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Why I Love... Convenience In The Studio

Chris Korff By Chris Korff
Published May 2023

Convenience In The Studio

As an immature, financially irresponsible man‑child with lingering delusions of rockstardom, I have a modest collection of guitars. A couple of them are truly lovely instruments, some are awful, and the rest are in various states of disrepair. The lovely ones are the best sounding and nicest to play, of course, but which one do I play the most? That’s right, the battered old acoustic that lives next to my desk and never gets put in a case.

The many signs of its hard life are part of its charm (there’s some dried blood on the strings from some over-enthusiastic strumming at a drunken gig, a fag burn on the top I’m pretty sure I put there around a festival campfire in Wales, and a crack on the edge from when I dropped it down the stairs when I was 15), but the main reason it gets so much action is because it’s just right there. In fact it’s probably true to say that without Old Faithful always being so close to hand, I’d have played a lot less guitar over the years. I’d be a worse guitarist.

If you’ve got a smartphone in your pocket, use it! A poor record of something special is better than no record at all...

There’s an old saying among photographers: “The best camera is the one you have with you.” It’s no good fumbling around with the catch on your DSLR case when the kingfisher, yeti or flying saucer you’ve just happened upon is already making good its escape. If you’ve got a smartphone in your pocket, use it! A poor record of something special is better than no record at all, and it’s exactly the same for music. So next time you’re lucky enough to be in the presence of an amazing musical performance, don’t agonise over which mic and preamp combination works best on an accordion. Just grab the first mic you see and plug it in — before the performance is over.

Now, I’m not saying you shouldn’t concern yourself with the quality of capture. Some mics and preamps will indeed to a better job than others on certain sources (since you ask, the correct answer is a pair of AKG D224s through an RND preamp). But if you regularly have accordions passing through your studio, you’ve no excuse for not having them set up and ready to go.

I’ve recently been making a conscious effort to apply this thinking to my studio life. For example, I’ve set up a template in my DAW so that, when the muse drops a melody in my lap, I can play it straight away, rather than having to scroll through a list of virtual instruments as long as my arm. I’ve got a jack lead ready to go for my electric guitars and bass, already plugged into a DI and running through an amp sim with input monitoring turned on. I’ve moved my keyboard stand closer to my desk, so I can just spin my office chair around and play, rather than having to walk up to it. I’ve even started leaving some of my other guitars around within arm’s reach.

Like all mammals, we’re fundamentally lazy creatures. The smallest inconvenience can be a real motivation‑killer, so next time you’re having a tidy‑up in the studio, do your future self a few favours. Get rid of that pesky update notification that pops up every time your computer boots. Add a ready‑to‑play instrument to your blank template. Prop your guitar up somewhere inviting. Make your life easier, and good music will come more easily too.