Yesterday's Office

Vaughn McMillan

Staff member
I was contacted recently by a local husband/wife team who were recording a couple of songs and in need of someone to add guitar parts to the songs. They had heard our band a couple of years ago and wanted to hire me to do the guitar work. After several phone calls, a few exchanges of MP3 files and an afternoon rehearsal/planning session at their house, yesterday was the day to go to the studio to lay down tracks. I haven't done any recording in a proper studio in decades, so it was a fun way to spend most of a day. Although my band recorded an EP back in the '80s, this was my first experience as a "hired gun" studio guitarist for someone else's record. The two songs they were recording aren't really my cup of tea, but as a musical prostitute, I'll play just about anything if you pay me for it, lol. :D

By the time I got to the studio, they had recorded the drum tracks and were just finishing up the bass and keyboard parts. (The bass parts were done on a keyboard.) Since I was not using a real amp (I use a magic black box that emulates several hundred different amps, and it plugs directly into the mixing console), my gear and I were set up in the control room itself to play my parts. The husband and wife, as well as the studio owner/producer were in the control room as well. We went into this session with just a rough idea of what the guitar parts should be, so we discussed and recorded a variety of things as we went along. All told, we spent 4 to 5 hours recording a variety of guitar ideas in a piecemeal fashion. The vocal parts will be recorded on another day...I won't need to be there for that session. My clients and the engineer will use the various parts as they see fit when they mix the finished songs.

The studio we were at is Rio Grande Studios, a very nice facility in the North Valley of Albuquerque. If you click around the studio's web site, you can see a bunch of photos of the facility. Ken Riley is the owner/engineer and he's built the studio in a 200+ year old adobe house. It's pretty state of the art (one of the best studios in the state). Ken has a digital console running into a variety of classic analog outboard gear, with the final output in a digital format (as opposed to an analog tape, which is very seldom used these days). Ken also has a variety of vintage guitar amps available. We ended up using a combination of my digital amp modeler and one of his classic Marshall amps for the guitar parts.

Here are a few pics I snapped on my phone. This is the entrance to the veranda as you approach from the driveway...

This is the veranda. The main entrance is the blue door, which leads into the Green Room/Lounge...

I took no photos of the Green Room, but after going through a pair of double-pane sliding glass doors from there, you enter the recording room. It's where the drums were recorded. (The keyboards and guitar stuff were set up in the control room itself.) The large monitor allows the artists to see Ken at the mixing console. He has a monitor in the control room where he can see the artist(s) in the recording room. Microphones and speakers in both rooms allow 2-way communication.

The glass door you see in the photo above leads into the Control Room. This was my view for most of the day. That's Ken at the console.
Control Room.jpg

As I said earlier, there are a lot more (and better) photos on the Rio Grande Studios website. check them out if you're so inclined. I'll update this thread in a few weeks or so when I get a copy of the finished recordings. :guitar:
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glenn bradley

Awesome. I love it that you are still rockin'. I wandered off when robotic slider settings were magic and still mechanical :D. I love a good flashback to a previous life but, have no illusions that I could any good there any more. Rock on!