Archive for January, 2015

You’ve got to get to the airport in a few hours, but you don’t want to leave yet.  You’ve seen a ton of cool stuff, so go back to your favorite and take another look.   Go in depth with that gear.  Really get to know it.  You know the sales person is excited and they are trying to tell you everything even though their voice is shot.
So pull it off the shelf and download the manual.  Watch a video or two to get the most out of it.  Figure out what that dial does and try it out.  Hook up the mic and record different things so you know what sounds good (and bad).  Open your DAW and explore the options menus and move stuff around.  Go through your plug-ins directory and find out what each does.
You’re exhausted as you head home but hopefully you have been inspired to create music again.
Now this probably was not as fun as actually going, but I wanted to have fun around hearing about all the new gear and hopefully you get some ideas for setting up your space to make music easily and to be moderately entertained.
Ok, fatigue is starting to set in and you’re really just awake because this is your 4th Redbull in the last hour.  It sounds like a great time to just kick back in the rearranged space, pull out your favorite instrument, and just play.  You uncovered some great gear so hook it up and let it inspire you.  Spin the knobs, explore the option menus, and record.  It doesn’t have to be great, just let it take you back to the time when you first picked up the instrument with fascination.  Remember what that felt like and lose yourself for a bit.
Welcome to day two!  I know you were up late on the show floor checking out all the gear you forgot you had and getting it all nice and shiny.  You’re tired and you know you still have 3 more days to go.  So it is a great time to take a little bit of time and dream.  Dream about your ideal setup.  No, not your “I won the lottery” setup.  The setup that is possible with what is in front of you.  What arrangement would make it easier to make music?  What instrument is used most?  Look at the space and think about how to get the most out of it.  What do you want to do musically this year and how do you mold the space to help you get there?
For me that involved moving a rack from the left side of my desk to the right and putting in some L brackets so I could put in a shelf for my MIDI controller.  Earth shattering?  Hardly, but it gets the components right next to my computer for cabling as well as being within arms reach.  It also cleans up the look from down the hall, but that is just a side benefit.  I can move my microphones into it as well so that I can reach everything to record from my office chair.
It is also a good time to think about what is no longer needed.  Maybe there is a piece of gear that just doesn’t suit you anymore.  Now that it is clean it can be a candidate for passing it on to someone who can use it and you can start a fund for a piece of new gear (keep checking out the NAMM gear videos!) or maybe it just needs to be tossed.
This second day is about taking a deeper look at what is available.
So this week the music world will be talking about a ton of new gear at the Winter NAMM 2015 show.  Like CES in the tech world, NAMM is a show in Las Vegas where music companies and music royalty will mingle to show off the latest stuff.  For me, and I am assuming, many other people, will not be going.  I know I will watch the announcements and probably drool.  But for those of us without the budget to get the gear being shown anyway, this can be a long week.  But instead of being bummed I want to use it as an excuse to go through what I already have and to get prepped for making more music this year.  I will call it “stay at home NAMM”.  Catchy?  Yeah I know, but I had to try.
So instead of fighting traffic and a crowded airport it seems logical that the first step would be to see what it have socked away in the closets and shelves.  Bring it all out into the open, get it out of the boxes.  It’s just like the show floor but without all the people!
Now that everything is out, it is a great time to pull each piece of gear out and clean it up.  A microfiber cloth and a can of compressed air will work wonders for getting each to look like new again.  If you have pedals with glue residue you can use a cleaner to de-gunk.  Look for old batteries and replace if necessary.  Does that piece of gear need tubes?  What about that tangle of cables.  Either get rid of any that are cracked or think about shortening them if you are handy with the soldering iron so you have solid connections.  The goal is to have all the gear clean and working.  If any of it does not meet that requirement it is time to get rid of it.
Just like on the show floor that first day is all about seeing the sights and getting a feel for what is available.