Digital Recorders – A Useful Tool?

Recording 101

Recording 101

Should you throw away that cassette recorder? What is a hand held digital recorder? How does a portable recorder differ from a computer’s music digital interface?  These are some of the questions you may have when you start exploring recording your own music.

Thanks to technology, a student of the banjo, guitar or mandolin has options for recording sound files.  To start, a student can record themselves using a digital mp3 recorder.  The files can be then transferred to the computer and then burned to CD.  Surprisingly, the quality of the recording is quite good.  I once recorded my entire band using a simple digital recorder and one condensor microphone. The condensor microphone (which is powered by batteries connected to the recorder) allows for a better recording option than using a computer’s built in microphone.  While some of the band members were skeptical that the recording would be useful for a demo, they were later surprised at the results.  We at least had a draft demo of some songs recorded at home from one of our many practice sessions..

mp3 digital recorder

mp3 digital recorder

When I started preparing instructional materials, I recorded sound files using a single hand held digitial recorder.  The quality of the recordings were surprisingly good.  Yet there are limitations.  You can only recording a single track.  However, for someone starting out, recording a single track, such as your rhythm or your lead, is a start in the right direction.  A student who records and listens to themselves play, will benefit from hearing what others hear.

Stay tuned for more in a series of blogs about technology in recording and the various equipment involved.  Next time, I will address the usb musical interface which takes home recording closer to studio recording sound.


About fretmentor

Born in Detroit, Michigan, David F. Jakubiak has been involved in music since the age of 7, beginning as a clarinet player and then at 9 turning his attention to stringed instruments. He earned trophies in group talent competitions while a student at the University of Michigan. The instructor earned a BA degree in Organizational Psychology from the University of Michigan and a Masters in Public Administration at the University of Kansas. At college, he also studied classical music and music history. His passion is teaching music and in performing as a musician. In addition to on-stage performances, David has played in various venues from outdoor festivals to small nightclubs. He plays, performs and teaches various styles of music, including rock, pop, blues, jazz, classical, country and bluegrass styles. He performs and teaches acoustic and electric guitar, five-string banjo, and mandolin. His styles range from Scruggs, melodic, Reno and old-time style on banjo, to finger-style and flat-picking technique on guitar, to various styles of mandolin. For over 45 years, Mr. Jakubiak has taught all age groups, taking a personal interest in each student to ensure that they receive the attention and lesson plans that meet their needs and interests. His lessons and instructional materials place a strong emphasis on the practical use or music theory to ensure that the student understands the instrument and learns how to improvise to develop their own style. Mr Jakubiak teaches group and studio classes, webcam lessons over the internet, and individual private lessons to students of various ages. He has compiled and produced eight instructional books on CD as well as numerous instrumental arrangements. David has written for Banjo Newsletter, a monthly publication for the banjo enthusiast and has published an article in Issue #37 of the Fretboard Journal. He is the founder of To contact David Jakubiak, please feel free to e-mail him at david AT (substitute the @ sign for the word AT)
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5 Responses to Digital Recorders – A Useful Tool?

  1. avatar Bobby Clyde Hickox says:

    Thanks Fretmentor, very informative, I was not aware of these tech. links.

  2. avatar Tigerpaws says:

    I’m still in the 20th century….using my casette recorder…better than nothing but I really need to get with the times…. 🙂

  3. avatar Dave Lamont says:

    This was timely info. last week, i mentioned to my wife that i needed to buy a small recorder to record my practice. She handed me her Samsung recorder. It has 5 files, which will each hold 20 different sub files in each. It really stores more than i need. It has 2 micro jacks, 1 for headphones, another for an external mic. Very handy, can’t wait to see Dave’s blog on a suitable PC interface.

  4. avatar espian says:

    I’ve been an advocate of recording my practice sessions ever since my wife got me a recorder and I discovered how awful I sounded. I really needed to work harder and sure enough my playing improved. Hmmm, she’s pretty smart. She actually enjoys listening to me play now (as long as I don’t play the same thing over and over again). I recently bought a macbook. It has a program called “garage band”. I’m looking forward to learn about it and put some songs together.

  5. avatar paul parker says:

    for a group of four acoustic bluegrass/folk players who want to start doing small venues/parties/bbq’s/old folks homes/etc,
    what would be ideal 1)pa system, 2)recording equip to put informal demo/practice stuff on
    (affordable too)

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