People who are interested in gear like to thing big. Big things, big bucks, big sounds, big….balls, implicitly.
But sometimes it’s the little things that get used the most. While working towards completing my new record with producer Scott Solter, a frequent theme of our conversations has been poking fun at gear hounds who elevate things over the labor that we put into using them. At a recent session, he quoted the producer Tchad Blake as telling an interviewer from a pro audio magazine that his favorite piece of gear was….gaffer tape. This made me smile and reminded me of a physics teacher I had in high school who preached the gospel of gaffer tape while using it to keep the old school van running smooth so we could get to soccer practice across the river.
It also made me think of how ineffective the thin black electrical tape I’ve been using at home in my studio is. I bought it cuz I thought it wouldn’t leave the residue that gaffer tape does, which is true, but it just can’t cut it in other respects. It falls off so easily that it couldn’t even stick to my amplifier or my wall to hold up a cheat sheet of Pro Tools keyboard shortcuts I had printed out to help while editing parts for this record.
Until I get those commands down, I’ll be spending serious finger time on the mouse. Unfortunately, I had begun to experience some repetitive stress in my hands as a result. Working with DAWs involves a lot more moving around the screen than word processing does. (That’s why people say it’s so important to memorize keyboard shortcuts.) Fortunately, I followed Scott’s the piece of gear advice that Scott dished out during this project: get a Logitech Trackball Mouse.
It costs more than gaffer tape – but a lot less than an outboard compressor.
Now I zoom all over the screen without moving my hand at all. Also the thin strip in the center of the right and left click buttons take you up and down the screen with even more ease. I no longer have to hold down the click buttons when I’m moving things around, which was the main way I was generating repetitive stress. I also don’t have to keep as much free space on my desk for sliding the mouse around, which is no small thing in a small home project studio. And if you’re too cheap to buy a mousepad, like me, it saves me from making my Ikea screw on desktop degrade to a state even grimier than this:
Maybe it doesn’t fit AC/DC’s criteria for having big balls – but then again, I could always get a second one to right the situation.
And if that doesn’t work, I could always give in to the temptation to purchase the one piece of high end gear that working with Scott has made me cruise for on ebay: the Eventide H3000 Ultra Harmonizer, which we’ve been having quite a bit of fun with. Sometimes you gotta fork it over.
“And what is the cause by which stress comes into play? Craving is the cause by which stress comes into play.” – The Buddha