Few things in this electronic age we live in
are as important and generally overlooked
as reading a manual. I can hear you now; “I
don’t need that thing. I’ll just figure it out,”
right? Just because something works when
you turn it on doesn’t mean you know how
to use it. It just means that the presets
work. We, as consumers, have become
so focused on instant gratification that
many great products with untapped
potential have been pushed aside due
to their learning curve.
I always found it amazing when I’d hear
something awesome and go “Wow, I had no
clue that (insert product name here) could do
that,” only to find out that instructions on how
to make it happen were in the manual or in an
online tutorial or video.
• If the compressor presets in your new
recorder or software sound wrong, then make
sure you learn how to properly use a compressor and adjust them before you determine that it doesn’t work well.
• If you’re not sure how to hook up a
piece of gear, remember that almost
every manual on the planet comes
with a detailed description/diagram
describing how to connect everything.
(Hopefully the manual wasn’t thrown
out with the box!)
When did learning become a four-letter word?
It may sound silly, but effects boards,
modeling amps and home studios
are everywhere these days, and many
people who own them don’t really
understand how to properly use them.
Companies like Line 6, Roland, and
Digidesign, to name a few, have put
a pro studio and piles of guitar amps
and effects at your fingertips, but
what good is all that power if you
never truly learn to use the product to
its full potential?
I want to challenge all of us to stop
looking for instant gratification and taking the path of least resistance! Let’s
really learn how to use all the great
products that are available to us. If we
are willing to invest some time into
learning how to use the toys we buy,
then maybe we’ll discover new sides to
our musical creativity along the way.
Have you ever found yourself frustrated trying to track your first hit record
at home because you can’t figure out
how to start recording? “It doesn’t
work” or “It’s broken,” sound familiar?
Usually, reading the manual is the furthest thing from our minds, yet it’s the
answer to all, or at least most, of the
problems we are having.
If you aren’t into reading manuals,
that’s fine. Manufacturers make DVD
manuals and instructional videos for
just about everything these days. To
top it off, there are endless resources
online; between the manufacturer’s
product page, discussion forums, and
You Tube, you can find just about everything you could ever want to know
about an item.
Think about this: when you buy a brand-new
piece of gear, you are so excited to get it out
of the box that the manual never exits its plastic cocoon. (Yes, I’m guilty too!) You eagerly
crank through all of its presets and within a
year or so, off to eBay it goes because you’ve
grown tired of it.
Sadly, amps, effects and software have all
become defined by their presets. What I
mean by this is if the presets that come with a
piece of gear or software aren’t completely to
our liking out of the box, then we just give up
and move on to the next thing without even
making an effort to find out what it was truly
capable of or what we we’re doing wrong.
I’m not saying that a product
shouldn’t be fun and offer instant
gratification up front. What I’m saying
is that we need to stop forming opinions
about products based on our often limited
knowledge of how to use them.
Now, being the total gear junkie that I am,
I’m all for gear upgrades and new toys, but
make sure you’re upgrading and making
new purchases for the right reasons. In many
cases, you are bored with a piece of gear not
because you’ve exhausted its capabilities, but
because you never learned how to fully use it.
Here are some suggestions to get you started
on getting more out of your gear:
• If you kind of like the sound of an amp or
effect setting, but feel it’s missing something,
then consider editing the settings instead of
jumping to the next preset.
Trent Thompson has been a recording/mix engineer in the
Central Florida area for nearly ten years. He has a degree
in recording engineering and is a lifelong guitar player. He
is currently a Sales Engineer at Sweetwater Sound in Fort
Wayne, Indiana. Reach him at 1-800-222-4700 ext. 1393
or at Trent_Thompson@Sweetwater.com