Once the basement had been prepared and painted, it really started feeling like a different space altogether. It was amazingly comfortable down there, especially after the hellscape it had been previously. Now it was time to frame....and insulate!
So while this space is definitely dedicated to making music, I also wanted to it to be practical and double as a relaxing lounge space as well. Here is the floorpan I devised from the measurements...
So a few things. Behind the diagonal wall is the furnace and water heater, so having the diagonal shape allowed me to build next to them, while also retaining enough space to make the inevitable repairs that they'll need. The small offshoot in the upper left hand corner is a pretty sizable closet. The bomb out on the right hand side is because of the basement wall support columns that jut into the room. the walls on either side are even with the inner face of the columns, but I decided to take advantage of the space between these two, because A) who doesn't want more space, and 2) it actually helps to visually define the two spaces a little. It breaks up the space from just being a giant tunnel. Basically, the lower half will be strictly music oriented, while the upper portion will be a living space that, if need be, we can spread out in to record. There are also tie lines and ethernet run between the closet and where my rack is (black rectangle in lower right hand corner) so that I can keep my amp in the closet and play guitar and record it from my desk. Because #RAWK.
This was my first time framing with aluminum studs, but I was definitely a fan! I decided to go with metal for a few reasons. Due to its moist history, I didn't want wood rotting unseen, so metal was a good choice. Also, according to Rod Gervais' Home recording Studio: Build It Like the Pros, metal studs would behave like resilient channel does when applied to wood studs. I'll take an extra added acoustic benefit where I can get it, no matter how small. Science! Metal is also flexible, which helped when encountering uneven 60 year old concrete floors. the best part about metal studs? THEY ARE SO LIGHT. I could fit a ton in my car before I ran out of room, and could carry 10 studs downstairs at a time. That would have been a much bigger task had I used wood. I think my final usage was somewhere around 40 10ft pieces of track, and about 100 8ft studs.
Starting the framing was hugely satisfying, as I could begin to see the room finally take shape. When I was done working each night, I would sit on this super comfortable giant chair (featured in the panorama above) that my dear friend Ben Robinson had bequeathed us when I was down at Full Sail, and I would stare at the room and picture how it was going to turn out and just get so excited. As if every night once I was done working was the night before Christmas and I would come down in the morning and *poof* a studio!
Here is a shot of some of the wiring. the lower run is all electrical, and the upper run is 2-pair snake cable for 2 XLR jacks going from the closet to the rack, as well as Cat6 cable for future headphone distribution possibilities. Always have to think ahead! Having pre-made pass throughs for the electrical really sped the process up. There are actually three circuits powering the studio: one for lighting, one for audio equipment electrical outlets, and one for electrical outlets that will power everything else.
Every good basement studio has to start some place.
So before the basement was cleared out of debris and what-have-you, it could be politely described as 'nightmare fuel'. It was extremely damp and musty, as it always had been, and all of the windows were broken and/or missing completely. After a few 'aviary concerns' lets say, the first thing that needed to happen was to replace all of the basement windows. Here are some before photos from July 2012, so you can get a clear picture of the space.
Now before any actual construction could take place, there were some pretty obvious moisture issues that had to be addressed (#becausebasement). We had some pretty bad grading issues around the entire house, so we encountered everything from small seepages through the walls, to a veritable waterfall coming through a window after the window well had flooded. Utter joy.
Those are just some of the greatest hits. No pictures from the waterfall, as I was too busy alternating between wet-vacuuming and looking like a crazy person bailing out the window well in the torrential downpour. Good times.
After re-grading the areas around the house, Kat and I enlisted the help of our good friends Dry-Lok and Dry-Lok Fast Plug, and got to work treating the inside of the beast. Oh yeah, and this was a whole year later, so now we are in July of 2014, for those keeping score at home. After cleaning off all the walls, the magic began. By the way, my wife is a champion. I will continue to point this out, but just wanted to throw that out there
I'm the kind of person who tends to be a bit obsessive when I get an interest in something. After studying recording for a few years, I soon started down the same road with studio building and acoustics. I consider myself to be a fairly handy person, and after several summers as my dad's personal construction crew throughout the years, I realized that I actually did enjoy all that manual labor. For me, I found that I had the same kind of satisfaction when I built a shed, or a table, as I did when I built a song from scratch.
When Kat and I moved back down to New Jersey, I knew the house we were moving into would allow me to realize a small dream of mine...to build a space dedicated to music and recording in my home from the ground up. Would it be the most perfect and elaborate studio build in history? Certainly not, but for me, it would be everything that I wanted.
I've been working on this project for almost a year now, and its finally its its finishing stages....and I couldn't be happier about it. Over the next few posts, I'll share some photos from the process beginning to end. It was a lot of work, but absolutely worth it.
a man among men