Studios

I have built two studios for personal use over the past few years.  One is a smaller space in Devon; the other is a large facility in southwest France.  Each has its own personality and strengths.  I have worked to make each one a space that fosters creativity, with a smooth workflow, excellent microphones and outboard gear, superb acoustics and very high standards for recorded sound.

My main recording platform is Pro Tools 12, although I also work in Logic.  An equipment list follows at the end.

The names for these two studios came by chance; I’ve always loved old signs and lettering – my grandfather was a sign painter – and I bought two lots of old sign letters from ebay in France.  “Mineur” and “Ace” were the two words that used the most letters from each batch, and so the studios were named.  “Mineur” in French can mean minor, as in a key; or miner, as in someone who works underground.

MINEUR

Mineur is built in an old dairy barn in southwest France.  It has very high ceilings and a beautiful, but controlled, natural reverb.  After years of working on both sides of the studio glass, I wanted to do away with the traditional control room/recording room division, so this is a “one-room” design – I sit with the musicians.

The studio is set in a breathtakingly beautiful area of rural France.  It is supernaturally quiet, and you are in the middle of nature when you step out the door.  It offers a uniquely relaxing, but very focused, environment in which to make music.  There is an apartment attached to the studio which can sleep up to four people.

A 1967 Ludwig kit gives drummers something to do.

Mineur also has a completely acoustically-isolated room for instances where isolation is a good thing – like when you want to make a lot of noise.

Over the years, I have accumulated a lot of vintage guitars, both acoustic and electric, as well as amplifiers.  They’re a lot of fun, offer a variety of sounds, and can provide an unexpected source of inspiration for a part or a song.

Mineur also features a 1970’s Raindirk Series III console.  It can be used old-school, for tracking and mixing, or integrated into the Pro Tools system at various stages to capture that analog “something”.

This old Steinway upright is full of character.

ACE

ACE is a small space I built in our garage in Devon.  It’s very much like the control room of a submarine – almost every square inch is functional.  While too small for a band, it’s a great environment for singer-songwriters, and provides a handy workshop for all sorts of overdubs.  However, full albums can be done here as well – the room is acoustically treated and sounds very good.

As with Mineur, ACE is located in a beautiful rural area, near the sea, with a host of interesting things to see and do when not recording.  There are many pubs and B&B’s in the area.  The studio does not offer accommodation.

EQUIPMENT

All of my gear is shared between the two studios.  Depending on the project and the schedule, anything in this list is available in either studio.

Recording gear

Computers and interfaces

Pro Tools 12 Native
Logic Pro X
12-core Mac Pro trashcan
Multiple 4-core i7 Mac Mini Servers as slaves
Metric Halo ULN-8 interface
Metric Halo LIO-8 interface
Universal Audio UAD-192 A-D/D-A
Multiple Synology NAS backup servers

Monitors

ATC SCM-20ASL
Amphion One15 w/Amp100
BBC/Rogers LS-5/8
KEF 103.2

Microphones

Neumann U-67 (valve)
Neumann KM-56 (valve)
AKG C-61 (valve)
Neumann KM-84
AKG 451 x 2 (cardioid and omni capsules)
AKG C-460 x 3 (cardioid and omni capsules)
RCA BK-11 x 2 (ribbon)
RCA BK-5A
Melodium 42B x 4 (ribbon)
Electro-Voice V-2 (ribbon)
Josephson 606 x 2
Beyerdynamic M160 (ribbon)
Sennheiser MD-441
Sennheiser MD-421
Sennheiser MD-509 x 2
Shure SM-57 x 2
Electro-Voice N/D-868

Outboard

Microphone preamps
BAE/Neve 1272 x 2
Siemens/TAB 676 x 2
Siemens/TAB 276
Gates SA-70 x 5 (valve)
AMPEX 350 (valve)
RTZ RCA clone x 2
John Hardy MCI console x 2
Metric Halo ULN-8
Raindirk console preamps (18)

Dynamics

D.T. Fearn VT-7
Spectra-Sonics 610 x 2
Foote Control Systems FCS-3
Valley People Dyna-Mite
Federal (US military) compressor
RNC x 2

EQ

A-Designs HM-2

Instruments

 

Piano

Mineur – 1898 Steinway upright, Yamaha CP-70 electric piano
ACE – early 1900’s Bechstein baby upright

Mandolin family

1917 Gibson A-3 Mandolin
1917 Gibson H-1 Mandola

Acoustic arch-top guitars

1929 Gibson L-5/10 archtop acoustic

Acoustic flat-top guitars

1929 Martin 0-18
1932 Martin 00-21
1932 Gibson L-0
1934 Martin 000-18
1937 Gibson J-35
1937 Gibson Roy Smeck Stage Deluxe
1942 Gibson LG-2
1944 Gibson SJ
1946 Gibson J-45
1948 Gibson SJ
2000 Matisko Cherry Jumbo
2000 Taylor Baby Taylor
2001 MeloBro Resonator
2003 National Trovador resonator 12 string

Hawaiian/slide

1935 Oahu Square neck acoustic flat top Hawaiian
2008 Lazy River Weissenborn copy

Electric guitars

1950 Gibson ES-300N
1955 Gretsch Duo-Jet
1955 Premier Unknown
1959 Gibson ES-330TD
1960 Fender Telecaster
1960 Gibson Les Paul Junior TV
1963 Fender Jazzmaster
1963 Gibson ES-335TD
1962 Gibson Les Paul SG Junior
1964 Gibson Firebird I
1964 Gibson Firebird III
1965 Gibson SG Junior
1968 Gretsch Tennessean
1972 Fender Telecaster
1985 Steinberger GMT1A
1999 Jerry Jones U2
2001 Rickenbacker 660-12 12-string
2003 Epiphone Firebird electric mandolin
50’s/60’s Harmony H-62 archtop electric
50’s/60’s Kay Jimmy Reed
50’s/60’s Kay 300
50’s/60’s Silvertone Turquoise
50’s/60’s Silvertone 3 pickup
50’s/60’s Silvertone 1446-L (Chris Isaak)
50’s/60’s Silvertone (Danelectro) U-1
50’s/60’s Silvertone (Danelectro) U-2

Other guitars
60’s Rogue Electric Sitar
2000 Hammertone Octave 12 string
2000 Danelectro Baritone

Steel guitars
1942 National Lap steel
1947 National Dynamic
1952 Fender Pro steel

Electric bass
1962 Fender Precision bass
1980 Steinberger L2 bass
50’s/60’s Silvertone (Danelectro) 1444 bass

Amplifiers (all valve)

Fender
1952 Deluxe 5A3
1953 Super 5C4
1959 Pro 5E5-A
1959 Tremolux 5E9-A
1960 Pro 6G5
1961 Princeton 6G2
1962 Deluxe 6G3
1961 Bandmaster 6G7-A
1964 Bassman 6G6-B
1965 Vibrolux Reverb AA864
1967 Twin Reverb AB763
1968 Bandmaster Reverb AA768

Marshall
1977 JMP 50-watt MK II lead (1987?)

Ampeg
Jet J-12
Magnatone
Magnatone 381 (280-A)
Magnatone 261

Hiwatt
SA-212

Silvertone
1940’s
1482

Sound City
Concord

Alamo
Model A-2

Traynor
Bass Master YBA-1

Vox
1965 AC50
1963 AC30 head and cabinet