Coping: Adventures Beyond Sheetrock

So there I was Monday, aided by Panama and Elaine, finally getting the last of the sheetrock put into our new room on the north end of the house.

It’s not a big deal; it is sheetrock, after all.  Two learning notes for the personal collection, however, are worth sharing.

First note is to be sure and get a sheetrock square before you tackle a project like this.  The one I got was a Johnson Level and Tool JTS48 48-Inch Aluminum Drywall T-Square for about $20 bucks.

The second hint is not to try and hang it all in a single day.

Hint #3?  I know, I didn’t say anything about #3, but by now you probably forgot the “Rend a sheetrock jack” to do the ceiling” advice.

Oh, and #4?  Just in case you get your stud spacing a bit off?  In a couple of places I had to cut lengths of 2-by-2 so I would have a screwing surface for the sheetrock.  In a perfect world, all rooms are some multiple of exactly 48-inches but not in this one.  Neither is it 96-inches high, either.

And all those design accoutrements that will let in light (small glass block windows), or the “cute” 45-degree angled section to bread up sound bounce?  Oh, yes, they add time, too.

And (if you’re building a super home studio/sound/music room, running the speaker wiring into their own boxes (runs spaced out from the AC power wiring, because I’m yes, that guy, then that adds time, too.

Still, the bulk of the “roughing in” is done and now all that (should) remain is taping and mudding.

A trip around the room to make sure all the sheetrock screws are set “just so” (dimpled, but not breaking the paper of the sheetrock, strong and easier to mud that way, and we’ll be into the taping part, probably tomorrow.

Highly recommended (unless you are really a well-practiced mud-slinger: Grabber GWNS125 Wet-N-Stick Water Activated Adhesive Joint Tape.  It’s not cheap, but if you don’t like bedding tape joints (my least favorite part of the next operation), then it’s easy to use.

I just cut up 4-foot strips (folding if it’s a corner) slop in some mud, and press on the wet (moistened) self-stick tape.  Works like a champ in the other room we used it in.

The next part of the project after that will be sorting out which paint colors to you.

My tastes run toward a “fire on the mountain red” (which is almost orange) with a chocolate brown or black ceiling, all rolled on as texture paint.

The trim molding around the big windows would be dark/black, and the accents will be of the sort you see in movie theatres.  I’m thinking some big, heavy velvet drapes, as wall hangings, a couple of half columns, and black track light, arranged to highlight the walls (wall washers is the architecting term, but we ain’t so formal out here).

Then all of our music and sound gear will get powered into the room:  18 channel mixer, all kinds of microphones, the drum kit, couple of keyboards, some guitars/the violin, an old clarinet.  On the sound side: there will be a computer, aftermarket sound card, firewire connection for the mixer.  Output will be via Bose 201’s and subs (bi-amped) on the front and Bose 901 (series 2s) for the fill speakers,

An “Ultimate Home Music/Sound/Media Room” doesn’t have to be terribly expensive.  Most of the gear I’ve been accumulating used off eBay, except for the firewire mixer, mics, and a few other things (stands and such).  If you shop and know speakers and amps, though, eBay is quite the deal if you’re patient.

Don’t know if I mentioned it, but the reason for going to all this effort is that over the years, I have been involved in sound systems and studio design a bit, including managing the design/build of over 40,000 square feet of commercial studio and media instruction facilities.

Although we’re dispensing with the double doors and sound transmission coefficient glass, I’ve always wanted to build an online school where people can learn the basics of good, solid, home studio construction and basic operation.

At present, I’ve only reserved the site name: and I’ve started to draft curriculum.  Contributors will likely include Grady of our project, since in addition to being a crackerjack software engineer, he’s also got a fair amount of “time in grade” as a broadcast engineer in Canada.

The real prize, however, is my friend Howard Hill’s dad may go on camera when we go on our annual Seattle Adventure in August & September.  HE was the soundman at the White House for both Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson.  (You didn’t really think I was going to Seattle just for fun, did you?)

The idea is to produce a really solid “ground up” online course that will give a lot more “bang for the buck” (including all the home construction notes you’d need to build a really good sound setup in your home) and then going through basic mic technique, basics of mixing, and some introduction to workflow management in the studio setting.

The best part of it is my price target (already approved by the State, by the way), will be $29.95.

The fine print says the course will be avocational in nature, as opposed to vocational in in nature.

But I’ve been looking at some of the “high end schools” that are out there.  What they all have in common is they are hugely expensive with many touting a four year degree program but in return getting people in debt to the tune of $35,000 and up for the four-year schools and $17,000 and up for the shorter schools.

Music production (like hanging sheetrock) is one of those things that is totally hands-on.  You can read tips and hints in a book, but when it comes down to it, there’s nothing like turning the weather stripping on a door, or setting up room equalizers using a sound pressure meter, or knowing how to use a audio generator to sweep a room’s frequency response.

I certainly understand how the high-end schools have equipment that is to drool for, and sound rooms that make your ears appreciate every nuance and note.

But, on the other hand, when you look at the student count in many of these high-end schools, they seem to have great equipment (a high end Solid State Logic (SSL mixing board, for example) the reality is that once I get my studio finished it will have technical capabilities that will be more advanced than the studio which put out the early Beatle’s records.

That’s how far things have come.

We have gone from a fairly complicated massive wiring world, where tubes and equipment and patch bays and all that were standard, to a world where a few peripherals and some kick-ass speakers is about all you need, plus a beefed up smoking PC with firewire.

Racks of equipment have been replaced with VST and other plugins, but the brick and mortar schools teaching the music arts have not “moved on” in many cases.

Just for example, most still spend a fair amount of time on theory of digital recording including long (dreadfully boring) discussions of things like “quantization error.”

Yes, if you’re going to work for Dolby, or you are planning to design your own equipment, I can see forking out a few bucks to walk through signal-to-quantization noise ratios.

But, as I told a colleague (an owner of a large and highly respected/successful school) issues like A/D conversion errors and quantization considerations are quickly fading into the background as higher quality A/Ds come to market and sample speed has been going up far and fast enough that things like “quantization” error just fades off into the obsolete pile.  If you’ve got 24-bit A/D and sample rates of 192 KHz, then some of the “old school” stuff in recording engineering fades into the background.

The course I’m building is not directed at this high-end market.  It’s designed for the home “project studio” owners, or those thousands of bands that form and then break up every year – several for each high school in America, says the research.

I’m building the definitive course for people who want to just “get something done” – whether it’s setting up a decent recording of the kid’s piano playing, recording a church choir or sermon right, or setting up a small PA system at a soccer game.

But just a little “peek under the covers” at what’s going on in George-Land where there’s always… Adventures Beyond Sheetrock.

Oh, and if you have color scheme/design ideas, please send them along: 

SO:  I’m currently hot on dark ceiling, red/orange walls, velvet hangings (more sound conditioning, right?) and engineered bamboo for the floor with a Persian or modern area run centered with the Drum throne on the edge of that with the drum kit down-lit from the track lighting which will have dimmable LED floods.

But if you have a better idea, I’m sure open to them until we get the taping and mudding done and go start mixing texture paint…

We now return you to your regularly scheduled program.

Prepping Readers Want to Know

From the Inbox:

Good morning George,

My sister inlaw wants to get these little two way ham sets for everyone in the family for a SHTF worse case. Her thinking is that we could at least stay in touch over the ham waves better than anything else and who would care if we were licensed or not in that case. Here is what she wants to buy.

Baofeng UV5RA Ham Two Way Radio 136-174/400-480 MHz Dual-Band Transceiver (Black)

Our budget is very limited and this is in the ball park budget wise. I appreciate any advise you can give

Great deal on a “starter” VHF dual band ham radio. Frankly, for a radio with this feature set, I don’t know how they do it for under $30.

Get the programming cable and some software to load frequencies, though, because the manual loading of a hundred channels is not my idea of fun, no sir.

On the license, yes, it’s true that in the event there is a terrible SHTF event, you would be able to use anything, there are several very solid reasons to go through one of the thousands of one-day ham radio licenses classes (free) that you can find by going to the website and poking around.

The first is that you need to know something about how the radios work to get the most out of them.  Not everyone know was sub-audible tons are, know what I mean?

The second reason is many of the people involved in ham radio are involved in community recovery planning.  I’m in RACES *(radio amateur civil emergency service) and some of the folks in clubs go through the FEMA courses on disaster management, and so on.

So when the SHTF you’ll be able to help in community recovery, rather than isolating yourself and ignoring the community when it is more important.

Third reason?  Radios have different capabilities.  By taking a ham radio license class (and get the damn license!!!) you’ll understand how line of sight works, understand repeaters, and on goes the list.

Rural Pioneer Website

OK, I am a hands-on guy and here’s the latest on my trademark ap for the Rural Pioneer website:


ISSUE DATE: Jun 10, 2014

Serial Number: 86068949


Docket/Reference Number:

No opposition was filed for this published application. The issue date of this NOA establishes the due date for the filing of a Statement of Use (SOU) or a Request for Extension of Time to file a Statement of Use (Extension Request). WARNING: An SOU that meets all legal requirements must be filed before a registration certificate can issue. Please read below for important information regarding the applicant’s pending six (6) month deadline.

Now that I have my computer’s  voice recognition issues solved, I will likely begin posting occasional “returning rural” content overs there.

So much for this morning…more Thursday, or tomorrow’s update is you support this site that way. 

The Tuesday Funny

One to pass on to eldest daughter Denise, who is heavily into Buddhist studies..

‘There’s a new restaurant in town.  It’s called Karma.  They don’t have a menu.  You get what you deserve!

Thank you Dr. Zero for that one. 

And An Apology

2.25-inches of rain here at the ranch in the past 24-hours.  Sorry if some of our storms cause damage up north and east of us. They were heading out at 30 miles per hour to the northeast.

As long as I’m apologizing, I’d  should mention our border leakage, but then you elected the people that are ignoring the laws on that one.

By my count, you owe us an apology.

Write when you break-even.