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Please be gentle! Complete newbie needs advice! Dynamic Microphones
Old 30th December 2010
  #1
Here for the gear
 

Please be gentle! Complete newbie needs advice!

Like I said in the title, please be gentle...

I am a singer and, in the past, I've always relied on the musicians I've worked with to write the music for our projects (although I always wrote the melody) since I can't play an instrument myself (except guitar, which I hate playing). I'm getting tired of not having enough artistic control, and I'd like to start to learn how to play keyboard well enough to record electronic music myself.

I'm nowhere near in the league of any of the people on here (I'll be starting with, um Garageband) but I haven't got a clue where to start really.

The first thing I need to do is learn how to play keyboard reasonably well. If my ancient Mac hadn't stopped working a few months ago, I'd buy a software synth, but this is obviously no good without a computer (and is it even possible to learn how to play keyboard on a software synth?).

I know that I could just buy some crappy used keyboard but, ideally, I'd like to buy a hardware synth (with as many keys as possible - preferably weighted) that I can then use with my future new Mac. I'm pretty broke, so $500 would be about my limit.

Sorry if this is the wrong site to post on, but I didn't know where else to post.

Thanks, in advance, for any advice.
Old 30th December 2010
  #2
Deleted #157546
Guest
If you want to record for 500 bucks you need:

DAW
Interface
Headphones
Mic
Misc

500 bucks is pretty much BARE minimum to get started from nothing.

I'd suggest talking to Sweetwater or a local music store and they can set you up with something to start.
Old 30th December 2010
  #3
Here for the gear
 

Thanks for responding!

I want to record once I've learned how to play keyboard reasonably well, so at the moment I'm not interested in any equipment other than a hardware synth.

At the moment, I can't afford to buy a brand new Mac to record with, so, while I'm saving, I thought that I might as well learn how to play keyboard on a decent piece of equipment that I can use once I am ready to record.
Old 30th December 2010
  #4
Whatever you decide to do-- be sure once you do it, you "take it to the next level." That seems to be the key these days.
Old 30th December 2010
  #5
Here for the gear
 

There always has to be one person like you on a forum, doesn't there? Bawbag.
Old 30th December 2010
  #6
Unfortunately, there's more where I came from...
Old 30th December 2010
  #7
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Cody's Avatar
 

Funny what you said about playing guitar... one of my good friends is a singer/songwriter and is and exceptional guitarist. He said the exact same thing, though! Said the guitar was "a vehicle for writing songs, nothing more".

I would love to be able to kill it on guitar like that guy.

Anyway, $500 for recording and song writing hey? Would a Roland JunoG fit that budget? It can record, is a pretty kick ass gigging keyboard for not a lot of money, has a mic and instrument input. Get one of those, hole up for a few months, write some awesome songs and then when you've made more money, get one of us to record your awesome songs.

--

Edit: The juno is a grand new, but I bet you could dig up a used one for around $500 off Kijiji or something.
Old 30th December 2010
  #8
Here for the gear
 

Cody, thanks for not being a ******.

Yeah, the Roland JunoG sounds good. Since I know absolutely nothing, I'd be interested in hearing why you think that would be a good fit for me.

As for recording my songs, yeah, some of you on here could do that! :-)
But I would at least like to learn the basics of recording since, as a female singer, it gets tiresome to have guys do it for me all the time.
Old 30th December 2010
  #9
Gear Maniac
 

If $500 is your limit and you want weighted keys; you should probably head to Guitar Center or Best Buy and check out the Digital Pianos. It's not a synth per se. Most of them have midi built in so when you replace your computer you can use it to control software synths.
Old 30th December 2010
  #10
Old 30th December 2010
  #11
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Cody's Avatar
 

I have an early morning shift so I'm out for the eve. However, if I could sum up the Juno G in a few breaths... and why it would be good...

It's a proven versatile keyboard with many synths/pianos/drum sounds built in, with some simple drum grooves on board for writing. And it records, and can interface with a computer.

There are probably other keyboards that do this, but this sticks out from my experience with one. It shouldn't lose it's value, and even if you outgrow it down the road, the Juno will always be around when you need something to gig with that isn't really expensive.

This does interface with a computer, so when you get another laptop you can use it to learn "the basics" of digital audio recording.

However, unless recording is a huge passion, I'd learn these "basics" and move on to bigger things, like your songwriting. And learning different instruments, or vocal lessons.

And as for the attitude you're getting here... it sucks, but this is sort of a recording engineers website. It's like walking in on a high school computer programming class... you maybe the only non-nerd in the room, but you're still the oddball in the situation.
Old 30th December 2010
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by therealbigd View Post
No, let me google it for you, honey:

Let me google that for you
Old 30th December 2010
  #13
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cody View Post
I have an early morning shift so I'm out for the eve. However, if I could sum up the Juno G in a few breaths... and why it would be good...

It's a proven versatile keyboard with many synths/pianos/drum sounds built in, with some simple drum grooves on board for writing. And it records, and can interface with a computer.

There are probably other keyboards that do this, but this sticks out from my experience with one. It shouldn't lose it's value, and even if you outgrow it down the road, the Juno will always be around when you need something to gig with that isn't really expensive.

This does interface with a computer, so when you get another laptop you can use it to learn "the basics" of digital audio recording.

However, unless recording is a huge passion, I'd learn these "basics" and move on to bigger things, like your songwriting. And learning different instruments, or vocal lessons.
Wow, thanks for the help and advice. I really appreciate it!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cody View Post
And as for the attitude you're getting here... it sucks, but this is sort of a recording engineers website. It's like walking in on a high school computer programming class... you maybe the only non-nerd in the room, but you're still the oddball in the situation.
Yeah, I knew it was a recording engineers website before I posted, so I knew that there would be some pretentious snobs around, but I hoped that at least someone would deign to give me some help. And you did, so thanks!
Old 30th December 2010
  #14
Gear Maniac
 

No reason you can't use Garageband to make a great record. I would suggest simply getting a Midi controller. You can learn on that just fine with GBs instruments. Weighted keys are nice but you can get the muscle memory from a controller. I am sure there are a bunch of inexpensive options. Get an interface and mic (Shure SM 58 is great for vox and you can also use it at the gigs) and you are all set to make a record. It is all about what you do with what you have.

Steven LaFashia
Old 30th December 2010
  #15
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JoaT's Avatar
Not to take sides here, but the OP jumped on the first sentence that had the potential to be either a joke or an insult and started name-calling straight away.

If you aknowledge being a complete newbie, please act accordingly.

Your attitude is like from the prison movies: "Attack the biggest guy the moment he pays attention to you. That way you get respect around here".

Certainly reduced my willingness to help you. I'm quite certain I'm not the only one.
Old 30th December 2010
  #16
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ambiguity's Avatar
A singer talking about pretentious snobs Very cute.

I second cheapo digital pianos. For $300 or so, you can get a new Yamaha CDP-100, hammer action, MIDI out, plus $200 for your future computer.

if you got space for it and some help, there seems to be a ton of upright pianos people are giving away on craigslist these days.
Old 30th December 2010
  #17
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T'Mershi Duween's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by joelpatterson View Post
Unfortunately, there's more where I came from...

Yep, we breed like rats. heh

But seriously, if you are really serious about getting into this glamorous bizness we call "show", why not try finding real musicians/producers/songwriters to collaborate with?

Maybe offer to assist another person who already has a reasonable collection of recording gear? Maybe offer to sing on a songwriter's demo for free/studio time? Take music lessons if you want to learn how to play an instrument.

That way you can find out if you have any latent talent for recording and producing music!

Garageband is fine for a beginner startng out. I would have killed for such technology when I first started to learn how to record

Baby steps with serious desire and drive will yield positive results.

That and finding someone competent to "mentor" you.

Hope this advice is helpful...


thumbsup
Old 30th December 2010
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by T'Mershi Duween View Post
But seriously, if you are really serious about getting into this glamorous bizness we call "show", why not try finding real musicians/producers/songwriters to collaborate with?

Maybe offer to assist another person who already has a reasonable collection of recording gear? Maybe offer to sing on a songwriter's demo for free/studio time? Take music lessons if you want to learn how to play an instrument.

That way you can find out if you have any latent talent for recording and producing music!

thumbsup
Thanks for the advice. Yes, it was helpful!

As for your suggestions, I said I was a newbie when it came to keyboards/synths/recording, but I didn't say that I was a newbie singer. I've been doing everything you suggested collaboration-wise for years now, but as a "chick singer" who can't play an instrument well, it's really hard to find musicians who share the same vision. And, even when you do, there are inevitably egos that get in the way of the music (sometimes even my ego ;-) )

I've no desire to be a great producer. I just want to learn how to play an instrument and learn the basics of recording so that I no longer need to rely on anybody else to make the music I want to. Ultimately, I will need other people to collaborate with, but I'd like to be able to give them a concrete example of what I want to do.
Old 30th December 2010
  #19
Gear Addict
 

What about playing guitar do you hate? How do you know you won't hate playing keyboards? These are valid questions - not being a dick. I play both but I hate playing keyboards because I play guitar better because that is what I put effort into learning.
Old 30th December 2010
  #20
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PS/ Thanks for the tips, Fash and Dragan.
Old 30th December 2010
  #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Heimel View Post
What about playing guitar do you hate? How do you know you won't hate playing keyboards? These are valid questions - not being a dick. I play both but I hate playing keyboards because I play guitar better because that is what I put effort into learning.
I hate the way it hurts my fingers. I know that means I'm a wuss, but there you go. I just don't like it. Also, unless you practise for ages and ages, it's hard to make an interesting sound. Also, none of the music I'm into is guitar-based or, if it is, there are usually electronic elements also.
Old 30th December 2010
  #22
Gear Addict
 

Do you have Garageband now? If so just get a midi controller and you will have a plethora of instruments to choose from. If you do not currently play piano then you will need some lessons.
Old 30th December 2010
  #23
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bash's Avatar
 

Another path to consider is something like a Zoom R24 recorder. On-board drums/pads/sample trigger, on-board mics, 24 tracks with EQ/effects, records to cheap media, a pathway as a Mac/PC interface/controller, portable and very simple to learn and operate. Are you looking for near-complete arrangements/productions or just sketching/fleshing out ideas to best convey your songs to other musicians?

The reason I suggest a recorder is you obviously know how to control your primary instrument (voice) now and can use a recorder to immediately construct arrangements. The all-in-one keyboard boxes are great but that will require time to learn to play. A voice can mimic any instrument.

How's your beatbox?
Old 30th December 2010
  #24
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T'Mershi Duween's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by dirtyweebesom View Post
I just want to learn how to play an instrument and learn the basics of recording so that I no longer need to rely on anybody else to make the music I want to.

thumbsup


That is the best and most noble reason to become a self-contained artist or producer.

I feel your frustration. Many of us on here became multi instrumentalists and producer/engineer types for just that reason!

If you have a strong vision, you will be able to claw your ideas into reality with enough effort and experience.

There's a lot of good advice (and a lot of dubious bullsh#t!) on Gearslutz that can really help you.

Keep it simple and learn to "demo" your ideas in rough form, then learn to how to make them sound more like a finished product.

Don't give up on collaborating. Like I said, you could probably trade vocals (I assumed that you could sing! heh) for free studio time or help.

If you want to try to get your ideas down on a keyboard type device, a small controller and software synth/sounds are probably your best bet.

If I were you I would definitely stick with a Mac and then you can use Garageband and maybe later upgrade to Logic (which has all the sounds you need to make a decent "song"). Get a good microphone (sm57 would be perfect and cheap) and a decent pre/converter and away you go!

And you should have mentioned that you were a "chick" in your original post since you would probably get a lot of help from all the "dudes" on here.

And a more gentle "welcome newbie" vibe overall... heh

Good luck and keep us posted on your progress!


Old 30th December 2010
  #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dirtyweebesom View Post
No, let me google it for you, honey:

Let me google that for you
Got a touchy one here.
Old 30th December 2010
  #26
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uncle duncan's Avatar
 

You need a keyboard with a midi output and a sustain pedal. I'd recommend an 88-note full sized keyboard with weighted keys. You can pick up a brand new Casio Privia for around $300 (?) While buying used would be cheaper, cheap keyboards break, so in the long run, getting a cheap new keyboard would be wise.

Getting a keyboard with built-in speakers can be really handy for songwriting, practicing, and jamming. A Casio Privia would have a bunch of built-in rhythms and bass lines. You hold down a low key and it plays the bass line and chord accompaniment of that particular style. You move to a different key and the chord changes. This is a quick and easy way to rough out song ideas. Ideally, once you learn your way around a keyboard, you'd turn off the automatic bass line/chord accompaniment and just use the drum beat to get your song going, since if you use a generic accompaniment, you'll end up with a generic sounding song.

You would want to learn the Nashville Numbers System, which reduces music theory to the 8 notes of the scale. Do, Re, Mi, Fa, So, La, Ti, Do are numbered 1 through 8. This way you can play the same song in any key because the relationship between the 8 notes stays the same, regardless of what key you're in.

Perhaps one piano lesson at a music store would be helpful, as long as the teacher utilizes the Numbers System. You could also trade out your vocal talents for a keyboard lesson from a local studio person.

I wouldn't worry about reading music at this point. Reading chord charts (via the Numbers System) is what it's all about in the studio environment. Chord charts with the names of the chords are also pretty common, but if you can translate them to the Numbers System, it's easier to understand what's going on in the song.

You would benefit from learning the basic chords: major, minor, dominant 7th, major 7th, augmented, diminished, so that when you see the symbols on the chord chart, you'll know what you're looking at. You also need this knowledge so you can write charts for the band. It's much easier to teach a new song to the band (or studio players) with charts than it is to spend two hours getting the guys to learn it by trial and error.

And the most important tip I can give you is this: Check out Marcia Ball, a blues piano player/singer. She sits at the keyboard with her legs crossed. If you can pull this off at the gig, you'll be the envy of your town.

YouTube - Marcia Ball-Party Town-Live At The 2009 New Orleans Jazzfest
Old 30th December 2010
  #27
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Cody's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by T'Mershi Duween View Post
thumbsup
That is the best and most noble reason to become a self-contained artist or producer.

I feel your frustration. Many of us on here became multi instrumentalists and producer/engineer types for just that reason!
So true. For all the slagging that goes on re: digital audio, it did put more power into the creator's hands. Nothing can replace a professional engineer, but being able to get your vision 90% there... exciting stuff.

Side Note: That last 10% is the polish and fidelity that , and it's that last 10% that still seperates the Joe's like me with their small recording/mix rigs with the true pro's talents. Just an observation.
Old 30th December 2010
  #28
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umm.. well if what you want to do is produce electronic music?

Ok.. so the deal is.. you can be a really really bad keyboard player.. because we got this wonderful thing going on called "quantizing" which takes you bad notes and fixes them.. and if you play the wrong note.. you can drag it around in a midi editor.

I make electronic music and I can't even play the keyboard.. I just program the notes. I'm a guitar player to..

Which isn't to say you shouldn't take up playing the keyboard in a serious way.. or that it wont make your stuff better, just that it's not a prerequisite.

If you had a computer.. then I'd probably say something like "get a cheap controller, and get some decent software" and frankly.. for around $500.. you could get into some pretty nice stuff..
Old 30th December 2010
  #29
Yes sir-- knowing that I was going to go back and edit the midi data anyway, I felt like that actually encouraged me to be sloppy-- because you could never get the kind of precision and expressivity in real time that you would get by poring over the thing, note by note, adjusting the velocities and note durations and tempos... but at the same time, I had this sensation of "I have departed from the realm of music now, I am doing 'music programming' which is not really quite the same thing..."
Old 30th December 2010
  #30
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cinealta's Avatar
 

Take an electronic music class at your local community college. For around $35 in tuition, you could access the entire music lab (keyboards, computers etc) and recording studio. Once you learn what you're doing, you'll have a better idea of what gear to get. Then, look at eBay or Craig's list for that used gear. Good luck!
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