10 Cheap Recording Studio/Jam Space Hacks

Owning a studio, even a modest basement one, is as expensive as owning a boat. Just a dynamic mics, a computer, and an interface can set you back a couple grand. Here are some cheap hacks that won’t break the bank, so you can go back to saving up for that Neumann U-87.

  1. The Over the Door Shoe Organizer for Mics and Percussion.

This is perfect for storing cables, mic clips, maracas, kazoos, power supplies all the shitty little— things that keep getting underfoot. The clear plastic makes finding stuff a breeze. I just screwed mine to the dry wall with some anchors. Chinese takeout containers make great organizers for little stuff like screws or mic clips.

2. Flexible Cell Phone Holders for Drum Sets.

Want to film yourself giving that all import paradiddle tutorial or play along to the new Viagra Boys album on Spotify? Just wrap this around thingee around your rack tom instead of your shoulders. I can’t believe it doesn’t rattle when you hit the tom, either. A camera shakes a bit  but in a cool way and on beat. They cost about twenty bucks. I found mine at Goodwill.

3. Use A Looper for Setting Your Own Levels.

Ever wish you could play your guitar and dial in your preamp, all at the same time, with no one’s help? Now, you can loop yourself playing a sick riff, step away, and get a good gain structure all by your lonesome. Then you can hook up a mic and loop yourself saying, “Who needs friends?” over and over again.

4.Cheap Shotgun Boom Mics Make Great Universal Mic Clips.

Originally designed for mounting mini booms on cameras, these shock mounts are fantastic mounts for anything from small diaphragm condensers to Shure 57’s. They cost bout ten bucks each online. Try finding a standard shockmount for that price. The brand ZRAMO makes a good one with the mic clip end instead of camera tripod.

5. The Carol Kay Foam Trick.

Venerable studio bassist Carol Kay (Beach boys, Simon and Garfunkel, Mission Impossible theme song) would place a small piece of foam under the bass’s bridge and slide it up and down  to adjust the sustain. Genius. I’ve heard that the dirtier the foam is, the better the tone.

6&7. The String of Usefulness with Color-Coded Electrical Tape.

I learned this trick from a gaffer during my summer as a grip. The string keeps misplaceables such as scissors and tape together, so they don’t run to opposite sides of the room when you aren’t looking. Perfect for clamps, bottle openers, and color-coded electrical tape. 

Along with the standard black electrical tape uses, you can use colored tape to mark the ends of cords, making identification a snap. Not more plowing through the octopus’s garden to find the end of a wonky XLR cable on your snake! 

8. Laptop Stand as a Portable End Table.

I’ve used this stand for pretty much everything but laptops: drinks, picks, cell phones, basically all my pocket litter. It’s cheap insurance against some doofus spilling a drink all over your vintage Farfisa organ. They can also work as speaker stands in a pinch.

9. Interlocking Foam Mats.

Far superior to carpeting, these mats absorb a ton of muddy sound reflections and are a breeze to clean if the water heater goes kaput and floods your basement. (Worst day ever!) Like kitchen stress relief pads, these mats are also comfy to stand on for long periods of time. And I can’t count the times they’ve saved my headphones and mics from accidental drops.

10. Golf Gloves . . . For Drumming?

Apparently, all the billions of dollars worth of R&D that make golf gloves feel like second skin also makes them perfect drummer gloves. (Stupid fucking eczema messing up my hands!) Stewart Copeland from the Police uses Nike, Bun E. Carlos from Cheap Trick sports Wilson, and Carter Beauford from the Dave Mathew’s band has his own signature Footjoy gloves. I just can’t handle the white ones, because they make me feel like a mime.

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