Help yourself, learn to solder.

One thing that I'm passionate about within music production, recording, and mixing is making things better than they were.  This can be as simple as upgrading the cabling in my studio (which I'm currently doing), upgrading a guitar (getting ready to do), or even doing modifications to an inexpensive amp making it sound like a much more expensive amp (which I've done).

This comes down to trying to make the most of the money I spend.  Lets be frank here, much of what we work with here in the studio (and in music in general) is electronic.  When you're recording, your working with electronics.  Starting the some guitars, the amps, the mics, the cables, and preamps, mixers, interfaces...it's all electronic.  So if you want to make the most of the money you put into your gear, you need to...

Help yourself and learn to solder.

I'm being serious, you need to become comfortable with soldering on small pieces.  If you're like me, you only have so much money in your budget (if you even have a budget), but often times you'll need more than that budget will allow for.  So you have to be creative in making things work.  And that's cool, you're an artist, you can do it!

A current example.

So right now were doing some construction in DAB studios (my home studio).  We just finished installing the new door separating the studio from the rest of the house (awesome...but expensive - solid core doors aren't cheap).   Guess what, that ate up a solid chunk of our budget for the studio; but there's much to be done.  One of the other "required" (by me) upgrades was the cabling.  I spent a good amount of time researching cables (a topic for another time) and decided what to use.  But I wasn't going to spend the $1k+ to get the pre-done cables (seriously), so I ordered the bulk cable and ends for about 1/4 of the price.

Guess what, when you order bulk...some assembly is required.  By some, I mean basically all.  It takes a lot of time, especially if you're doing a patch bay, other rack mount gear in chain, and then the outside mic cables.  Since I wanted to be using the same cabling that most major studios use, it made sense for me to make the cabling myself.

Your band mates will love you!

Seriously, if you can repair cables, change out pickups on guitars, and make minor repairs on gear - you'll be one of the most valuable people in any band.

The point of being able to do these things yourself is so that you can make your money last and count.  If you spend less money on the necessities, you'll have more money to put towards things that you want that will help really shape your sound.  And that's important, because you don't want to use bad sounding gear and try to improve that when mixing.  It's important to have a good sound first.  Then record the good sound as well as you can.  Then mix the good recording of a good sound.  And it's easier to do that if you are using good equipment.

Good equipment doesn't always mean expensive equipment.

I mean it, one of my favorite amps to play on and record is my little Bugera V5.  It's a super cheap amp that many didn't give much credit.  But once you do a bright cap mod (and a couple other minor tweaks) the thing sounds pretty good.  But then hook it up to a 12" speaker cab (with your choice speakers) and the thing can absolutely scream!  True vintage style tube tones!!!  Love it.  But if I didn't know how to solder, it would have cost me hundreds to get the same sound with that amp, that I literally spent less than $10 to get.  Yep, some caps, a resistor, and a fuse later... I also swapped tubes, but that's another story.

My point here is that you can save money and get great sound, if you're comfortable making modifications.  Just like the MXL 990s I modded for a whopping $8 a piece.  If you do a little research, and are comfortable soldering, then you can save a ton of money and achieve an amazing sound!

Go and mod something cheap to be something expensive.  Have fun, and make something you love!

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