Ever notice how there's a lot less 'what do I need to buy' questions?

Is it just me, just this forum, or just music communities in general?

I was putting together that little click bait promo chart as some of you might have glanced over, then @Emma asked an interesting question…if people even NEED the same kind of ‘what to buy’ advice in 2017.

Is it just because the group here has sort of evolved? Or is it because people actually aren’t asking the same questions?

I noticed I’m seeing a little bit less of that on homerecording.com and other forums. Thoughts?

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I think it means we’re all getting older (and maybe wiser?) every day. :thinking:

Hah. Nobody says I’m wise.

Might be similar to the ideas a few of us mentioned in the “what plugins in 2017” thread. Namely, that many of us have a pretty set lineup of tools and gear and simply aren’t in need of as much stuff as we once were, we’ve got a setup that works for us. Certainly true in my case, aside from my desire for additional instruments from time to time.

dunno. in the last week I have bought:

KRK Rokit 8 G3 speakers
Speaker stands and cables
external HD case

Slate everything bundle

approximately 4-6 weeks before that it was:

TC Hall of Fame reverb pedal
EHX Ravish Sitar pedal
Behringer FCV100 volume pedal
Joyo compressor
MXR Phase 95 pedal

There were orders in Feb, Mar, May and I guess Amazon doesnt show orders older than 6 months otherwise there’d be a steady stream going back

and in the last 3 years: 2 guitars, a bass, about $700 worth of work on an existing guitar, singing courses, guitar instructional vids etc etc.

for the amount of quality work ive turned out (none), I guess I can say im an idiot. cest la vie

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Like I had said to Jonathan (this was a new thread created from a post on another thread) the gear stuff is the “What”, and in the grand scheme of things is probably the least important in terms of priority. Certainly, adding new gear doesn’t (usually) make you more talented or productive, creative or imaginative. That’s the G.A.S. (gear acquisition syndrome) belief, but it doesn’t hold water. To equate a volume of gear purchases to quality musical output is skipping the “Why” and the “How” and going straight for the “What”.

As you’ll see on the thread, I also found that adding in “Who” as the very first priority in front of “Why” may also make a lot of sense. Whether that’s a customer/client, or for yourself and your own enjoyment, the equation doesn’t mean much without people.

BTW, I have heard a fair amount of your stuff now (at least musical compositions, no vocals that I can recall) and I think you’re being hard on yourself. You definitely can compose, perform, and record … and have imagination, creativity, and talent. The mixing component takes time to learn, to train the ears, to understand what others are hearing, to find what you like and think is appropriate; that’s what this forum exists for and as you can see we’re here to try to help (and be helped). You said that you have studied vocals and singing as well, though that seems to come last in your production. It can feel very vulnerable for anyone to put their singing out there for some reason, much more so than instrumentals. But the only way to measure progress is to give it a go and be open to constructive criticism and learning.

Quality is subjective, and first I think it’s important to define your own goals (using the Golden Circle) for the near future, and then for your eventual/ultimate accomplishments - given the investment of time and sweat. The “inner critic” is a real bastard, and is not going to be very helpful.

somehow this is based on a certain logic in my mind.

If the drums suck…then why add anything on top of them??

if my drums/bass/gtr mixes totally suck and I am some sort of rank beginner at mixing…then why go thru the tedium of laying down vocals when the whole track itself might not even survive.

So I am trying to learn to mix in order to have a legit reason to then lay down vocals and finally start to focus on songwriting

That being said, just like the ultra common judgement on my mixes has been “muddy bass/nonexistent kick” etc…the judgement on my vocals thus far has been “awesome tone/timbre” but “pitchy”. I have heard each of those approx 10x so I have to respect both of those judgements,

I am subject to many types of mental hangups. For instance its very rare for me to “finish” a song. I have like 27.6 million original guitar/drum jams on my HD. Then maybe 20 of those have bass lol. Maybe 20 of them have vox. Maybe 10 have bass AND vox.

Why so few? Because I inherently know that Im not quite where I want to be yet as far as wanting to get somewhere into the Soundgarden/AIC/Creed/VH/LZep territory.

My mixing AND my writing AND guitar tone just arent quite there yet. So adding vocals and “finishing” songs is somewhat on the back burner

Somehow I am inching forward though I guess. Right now I feel the mixing is the weakest and most unacceptable part.

I think your posting of you building that mega recording studio has killed every “need to buy” topic.
I mean, what’s the point?
Just lucky that Chordwainer got in to buy that Strat just in time…

But coincidentally, I think I have what I need now and paying off some of the credit cards is a higher priority than buying new stuff. If I did buy something it would be Boz’s green door plug, and that’s so cheap it’s hardly worth sweating over. In fact, while we’re on the topic of sweating.
I did hit 104kg on the scales some weeks ago and went into a tail spin. Signed up with TestMax Nutrition and bought a whole lot of products that have now cleared customs in New Zealand, after I had to pay some tax and crap… plus I bought a nice York incline bench, gym shoes and dumbells.
I have now got down to 100kg and I’m soon back in two-digit territory. I am heading for 80 or less.
When I was fighting fit I weighed 76kg.
The TestMax Nutrition information is very interesting - partly because it’s made for men, and not for women. And it revealed that milk contains huge amounts of estrogen, which means that losing weight as a man is hopeless if you drink milk. Milk turns you into a woman. Which explains why I look pregnant :slight_smile:


Ha, hence the Golden Circle. Who do you want to be, and Why? Do you want to be a mixer? A musician? A songwriter? A vocalist/singer? All of the above? Why? (insert your musical existential meaning here) If you do a vocal “scratch track” you don’t have to invest lots of time in it, and you can state in BTR that the vocal is scratch and not to judge the performance. Approaching a song project involves planning the vocal melody, arrangement, and frequency “fit” … so by leaving that out you are missing a crucial part of the songwriting process and the mixing part too. Why would you bother writing a drum part if the vocal sucks? :grin: (just turning your statement backwards for perspective :slight_smile:)

I think the consensus on your recent mix is that some mud could be fixed with EQ, and the kick sound could be louder and punchier. The rest was pretty damn good IMO. Those challenges are relatively easy to fix (once you have learned how), and don’t overlook all the other awesome stuff you put into the song - I mean, IT’S A SONG! Only instrumental at this point, but that’s quite an accomplishment.

As to vocals, like with mixing, be content with what you’re already good at (for the moment) and focus your energy (but not self-criticism) on learning how to improve what you’d like to do better. Vocal intonation is an ongoing challenge, you’ll never “get there”, just keep progressing and do the best you can. You won’t learn by not trying. Seasoned pro singers almost always have to spend time (even hours) warming up each day, doing scales, practicing diligently. Perhaps you just need more warm up time for vocals? Also, you can record a guide track with a keyboard of your vocal melody and use that to follow along. Then mute the guide for mixing. Or learn to use a vocal tuner to help sound better.

I would challenge you, especially given the history you revealed, to just get through a song project - complete - in a fairly short time period. No judgements, no beating yourself up, no self-critique, just set a timer and spend as much time as you can getting the best possible tracks in that time, give yourself a set amount of time to mix, and then see how it turns out. That’s including vocals too. And post it in BTR with a full explanation of what it is and what you did and why. Maybe even your time limits for reference. This can be a great exercise to just get through a project and 'finish" something. You can evaluate the experience later. Once you have done that, you get to try again, under any conditions you wish. Just keep raising the bar without spending ungodly amounts of time and beating yourself up. You will make progress, and I think you’ll see it better that way.

I told the story on the “first recording” thread about how I made a bunch of songs with a simple cassette multitrack recorder. It was years ago and I didn’t know any better, and I actually think that helped. But the great thing was I made them and got them done (usually within 5 hours or so) and went on to the next.


Dude, I hit 258 lbs at 5’8". Yeah, I used to lift weights etc so I have at least some muscle tone and wide shoulders etc…but still. I finally decided after many years to try to get a hold of myself.

So long story short I have lost about 18 lbs in about 10 weeks. No exercise yet, just focusing on eating 2000 calories per day which is what I calculated for me to lose 2lbs week. So far so good. Its good to have at least ONE positive thing in my life since my music is giving my untold fits of despondency lately. We wont even mention work lol

Am aiming to get down to about 185 lbs. Yes, that would be almost 70lbs lost. I got down to about 189 IIRC in 2003ish. People asking me was I sick etc lol. Unfortunately they (and I) have gotten used to seeing me fat. But being fat isnt my true self nor who i was meant to be

all of the above. Why? Dunno, why not? Im looking around the room and I dont see anyone lined up to mix my songs for me etc. I got tired of begging others to sing for me etc.

Same for bass. So I started with guitar 30 years ago and in the last 3 years I have “backed into” bass, singing, mixing etc.

I dont exactly know what a “linear” process would look like to learn all of these things. I am assuming there is no such thing so its going to be piecemeal.

I have a healthy enough ego to think that I can do what Prince or Paul McCartney has done. Whether thats delusional or not just depends on how much of it I can pull off. But aiming low doesnt really prove anything either. yeah, they did it in their 20s, true. Ill be 50 in 10 days, Lord willing. I dont need their fame, I just want to put good songs together where they can be listened to

“Writing” a drum part take like 15-20 minutes lol. Its EZ Drummer 2. Pick a flavor or groove or tempo with some vague song idea in mind. Decide on a structure (prechorus or no? etc), maybe throw in some fills. Paste into template and its ready to go.

The songwriting thing. yeah, thats closer to the end goal of all of it. But if the mix etc isnt right then again, whats the point? I HAVE written some songs that I like well enough…even though they arent my ultimate goal type songs. But if my mixing sucks today…then what was it last year when I wrote those songs?? lol What good is a song if u cant play it for anyone??

Deffo need lots of time to REALLY warm up to sing decently. On the flip side of that…which of us has lots of spare time? lol

I do my singing practice at work 4x per week. Its not ideal and certainly not very specific but it has served me okay for the last 18 months. I am at that point where I need more specific focus like learning my sweet spot range etc etc.

And I definitely havent recorded enough vox for it to be “automatic” yet. there is that certain degree of “headspin” and “fog of war”…or “red light fever” where it gets hard to think your way thru things and u struggle when u hit record lol.

Well, lets get real. BTR is relentlessly brutal. No one cares if you are a one man show. If u dont sing like Freddy, play like Eddie, produce like Andy Johns…then u get destroyed. It is what it is and I more or less understand the dynamic.

I dont get pissed so much at people brutally destroying my efforts…I get pissed because I should be way better than I am currently.

Trying to quickly do a song just to “finish it”. I mean, I sort of understand the idea and I have done some of that recently.

Actually some of my last few BTRs were exactly that. Except not “finished”. I threw up a few ideas just trying to work on quickly writing vocal hooks and singing while sitting down as opposed to the whole “lets stand up at the mic and make it all uptight and official”.

The results werent so great lol. Like I said, BTR is ultra brutal…or at least thats the response I somehow draw with my ego. So far, sort of halfway posting into BTR doesnt seem to accomplish anything

I dont know how to really explain my path. Its definitely a Gordian knot.

In any case, once I learn to get at least a reasonable mix I will feel much freer to focus on other things

Thanks for taking the time to discuss,

Peace, JJ

First, I feel like I may be “pushing” you a bit, hopefully in a good way. :blush: I hope you understand that and are taking it that way. I guess I see a bit of myself in you in some ways. The “knock out a quick demo” is how I used to work but it’s been a challenge lately. I realized that what I suggested to you applies just as much to myself - get something written and recorded and finished, dammit! :slight_smile:

Yeah, I do that too, but I know guys who have spent hours doing custom drum programming to get it “just right”. It’s probably almost as much an art form as a real drummer struggling to get the right sound. The thing is, the vocal phrasing will inform the drum patterns and fills, they are interdependent (at least in some cases). It could be that stock/simple drums are a limiting factor for you. BUT, as I said, having a whole song demo framework lets you know some of these things, then you can go back and redo all of it with a high degree of customization to all fit together.

There are some guys on here that could help you with that, though of course it may cost you something for the help. It could be worth it for the learning though. It was discussed on another thread, and ColdroomStudios showed you an EQ curve that helped clean up your mix. He does mixing for people’s songs, and I believe he will tell you what you could improve going forward as he learns things from mixing your tracks. If you really want something to sound good, getting that feedback and mixing expertise could be helpful. Think of all the $$'s spent on gear chasing that dream … a few $hundred on one or several song mixes could teach you a lot! On that other thread, AJ113 also mentioned his approach and pricing, and DannyDanzi talked about making a video of the mix of your song so you can learn how it was done! There are three options right there for getting your song to sound better and to learn a lot in the process.

One thing that helped me was working with karaoke songs. I would load up a song I really liked and wanted to sing in the DAW, then sing along with it. I pan the original artist song to the left a bit, and my vocal with reverb to the right a bit. Just so I can hear them separately enough to hear myself, but so they kind of blend into one sound too. Once I feel like I fit the singer’s range and can sing the song decently, I’ll switch over to the karaoke music track (you can buy them for ~$3.00) and pretend I’m the real vocalist singing that song. Vocals dead center in the karaoke track. That has worked very well for me in learning other people’s styles who I consider “influences”.

That process can teach you some things about doing your own vocals for original songs. It’s a form of studying, and it really exercises your vocal chops which warms you up for doing your own thing. When I do that process, I record every night for a week or so, going back and forth between the original song and the karaoke, until I know the lyrics and delivery very well, and am sounding good on the karaoke (my solo vocal). One caveat with that is that if you’re a good “mimic” (like me) then you try to do the karaoke exactly like the original and maybe lose some of your own innate style. But overall I think this can be really helpful to practice and to measure your progress.

This way, when you hit record on your own song, you have a “role model” for what to do. It’s like priming the pump.

A lot of this journey is psychology. How you approach it can make a big difference. That’s why I mentioned the Golden Circle. For instance, a phrase like “I should be way better” is a judgment against yourself (the “inner critic”). You can only be what you are. If you want better results, it probably means more practice time. If you can’t find that extra time, you have to be content with incremental improvement over time. Another one is: “BTR is ultra brutal…or at least thats the response I somehow draw with my ego”. Almost everyone struggles with low end, low mid mud, even midrange issues and high end balance and ‘sheen’. It’s par for the course. When you step up to BTR, realize you are 1 in 1000 that actually has the courage to take a shot at it! That’s awesome! Give yourself credit. The default is that someone/anyone is going to find some kind of issues with your mix. Really skilled guys will find some, and less skilled guys will point out what they think might be a problem, which might not actually be a problem. It IS a bunch of shit to sort out, and you can only do your best and follow the advice that seems to lead you in the right direction.

This is actually a great opportunity to work on your “ego”. :grin: That’s one thing that will drag you down and drag you around. You have to be able to step back and look at things from other people’s viewpoints and more ‘objectively’. Release “attachment to praise and criticism” and try to actually hear what is being said. Be honest with yourself about where you are and what work you have put in. Everybody progresses at different rates, at different times in life. Comparing yourself to someone else (or some inner should/would/could) can only be frustrating.

When you’re talented and passionate, it’s easy to fall into “delusions of grandeur”. As you stated: “I have a healthy enough ego to think that I can do what Prince or Paul McCartney has done.” Me too. It’s okay to believe you are capable of that. But those guys almost always have put in grueling commitment and time to their craft. And as you said, their success came in their youth when they were completely on top of their game. As they aged, they build upon that success, which makes things easier. And there is always the element of timing and “luck” in how those people got opportunities and became famous.

Whats the alternative though? Quit? May as well aim high. And again, “success” and “becoming famous” arent really even in my mind. I wouldnt have wanted to sell my soul when I was 20…let alone approaching 50. Im not out to be famous (obviously), im just trying to put together great songs and use the gifts I have as opposed to burying them in the ground

I dont think there is anything inherently wrong with my approach. Its just that I am not at the finished product yet. Naturally I get frustrated because there are talents and songs in me trying to get out.

I do see the value in this but it just comes down to time. When I started learning to sing in 2016 I was on a singing forum and (like u said about BTR) of course most members never posted actual music. About 99% of the ones who did would post a cover. Yeah, that would be easier and maybe more logical when learning.

But I just figured if I am going to spend hours on something anyway, it may as well be mine. That way I am learning singing PLUS songwriting PLUS mixing

Its just a difficult process though because each of those things interact and its hard to know which of them should be focused on at what time. At any different time, this or that skill seems to be the blockage

The singing can hold back the songwriting and vice versa. One of my challenges is that i still dont exactly know who I am as a singer. I have guys id LIKE to sound like, but do I? Well at first you wont sound like what u want to anyway because you are just learning and developing. In the end I just want to sound like me but like I say, you have to grow into it.

The mixing can hold back everything, at least for me. Its mentally debilitating to think of writing some great song but you know in your heart that due to your current mixing skills you simply can NOT make a decent sounding finished product.

I see the value in karaoke and covers and I could see maybe committing to 6 months of it and covering singers who you think would be compatible with your style etc. That way youd at least have some idea of what your own voice is etc. I was at work the other day just KILLING “Night Moves” by Bob Segar. I meant to come home and study it and see what the range and key was and make some mental notes so I could aim my own songwriting that way. Pretty sure I ended up working on mixing instead lol. The mixing is the real blockage to me right now

Other blockages will appear down the road such as actual guitar tone and drum tone (what kit to use etc). Its all tied together. If I want to try to sing some Chris Cornell or DLR style then the guitar vibe has to sort of match. So far I have more less just sat down and played…even on the songs I have “finished”. It has to get better and more specific going forward. But right now it doesnt make sense to get into that because, as I said, the lack of mixing skills already dooms the song no matter how good something may sound coming out of an amp.

Right, there’s always that space where our imagination can go far beyond our current physical ability to manifest. I think you’re always going to have that. As the talents expand and manifest, the imagination can see more potential. I guess what I’m suggesting is to truly enjoy the process “now” (in the present moment), rather than be in constant struggle over a long period of time. :relaxed: Things probably flow better when our mind is not fighting with it.

Absolutely! You said you just started down that path in 2016, and growing into a vocal style does take some time.

I’m going to get a bit philosophical for a moment … can you see that your fear or apprehension of the future seems to be holding you back? You would postpone writing a great song because you don’t have the mixing skills yet? How much great music would we have today if every artist looked at their craft that way? :wink: If you write a great song, surely somebody will value it and come along to help the process along. This is how the record company business worked for a long time, they invested in talent and looked at how that talent could develop. They brought in resources to help make that happen … producers, engineers, coaches, etc. Perhaps a recording contract may not be in the future for you, but I think some of those elements can arise if you write the great song and believe in it. When we stick our neck out, take a bold but vulnerable step, sometimes the Universe rewards us by providing resources to make our vision happen. Just food for thought. :stew:

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unfortunately that is not my reality lol

Im sort of looking at it like trying to develop a wide range of skills concurrently

so, lets say on a scale of 1-10, these are my current levels:

singing 6
guitar 9
writing 5
mixing 2

what needs attention? lol

Our society seems to encourage “multitasking”, but the brain doesn’t work well that way. Single focus can be much more powerful. You only have so much time, and can only accomplish so much at one time. You can “focus on strengths” to be the best possible with what you do well, or you can try to make progress on a lesser skill to balance the boat more level. It’s all your choice. Maybe have a game plan for working on each skill for one week, then rotate to the next. In one month you will have spent time on each of those categories. Make notes of what happens, what works well, what doesn’t. See where your investment of time seems to be paying off.

or look at it this way. Even if I get in a groove and start laying down some great songs, I at LEAST want to be able to put together some nice demos.