Building our studio has turned out to be one of the most painstaking tasks my partner or I have ever taken on. It’s one thing when you walk into an empty space with four walls asking to put up some dividers and a carpet like most commercial spaces. It’s a whole different ball game when it’s a recording studio. No one wants to touch the project: not Realtors, not landlords, and certainly not builders or electricians. There’s too many angles, too many layers, too much wiring. Luckily, we’ve had the pleasure to work with Berklee’s own Stephen Webber, who has built recording studios all over the US. He designed the floor plan and has been our acoustical guide since the early stages of the studio’s development, making the task a little less daunting for all involved.
Each wall of the studio, for soundproofing, for both the frame and the sheet rock needed to be doubled with an air gap in between. This increases the mass of the walls and makes it difficult for vibration and sound to travel through. There is also a product called Green Glue that goes in between each layer of sheet rock to further deaden sound and increase mass. (It’s nasty, it’s sticky, but it actually works). This has to happen on the walls and on the ceiling. As sound a concept as this is for the studio, it’s not as nice for the wallet. In commercial buildings in the City of Quincy, wooden frames are not allowed. This means we had to order metal studs that were strong enough to hold up a ceiling without a tie in (4000 pounds!). Not cheap. The metal studs were about 4x the price of wooden ones. Now we were already in over our heads on our materials cost estimates. Not good when we hadn’t even purchased any equipment upgrades yet.
The solution was for my partner Keith to hire one worker instead of a team and actually build the entire thing himself. How many studio owners can say that they built the studio with their own two hands? (Just the broke ones, I’m guessing). Two guys built our entire double metal frame in two months. Not too shabby. Doing this freed up enough money to upgrade our system, using Avid’s crossgrade program through Parsons Audio in Wellesley, to a Pro Tools HD3 Mac Pro 8 core computer. Saaaweet. Oh yeah, and we were able to buy a 6’7” Yamaha G5 grand piano to add to our arsenal– a dream of mine since I was a kid.
Against our wishes, we’ve had to take some extra time and make some sacrifices (you’ll notice that our hallway and lounge areas will now have carpeting instead of hardwood as intended) but we’ve built a million dollar studio on a dime. Not easy, but very doable as long as you’ve got the time and patience. Everyone wants to get in your way– inspectors, landlords, retailers, etc. No one can look out for you as well as you can, so ask for discounts, demand more of people, and speak up. It’s gotten us really far on a project we spoke about in passing back in 2007 as something that “might be fun one day.” Although I can’t vouch for the “fun” part as far as the construction end is concerned, no musician can deny how great being in a good studio can be. For us, we can’t wait to get people in the door again, and that’s precisely what the next step is for us.
Kim Pfluger graduated in 2010 with a degree in Music Business and Management. She opened Keep the Edge Studios with her partner and co-owner Keith Asack who also graduated in 2010 with a degree in Music Production and Engineering. Their space is located right off the red line in Quincy, MA.
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