Welcome to MSCGR

  • Last Updated: March 5, 2015

Instead of reviewing every single piece of music gear that comes out, we’re doing something different: giving you a smart, reliable buying guide.

No single piece of music gear will make you a better musician, songwriter, or producer. Only writing and playing does that.

So stop obsessing over the latest and greatest and use our recommendations. MSCGR focuses only on reviews of the best products in the most useful music gear categories, from computers and recording software, to guitars to keyboards to cables to microphones. You don’t find out everything, just what you need to know to get up and playing.

Graham Cochrane

You see, the entire marketing of gear industry is stacked against us.

Its very goal is to convince you that you’re one purchase away from great recordings and mixes – and if you’d only open your wallet and purchase (or upgrade to) their latest and greatest gizmo or software, you’d be that much closer to reaching your goals.

Want Proof? This recently showed up in my inbox:


Don’t get me wrong: Toontrack’s EZDrummer is easily my favorite drum software for songwriting and demo creation. But the message is one echoed by many music gear manufacturers – THIS is the ONE THING you need.

What do you mean, the “best” music gear?

Best doesn’t mean the most popular, nor does it mean the most expensive or the one with the most features. Sometimes a piece of music gear has a bunch of bells and whistles the manufacturer will make you think you need. But you don’t. A stripped down version that does exactly what you need could be a better choice. In such a case we’ll recommend that.

I don’t agree. I would have recommended something different.

That’s totally fine. If you’ve been happy with Pro Tools, or your Gibson Hummingbird for years, and we recommend something different, there’s no reason for you to switch. Nor should you take it as a war on Pro Tools or Gibson by MSCGR. Our recommendations are based on what is best for most people. There are always musicians with brand loyalty verging on religious fervor, as well as edge cases.

For most people, however, are gear recommendations are the best.

Oh, and if you don’t agree, simply figure out what your needs are, compare them to what we’ve recommended, and move up or down the scale from there.

Please let us know when you disagree, or if you have another piece of gear you think we should have considered. We have comment threads at the bottom of each guide and we’re always looking for new models or options to test.

What are all the product links sprinkled through the guides?

That’s how we get paid. If you’re curious, here’s more info.

How do I know your reviews are genuine if you are getting paid for those links?

Our readers buy via our site because they trust the reviews. If you don’t like a piece of gear, return it. We won’t get paid in that case, and that’s fine. It’s in our best interests to only recommend gear we know you will play/use/enjoy.

What if there is no MSCGR partner for a product you really like?

We recommend the best music gear. If it’s the best, but we’re not able to monetize it as a partner, we’ll still recommend the product. We always suggest what we think is the best product, commission or no.

(But in all honesty, between Amazon and eBay, we can often find a link for pretty much anything.)

We have also partnered with a company called Skimlinks, which can handle some of those harder to find affiliate programs. They share in the small monetary kickback with us if they happen to find a valid affiliate partner.

What happens if the customer is unhappy with the product and they return it?

We lose the commission.

That is why it is important we write great guides with great recommended products.

Why should we trust your music gear recommendations?

I grew up surrounded by music and technology. My mom taught piano out of our living room for over a decade. I played my first piano recital for my kindergarten class when I was five years old.

I began classical guitar lessons in second grade, switched to bluegrass by 4th grade.

In high school, I switched to blues, rock and metal and taught guitar and songwriting.

While other teens were doing whatever it is teens do, I was building a Moog Theremin (Big Briar at the time) from a kit I ordered, and recording bad music on my little Fostex X-15 4-track. I built tons of other circuits with Heathkits and other parts ordered from MCM, Mouser, and Digi-Key mail order catalogs.

I went to a vocational school my junior and senior years , focused solely on Digital Electronics. I rebuilt PCs, etched circuit boards, soldered, measured frequency response with assigned sounds, a sig generator and oscilloscope.

I’ve been playing in local and regional bands for almost two decades. I’ve worked jazz bands, funk bands, rock bands, and played a number of festivals in the Southeastern United States. Most of my friends and acquantances are musicians of varying degrees.

My first job out of school was for a large corporation in Brooklyn, NY where my soldering skills were put to a test on a large scale. We built and designed public address systems for auditoriums, concert halls, and stadiums. Much of my work involved calculating audio signals for delay towers at big live events using the speed of sound equation, building speaker arrays, and board setup.

I’ve kept a personal recording studio of one sort or another most of my life as well. From the aforementioned Fostex X-15 4-track, to my first band (a terrible grunge band in the mid-90’s whose tapes I hope never surface) recorded our own album with a Tascam reel-to-reel 8-track. Since then I’ve used about every DAW there is, from early Pro Tools all the way down to simple free stuff like Audacity, to stuff in-between, like GarageBand, Adobe Audition, Acid, and Fruity Loops.

In the early 2000’s I worked for a dot-com which built some of the first local streaming media “portals”. We partnered with Waterman Broadcasting, both a NBC and ABC affiliate in South Florida. We broadcast live local news out over the web and syndicated out their news stories to a homegrown content management system, built by me. There was no WordPress, and barely a Moveable Type. It was a big deal then, and well before YouTube was a thing. Google barely existed at the time!

In 1999 I began the Usability and Information Architecture blog, Makovision I curated, wrote and edited the site, which ran for about 4 years. It’s tagline was “Cutting Thru The Crap” and it curated the latest non-PR news about web design and the organization of information online during the dot-com boom. I published a weekly newsletter to over 3000 subscribers, which included many usability gurus from IBM’s own team, college professors, and one of my heroes, Jared Spool who even emailed me to compliment me on the site.  In addition to covering all sorts of web dev news, the site had a little “book store” of curated web development and usability books I recommended, all powered by Amazon’s affiliate program.

In 2004 I launched a music gear website with a handful of affiliate partners, called Gearasaurus. The site contained lots of product datafeeds of  with literally tens of thousands of pieces of music gear. It worked great for awhile, but a thin site with lots of gear and no way to sift, sort, compare and get expert recommendations made it very difficult to stand out among competitors who were doing the exact same thing.

In 2006 I launched the site Blogging Muses as a personal site to chronicle my songwriting progress. It grew to be one of the most popular songwriting blogs at the time. Because of the site’s unique approach and writing, I was approached by the performing rights organization BMI. We formed a promotional partnership and monthly column written by various BMI members and staff, The site received a lot of press, attention, and made great connections with musicians and labels alike.

In my free time I still like to write and record.

I am also a dad of two girls. In the picture below from May 2014, I am teaching my 13 year old daughter, a very talented singer/pianist, how to record. In the pic, she’s using the Reaper DAW on a Win7 laptop, Alesis i02 USB audio interface (don’t buy one), M-Audio Oxygen 88-key controller, Behringer B2 mic, and assorted other items.

She doesn’t know it yet, but we’ll be using some of her recordings as embedded samples in upcoming guides. 🙂

Home recording Home recording with my daughter.

On the tech side I’ve been running brand building and social and e-commerce campaigns as a Google Analytics certified digital marketing manager.

I’m confident you’ll be happy with our guides and recommendations.

Thanks again for stopping by!

Anything I didn’t cover? Hit me up.

- M


MSCGR (just pronounced, "Music Gear") is home to dozens and dozens of hours of music gear research distilled down to easy-to-read guides and reviews. You might want to take a look at how to use the site, as well as how you can help support us.

The goal of MSCGR is simple: Save people time and energy shopping so they can get on with their lives writing, recording and playing music, using the great gear we recommend to them.

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