Musician's Guide to Home Recording Book Series by Craig Anderton
Books to take the fear out of DIY home studio...
by Chris Loeffler
Craig Anderton has more than five decades in the music world, covering such diverse ground as his influential Mandrake band in the 60s, pioneering books on electronics in music, globe-spanning DJ work, and regular collaboration with leading designers of guitars, synthesizers, software, and more. One of the things that most embodies his work is his ability to see beyond the genre or category he is working in by returning to fundamentals first and building into the tropes of his project.
Between stints as a Chief Magic Officer at Gibson and dozens of engagements with retailers and manufacturers, Anderton somehow found time to pour through several decades worth of his print and digital sound engineering articles to put together a definitive book series of instructional "best practices" for recording entitled Musician’s Guide to Home Recording. The series is composed of eight initial volumes: How to Create Compelling Mixes, Microphones for Recording Musicians (co-written by Harmony Central Senior Editor Phil O’Keefe), How to Record and Mix Great Vocals, The Musician’s Guide to Audio, How to Apply Equalization, How to Get the Best Sounds Out of Amp Sim Software, How to Choose and Use Audio Interfaces, and How to Apply Dynamics Processing; all available in softcover from Hal Leonard.
What You Need to Know
Like a well-trained SEO writer, Anderton’s titles get straight to the point, and promise comprehensive responses to the question each book is answering. Each book begins with a chapter on the general technology and terminology used before moving into copious examples of what’s currently available to achieve the goal, and then heads deep into the world of application, both technical and artistic.
For those unfamiliar with Anderton’s writing style, "concise" is the name of the game. As both a writer and an editor his approach is always towards simplification, with a surgical precision of sentence organization and intentionally pared-down word usage. His time as a technical writer for user guides shows in his ability to communicate new processes in a manner that the average reader can immediately grasp and replicate, without needing to re-read or second-guess the meaning. I’ve spent enough time trying to decipher poorly written instruction manuals or board game rules to recognize superior communication of complex ideas!
Iconography legends are provided at the beginning of each book that introduces how break-away comments and cross-references will be addressed. These frequent side notes or punctuations assist the reading process by keeping the core of the text laser-focused, while offering a steady stream of enhanced, supplemental ideas to reference in the moment or after the fact.
This books offers a succinct, informal tone that carries through even the most advanced material addressed in the series, with logical foundation-building that avoids the pitfalls of many authors who attempt to cover so much ground (especially technical) in a relatively small word count, and end up causing reader backtracking.
Each volume feels like a one-hour conversation with Anderton in the studio, with photos and illustrations deftly filling in the moments one would expect him to turn his chair, grab the mouse, and say, “Here, let me show you...”
Given his track record as a leading expert voice in the music and audio world, I was a little surprised this series didn’t already exist, but I realize I have been consuming much of this body of work as articles in publications like Electronic Musician and Guitar Player, as well as his contributions to Harmony Central, for decades now. That’s not to say this series is a simple reprint of past material; it is a consolidation, reconfiguration, and expansion of Anderton’s wider body of work to serve as a definitive overview of the titular topic.
Reviewing individual volumes of the Musician’s Guide to Home Recording would be a lengthy and ultimately futile process as each book, while a companion to the others, can be read and enjoyed on its own merits. The common thread to all of them is format, voice, and a focus on understanding. Many books and instructors will point you to a solution to your specific problem; Anderton would rather tell you what solutions exist, and let you make the best decision to achieve what you want. The end result is a more empowered approach to home recording, with a rich toolset to draw from.
For an idea of the topics covered in each book, I recommend checking out each title’s synopsis in the links below.
The Musician's Guide to Home Recording series is designed for people who want to learn and find their own voice using best practices, not a crib sheet of "How to Sound Like X."
The Musician’s Guide to Home Recording is a foundational series that focuses on teaching the why and how of recording, aimed at setting the reader up with the knowledge to create professional recordings while finding their own voice. While a quick look at the table of contents or the detailed waveforms may intimidate newcomers, reading the first page or two of any of the books will quickly set aside any concerns about their own qualifications to understand and absorb the content. These books were written to be read, and understood, easily to make any step of the recording process not only approachable, but achievable with professional sounding results. -HC-
Chris Loeffler is a multi-instrumentalist and the Content Strategist of Harmony Central. In addition to his ten years experience as an online guitar merchandiser, marketing strategist, and community director he has worked as an international exporter, website consultant and brand manager. When he’s not working he can be found playing music, geeking out on guitar pedals and amps, and brewing tasty beer.