Money. It’s one of the biggest obstacles for indie musicians.
And you need it to do things, like record music. But recording equipment can tend to be expensive, especially for DIYers.
So here are four ways to save money on recording equipment.
A version of this post first appeared on Audio Issues
Scour Thrift Stores
Hey, don’t write this one off. You’d be surprised at what you can find in a thrift store.
For example, I found an ElectroVoice N/D 257 dynamic cardioid microphone at a Goodwill. Engineers who know what they’re talking about compare it to the Shure SM58, which is one of the most reliable and versatile mics ever.
The N/D 257 was attached to a cheap karaoke machine for some reason, so I pulled it off and paid less than $10 for it. It’s a great stage mic and works well in the studio too.
Next time you’re near a thrift store, swing in and check out their electronics section. You never know what you might find.
Look For “Like New” Used Equipment Online
Who says every single piece of recording equipment needs to be brand new or super pricey?
Maybe some people say that, but they’re wrong.
Some musicians and producers buy right-from-the-factory recording equipment. But then they eventually upgrade to more expensive, newer equipment.
So what do they do with their old equipment? They put it up for sale. And that’s where you come in.
For example, if you’re looking to buy a Bluebird microphone, you’ll see new ones listed around $300.
If you go to Amazon and search “bluebird mic,” you’ll see a plethora of listings. In the column on the left at the bottom, you can choose “used.” Then you can find a like-new used Bluebird mic for about $200.
That’s a savings of $100 — not bad!
You can also check out Facebook groups for producers who are buying and selling gear in your area. And the GearSlutz Marketplace is a reliable place to find recording gear at discounted prices.
Honey Browser Extension
One tactic you can use along with online shopping is using Honey, a browser extension that automatically searches the internet for discounts and coupons.
Once you get the extension on your browser, it can tell when you’re looking at an online shopping cart, regardless of the website. It could be Amazon, Sweetwater, Musician’s Friend, or wherever.
That’s when Honey pulls coupon codes from who-knows-where on the internet and applies them to your cart. Typically, it’ll be about a 5-15% discount.
Using the Bluebird mic example, if you use Honey, you could spend even less than $200. If Honey finds you a 15% discount at checkout, you’d end up paying $170 for a like-new microphone.
Not bad at all.
Borrow A Friend’s Equipment
This can either be a temporary option or a more long-term thing. It depends on the situation.
Let’s take a look at two scenarios.
You want to record an album. You have only one mic, but you want to record an acoustic guitar using the X/Y stereo technique, which requires two mics. Instead of going out and dropping $100-200 on a used mic, just borrow a friend’s. You could even offer to rent it from them for a small flat fee.
The other scenario is if you have a friend who doesn’t use their recording equipment very often.
Maybe they have extra gear. Maybe they’re going on tour and won’t be using their gear. Or maybe they’re taking a hiatus from music altogether.
Whatever the case, that’s an opportunity for you to borrow their gear long-term to record your next album, EP, or single.
This was how I was able to borrow my friend’s Bluebird — he barely used it because he didn’t record much. I used it for over a year to record my album, then gave it back.
I would say don’t knock these ideas until you try them. They may not be for everyone, but if you’re like me, your budget ain’t huge.
And you may be looking for ways to save money without sacrificing quality.
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