12 credit crunch-destroying ways to make music

Free software, homemade guitars and coconuts

The current global economic crisis might have curbed your spending power, but it doesn't have to curb your creativity. Or enthusiasm.

If you managed to procure a computer, plank of wood, mobile phone - and any one of the following: coconut shell, piece of cardboard or wire coat hanger - before the credit crunch kicked in, there's something here for you.

Here's MusicRadar's guide to making music while laughing in the face of recession…

Go lo-fi. It's cheaper. And cooler

Lo-fi tape

1. Snap, Crackle and Pop (music)

Many of us strive to make our music sound as 'perfect' and pristine as possible, but top-quality (and expensive) production values don't guarantee good music. In fact, a bit of imperfection never did DJ Shadow, Boards Of Canada or Hot Chip any harm, did it? Go cheap: 9 crackly lo-fi production tips.

2. Sample everything, everywhere

Most of us have the tools required to record any sound in any place – even a mobile phone (especially an iPhone) can be used to capture audio – so what are you waiting for? Extreme sampling: 11 ways to create unique sounds.

3. …or, even better: let someone else do it for you

Ever heard of a band called Parts & Labor? No, neither had we, until they pulled this genius/cheapskate stunt: Band make album with hundreds of fan-made samples, "burping electronics, neighing horses and clipping toenails" all included. Amazing.

Recycle: make music, save the planet. Everyone's a winner…

4. Cardboard…

Granted, this cardboard PC might be a bit of a stretch for your average man with a dog and a soldering-iron, but this cardboard laptop stand is a no-brainer, surely?

Cardboard laptop stand

5. Coat hanger…

Just in case you run out of cardboard…

Coat hanger laptop stand

6. And, er… coconuts

If you think about it, you can make an amplifier from anything hollow. An (empty) beer keg, whiskey tube, or our favourite: a coconut shell. Nuts.

Coconut amp

If you build it, they will come

7. Build your own guitar for under £100

Speaking of crafting homemade masterpieces, MusicRadar's forumites pit their guitar-building skills against one another every year for the £100 guitar challenge. The rules are simple: build, customise or modify an existing guitar using only £100 or less for materials. For the uninitiated, the results might surprise…

Guitar challenge

8. Or your own synth for $20

Could you be the next Bob Moog?

Synth build

9. Or how about a stompbox?

Ok, so this Beavis Board DIY kit costs $249 – not exactly a credit crunch-destroying price - but if you've got a spare handful of resistors, capacitors and transistors, you're only a engineering degree away from homemade stompbox heaven.

Beavis stompbox build

Use free stuff. It is, after all, free

10. Download free music software

There are many reasons to use free music software (here are 10 of them) and many reasons against (thanks, IK Multimedia). But considering there's a recession on, we'll stick with the former, thank you very much: here's our guide to the best free music-making software on the net.

11. Turn on, plug-in, rock out

Oh, what's that? You want to sound like Jimi Hendrix but you can't afford it? Wrong: here's how to sound like Jimi using nothing but free plug-ins.

12. Something for the Mac users

There is a preconception that the best music-making freeware is PC only. Wrong. Again. To finish up, here's a handy list of 26 free Mac music-making tools.

Mac music software

Now, you've got no excuses...

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