jacob detering is making records

Icon... The endless quest to make a record that I enjoy listening to ...

brain surgery at home for fun and profit!???!

It's pretty comboggling (a great word created by my friend Josh Meng - which in Menglish means confusing / mind boggling) to think that the portion of my life spent making recordings now exceeds time spent NOT making recordings. Over the years, it's fair to say that I've recorded on nearly every format available and in just about every environment imaginable.

In the early days, I'd hole up in what used to be the old coal room in my parents basement with my Yamaha four track recorder writing and recording several songs a week. On occasion I'd even rent a Tascam PortaStudio from my local music store for a month at a time. I would use these machines until they literally stopped working... And while at the time I knew nothing technically about recording and even less about gear, the whole experience was an immensely valuable learning in songwriting and process.

Since then, in addition to owning several of my own work spaces (I never liken them to world-class recording facilities) I've worked in a myriad of spare bedroom studios, semi-commercial rooms and full-on pro facilities.

Several years ago, I stumbled on Sear Sound Studios in NYC. Both Sear Sound and owner Walter Sear are mainstays in the studio world and have been for many years, advocates for the professional studio environment. And while I find myself far less rigid than Walter in his insistence of working in a world-class facility, I do find a great deal of wisdom in the analogy he draws. I decided to repost this blog because as of a few months ago, www.searsound.com was redesigned, eliminating Walter's 'articles' page.

I guess too, I decided to blog about this after discussing the decline of music qualitatively with my new-found friend George Howard (@gah650) over dinner. And while I don't think either of us really arrived at a definitive answer to the question, advances and the proliferation of music technology did get strong mention. But I think beyond everything, what's often omitted from the record making process these days is experience. And the decline in experience and wisdom throughout the recording process is at the heart of Walter's blog. Again - I'd link to the blog, but it's no longer available; the following is from a web clipping I grabbed long ago.




I'm not very technical but I just love doing brain surgery. I couldn't see wasting all that time to get an undergraduate degree in science, then wasting four more years in medical school and another three or so as a resident, but I'm sure that I can make up for the deficit with my enthusiasm and my love of brain surgery.

First of all, you really don't need to be in a big fancy building like a hospital. I use my ping-pong table in the basement to do my surgery. (I do throw a plastic sheet over it to preserve the paint). By doing it at home, I save on rent. I admit that sometimes the neighbors complain about the occasional screams that they hear, especially late at night.

Next thing is the equipment. They have all of that shiny stuff in the operating room and believe me, you don't really need it. I equipped my Operating Room at my local 99 cent store. At the hardware department, pick up a hack saw. This is very handy for cutting off the top of the skull. If you want to get fancy, pick up a cross-cut saw, for emergencies. A good claw hammer is handy for removing any extra bone that you missed with the saws.

Move on to the housewares department. Here, for $.99, you can get a whole set of steak knives. These are very sharp and they are good for the fine work. For the rough work--get a bread knife.

In the sewing department, you can pick up a sewing kit with all kinds of needles and different colored threads This is handy to sew the scalp back in place. You can also get a set of three different-sized scissors. Sometimes they come in handy.

There! For $7 to $8, you can completely equip your operating room.

On TV, you see the OR full of assistants. This is a waste of space. If you really watch them, they are all just standing around doing nothing. In my home operating room, I have eliminated all of these unnecessary people. I do, however, engage the family dog to sit under my operating table to clean up the scraps.

You see how simple it is to do brain surgery at home? Anyone with a love of brain surgery can do it. I never read Grey's Anatomy although I did see a copy once. Very nice pictures but half of it was in Latin. Who wants to bother with that! If you really want to be a brain surgeon, all you need is the desire and enthusiasm.

My prices are very cheap since I don't have all that stupid overhead.


Walter Sear


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