Six-String DIY Recordist: Having Limitations in the Studio Can Lead to Your Best Work

Welcome to my new blog on If you’re a six-string guitarist and recording enthusiast, or a six-string guitarist who records and releases his or her own material, as long as the work ethic you adhere to is DIY, then this new blog is all for you.

It will cover a wide range of subjects related to the world of guitar recording. It will feature regular tips and practical advice from some of the world's respected producers and guitarists, plus any books, DVDs or YouTube videos I find interesting and worthwhile that will help further the cause of the DIY ethic.

To kick off the new series, I want to briefly talk about how one’s limitations in the home studio can often spark a guitarist’s creativity. While having all the gear and tools at one's disposal is liberating and in today’s world and helps musicians produce better and better recordings, sometimes having just enough to get by can be the impetus that leads to creating one’s own sonic masterpiece.

How many lo-fi recordings made by DIY home recordists have become much loved and have gone to inspire other musicians, artists and guitarists? Necessity is certainly the mother of all invention.

If you have a computer, some recording software, an audio interface and a guitar, you have the basic tools to start recording and getting creative. As you become better at recording and start getting some money, gradually you an continue to build upon your basic set-up.

The beauty of DIY is that the musical process will always be guided by your own needs and limited means to an end. Producer and guitarist Daniel Lanois is the master of using limitation as a tool to his innovative musicality on his sonic outings. When I put the question to Daniel about how today’s world of limitless digital recording compares to the old days of analog and tape recordings, his answer provided much food for thought for today’s DIY guitarist:

“In my early career and at a time when I didn’t have a lot of tracks at my disposal, limitation proved to be very inventive,” Lanois says. “I enjoyed bouncing a bunch of tracks to one single track. Because what happens is, it will force you to a decision of needing to accommodate. If you equalize or compress or do anything to that single track, you’ll find you’ll get some amazing results.

"It’s a thing of the past now, since today we have so many tracks available, but I remember having that kind of limitation as being a friend to me. Like, for example, having to pre-mix a drum kit right on the same recording track. You have the kit, you have the music, but do you really need it to be on 12 tracks? Put it down to just one track. Having those kinds of limitations certainly served me very well in the past.”

Joe Matera is an Australia-based rock guitarist who has played in countless original and cover bands over the past 20 years. As a solo instrumental artist, his current release is an original guitar instrumental track called "Face Off'," now available on iTunes. He also makes a guest appearance playing a blazing guitar solo on UK thrash metal veterans Atomkraft's cover of the Thin Lizzy classic "Cold Sweat," which is out this summer. He also is a Guitar World magazine contributor. For more info, visit

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Joe Matera

Joe Matera is an Australian guitarist and music journalist who has spent the past two decades interviewing a who's who of the rock and metal world and written for Guitar World, Total Guitar, Rolling Stone, Goldmine, Sound On Sound, Classic Rock, Metal Hammer and many others. He is also a recording and performing musician and solo artist who has toured Europe on a regular basis and released several well-received albums including instrumental guitar rock outings through various European labels. Roxy Music's Phil Manzanera has called him, "... a great guitarist who knows what an electric guitar should sound like and plays a fluid pleasing style of rock." He's the author of Backstage Pass: The Grit and the Glamour.