It is broke, so fix it!

Getting back to the G5 and Sept. 21, I knew I had to get it to First Tech in Minneapolis right away. As far as I know First Tech is the best place to get a Mac fixed in the Twin Cities area, and they had done a good and quick job of repairing the same computer back in 2006. So I zoomed down there, brought my Mac in, and explained my predicament to the woman at the counter. She told me that one of the techs would take a look at my G5 the next day, Wednesday and would call and tell what it would take to fix it. I paid the estimate fee and headed back to Forest Lake, where a full day of giving musical instrument lessons awaited.

So what was my predicament? Well, in September I was working, as usual, on several projects but two sessions were especially important to get in that week. One was mixing a three song demo for a couple of local Christian songwriters. They were meeting on Saturday with an artist who was interested in hearing their work, so we had a real deadline there. The other session was to overdub some horns on a project by Bob Zander, a San Francisco, CA area musician. Bob’s stuff is an interesting jazz/world music blend which I have had the pleasure of recording over the past dozen years. Bob’s main gig is teaching at an elementary school, but he plays drums and an African instrument called the kalimba, which he has many compositions for and has released a few recordings of. He lived in Minneapolis for a number of years and has close ties with several musicians here. Over the years Bob has made quite a few summer trips back here to work on recordings. Since 2003, we have been working on a CD length project. It’s mostly done except for some overdubs to finish out the arrangements. Friday September 24 I had a session scheduled with horn player Greg Lewis and Scott Fultz. Greg had arranged some horn parts for a couple of Bob Zander songs, but it had been difficult to coordinate the schedules of Greg, Scott, and myself, so I was worried that if we didn’t get the session in on Friday, it might take a long while to reschedule.

I didn’t get a call from First Tech on Wednesday, so late in the afternoon I called them. The report was they hadn’t gotten to it yet, but someone would call Thursday morning. Sigh. I have a portable Pro Tools rig with a Apple Macbook and rack which I use to do remote recordings of church groups, choirs, live concerts of various types. Wednesday evening I got together with Perry, one of the Christian songwriters, and tried to do some mixing on the laptop. The problem is the laptop is not set up for mixing, so it was like having one arm tied behind my back. I gave up after a while and asked Perry to give me a day or two.

Thursday morning I got a call from Ed at First Tech. The verdict on the G5: the logic board had failed, it would take a week and close to $1000 to fix it. My heart sank, but Ed and I kept talking. Another solution occurred to him. The retail side of First Tech had a couple of used G5’s of similar vintage. Ed checked the candidates out, and I bought the one he liked better for $400. It amazed me that such a workhorse computer was worth so little, but I was grateful. Ed took the hard drive, memory, and the very expensive Pro Tools TDM cards out of my old G5 and put it all into the new used computer. By late afternoon it was finished and my daughter Carrie picked up the “frankenstein” and the carcass of my old friend and brought it all up to Forest Lake that evening. The great thing was since my old hard drive was in the new computer, all of the programs were in and ready to go. I fired it up, and for the most part the old brain didn’t even realize it was in a new body! I got to work testing things and all was fine, so I mixed Perry’s songs. A few times I was prompted to enter a password, but that was it. I will be forever thankful that Ed came up with a creative solution to my big breakdown. Best of all, the total, including new used G5, came in at under $700.

Friday morning, a few minutes before 10 a.m., I am feeling confident and ready to record the horns. I notice there is a message on my mobile phone. It’s Greg calling to say Scott is sick and they need to reschedule! Oh man…. God has a sense of humor. Two weeks later, we record the horns and it goes well.

It all started the day my computer broke.

It all started the day my computer broke. Tuesday, September 21, 2010. That morning, the computer in the control room at GilderSound, my recording studio in Forest Lake, MN, just wouldn’t boot up. Without the help of my trusty Mac G5 I couldn’t record, edit, mix, or master much of anything. Kind of my version of “the day the music died”. Well, that’s a bit dramatic. Get it repaired and get back to work, right? That’s what I thought too, but the G5 breakdown set in motion a series of events which are now well underway but at the same time, still developing. GilderSound is undergoing what I am calling a “studio makeover” involving some major changes in the gear and in the physical space. A week or so ago it occurred to me that I could start a blog to chronicle the changes. This will help me organize my thoughts, contain a photo diary of what’s happening here, and just maybe be of use to others with studios. I have spent much time at recording studio forums poring over photo diaries of studio construction projects, which I have found inspiring, amusing, and sometimes caused me a bit of head scratching. I invite you to follow along and leave comments and ask questions. We’ll see where this goes…