Show Us Your Studio #14: "If I ever have to leave in a hurry, the Neumann U67 is getting packed instead of my Les Paul Gold Top!"

ian cohen
(Image credit: Ian Cohen)

This is Show Us Your Studio, a chance for our readers to show off their set-up, shout about their gear and invite the world into their home studio. This week's studio shot has been submitted by MusicRadar reader Ian Cohen.

Tell us about your studio set-up?

"I've cobbled together a handful of makeshift home studios over the years. There was a bedroom closet. There was shag carpet on the walls. And I commandeered a living room. 

"Although it's still basically a 12x17 box in the basement, I was hoping to do something special this time around. I wanted to create a casual space with a relaxed energy. A place to write and collaborate with artists and other songwriters. And I wanted to upgrade my recording chain and mixing environment. Mission accomplished on all fronts. 

"In the studio, the guitar gear, recording gear, and mixing gear - knobs, faders, buttons, picks - are all within reach. The only exception is a Grossman SG-BOX Iso cabinet for recording the electric guitars, which is wired up in the hall so that it’s isolated from the main room. Maybe I’m old school, but I don’t feel there’s currently an adequate tonal substitute for a bona fide tube amp mic’d with an SM57 and a condenser. In fact, a speaker selector switch is inline to the iso cab, so that I can feed it with either an Orange OR15, or a Mesa Boogie Mark 5:Thirty-Five. 

What I love most about the studio set-up, is that I can walk into the room, dial up a vibe with lighting, power everything on, and I'm instantly transported into a sonic fantasy world

"For acoustic treatments, I installed Auralex throughout the room - primarily their wall, corner, and ceiling panels, cloud panels, and bass traps. I also put in an acoustic door seal kit, which makes a difference in preventing sound from escaping around the frame and under the door. That said, the room is by no means sound proof. Luckily, it doesn't need to be. 

"Lighting is also important for creating these kinds of spaces, and there are a lot of options for mood lighting. This studio includes small halogens on a dimmer, and a large portion of a wall with the Nanoleaf Canvas lighting squares. The Nanoleaf system provides an extensive variety of different kinds of lighting tones and effects through an app. It can transform the room, eliciting all sorts of different emotions and feelings. I also added a touch of lighting on the trim of my mixing desk.

"What I love most about the studio set-up, is that I can walk into the room, dial up a vibe with lighting, power everything on, and I'm instantly transported into a sonic fantasy world. It's more fun than almost anything I can imagine.

Tell us a little about your musical background and the music that you make in your studio?

"Born with a pacifier and the creative gene from birth, music has always been a part of my life. And for as long as I can remember, a guitar and notepad have been close by. For me, music is mostly about being able to have an outlet to vent about the good, bad, and the ugly in life. And if people feel an emotional connection to the songs, that’s the best thing that can happen. 

"As far as musical highlights, I started playing early. I was a wannabe guitar hero, brainwashed by what I read in an interview with Eddie Van Halen. He said: 'Write your own book'. From almost the moment I picked it up, I became my own mad scientist, brewing up new sounds. When I was 16, I came home from a party and was hearing sounds in my head (not voices!) - I realized I couldn't make the sounds on a standard guitar. 

I was staring at the guitars leaning on the edge of my bed, and an epiphany hit me. The idea to achieve the sounds? Simply saw a Floyd Rose tremolo in half

"I was staring at the guitars leaning on the edge of my bed, and an epiphany hit me. The idea to achieve the sounds? Simply saw a Floyd Rose tremolo in half, and have two whammy bars, instead of one. After a few prototypes, the thing worked! I ended up with a US patent (5,194,679), on separate and simultaneous control of 'non-adjacent strings'. Time passed, and it didn’t take off. Now it’s in the public domain. I still prefer the original simple split tremolo version, and use it within moments in a few songs. Kind of like a secret weapon. 

"Other highlights included a stint at Guitar Institute of Technology, and co-founding the now defunct rock band Dizzy Rich with Marlon Simpson. Then I escaped for 10 years on Maui. I lived as a survivalist in Hana for a while, and fished for my dinner. I played a lot of acoustic guitar, and picked up some Hawaiian slack key tunings.

I’ve been fortunate enough to have had the chance to collaborate with some amazingly talented artists

"Lately, I’ve been fortunate enough to have had the chance to collaborate with some amazingly talented artists. Duane Betts and I collaborated on some original songs here in my studio. Outside of that, other song collaborations include Mariia Tsvetkova, Jean-Pierre Williams, Savannah Philyaw, Anthony Morra, KarlaGod, Boom Doggottie and Abby Ward. 

"For musical tastes and what I create in my studio, I have two alter egos - one is drawn towards creating edgy, melodic rock music. I refer to it as 'sugarcoated misery'. Basically, it’s some bitching interlaced with borderline motivational topics. 

"The other side of me is as a singer/songwriter with an acoustic in hand. I have a lot of fun with fingerstyle and strumming, while emoting about life experiences. I have an album worth of material along those lines, that I’ll be releasing early next year. Some family members say that I should’ve been a country guy - admittedly, some of the songs are up that alley, so maybe I did miss my calling. You just never know!

What's your favourite piece of gear and why?

"There are a lot of pieces of gear in my studio, and some are pretty special for sure. Aside from the guitars, I'd say my favourite piece of gear in the studio is a microphone - a Neumann U67 reissue. 

"It has a unique coloration, that is boosting me relatively well in recordings, at least to my ears it does. And it is magical in the way that it reproduces my acoustic guitars. Put it this way, whenever we have a red flag warning for a potential wildfire evacuation in Southern California, the U67 gets packed instead of my Les Paul Gold Top!"

What was the first bit of gear you ever owned?

"Besides a Fender Champ amp, the first bit of actual gear I ever owned was a TASCAM Porta One 4-track cassette recorder."

What dream piece of gear would you love to own if money was no object?

"For me, the dream piece of gear would be Jimi Hendrix’s actual Marshall Super 100 JTM45/100. Legend has it that he had two, possibly three of them. Just one would do! And the cabinet too!"

Listen to Ian's music on Spotify.

If you'd like to be featured on Show Us Your Studio, email us today with a clear and well-lit picture of your studio space. 

Ian's gear list

  • Assorted acoustic and electric guitars, and a bass 
  • Sequential Prophet 6 
  • Pair of Barefoot MM27s 
  • Pair of ATC SCM25A Pros 
  • Avid Dock Avid S3 Control surface 
  • Avid MTRX interface Eventide H9000 
  • AMPEG V-4B bass head 
  • API BOX 2 small format analog console 
  • Mesa Boogie Mark 5:35
  • UAD OX (only for its attenuator) 
  • Orange OR15 head
  • Click here for a full inventory...
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