A Guide for Building a Backyard Garden Music Studio


Home music studios are becoming a thing now for professional and amateur musicians alike. Maybe It is because of how available the essential equipment is nowadays. This instance is a good thing for us musicians because back in the day, owning a music studio is impossible for the average working man. Here is a guide on how to build your music studio in your backyard.

Most American homes already have a tool shed in their backyard. Depending on the size of your tool shed, you can transform that small space into your very own music studio. All you need is enough space, a budget for renovations and acoustic treatment, and a budget for the essential equipment needed.

Alternatively, if you do not have a tool shed, you can choose to transform your garage into a home music studio. A garage will be much bigger and much better. Either way here is a guide on how to build a backyard music studio in your old shed or garage.

PURPOSE

Having your separate studio in your backyard shed or garden has several objectives and goals. It is nice to have a secluded space where you can let go and be creative. Whether you are a professional or amateur music producer, having your own space where you can be creative is always lovely.

Having a separate structure for an office or studio can help boost your creativity and workflow. Think about it as your very own bat cave. No one can disturb you when you are in the process of creating fantastic music. Whatever your creative process is, seclusion is an excellent way to optimizing your productivity.

These tips are for you if you have a backyard or garage that you want to transform into your very own secluded garden studio. Another good thing about having one is that you can decorate and design it all by yourself.

Famous musicians such as Jordan Rudess from the bands Dream Theater and Liquid Tension Experiment have a backyard studio. In one of his YouTube videos, he showed us his awesome studio. He has one studio inside the house, plus the secluded studio in his backyard. It is so AMAZING.

Here are some of the advantages of having more prominent space for a home studio:

  • MORE SPACE = MORE GEAR

Being a gearhead myself, I know how it feels when purchasing new gear. It feels great, and it makes me so happy, and I know you feel the same way. However, sometimes you don’t realize that your buying way too much gear and fills up your entire house. Having a secluded studio will solve your storage problems.

  • SOLITUDE = CREATIVITY

Some producers, such as Calvin Harris, has this method of going off-grid when writing and producing new songs. Although some might prefer traveling and going outdoors for inspiration. Who says it can’t be both? As a musician, I prefer getting inspiration from solitude, but sometimes I like to write outdoors too.

  • LESS DISTRACTIONS = PRODUCTIVITY

By eliminating distractions, you will have more time to do more work. At home, there may be a lot of distractions that could divert your workflow.  Such as your TV, video games, social media, etc. Having a secluded area can decrease distractions and increase your productivity.

  • LOOKS MORE PRO

Having your studio separate from your home looks a lot more professional than having one in your bedroom. If you are a music producer looking for clients and customers, having a separate studio will make you look more like a real pro. This example will lead you to more clients and opportunities for business.

  • IT’S AWESOME

Having a separate studio is AWESOME. It is so refreshing and exciting to have one of these backyard garden shed studios. You can invite your bandmates over to write and record songs. You can also shoot awesome YouTube covers and live performances. I don’t need to tell you how cool it is to have your very own studio.

GARDEN/ TOOL SHED

A garden shed is the best option for a secluded studio area. It is not a part of the house as a garage, and solitude will be guaranteed. If you do not have one already in a backyard, you have the option of buying a shed that is pre-built that you can install easily. You can also build one if you have any experience with construction. The best way is to have a professional help you create the main structure.

Things to consider if you are just about to build a garden shed:

  • Consider the location of the studio, and if it has enough space to accommodate the size of the studio, you are looking to build.
  • Do not build a garden shed then turn it into a music studio afterward. It is a waste of time and money.
  • Choose the materials and aim for a fully functional recording studio in terms of walls, ceilings, and flooring.
  • Soundproofing is more comfortable with concrete walls because of its density and mass.
  • You would not have to worry about soundproofing the floor because clearly nothing and no one will live underneath the studio, we don’t know, do we? (Just kidding)
  • If you have an existing wooden shed, it is better to start a new with concrete if you have the budget. Soundproofing wooden sheds can be a lot of work.
  • Consider ventilation. You can use high-quality acoustic vent systems. These products are what most soundproof rooms use for ventilation.
  • Consider the permits you will need for constructing a new building. Different cities have different policies depending on the size of a structure.
  • Temperature control is a must to protect your equipment from humidity. You can install an air conditioner combined with the proper ventilation to resolve this issue.

GARAGE

 If you do not have enough space in your backyard, you can always opt to use your garage as your very own home studio. The idea of seclusion is out of the picture if your garage is still a part of the house.

Some garages are separate from the main house. These types of garages are a suitable structure for secluded music studios.  The concrete walls in these garages are more comfortable to treat and soundproof.

Transforming a garage into a music studio is pretty much the same as a garden shed, with little specific options. One thing I can suggest is to remove the garage sliding door and enclose the space with solid concrete walls for better soundproofing.

BUDGET

The budget you will need depends on the size and material you will use. For a music studio, the typical range will cost you about $2000 to $3000. That is just for the materials. Labor is not included.

If you decide to build the studio yourself, then it is safe to say that you will not spend more than $5000 assuming you have all the tools already.

MATERIALS NEEDED:

  • Concrete for the floor and foundation
  • Hardwood or vinyl for flooring
  • Plywood, plastic, or concrete for walls
  • Door
  • Windows (optional)
  • Tools
  • Air compressor
  • Air hose
  • Nail gun
  • Jigsaw
  • Circular saw
  • Drill
  • Clamps
  • Hammer
  • Nails
  • Chalk line
  • Eye and ear protection

BUILDING THE SHED

I’m not a real expert on building a shed myself. Here are essential steps you need to know when building yourself a backyard garden shed/ music studio:

  • Level the ground and prep where each of the foundations will be placed.
  • String the supporting beams on to the foundations.
  • Create a series of floor joists
  • Nail the plywood sheeting on the beams or use solid concrete for the flooring
  • Build the framework for all the walls with four corners.
  • You can start stacking bricks or hollow blocks for the walls if you choose concrete for the material.
  • Build two frames for each panel for a more fortified wall better for soundproofing (for wood).
  • Nail the plywood sheets for the roof.
  • Cover the walls with the materials of choice. It can be textured plywood.
  • Add tar paper on the roof to keep water from seeping into the cracks.

These instructions are the most basic instructions I found from gathering data for building a basic shed. It is your choice on how big you want the shed to be, and which materials you prefer to use.

WASTE OF MONEY?

I don’t think so, but of course, that is my opinion. The decision is up to you. If you are a professional producer and do this type of work, it is always an excellent option to have an office or studio separate from your house.

Building a shed studio will only be a waste if you let it be a waste. If you are very passionate about music and music production, then building a backyard music studio is worth it. 

SKILLS NEEDED

If you have the necessary skills needed to build stuff with power tools, you can save money by making it yourself. With power tools, of course, you will need to redo the flooring, walls, and ceiling. You might even have to expand the place if it is too small of a shed. Besides the basic woodwork and construction, you will need information on how to do the acoustic treatment.

You will also need electrician skills for this job because as you know already, music studios require electricity to power it up. Using an extension cord to get power out of the house will not be a reliable option. You might short the circuits and damage all your gear, or worst, start a fire.

Consider your garden studio to have its electricity source, so that it is safer for you, your gear, and the people in the surrounding areas.

ACOUSTIC TREATMENT

Having a backyard music studio in your tool shed or garage is an excellent way to start fresh with treating the place’s acoustics. In the garage, the walls are often concrete so you will only need minimal soundproofing. On the contrary, a tool shed with wooden walls will require more materials for soundproofing. You wouldn’t want neighbors to interrupt you because of the noise.

Acoustic treatment will depend on the overall structure, such as the flooring, walls, and ceiling. If you don’t want to go through treating the whole area, I suggest you build an isolation booth. It is a smaller space to heal and soundproof.

The whole idea for acoustic treatment is to lessen the random bouncing of sound to get better and more accurate recording quality,

To treat a room or your garden music studio, you must consider the physical elements of the space. The shape of the room, the isolation, and surface materials. You must know and determine the aspects of absorption and diffusion.

Absorption is the opposite of reflecting or bouncing vibrations. A room should be absorbent enough to sound so that there are less echo and unnecessary noise when recording and monitoring sound. One of the best solutions for balancing the echoes of a room is the use of acoustic foam panels.

Diffusion, on the other hand, is the distinct echo that sound produces when bouncing off a surface. The distinct echo varies depending on the type of material. A brick wall will give out its distinctive sound that is different from sounds bouncing off concrete. Wooden walls will not have the same effect of absorption nor diffusion because it is less substantial.

Sound vibrations will not be as reflective on wooden walls because of the gaps. Minimal vibrations will bounce back, while the other sound waves will leave the room.

An excellent way to treat your walls is by having a mixture of reflective and insulating surfaces. You can achieve this by not sufficiently padding the walls and ceilings with foam and leave some open concrete surfaces.

 If a room has better acoustics, your ears will not attain as much stress from a place with poor acoustics.

REVERB

Acoustic treatment in a room is all about creating a sort of like effect such as reverb. Various studios and spaces have their characteristics. Without the use of modular effects, a room can already produce unique sounding vocals and instruments.

Several software apps can help you create your room tone without having to do a lot of experimenting with acoustic treatment. These particular types of software can emulate the sound of different room characteristics and tones. However, to emulate reverb, you have to eliminate the organic reverb.

SOFTWARE

  • WAVES ABBEY ROAD REVERB

(Price: $69)

This reverb plugin is an example of emulating reverb in a room. This plugin mimics the sound of the booths in one of the most well-known studios in the world, Abbey Road. It follows and models after the legendary studio where bands such as The Beatles, Radiohead, and Pink Floyd did their recording. It is incredible how virtual studio technology has come a long way.

  • TAL AUDIO REVERB II

(FREE)

The TOGU AUDIO LINE or TAL Reverb II is one of the best reverbs you can download for free right now. You can sculpt your frequencies with its built-in EQ while creating a room reverb with the tone of your choice. For a free reverb software plugin, the TAL REVERB II exceeds all expectations.

To do this, you must use absorbers instead of diffusers. Here are some products for eliminating reverb in a room:

  • BXI SOUND DIFFUSER

(Price: $120)

This large panel is a suitable diffuser panel you can install in your music studio. This high-quality wooden panel is made from anti-aging and corrosion-resistant materials. The designs and patterns of this diffuser are not only functional but also decorative as well. You can use this panel to remove acoustic defects such as flutters and echo. (Product Dimensions: 26″x 25.5″x 4.4)

  • ACOUSTIC FOAM PANELS 12 PACK

(Price $20)

This pack is excellent for setting up a better acoustic environment for your studio. You can install them in the vocal booth, and the control room where you will be monitoring your sound. Remember that the improving acoustics will not only improve your recording, but it will improve monitoring as well. (Product Dimensions: 12″x 12″ x 1″)

  • JBER ACOUSTIC WEDGE CORNER STUDIO FOAM

(Price $30)

This product is used for the corners where the wall meets the ceiling or floors. It can reduce unwanted noise and fluttering echo that will improve your music studio’s acoustics significantly. It has sound dampening that reduces waves and reverb. ( Product Dimensions: 16.9″x 12.4″x 2″)

  • NEW LEVEL BASS TRAPS

(Price: $27)

Bass traps are specially designed to absorb low bass frequencies. However, they can absorb medium to high rates as well. I would suggest that you purchase and install bass traps in your music studio first because of its all-around acoustic treatment qualities. I

It eliminates a whole lot of reverb and fluttering echoes. This tool is what you need if you want to use software to control the reverb in your music studio.

SOUNDPROOFING

Soundproofing is different from acoustic treatment. One common misconception people have is that soundproofing and acoustic treatment are similar. They are identical because they work hand in hand, but they are not exactly alike.

Soundproofing is the process of minimizing the noise that travels out of the music studio. You do not want to get noise complaints from your neighbors.

Acoustic treatment aims to control the overall sound a room produces to create better quality in recording or performance.

To do effective soundproofing in a garden music studio, you must consider what material was used when the structure was built. A tool shed is usually made out of wood. One of the most challenging elements to soundproof is wooden walls. You will need a lot of soundproofing clips.

Another way is to reinforce the walls with another layer and put the foam inside those layers. What you want to do is seal every gap. To stop sound from traveling outside a room, the materials of the walls better be dense and heavy.

Helpful tip: Do not purchase any soundproofing materials if the company selling them does not have data on how stable the content is.

FLOORING

Various flooring can affect the sound of your recording. Here is a table that shows the type of flooring, the music it reflects, and the suggestions for improvement:

FLOORING DESCRIPTION IMPROVEMENT TIPS
CARPET   Carpet floors require more acoustic treatment for the improvement of sound quality in recording. To improve sound quality in a studio with carpet flooring, you must purchase some of the necessary acoustic treatment foam panels for walls, and the ceiling. Another technique is you can elevate the amplifiers and speakers to get less reverb.  
HARDWOOD FLOORING     One of the most common flooring that professional music producers and studio owners prefer is hardwood floors. Hardwood floors give off a more natural sound in recording rooms. As a result, the recording session has a better outcome.   Music studios with hardwood flooring do not require a whole lot of acoustic treatment like a carpet floor room does.  A place will still need minimal acoustic treatment to maximize how this type of flooring affects the overall sound aspect of a music studio.    
CORK FLOORING   Cork flooring has some of its advantages, disadvantages considering its unique quality. This type of flooring is suitable for soundproofing if you live on a floor above somebody, and you do not want to disturb anyone when you are recording.     Cork flooring can be your main floor, or you can layer it with hardwood or carpet for soundproofing.  
LAMINATE FLOORING   Laminate flooring has a lot of advantages in terms of music recording and installation as well — laminate flooring, also known as floating floors, because they are easy to install. You do not need nails or any adhesives for installation.   Laminate flooring is a combination of the reflective properties you get with hardwood floors and the warmth you get with cork flooring. It is one of the most common floorings producers use in a music studio that you can easily install at your home.    
VINYL FLOORING   Vinyl flooring, also known as tile flooring, is another common material used in professional music studios. This type of flooring is excellent if you move around in the studio often. This type of flooring is suitable for larger studios because it is easy to roll around in your producer chair.               The insulation qualities of vinyl flooring are excellent for a natural sound like hardwood. the floor’s insulation characteristics help resist the heat that is good for extending the life of your studio equipment  

WALLS and CEILING

WOOD

If you plan on building a wooden shed, it will cost lower than most materials. However, wood can be a disadvantage in a recording studio, but good enough for a tool shed.

CONCRETE

Concrete is a common material. It will need more acoustic treatment such as absorption to balance the sound vibrations. Sound vibrations naturally have more random bouncebacks on concrete walls than any other material. Concrete walls are more comfortable to soundproof because of its density.

VINYL

Vinyl sheds are an advanced option for building a shed. This material is more durable than wood because of its resistance to rotting and rusting. It can also withstand rain and snow. Vinyl can also affect the acoustic differently and give a more natural characteristic to a music studio.

BRICK

Brick walls have groves that can aid in acoustic treatment. Having groves on the walls will result in different sound characteristics. These groves can act as diffusers and give out a warmer sound reflection. You can improve this by adding more absorbers like a foam to the mix. Brick walls have fewer random sound vibrations than solid concrete.

VOCAL ISOLATION BOOTH

A shed can have enough space to accommodate an isolated booth for recording vocals, guitars, and drums. This booth is separate but adjacent to the control room where you will be doing most of the work as a producer. If you have enough space, go for building an isolation booth separate from the main studio where you mix and master the tracks.

Vocal booths should be isolated so that outside sound won’t come in and interfere with the audio you want to capture. This room or studio section requires both acoustic treatment and soundproofing to get the best quality recordings.

You can purchase vocal isolation panels. However, it is best to build a separate space for better reverb or better reverb elimination if you plan to use software to create reverb.

HIRE PROFESSIONALS

If you are not confident enough to do your construction, you can always seek help from professionals. It will cost you more, but your ideas can become a reality with the help of professional contractors.

You can think of ideas for the layout you want and give it to professionals to do the job for you. Professionals can work on the flooring, walls, and ceiling. While you, on the other hand, will do the fun stuff like decorating and designing the studio.

I strongly suggest hiring professionals, especially for the wiring and electricity part. It could be dangerous to do it yourself if you do not have any experience in this field.

RELATED INFORMATION

DECORATING TIPS

You can do anything you want with your studio in terms of decorations. You can hang up paintings or put some plants on your desk. You can also hang up old records on the wall and display your grandpa’s former record player somewhere in the space for decoration. Make sure decorations won’t be a nuisance in your workflow.

A thing I see in most studios is a giant carpet. It can add to the studio vibe and aesthetic. Most rehearsal and recording studios I see on TV and movies have this.

For me, the gear you have, including guitars, keyboards, etc., is enough to decorate the room already. The place is supposed to be a music studio, after all.

WHAT GEAR YOU CAN FIT IN THE STUDIO

Depending on the size of your studio, you can fit all the essential equipment for recording. I suggest you build a bigger shed if you have full-band equipment such as drums, amplifiers, and a sound system. I’m assuming you know the essential music studio equipment before reading this article. But if you don’t, the gear that is suitable for a backyard music studio is:

  • Computer or laptop
  • Monitors
  • Midi Controller
  • Headphones
  • Microphones
  • Amplifiers
  • Audio interface
  • Mixers
  • Guitars
  • Drum kits

Build a music studio shed where you can fit all your large equipment such as your desktop and effect racks. This way, you can save space in your main house. If you like recording outdoors, you should have a separate mobile recording rig. You never know when will inspiration strikes.

If you want to build the studio before buying the essential equipment, I suggest you plan the size and layout according to what kind of gear you are planning on buying.

This studio you will build can be a recording studio and a rehearsal studio where you can film your band’s live performances.

HELPFUL TIP: Elevate the amps and drum kit to create less reverb in the studio environment.

CONVERTING vs. STARTING FROM SCRATCH

If you already have a shed in your backyard, it may not be suitable for a recording studio in terms of wall treatment, ventilation, and other factors. You will spend almost the same amount of cash in building a studio from scratch.

I don’t suggest starting over by demolishing the entirely built shed. I’m just merely letting you know that you will spend a lot of money for treatment. However, if it is an old shed that is on the verge of breaking, you could consider building a new shed that is designed for music studio purposes.

ANY ROOM IN THE HOUSE WILL DO

You can use some of the tips from above to redesign a room and turn it into your very own music studio. These tips can be helpful if you do not have a backyard or a garage and you live on your own in an apartment. If you do not have a spare room, don’t worry. You can always transform a corner of your bedroom into a music studio. For more information, click here.

CONCLUSION

Building your very own music studio in your garden is a fulfilling job to do. And after that, you can use the studio to finish projects, which is way more fulfilling if you are passionate about your work. A garden studio has many functions and purposes which can help you build a career in music or enjoy creating music and be happy. The most important thing is that you love what you do. Please do send us pictures of your garden shed music studios after you build them!

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