Well I can’t believe where the time has gone but another year has past.  For my studio project it has been a very exciting time.  As you may recall when I started this blog I was just starting to get back into music seriously after taking a thirty year hiatus.  I’ve learned a ton and had some really great experiences.  Here’s a summary;

Drums

This year I purchased my dream kit.  A set of Gretsch Renown Maple in Autumn Burst finish. I also picked up something I’ve wanted since I was a kid.  A Zildjian China cymbal.  Actually it’s the 18″ Trash China and I love it.

I also decided not to sell my 30 year old Pearl kit.  Considering what I’d get for it versus the benefits of having 2  kits just wasn’t worth it.  My son plays, my teacher comes over, other drummers drop by.  2 kits just works better.

The Pearls also sound pretty damn good.  Because of the depth difference between the toms in the two kits I get a nice heavy rock sound with the Pearls (which I keep tuned slightly lower).  It’s great for playing Joan Jett or some old Scorpions!

Both kits are in the same configuration; 8″ 10″, 12″, 13″ rack toms, 14″ and 16″ floor toms.  The Pearls have a 22″ kick and the Gretsch a 20″.

This year I plan to either go double bass pedals or double bass drums.  Not sure yet on this one.

Oh yeah…. and more cymbals

Electronics

Micing such a large kit is a real pain in the ass!  But I did it.  This year I managed to put together a group of Shure and AKG mics to properly mic a single kit.  I’m using a collection of SM57, D-112 and C1000S mics.

The cool thing is I can also mic both kits using 3 microphone setups and get some cool recordings of double drummers.

Last year also marked a leap in Mixer technology.  While I love and still own my Mackie Onyx 1220i (and use it every day) I also purchased a Mackie Onyx 1640i mixer.  This mixer has deep firewire integration and offers incredible flexibility.  Trouble is everyone is bailing on FireWire.  For now and the near future though I’m in pretty good shape with these outstanding mixers.

Software

This year was HUGE for software discoveries.  A lot of time in the beginning was spent on me spinning my wheels trying what to use.  I didn’t want to spend a ton on Logic by Apple which is very popular.  I especially didn’t want to get nailed with Platform-Lock-In.

The DAW I settled on is called Reaper by Cockos Software.  It’s inexpensive (or free if you don’t mind annoying messages but if you like it – buy it).  The product is feature rich and powerful.  The vendor supports and updates it regularly and the user community is large and very active.

For plug-in instruments and effects I chose Native Instruments products.   The offer the Komplete 8 Players for free which is essentially the infrastructure of their plug-in systems.  This package includes loads of instruments and effects that are pretty incredible for free.

Of course then you see the cool options available to you for a few (or not so few) dollars.  The include Retro Synthesizers, Studio Drums and vintage compressors, EQs, etc….

The iPad also turned out to be an invaluable tool for music creation.  Whether generating music itself or triggering other devices through CoreMIDI the iPad really came through as a major tool (the good kind, not the Short-Bus kind).

Keyboards

I love farting around with keyboards.  This year I Picked up a vintage Yamaha DX7-II.  This was the grandfather synth of the ’80s New Wave era.  There are an unbelievable array of voice patches for this baby.

I also added an Oxygen 49 keyboard controller to my mixdown station.  This provides me with a control surface for the DAW and a handy way to input more music into my Native Instruments toys.

Bands

So what good is all this stuff if you don’t play with it?  Fortunately the music scene in my area is totally bopping.  Lots of musicians and places to to play.  Lots of Open Jam nights too.

Highway 26 – We’re a 7 piece R&B band covering ’50s and ’60s songs.

Silvertone Rock Camp – Man, we really need a name.  This band is made up of music school students playing rock tunze from the ’60s to the ’80s

The Drop Bys –  This includes jams put together with buddies who drop by.  Some good friends from Toronto and the surrounding region have come up for some really fun jams.  Unfortunately I managed to piss off a guitar play who hasn’t come back.  If you know me, you’ll understand.  Sorry Randy!

Revenge of the Nerds – This is an experimental project John, my teacher, and I are beginning work on.  It will involve a lot of synthesizers and be very artsy.  You’ll know more as soon as we do!

So that’s the 2012 news from the Lower West Side Studio.  Please keep visiting the blog for more info and fun tales.  Thanks for dropping by!

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Portable studio under construction
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The Original Setup
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2 Kits
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