Studio Makeover Month: The Ghostwriter Studio Setup

Meet the Ghostwriter – a professional songwriting machine working under contract to create music for mainstream acts and artists. He lives to create music in a simple and inspiring environment without any hiccups or interruptions. He needs a mobile setup that comes with him to collaborate with Artists, but powerful enough to craft song ideas into finished demos on tight deadlines. This Ghostwriter has to be able to do it all, and he gets results with SONAR X3 Producer.


The Gear:

The Ghostwriter has delicately carved out his set-up according to his Songwriting process. Everyone’s process is different but over the years he’s learned that songwriting is a skill that needs to be worked over and over again in different ways. He’s picked a powerful Dell M6800 Precision workstation as his main workhorse computer because of the expansive hard drive space, optical drive, large visual workspace, 8GB of memory, and long battery life. With 4 USB 3.0 ports, transferring and backing up his music takes a fraction of the time it does on his MacBook.

Songwriting can sometimes start with an idea that hits faster than he can reach for a recorder. Instead he flips on his Gibson inspiration cable, and works the idea out while his computer is booting up. This clever cable catches the direct signal of his guitar’s pickup and transfers it to an SD card. After that, he just pops out the card and copies it to his SONAR X3 Producer DAW for further shedding. Once inside of SONAR X3 his gut reaction is to pull in Addictive Drums 2 and get his idea mapped and finalized. With XLN Audio’s Addictive Drums 2 he was capable of working out drum parts on his own – without hiring a session player. This saved him tons of time and tons of cash.

The quality of his demo production exceeds that of some of his colleagues so he’s constantly being sent Gobbler links full of songs ideas that need to be mixed or worked on further. These songs are in all sorts of different sample rates so he put down the cash for Tascam’s UH7000 dual channel preamp and audio interface. Since this interface operates from 44.1kHz-192kHz he can work on any project without downsampling the data. The UH7000’s preamps are low-noise and very clean so they offer tons of flexibility when recording all different types of instruments in his home.

The Ghostwriter learned a long time ago that he’s much more effective at mixing with headphones than using big studio monitors. None of his personal recordings or mixes are ever used commercially so he couldn’t justify dropping a few grand on monitors. But, he does swear by his KRK KNS8400 headphones. One of the reasons why he went with these is because of the controlled low-end he gets when working on bass instruments and sounds. For him, they color his sound just enough for him to know what it will sound like for the people he’s handing his songs off to. Plus, by working mainly on headphones it allowed him to trash the large upright piano in his latest move and switch to a Roland A-300 Pro MIDI Controller. Dimension Pro is the proverbial swiss-army-knife instrument of the Cakewalk world so finding a set of piano sounds amidst it’s expansive library wasn’t hard.


The Instruments:

Hailing from a family of talented and strong musicians – the Ghostwriter is in tune with various types of instruments. Having a diverse multi-instrument background has helped him score more contracts over the years. For this gig he has a few go to instruments that haven’t failed him yet. A black Gibson Midtown Electric is his go to axe for more than 60% of the guitar work that he does. It’s flexibility and bluesy tone makes it a great fit for the music he’s constantly pushing out. Since his hometowns have never been north of the mason dixon line he’s been thrown country and bluegrass work for most of his professional career. For this music, his trusty Epiphone Banjo has found a place on deck in his is studio setup. In the moments of a song where he finds a need for some gritty melodies he always has his Hohner at an arms reach and likes to cup his Shure 55SH around it to get a screaming vintage sound out of it. Last but not least by a long shot is his Epiphone Masterbilt Acoustic/Electric. This guitar has seen as much travel as his laptop and never leaves his side when he’s on the road or playing songwriter showcases at the Bluebird Cafe.

Check out SONAR X3 free for 30 days here.