buy a separate microphone.
If your interface is not guitar specific, a microphone is a necessity. If you are planning to record both guitar and vocals, you may need to get two microphones! The microphone can be plugged into your interface, which then transfers the recording straight into your DAW.
As you can see, it only takes a few basic materials to start your own guitar studio. I recommend starting with these necessities, and then as you grow as an artist you can continue updating your equipment. Continue to make your space your own, since you might be spending a lot of time here! Continue experimenting, and your next hit song may be revealed with the help of your own guitar studio!