Best Obscure Tool in Your Recording Setup?

Sarah admin
10 Comments 25 Likes First Answer Spitfire Employee
edited November 22 in Composition and Production

From cool, broken analog gear, to objects that make great sounds when hit the right way, what's your favorite obscure tool in your setup?

Mine is the Mason jar of rice I keep on my desk. It's provided me with a multitude of great shaker sounds in a pinch, and it's aesthetically pleasing to look at!


  • As a part of this post, you must post an image of the "best obscure tool" as well. :)

    Associate Professor of Music / The University of Virginia’s College at Wise

    Conductor + Music Director / Winds of the Mountain Empire

  • Not exactly obscure, but my pennywhistle I've had for 6 years. It's me pride and joy. I've used it in a lot of styles ranging from Western music, Eastern music, and the more-obvious Hobbitton music. I plan on getting a carbon fiber highland whistle when I have enough funds

  • Sarah
    Sarah admin
    10 Comments 25 Likes First Answer Spitfire Employee

    I hope you can share some of this Hobbitton music with us over on the sharing discussion!

  • Maybe not obscure, but certainly a fun one: my melodica! Comes in handy when I feel the need to get Shpongled...

  • Probably a toss-up between my red-clay Udu made by Rod Kendall or my collection of "Anasazi"/Prayer Rock style flutes. Used on just about every project in one form or another :)

  • Sarah
    Sarah admin
    10 Comments 25 Likes First Answer Spitfire Employee

    Fantastic! Melodica is the underdog of all instruments. Please share a sample with us!

  • Back in the 80's I used to play in bands and record live performances of bands I knew.

    During that period I bought a pair of Pressure Zone microphones on the advice of rumour and reviews, for live recording with a 2 Track reel to reel.

    PZM's at that time consisted of a Omni pattern condenser mic (battery powered !! ) mounted on 25 inch square metal plate with a lead sticking out of it.

    Their output was a bit low but with rehearsed placement , stage front they did produce good recordings which enormously reduced capture of surface reflections and certain other live artifacts. I latter upgraded these devices with new circuitry so they could be phantom powered via a desk ...that improved performance remarkably. and produced recordings better than any other microphones I could afford at that time.

    The descendants of these microphones now sit on the board room table of many companies.

  • It's so tough to choose - rubber band box/cup guitars, old portastudio, trashy mics, etc. - but I think my heart belongs to the toy piano I bought off Craig's list for $20. It doesn't get a ton of use, but when it comes to creepy, slightly off-pitch key sounds - it nails it every time.

  • Banana shaped bright yellow shaker. I bought it 24 years ago in a music store as the last one they had. It is the classic timbre of an orchestra percussion shaker and you look absolutely stupid when performing with it. I love it because it adds kitsch.

  • I started looking around for a used Orff xylophone quite a while ago (turns out they're shockingly expensive when purchased new!), and finally found a bass xylo for only $75 on my local FB marketplace. It worked so well for me in compositions that I ended up adding soprano and alto xylos and metallophones as well as some largish Orff chimes. In between jam sessions with my kids, they feature regularly on the pieces I write.