Here are some technical and social things to avoid and to embrace when you start your adventure in the exciting world of computer/electronic music making. Some of these tips are obvious, but they're still important.
  • Don't pretend you know what's up when you’re in a store. Represent yourself honestly and if they are giving you shit and making you feel stupid (which is common since music store workers can have issues), just look around the store and ignore them.
  • Ask to play with stuff.
  • If they are being dicks and it's the only store in your area do research on your own and use it as a place to buy gear and leave.
  • Read magazines like Electronic musician, Sound on Sound, Keyboard to get a feel for the world you are about to enter.
  • Email people in the genre of music you aim to make and ask them for advice, again be honest, but don’t expect them to tell you their gear list.
  • Learn exactly what a sampler is and what it does.
  • Learn exactly what MIDI is.
  • Learn the difference between a digital synth and an analogue synth.
  • Learn what a sequencer is.
  • If you want to make techno or house you MUST know what a Roland TR-808 and a Roland TR-909 are even if don't buy them. You should understand the ideas behind the gear I mentioned or you will waste your money and sit around making weird sounds wondering what the hell is going on.

My main recommendation for everybody who asks me for advice is always the same;  Research everything, play with the gear in the store a lot and buy only the best and newest gear if you can and if you cant wait until you can, old gear is for people who already know what’s up, there are exceptions but if your reading this you wont know what they are.  Personally I think the best two things to buy when starting out are sequencing software (like Cubase or Cakewalk) to arrange your song and a sampler (the Yamaha A3000 is a great sampler for under $2000) to record, manipulate and play back sounds.

Making beats (for me creating a breakbeat)  is the coolest game in the world and if your thinking about going for it,  go for it.

++++ update January 2002 ++++ This may prove to be a historical node. I no longer believe I would advise people in this way. The things above are important, especially the jargon, but I think a very good sound card with many ins and outs, a good midi controller keyboard and a powerfull computer (over 500 megs{at least} of ram and 1 gig processor) with software, like Reason, that emulates a sampler and synths makes more sense then hardware, especially starting out.

++++ update July 2006 ++++ This may prove to be wholly inaccurate and useless. I no longer know.

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