Saturday, August 24, 2013

Stocking Your Tool Box

If there's one thing my years in construction taught me it's that having the right tools makes the job go a lot better. The crew I worked on had a well stocked box truck with just about everything you could imagine that would come in useful when building a house. That same philosophy served me well when I was doing a ton of live sound work. I took my whole rig with me even if I was going to do an acoustic night at a coffee shop. If some oddball request came up I had what I needed to take care of it right on hand.

At some point though, you have to put a cap on it. While there is something to be said for having everything under the sun at your disposal, most people can't afford to do that. The more I got to thinking about my carpentry days the more I realized that while we had a lot of specialized equipment, most of it served many, many purposes. 

When you're out on a gig you could carry pliers, cutters, a kinfe, and several screwdrivers on you at all times. Or you could just strap a Leatherman to your belt and be done with it. It's not as good as any of those things individually but when something needs fixing in a hurry the tool that's ready to hand is the one that saves the day.

So just like you can have a full height tool chest full of everything Craftsman ever made you can stock your DAW with hundreds if not thousands of plugins. And while you can spend all the time in the world figuring out who's version of the LA-2A is better, wouldn't you be better served to just have one good compressor that you know really, really well?

In my own DAW I've got a couple hundred plugins, sure. But only a couple dozen of them see regular use and only about half of them are my true daily drivers. My EQ might not add all the pizazz of a Pultec, but I know what good saturation sounds like and I can juice it up a little bit. My compressor might be Plain Jane but I know how to run it. I can make it whip crack fast or slow and mushy like the good ol' days. 

So if you're sitting there wishing you could afford the latest and greatest, maybe you should stop day dreaming and just spend some time getting to know the plugs you have right now. Because really, a good engineer can make gold with whatever you put in front of him or her. It's not the logo in the corner of the plugin that makes things great, it's the hand on the mouse.

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