New gear always seems like it can bring a wave of creativity to your work. But beware, this is actually the least creative time as a producer or engineer! Here’s why:
Getting new plug-ins, guitars, gear, etc. is an exciting thing – and a necessary thing if you plan to get any better or diverse. But you should always keep in mind that new gear does not equal a burst in creativity.
And why is that? Because chances are that when you get a new virtual instrument, for example, you head straight to the amazing sounding presets. Your productions have never sounded more fresh – new sound after new sound is layered and, before long, you’ve got a track that sounds so new and amazing that you’re ready to post in on your SoundCloud.
But using presets on new gear isn’t actually creative – it’s quite the opposite. This is why you need to take the time to learn your new gear before you fall into the “creative trap” that will turn all of your work into “preset” work.
Now, don’t get me wrong, presets are a great thing. Creating your own presets and even using the manufacturers presets can be a great way to work. But the problem arises when you don’t have an understanding of the instrument before you start working.
This is the only way to break out of the “new gear” phase and into the “new tool” phase. Each acquired plug-in, virtual instrument, guitar, or piece or hardware should be used as a tool to help you be even more creative with your work, not simply a bank of presets to change the sound of your existing work. By spending time learning about your new tool, you’ll be able to use it in creative new ways – getting awesome sounds that even the presets couldn’t achieve.
So the next time you’re in the market for a new piece of gear, always spend the time on the front end to truly understand it before you go using it on every track in your mix. You’ll find that it can be much more effective in this way, and you will boost your creativity in the process.