WESTLAKE VILLAGE, CA, July 25, 2011 — After years of carting his collection of outboard gear from one studio to the next, Nashville-based freelance mixer Geoff Pillar opened his first recording studio earlier this year with assistance from Guitar Center Professional (GC Pro), the outside sales division of Guitar Center that focuses on the needs of professional users. Electric Thunder, which opened in January 2011, features a fully automated 16-channel Neve Genesys analog recording console, which Pillar purchased from GC Pro, the exclusive U.S. sales channel for the custom-crafted, innovative desk.
“Chad Evans is my rep, and he’s great. I can go to him for just about anything I need. Not only does he know the product, but I know he’s worked in studios before, so I trust a lot of his recommendations,” says Pillar. He reports that GC Pro also recommended wiring specialists and other contractors to help complete the studio in addition to supplying equipment.
The Neve Genesys, which is fitted with eight channels of dynamics and EQ, is the focal point of the Electric Thunder control room, which measures 30 feet by 15 feet and is served by three mid-size isolation rooms plus two vocal booths for tracking and overdub sessions. Pillar comments, “The Neve Genesys is great. It’s got tons of gain and good headroom and you can really push it like a large format console. The Genesys really seems to shine on everything, especially on piano and electric guitars.”
An Avid Pro Tools|HD2 system handles recording and playback and is paired with two Lynx Aurora 16 AD/DA converters. A Universal Audio 2192 master audio interface provides clocking for the Lynx units. Reference monitor choices include a pair of ProAc Studio 100s, Event Opals or classic Yamaha NS10s.
Pillar, who has been accumulating outboard equipment for over a decade, offers Electric Thunder clients a broad palette of signal processing options. Notable pieces include a pair of original Neve 1073 modules, LA-3As, Calrec PQ 15s, Focusrite ISAs and Universal Audio 1176s. A Gates Sta-Level compressor takes pride of place: “These are the original classics, and they get used a lot here,” he points out. A vintage British-made Chilton QM1 discrete, germanium transistor-based analog recording console is available to provide additional tonal variations.
The mic locker at Electric Thunder includes Audio-Technica 4047s, Sennheiser 421s and MKH 40s and Shure SM 57s. But more likely than not Pillar will reach for his Japanese-made Sanken CU 41 mics first. “They get used on just about anything from vocals, to piano, to drum overheads,” he reports.
Pillar comments, “It took me about six months to get everything exactly the way I wanted, solid to the point where I wanted to bring clients in. I wanted to be able to offer a facility that is comfortable and affordable and that has great gear and great ears. It is very inviting and relaxing here, and people know what to expect when they leave. Clients can be sure that their work will translate very well if they take it somewhere else.”
Of his original business plan, he says, “My basic goal was to cater to up-and-coming artists and be able to mold what I have to offer to peoplewith different budgets and price ranges. I wanted to be able to work on good music and get a good product out for bands that don't have a lot of money as well as acts that have label backing.”
Having previously concentrated on independent mix projects, Pillar is enjoying the diversity of the work coming through the door of his new business venture: “As a studio owner, I am able to take part in a lot of projects that I might not have had exposure to had I still been an independent freelancer. I get to meet all sorts of bands and artists I wouldn't have otherwise had a chance to meet.”
There has certainly been no shortage of work since the doors opened including a session with noted Nashville producer Rogers Masson, he reports. “All of my clients have come through word of mouth and projects just keep coming through the door.”
That said, Pillar looks forward to attracting more long-term projects: “I want to get more instruments and bands in here and cut full albums. I’d like people to camp out for a month and do a record and make Electric Thunder their own. If I can keep the momentum going that I’ve got now, it will be great!”