Learn Pro Tools! Even if You Are a Guitarist

Fantasies are an essential component of life and, admittedly, some are more exciting than others.

After years of putting it off, I decided I was going to, once and for all, learn how to operate Pro Tools. This is where the fantasy part comes in. I thought I was going to purchase Pro Tools 10, pop it into my new MacBook Pro and start recording. Geez, was I wrong.

The cold, hard reality is, Pro Tools 10 is a complex, powerful and professional-level piece of software. Each layer has layers, and there are a hundred points of entry and many differing opinions on where to even begin. After spending a few frustrating weeks with my 16-year-old son, Kane, trying to just record a competent rhythm track for one of his band’s original songs and failing miserably, I decided to seek help and discovered it wasn’t a particularly easy to find it.

I reached out to some of my recording studio friends, but there were so many questions (and follow-up questions), I realized I was turning into a world-class pain in the ass. College courses were available, but Kane was too young to participate and I didn’t have the time to do a whole semester. I started reading some books but found them a bit overwhelming and only moderately helpful — for example, we were still struggling with latency problems and none of the solutions being offered seemed to help.

Kane and I considered for a minute that Pro Tools wasn’t for us -- but I had invested so much money into our basic setup that quitting wasn’t really an option. After asking around, Laura Whitmore, who writes the "Guitar Girl’d" blog for GuitarWorld.com, suggested a company she had heard of called ProMedia Training, which offered several different Pro Tools training packages, including two-day crash courses. It sounded ideal — and it was.

Last weekend, my son and I immersed ourselves in two eight-hour days of full-on Pro Tools instruction led by the whip-smart mix/recording engineer Terron Darby, who has designed professional studios and tutored clients like Ozzy Osbourne, Lou Reed and Lenny Kravitiz.

While one got the sense that in 16 hours we only scratched the surface of what the program had to offer, we had most of our questions answered and were given a clear game plan on how to do what we wanted to do. In short, ProMedia Training and Mr. Darby were a godsend.

While they are not located in all 50 states, ProMedia has many offices throughout the United States, so check out their website to see if they have one near you. Additionally, if you’re experienced and you just want to learn more, they have many different programs to fit the needs of the professional and newbies alike. I highly recommend these guys and easily envision taking more classes after I’ve completely absorbed my 101 course.

Brad Tolinski is the editor-in-chief of Guitar World.

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Brad Tolinski

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away Brad was the editor of Guitar World from 1990 to 2015. Since his departure he has authored Eruption: Conversations with Eddie Van Halen, Light & Shade: Conversations with Jimmy Page and Play it Loud: An Epic History of the Style, Sound & Revolution of the Electric Guitar, which was the inspiration for the Play It Loud exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City in 2019.