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When I was your age ! Keyboard Synthesizers
Old 1st December 2008
Lives for gear
dft3670's Avatar

Thread Starter
When I was your age !

I always enjoy hearing about how people got their start playing music and the way they put together cheap equipment to record or play out, so I figured I'd start this thread and see where it goes. Me first.

I started using midi back in the early 80's for playing live gig's. My weapon of choice for my meager means at the time was the Commodore 64. We used to carry about 6 of them to each gig as they were prone to become pyrotechnics during the show. 64K of ram. What a monster. I used to record midi for bass and drums on the 5.25 floppies and rack two of the little computers at a time. They would trigger a Linn drum machine and a bass patch in this little Casio keyboard. It looked like a toy. The keys were about 2 inches long. The Commodores could only load one song at a time, so we would load one while we played off the other and I would footswitch between the two. It would take 3 minutes to load a song so we were always bitting our nails that the next song would load before we finished the last song. I remember when the Commodore 128 came out. I thought, "finally, a high end computer"

It was a huge pain in the ass, but I really miss those days. We would cobble together little systems, they worked and it was fun. Sometimes today it's just to easy.

It really is funny. It seems the hardest times of your life. The ones where you really need to bust your ass, are the ones you remember the fondest.

So let's hear your humble beginings. Two cans and a string, whatever.
Old 2nd December 2008
Gear Guru
Ethan Winer's Avatar

Good thread idea. When I was your age I was a lot younger than you. heh

Seriously, my first tape recorder was a Sony 1/4-track stereo in the 1960s. It had sound-on-sound capability, where you could record on the left channel, then bounce some of the left to the right while recording again on the right. A year later I bought a second Sony deck, and also bought a 4-track tape head. That head cost $100, which was a lot of money for a poor teenager in the 1960s! I put the new head in the first Sony, and ran wires from the second Sony so I had a real 4-track recorder. That is, the second Sony's electronics powered the tape head in the first Sony. The only problem was I could erase only tracks 1 and 3, so to clear 2 and 4 I had to flip the tape over.

Old 2nd December 2008
Gear maniac

Back in college.... get a cassette recorder boombox, put in a C90 tape (metal tape for better HF response put the boombox on one side of the room facing the band, press RECORD, and our band starts playing.

Need to pan the guitars to one side? Roll the amp speakers to one side of the room.

Need to EQ the highs down? Turn around the amp speakers backwards pointing away from the tape recorder.

Need to boost the gain? Tell the bass player to play harder and stop complaining.
Old 2nd December 2008
Gear Guru
FFTT's Avatar

When I was your age, I still had perfect pitch and perfect hearing.

I played sax 1st chair through 10th grade then concentrated on bass.

It cost $4.75 to see Jimi Hendrix at the Washington Hilton
Cant remember how much, but Yes opening for Jethro Tull was a cool one too.
Joplin, Faces, Beck, ELP, The Who, Elton,The Stones, Harrison and Friends, Alice Cooper Edgar Winter, Lil Richard, so many more.

My Ampeg SVT with dual 8X10 cabs cost an insane $1500.00

My '66 Hofner cost me $99.00 new in Germany 400DM

I could afford to drive my '57 Caddy Coupe

Good studio time was $40.00 per hour in blocks.
Had a great time at Bias Recording Studios '73
Old 2nd December 2008
Lives for gear
GZsound's Avatar
My first recorder was a Wollensack mono reel to reel. My first PA was a Bogen 100 watt head with two University horns.. Ever hear a sax through those? I think I caused birth defects up and down the west coast.

First "professional" recording experience was in 1964 when I played tambourine in an echo chamber in Seattle.

And I had a conversation with a guy yesterday who's two sons are monster jazz musicians. He said they grew up emulating Metheny, Santana, Carlton, Steve Vai, Wes Montgomery..etc.

Lucky kids.. I had about two rock and roll sax players to listen to in 1961.We had to learn it the hard way.
Old 2nd December 2008
Lives for gear
loujudson's Avatar
My favorite self quotation is for remote classical recording. When I was in the youth orchestra in the mid 60s, the classical radio station would need two burly engineers to carry each HALF of the tape recorder (Ampex 350 in two heavy wooden cases) into the hall, then they'd go back for the mixer, stands, and again for the cables.

I say this as I walk in with a shoulder bag and a mic stand to make far better recordings with a SD 744T...

Old 2nd December 2008
Lives for gear
doncaparker's Avatar

Here's one for you: I'm old enough to own (and still use) an original Conn Strobotuner, model ST-11. The one that everyone had in the 70's.

I started recording with two Teac 3340's, recording 4 tracks on one, bouncing to stereo on the other, and adding tracks until done. I piddled around for years with different tape units, then I woke up to the digital revolution a few years ago. I prefer the new way, honestly. Computers may be frustrating at times, but tape was truly a PITA.
Old 2nd December 2008
Gear addict

well, yes... i'm a young'un.

i started playing guitar when i was about 10, soon got into doing some seriously diy stylee recording to try and get some ideas down
my first misguided venture into recording was with an awful mididisc player/recorder and a tiny 3 channel micro mixer, just with 3 variable resistors for each input.

i was using an alesis sr-16 drum machine, a boss me6 (i think thats what it was called?) guitar multi effects thing and bass with no di

just plugged everything in straight to this crappy mixer and got the worst sound imaginable. occasionally would use an old tandy battery powered microphone which had a 1/4" jack :P it sounded bad, but those days were pretty fun
Old 11th February 2009
Lives for gear
I like this thread

I started with a Casio MT45, a Realistic 4 channel mixer and 2 cassette decks to bounce back and forth with. Probably around '85

'87, I got my Porta 1 and soon after adder a Roland TR505 and Casio CZ1000.

Then, the 3440 and M1 changed my life...

I still have the 58 and Unidyne that I got in trade for the CZ1000 in '89 or '90!
Old 11th February 2009
Lives for gear
cavern's Avatar

before the yamaha mt-44 4 track cassette recorder, i used two cassette decks, recording drums on one with a radio shack mic, then played it back with the mic positioned close to the speaker and played bass from the right distance recording it into the other deck and back and forth.(endless multitrack)
the mud made for a very forgiving recording cause you couldn't make out the mistakes....or the music.
Old 11th February 2009
Lives for gear
Infernal Device's Avatar

I used a lot of random broken weird things from Radio Shack. I have wanted to do this for a living since I was a kid.

Let's just say that there was not a Home Recording section at Best Buy like there is now.
Old 11th February 2009
Lives for gear
Yep...Started with two cassette players bouncing between the two.. When the song was done, so much deteriorating/mushiness you couldn't hardly distinquish what the song was.....It was fun tho'........
Old 11th February 2009
Lives for gear
Knastratt's Avatar

I disconnected the erase head of the family AKAI cassette deck back in -79. That and a Yamaha mini plastic monophonic synth.

Along the road I've built 13 studios up to the one I have now. Always improving and learning a lot.

Soon due to release my debut album. Been writing great songs for 25 years, though.

Cheers - Pär
Old 11th February 2009
When I was your age I was sitting in a room with 6 dumb terminals connected to a UNIX mainframe computer composing music. We used a command line program called cmusic to generate and mix sounds, which required us to describe virtual instruments and scores in a text editor using a very specific syntax. Synthesizing the music wasn't real time - you had to run cmusic and then wait for the results which could take forever depending on how many other jobs were running concurrently. Reverb and convolution took an especially long time, so those jobs we would start in the evening and then come back in the morning to listen. We had 1 pair of DACs that we all had to share.

While I was working there I dreamt of one day having a complete studio inside a personal computer. I imagined how awesome it would be to have real time reverb, real time phase vocoding, real time convolution, real time synthesis... everything we take for granted now... Its not often one is able to live in the future of their dreams, so I feel pretty lucky.
Old 11th February 2009
Lives for gear
vernier's Avatar
Back in the fifties, Ampro recorder, Shure mic, and guitar.
Old 11th February 2009
Lives for gear
jchadstopherhuez's Avatar

my dad had an old akai reel to reel 2tk....for christmas i recieved a panasonic cassette boom box with a built in mic and a line input/output.

i would record my drum kit with one mic to the boom box..and it had some type of crazy limiter so the drums sounded actually pretty cool...then play the drum track out of the line out into the akai...while recording gtr or bass to the other track.

then...i would play the output of the akai back into the cassette boombox...and repeat the process....i thought i was a genius until the first time went into a studio and realized what multi tracking was !!

shi#$y pearl export kit in a 15 year olds bedroom, one radio shack brand microphone. the limiter on the cassette deck mic, and hitting the akai tape hard got such a cool sound.

funny...still chase that drum sound.

go figure.

Old 11th February 2009
Lives for gear
fhames's Avatar

Early '70s: Dokorder 4 track reel to reel, Shure PA head and a few 57's. U Haul moving blankets nailed up in a large closet for drum and vocal iso. Upright Baldwin and an ARP 2600.
Old 11th February 2009
Lives for gear

My father used to own some parking lots. Some customers had a paid and resevered space by the month. sometimes the person would dissappear, abandoning the junky car there. If there was anything of interest in an abandoned car he would bring it home. about 1970, I was six and he brought an electric guitar. no name unplayable junk with only 5 strings. Apparently I was not to interested. One day my mother asked me why I never played the guitar stating "how hard can it be? I just saw on my soap opera, a girl play a nice song and all you do is hold all your fingers over this part (points towards middle of neck) and go like this (simulates strumming). It was a while later I realized what she saw was someone pretending to play the guitar.
Old 11th February 2009
My recording history

I started as a teen in the early 70's first with a mono philips r2r then upgraded to a 1/4 track sony tc 570. Bought a Dokorder 4 track in the early 80's along with a studio master 16-4-2 board. The the late 80's spent an incredible 1100 dollars for an SPX 90!

Moved to a fostex A8 synced via Doctor T to an atari 1040 upgraded then with an incredible 4 megs of RAM and a 20 meg hardrive that cost a fortune and was the size of a phone book. Bought a DAT in the late 90's.

2001 brought a digi 001 on a G4 for 6 K! Thought I'd died an gone to heaven

Currently on a MACPRO using either RME Fireface 800/Cubase 4 or 003 R /PTLE8
Reason4/melodyne studio/ Waves NPP/ ozone 4 etc

Now the issue is not about gear but about lack of time, inspiration,and decent hearing!!


FWIW I still own virtually all the listed gear except the mono Philips deck with the magic Green EYE!!
Old 11th February 2009
Back in the mid-80s (I was twenty-something at the time), I got my first setup. It was a MIDI system, software based. One of the very early efforts. I can't even remember the name. The company was in Hawaii I think. I had a screaming 20Hz 286 machine, which was hot at the time.

Even so, it was barely able to keep up with the requirements of anything beyond fairly simple stuff. But I did some pretty good pieces given the limitations.

I got out of it for a long time. Two years ago I sold off a home theater that I bought back during the internet bubble, and used that finance my current small but reasonable nice apartment studio. It's fairly bare bones, but most of the bones are good ones.
Old 11th February 2009
I bought my first synth, an ARP Odyssey (White Face) from my neighbor who had just upgraded into an Alpha Centuri system on an Apple ][. Probably 1982/83.

The era of Atari 400/800, Commodore 64, Timex Synclair...

couple years later I saved up all summer and borrowed money from my grandmother for my first big gear spree...

yamaha mt1x 4tk
korg poly 800
roland tr505
yamaha spx90][

good times.
Old 11th February 2009
Gear maniac

I think it was the early 60's...I used a Webcor 1/4" reel-to-reel with both sound-on-sound and sound-with-sound (it disabled the erase head)

Then I used a Dictaphone machine to record the original Ed Sullivan performance of the Beatles directly from the 5" TV speaker to the supplied microphone on it's internal tape cassette of some type.

My first band had 2 guitarists and a bass player going through a Silvertone amp with 2 12" speakers. There were only two inputs so we used a Radio Shack 2-to-1 box for the guitars. We also had a "fuzzbox" that plugged right into the 1/4" guitar jack and played Clapton's "White Room" and "Layla". Of course, everything was kind of fuzzy when you have 3 instruments going through the same amp, but we thought we rocked. We had a couple of Shure Unidyne high-impedance mics plugged into another guitar amp for vocals. When we finally were able to afford a used Shure Vocalmaster with TWO speaker columns, we thought we were really pro. I think we were like 15 years old or something.
Old 11th February 2009
Lives for gear
Unclenny's Avatar
Originally Posted by vernier View Post
Back in the fifties, Ampro recorder, Shure mic, and guitar.
Back in the sixties, Silvertone electric on the beach (no amp) playing 'Louie Louie' and 'Gloria'.

Oh, yeah.....'House Of The Rising Sun'.

When I Was Young............

Lots of you guys were cutting up tape. I was trying to pick up girls.
Old 11th February 2009
Lives for gear
Rick Sutton's Avatar

The first recorder that I used and later "fixed" was a wire recorder. It never worked again. First equipment that I was paid to operate was an old Magnecorder and two Shure M68's. After that I rebuilt a 3 track Ampex and an old Fairchild disc lathe. I've had a million pieces of gear since. Some good some not.
Old 11th February 2009
When I was five I started playing the piano and guitar, but we were so poor that we could only afford one set of fingers that I had to share with my 10 other brothers and sisters, so I was only able to play one day every other week. But I perservered because I had SPIRIT <breaks down and cries>
Old 12th February 2009
Gear addict
casey_outlaw's Avatar

I started in '87, manning the porta 4 track for my older brother's band. I still have a 58 from the first band practice I ever had, complete with the one cable that it worked with - gaff taped to it, and I use it as my talkback mic on my console.
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Last edited by casey_outlaw; 25th February 2009 at 09:21 AM.. Reason: Pics deleted for another thread
Old 12th February 2009
1992, Age 12 - started on guitar on a $80 Electra and a little Fender practice amp bought with paper route money.

Age 13 - first band as guitarist/lead vocalist; got my buddy to play bass, he bought it from a pawn shop with HIS paper route money. Found the only kid in school band who had a whole drum set. Picked up a junk reel-to-reel recorder at an auction for $4 because it looked cool. Made my first ****ty recordings. Bought an Ibanez for $300 (1 year of paper route money saved - damn, I wish I could still save like that.)

Age 14 - Bought a old tape deck from another auction, the flat kind that had a built in condenser. Made our first band demo by moving that thing around in the room until it sounded good, not bad actually. Sang DIRECTLY into it while the same mic picked up drums, guitar, bass, and keyboards, LOL. No phase issues, that's for sure. Dubbed it 1:1 50 times(!) on my dad's dual cassette deck and handed them out at school.

...lots of years of playing guitar, writing songs, doing shows, using it to get laid in high school, etc.

Age 20 - first DAW, Pro Audio 9, Pentium II, built in sound card.
Old 12th February 2009
Lives for gear
Forgot to add my picture. That's the first Mackie 1202 to arrive in Tampa, FL
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Old 12th February 2009

when i was a boy, we didn't HAVE recording studios.

...we had sticks and stones and dirt and rocks and sand and bags of ice.

and we used to walk ten miles in shoes made of cardboard carrying blocks of ice.

...and that's the way it was and we LIKED It....

...recording studios, shmeecording studios - FLIBBERTY FLOOOOO....

Old 12th February 2009
Lives for gear
rackdude's Avatar

When I was your age... damn, I haven't gotten there yet. Well, I'm having fun with my N12, Trademark 30, and assortment of mics I got from saving my lunch money every day since 5th grade! (3 bucks a day + Christmas gets you a long way).

I wonder how people will think of this gear when I get older...
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