Keeping Up With A Jones: Part 1 – The Jerker

Welcome to a hopefully not too self-indulgent part of MusicTech.net where, over the next few weeks and months, I’ll be putting together a recording studio from scratch. I’ll be getting advice from all the MusicTech writers and staff on various aspects of studio creation – from the gear to the acoustics – to create my ideal studio.

 

“It really is time to make my recording studio look like a recording studio…”

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Welcome to a hopefully not too self-indulgent part of MusicTech.net where, over the next few weeks and months, I’ll be putting together a recording studio from scratch. I’ll be getting advice from all the MusicTech writers and staff on various aspects of studio creation – from the gear to the acoustics – to create my ideal studio.

You might see this as me abusing my position as senior editor of MusicTech and, yes, to a certain extent it is, but the real reason I’m sharing this is two-fold… The first is to show me actually putting my money where my mouth is. It’s all too easy for journalists these days to harp on about how good something is – a car, a video game, a synth or whatever – but how many times after recommending it, do they actually continue to use it or, better still, actually buy it?

Now, if I recommend a piece of kit after reviewing it, the likelihood is that I will actually buy it with my own hard-earned cash. The second reason is that, because I am starting from scratch, I’ll hopefully be able to pass on some experience to those new to MusicTech or, like me, starting out again.

So how come I’m starting from scratch again?
Well in all honesty I’m not. For the last few years I have had a recording studio – of sorts – and this has been it…



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Yes, it’s a humble laptop. I do think it’s great that we can produce music on a laptop, but I have to admit that I’m now rather bored with it. Using software (Logic in my case) and a host of plug-ins on a computer is amazing, don’t get me wrong, but sometimes I feel like I’m stuck inside a virtual space constantly clicking and clicking and dragging and chopping and it feels so unrewarding. The truth is I really miss real stuff – dials and buttons to turn and press – and the flashing lights of real gear. And when my kids see me hunched over a laptop they probably think I’m writing an email rather composing the masterpiece I (probably) am.

It really is time to make my recording studio look like a recording studio…

So how did it get to this stage?
I have enjoyed a full studio set-up in the past but the pressures of family life forced the whole lot to go virtual. With less physical space I eventually found myself huddled in a corner, headphones on, laptop on lap, kids all around me… But now two kids have taken to our converted loft space leaving me with a spare room. And the obvious thing to fill it with – well obvious to me anyway – is music gear! But I’m not completely starting from scratch. Luckily one item survived the destruction of the original studio aside from the laptop. And that item is legendary within studio circles…

A Fairchild compressor? No
A Roland Space Echo? No
A vintage Minimoog synth? No

Even better than all of the above put together…

… the Jerker desk from Ikea…!

The Jerker desk – apparently named after a Swedish boy’s name meaning Ever Powerful Ruler – was the secret Ikea gem for studio owners. I say ‘was’ because it is now sadly discontinued so will be the only item in my studio that you won’t be able to buy new (and only a few on eBay at the time of writing). It was designed as a computer desk with a main desk plus adjustable shelf. The ‘genius’ was an additional four (in my case) square shelves that could screw on to any part of the frame, inside or out to give it ‘wings’. I’m assuming these were for printers, computer monitors and the like. Indeed over the last few years my Jerker’s wings have been used for just that but, pre studio destruction, they made ideal studio monitor stands for that perfect equalteral triangle near-field monitoring set-up.

Of course, Ikea didn’t design the Jerker as recording studio furniture but, to my mind, it was – and still is – the perfect, compact studio solution. And, from memory, it cost the princely sum of just £69.95 and still remains as solid and rigid as ever. If it sounds like I’m gloating a little over a very cheap and currently unavailable item, it’s because I am, sorry. It may be that you have a Jerker, in which case you can feel equally smug. If not, there is apparently a facebook page to bring it back, so it might be worth a trip there…

But I’ll leave you now with an image of my, albeit rather empty, Jerker – my own Ever Powerful Ruler. Yes I’m slightly showing off and no it isn’t for sale, but please do join me over the next few weeks as I attempt to fill it…

 

Andy Jones

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