SpragueLand is the name of my recording studio. We’re located in Encinitas, California around seven blocks away from the pacific ocean. From the office deck (which is directly above the studio’s control room) we have a great view of the wild blue framed with an old sycamore tree and a row of palms. It’s a really idyllic environment to play and record music.

Jimi Hendrix had his recording studio in New York City and named it Electric LadyLand and so I figured we needed a west coast cousin, far from the madness of the city streets, almost opposite in outward environments, like the opposite coasts. And that’s how SpragueLand was born.

I use the studio to record my own music as well as music for other folks. When I work on projects I generally assist in the song arranging process as well as the chart writing, guitar playing, engineering, mixing, and producing. It’s a lot of hats to wear and I love all of the diversity.

I think it’s a unique set-up having a musician engineering a project. I’m not only looking out for sonic solutions within a song but I also have my ear on the music content as well. If you need a substitute chord change for the last four bars of the song, I might be your man. I have a gang of great studio musicians that join me in the studio and together I think we’ve produced some cool recordings. Look to the discography page to see a list of the CD’s we’ve been involved with.

Nickel Creek recording at SpragueLand with (left to right) Chris Thile, Sean Watkins, and Sara Watkins.

Here are some of the details on SpragueLand

We have five isolated recording spaces, all visible via double paned glass. Each room is acoustically designed with high ceilings and non-parallel walls.

  • Room One is the spacious control room with all the recording gear.
  • Room Two is the main large room where we have a drum set always setup (Yamaha kit with a 22″ kick drum) and the bass person usually records here too.
  • Room Three is the piano room. We have a new (November, 2000) Yamaha C-6 seven foot grand piano and we keep it immaculately maintained. Pretty kicking low end on this monster!
  • Room Four is a vocal/horn booth.
  • Room Five is the office upstairs (with the ocean view) which is wired up and has a video connection for visual contact with the other players. With this setup, it’s possible to do a recording with a whole group playing at the same time for group interaction yet still maintaining sound isolation for recording clarity.

I record to ProTools, which is an amazing software and hard-disk computer system. This system allows for total mixing automation and believe me, this is a great thing. After spending four hours on a mix, you can leave it and return a month later and be right where you left off. This saves time and allows you to really get it right. The rig also allows instant access to anywhere in the tune, so no more waiting for the tape machine to rewind. The editing possibilities are mind blowing and it’s a common occurrence to take a slightly out of tune and/or out of time vocal and maneuver it into a new home that even Donald Fagen might approve of. Actually, probably not, but he’s THE most detailed fellow living.

The Trying Not To Get Too Overly Detailed List of Studio Gear

  • Digidesign ProTools HD 3 Accel system (96 tracks digital tracks) with TDM Plug-Ins running on a Mac Pro Quad Core. PT version 10.
  • AD & DA Digital Interfaces by Digidesign (192 I/O’s and 888/24’s)
  • Digidesign Control 24 mixing board/control surface for ProTools
  • Alesis ADAT’s and BRC (32 tracks) (still around just in case)
  • DAT machine by Panasonic
  • monitor speakers by Genelec and Yamaha
  • reverb by Lexicon (PCM 90)
  • microphones by Neuman (U-87, TLM-193’s, KM-184’s), AKG (414’s and 460’s), Sennheizer (421’s), Royer (R122’s), and Wunder Audio (CM7GTS). 
  • tube mic preamps by Avalon, Summit Audio, and Drawmer
  • outboard gear by Urei, Drawmer, and Behringer
  • midi gear by Roland, Korg, Emu, and Yamaha
  • Peak for CD burning and DDP file creation
  • Melodyne for dealing with out of tune vocals; and Finale for music notation
  • Fender Rhodes Stage electric piano

One of the cool things about our studio is we have a unique headphone set-up in which each player works with their own 16 channel mixer to customize what they want to hear. This is a real breakthrough! No more compromising with what each player needs in their headphones to feel comfortable. It’s called the Furman HDS-16/HRM-16 system and it kicks.

If you have an interest in recording at SpragueLand or would like me help you with some aspect of your project, give  a call (760.436.3906) and we’ll fill you in on our availability and prices.

More studio photos, click here!