Home Recording Studio

I was hoping for some advice on recording at home. I would like to get a setup where I can layer sounds so that it helps me learn proper timing while I play. I know I can use a metronome but I was hoping for something beyond that. I have been thinking about getting a looper pedal and some percussion instruments. Is that a good place to start? I have been watching Melissa Ethridge play on YouTube and it looks like that is how she records. I also have a keyboard and don’t really know how I can add that to the mix. Any advice in this direction is appreciated!

Hi Suzie, how do you play at the moment? Guitar to amp or to PC? What sorf of amp if any you have? That will give some further ideas how to help you as there are tons of possibilities

I bought a looper and it helped me with my timing. I believe I could have done the same thing with a metronome but this time the looper made it easier for me. I had a riff that I thought I was playing with incorrect timing. By putting down a succession of chords strummed in the looper I was able to prove that my timing was ok. I could have done the same by recording the chord sequence and playing over that but somehow for me the looper made it easy.

At that stage I struggled to play along to youtube recordings of songs. Now that’s not so difficult for me.

Thank you for the reply! Yeah when you don’t practice with anyone else it seems like a looper is a good choice. Plus a looper is nonjudgmental. I tried going to a jam session once with another instrument but it was too intimidating.

Hey thank you for the reply! I play guitar to Amp. My amp is a really old Peavey. I have a keyboard but I’m not sure how I could potentially use it with my guitar.

Its very had to loop on a PC without a foot switch of some sort because your hands are occupied!

You can play a segment and then trim it but that will be a pain - its probably better for recording but not for learning and jamming.

Would help if we knew what you had already?

Basic looper pedals will record and loop 30-60 seconds, more advanced allow overdubbing/saving etc, offer more switches etc.

For a PC you would need an AI to get the guitar sound into the PC, a foot switch that works with whatever recording software you use etc

Longer term try not to let jam sessions intimidate you. I’ve learned a huge amount from jamming with others. New songs, new techniques, new friends.

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I agree jam sessions are helpful as long as your prepared. I’m not confident enough in playing yet to share. I am getting there though. :smiley:

There are 2 routes worth exploring in your case - either a new amp that has USB connection to wire into your PC and record stuff to DAW softwate OR you can just buy an audio interface and use amp and gear simulators to record into DAW. Both options should give you plenty of options.

If you do not need to record you could get away with Trio+ kit that enables you to loop your rhythm section and I believe automatically generate a drums and/or bass over it to create more of a band experience. This you only need to plug into power socket and into your amp.

If you want to use different instruments then you either might need to connect each device into audio interface or directly via usb if it’s possible. Basically your question opens a can of worms :grinning: I recommend threads as below:

DigiTech Trio+ Band Creator & Looper

Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 Studio

Boss Katana 50: Unboxing & Exploring

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Wow! You have given me a lot to think about. I’m trying to keep things simple but maybe Investing in a few extra things could help me further down the road.

I think for simplicity best would be Trio+, but that’s assuming you want to jam only and not record. I mean you could record off your phone while playing using trio to amp but obviously quality would be inferior to what would you gain getting sound directly into PC. If you want to see the sound of it check Brian’s or Gordon’s songs below both recorded with a phone. It’s still great imo and a good starter for you perhaps :wink:

I do want to be able to record eventually but the trio+ could help me with timing and strumming and that is kinda where I am right now. I can’t say I’m producing anything record worthy right now. I do appreciate you mentioning the software and answering my post!

Thank you for mentioning the difference between recording and jamming with pedals. Right now I’m leaning towards just jamming. I’m more concerned with how well I play right now. Once I’m kinda “over that hill” then I might invest in recording equipment. But I thought I would ask about recording equipment because I know zilch about it right now.

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You can use a pc and AI but doing so without a footswitch wont be easy! They aer available tho (usb and bluetooth) just needs to work with whatever software you use.

Thank you for responding. I will look at my options next time I go to the music store. :smiley:

There’s some great answers here. I think it depends a lot on what your aims are, and what sort of person you are, in terms of are you into computers and technology, or whether you would rather avoid it.

Simple solutions

One option for practice purposes is to just use simple backing tracks from YouTube, Spotify, or Bandcamp played through a speaker system (if you have a Bluetooth speaker, for instance).

For instance, I used to play backing tracks through my Sonos system to play along to.

You can get full song backing tracks, or simple chord progression tracks. For percussion backing, there’s applications like Loopz which have a library of drum tracks in different styles, or there’s options like Lumbeat on Youtube.

You can also get applications like iRealPro which you can use to create simple backing tracks.

DAWs

Personally, I’m a geek, and I was interested in DAWs (Digital Audio Workstations) and audio recording technology long before I started learning the guitar. The capabilities you get from a relatively cheap audio interface and a modern DAW are, in many ways, superior to what was available to even professional recording studios 30 years ago.

It does, however, come with a lot complexity and a steep learning curve, not just to learn how to use the software, but all of the techniques around recording, including things like gain staging, EQ and compression, mixing, etc.

It’s also a bit of a rabbit-hole with regards equipment. As @adi_mrok has suggested, you can plug something like a Katana amp (many other options exist) directly into a PC to record and get great results.

But you can also get a microphone and an audio interface (AI) and record that way; that is more traditional but also a heck of a lot more hassle and difficult to get good results.

But, on the other hand, having an AI also gives you the option of recording vocals and other instruments: you can plug your keyboard into it, for example.

Loopers

Loopers are a step beyond simple backing tracks, where you can do a limited amount of recording and overdubbing without the complexity of a full DAW setup.

Note that most looper pedals will let you connect any instrument and record that into the loop. So you could, for instance, plug in your keyboard and use that to record a loop, then disconnect that and plug in your guitar (or use an AB switch to switch between them) and overdub/play along with that.

Some loopers have simple built in drum machines, which may be useful for you.

The Trio+ is a great tool, and a step above most other loopers in that it also includes an auto-accompaniment, so you can build your own backing tracks which include drum and bass.

Note that many of the people who do looping performances on Youtube have quite sophisticated setups which are designed for live looping performances. These take considerably time and skill to put together, and will be quite difficult to replicate. For example, here’s Rachel K Collier describing her setup and process:

Also, a lot of artists who use looping for their performances will write songs which work with their looper pedals. Most simple looper pedals are not really suitable for traditional song structures as you can only use one loop (one song part) at a time.

The Trio+ does allow you to build multi-part songs but, IMO, it’s something you would have to prepare in advance. You can also do this with loopers which have multiple memory slots, like the Boss RC-3.

Note that some loopers which do have multiple memory slots can also be plugged into a computer and have backing tracks transferred to them. So, for a looper like the RC-3, you could have dozens of backing tracks loaded into it for practice purposes.

Note that none of these options are exclusive and most people end up with a bit of everything, depending on what suits them at the time. Personally I would start with backing tracks and then move to a looper if you want to do some simple recording/layering. When you feel ready, you can move to a full AI/DAW setup.

Cheers,

Keith

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@Majik already commented on pretty much everything I was going to say.

For your use case (i.e., mainly working on timing/jamming), backing tracks or some form of looper is probably the way to go. At least for now. It’ll be less expensive, a shallower learning curve, and will help with the main goal of working on your timing and jamming.

If you want to get into actual recording (and leveraging your keyboard) then a computer with an audio interface and DAW is where I would head next.

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I like this one where you can transfer backing tracks for the songs you are working on that week to the looper and/or create your own loops. And as you said you could connect other instruments. With the boss RC-3 (or am I thinking of the RC-10R/RC-500) if I remember correctly you can set the bpm whereas the with the Trio Plus it detects the tempo you are playing?

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Yes, the Boss RC series (I think all of them that have a built-in drum machine) you can set the tempo by using tap tempo. On some of the more recent ones you can set the tempo precisely using a knob.

Of course there’s no need for tempo setting on a looper that doesn’t have drums.

The Trio+ tries to deduce the tempo from what you play, with options to change the timing. You can also slow down or speed up the recorded track (and backing) afterwards.

Cheers,

Keith

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Thank you for responding. I will have to think more on this subject as it looks like it can get very complicated. Thanks for including the video as well. :smiley: