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I was about 13 years old (1994?) when I got a Digitech RP-1 floor multi-effects unit for guitar. It had an 1/8" TRS mini jack for a headphone output.
I also had a boombox with two cassette decks and an 1/8" (TS?) mini jack for a mic input, as well as a built-in electret condenser.
It occurred to me rather quickly that if I could just find some way to get hold of an 1/8" male-to-male cable, I might be able to record my guitar directly onto cassette tape!
My older sisters had Walkmans (walkmen?) and regularly went through dollar-store headphones. I found two broken pairs, cut the cables off, and went out to the garage. My dad had a soldering "gun" and some acid-core solder. I knew nothing about soldering, but "how hard can it be" so I managed to somehow stick the two cables together (with globby, dull gray cold solder joints), taped them up with electrical tape (each conductor separately!) and... lo and behold... it worked.
So I'd record one layer of guitar direct-in, and play that back out of a second cheap tape player (mono, with one speaker), then "solo" over my rhythm track through my Crate practice amp... then record both of those (getting the balance by ear and trial-and-error) back into the boombox using the onboard electret microphone.
Eventually I got a relatively early version of Cakewalk (I think I must've been about 16) from "Electronics Boutique" at the mall for $29.95 (I think?), intending to use it as a music notation program (I was in the jazz band in high school and wanted to write charts for the band to play). Instead, I mostly made MIDI songs using a secondhand Ensoniq ESQ-1 (already horribly outdated) that I bought for $200 with yard-mowing money, and a rigged-up MIDI-to-Dsub into the soundcard of my mom's Compaq Presario. The Ensoniq was just used as a controller, and the hilarious thing is that I didn't know anything about MIDI editing or sequencing or a "grid." I would simply lay down the 'drums' first (playing a complete take with fingers on the keyboard), then the 'bass,' etc etc. I never did figure out how to get audio from my guitar into that soundcard, so these tracks were "MIDI only." If I messed up, I simply started over until I had a full pass that was acceptable (or I gave up and just lived with the results, whichever came first)
I'm sure everyone here probably has a similar story!
brad allen williams
Last Edited By: soapfoot Feb 21 17 11:29 AM. Edited 2 times