My Recording Equipment through the years....

When I first poked around garageband a couple of years ago I was suspicious. Was it one of these overly domestic, half baked little recording programs that would only appeal to folks interested in layering hours and hours of boring drum loops. How wrong I was..


My first recording system was a four track cassette portastudio made by Tascam. It was called the 244 and was a revolution in home recording. It cost me a bloody fortune, but I could record stuff and sound like a band. It used cassette tapes as recording media and was horribly noisy and hissy! The built in Dbx noise reduction didn't really do much to be honest, but at least with some careful planning, you could record drums on Trk1, guitar on trk 2 and say, keyboards on 3 - then mix that down onto track 4, giving you a chance to re-record OVER the previous three tracks and end up with a whole SEVEN tracks of stuff! F***ing amazing!

Then I moved on to a Fostex 8 track reel to reel recorder. This was serious stuff now as I was doubling the amount of tracks I could record on. The quality was miles better than the cassette Tascam 244 because you were recording on 1/4" tape. Although looking back, dividing a 1/4" into 8 individual tracks didn't really give you that much room for dynamic range! But I had an 8 track mixing desk alongside which made my home set up look more like a proper recording studio. I absolutely loved this set up, but with both recording systems, I never sounded any good. Maybe it was because I was totally shit at playing and singing, but I like to think it was more because I didn't know that much about recording a signal to tape. There is a science in making sure it sounds good. Those old sound engineers in the 60's at Abbey Road who wore white coats knew what they were doing. I didn't have a white coat, but I DID have bags of enthusiasm. That said, very few of my songs from these days are worthy of playing to even my closest friends!

So I started on 4, then went to 8 then a friend of mine was selling his 16 track studio in a box. I HAD to buy it. There was this new thing around at the time called "digital recording". I was a bit late to the party as I couldn't ever afford to go digital, but I'd just sold my house and moved into a smaller one thereby having a bit of extra cash to spalsh around! So why not? This bit of kit was extremely serious. I mean it had flying faders for f**ks sake! Bags of sound effects, compression, eq etc. The sorts of things the analogue machines didn't have unless you had racks of outboard gear. I couldn't afford that shit, so this investment was the best one I'd ever made. But there was one thing that still bugged me. Why couldn't I sound like I was recording in a proper recording studio? I came to the conclusion that I was in fact, absolutely shit at playing, singing and engineering. I could NEVER sound like a really good home musician.........or could I?

GarageBand was like the appearance of the Recording Messiah who came down from heaven and announced - "Thou shalt sound like a proper musician, for ye shall reap the fruits of garageband's sexy audio algorhythms". What? The Messiah was a rock and roll Angel!

When I first plugged my fender telecaster into GB and selected the new "Guitar" track, suddenly I was mesmorised. The amp sounds were incredible - clean and dirty at the same time. Beautiful, soaring, singing, energising sound that I couldn't believe. I had reached nirvana. I didn't have to book Abbey Road after all. I could sound the way I KNEW I ALWAYS WANTED TO SOUND. It didn't end there. My little Oxygen49 midi keyboard was morphed into a Hammond B3 organ. Or a grand piano. And they sounded authentic. No hiss. No nasty noise. Just clean, pure, awe inspiring sounds and noises.

So I've come a long way down Recording Road over the years. From screaming tape hiss to clean magnificence and boy what a great trip it has been.

So what on earth could be next..........?