A big sticking point for many musicians when they start recording their own music, is the misconception that they must spend thousands of dollars on professional gear. We're bombarded every day with ads telling us that we need the latest preamp, compressor, microphone, etc.
As a self-admitted gear nerd, I've walked down this road myself. But, I want to share a story with you about a feature film soundtrack where my guitars were recorded with an iPhone. Sometimes that's all you need.
Ready to have your mind blown? The guitar I recorded with that iPhone was a $100 Epiphone acoustic. So, what film soundtrack did this appear on? Read on...
I received a phone call from Mateo Messina to play on a film he was composing for. To those who haven't taken the Master Music Licensing Course, Mateo shares some amazing and inspiring insights into the world of an A-List composer, as part of the bonus material that's included with the course.
We've been working together on his films and tv shows for over 10 years now. I still remember the very first time I showed up to his studio in the summer of 2007. It was to play guitar on a little independent film he was composing for called Juno. Needless to say, it's been fun watching his career skyrocket since then.
But back to this film... I spent a day tracking acoustic guitars, and then received the dreaded phone call:
"Mike, it's just not working... the sound isn't right. Can you try a different microphone? I'm going for something more lo-fi."
So, for the 2nd round, I recorded guitars using a Shure SM57. I thought it would give him the lo-fi sound he was looking for. Later that night I get another call:
"Mike, I love your playing, but the sound just isn't right... do you have a cheap guitar that doesn't sound as full?"
Now generally, the first acoustic that I grab on any given project is my McPherson. If that doesn't work, then I step it back to my Martin. But neither of these were giving him the sound he was looking for.
Throughout my career, I've learned that when the first two attempts fail, you have to get drastic. So, for this third attempt we decided to try a cheap Epiphone acoustic. This particular guitar has been sitting in the back of my closet for years, and my best guess is that the strings haven't been changed in close to a decade.
In order to get as lo-fi as I could, I decided to throw my iPhone up in front of the sound hole and see what happened. I sent in the tracks and waited anxiously to hear back. A big part of me believed he would call and let me know he was going to try a different direction with someone else. But fortunately that 3rd phone call went something like this:
"I love it!! It's perfect!!"
The takeaway from this story is that you do not have to have the latest and greatest gear. Simply focus on capturing an emotion with what you already have at your disposal. You can always acquire more gear as you need to, but learn and utilize what you currently have.
If an iPhone recording of my guitar can make it to a major motion picture, then you have everything you need as well.
So, what soundtrack did it appear on? Blockers.
What Are Your Recording Stories?
We all have stories of interesting recording situations. What are some of yours? Please share with us and comment below.
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