My Home Studio Journey – Part 1

Hello and thanks for taking some time to read my little blog. The plan is to write about my ‘DIY home studio journey’ from a simple Tascam tape four-track to wherever I end up. I’m currently quite far along the journey, but I have much much further to go. As this is the first post I’ll start with a bit of history. 

My first experience of recording would probably be the portable tape recorder with built-in microphone I had when I was about five or six years old. My cousin and I used to record ourselves making up stories or singing along to Micheal Jackson on the radio. At that time we were just playing around but there was definitely a very early interest in the idea of recorded sound.

Old tape recorder

I took lessons in various instruments throughout primary school, including Spanish guitar, violin, trumpet and of course, the recorder. But I never really stuck with anything until I started piano lessons at eight years old. One massive bonus of these lessons was that I had to learn music theory alongside. I took both practical piano and music theory up to grade six until I got distracted by all the usual things you get distracted by when your a fourteen year old boy and lost interest in the instrument. I didn’t progress further up the grades but I never forgot how to play and still do play regularly. It was also around the age of fourteen that I started to play to the electric guitar, having become heavily into rock and metal bands such as Guns ‘n’ Roses, Metallica, Nirvana, Rage Against the Machine and, more than any other, Faith No More.

I studied music for GCSE and then took it as one of my A-Levels. This was also when I expressed an interest in writing and recording songs by myself. I had actually been recording to tape using a microphone into one stereo, then playing that tape on another stereo whilst recording to a new tape and adding the next layer. Proper DIY! And, naturally, incredibly bad due to the exponential decay in quality every time I added a new ‘track’. Sadly I no longer have any of those tapes in my possession. I’m sure it would make me cringe a lot but I’d still love to listen again to those songs I put so much effort into as a kid.

Tascam Portastudio

Eventually I somehow convinced my father to buy me a Tascam Portastudio tape four track which I then lost many hours to learning how to use and recording my poorly constructed, teenage angsty songs. I do actually still have some of those on tape and may digitise them one day but whether I put them out for public consumption is another things entirely. I’m not sure I could handle the shame.

So that was my real first taste of multitrack recording. Yet still for many years I knew nothing about the intricacies of mixing, EQing, using effects properly or mastering. There was no broadband back then. We didn’t even have internet. And my studies were in practical music, theory and composition, which did not include the world of audio engineering. Those lessons were to come much later…


Thanks for reading part one of my journey. I hope you enjoyed it and will check out part two. Please do feel free to let me know your thoughts in the comments or via the contact form. Please also give the DIY Music Facebook page a ‘like’ to keep up to date with my latest posts, articles and tutorials.

2 comments

  1. Enjoyed reading that Stu and the other bits you’ve done on the site too. I never enjoyed writing stuff when I was at school but I really enjoy it now.
    I find it relaxing and it’s so much better when the subject matter is something that you’re clued up and interested in.
    A lot of what you’ve written is pretty much how I started too. I’d love to have learnt piano properly when I was at school and the lessons were free but I didn’t take advantage of them. I’ve just got along over the years doing what I think sounds ok. I’m not that technical either and don’t like reading manuals so I know the basics of what I am doing but I know I’m missing out on loads of stuff.
    Maybe one day I will sit down and go over everything properly. Look forward to reading some more of your stuff.
    Good job!

  2. Thanks for the comment Gary! I do enjoy writing, and if others enjoy reading it that’s a great result. 🙂

    There will be more.

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