PALM BEACH GARDENS — In music, what a listener hears on recordings or sees on stages constitute only a few pieces of what’s a larger sonic jigsaw. And perhaps no one in South Florida’s music scene understands that more than Palm Beach Gardens resident Guy Gualtieri (gualmusic.com), since he’s covered practically every piece of that completed puzzle during various points of his 30-plus-year musical career.
Through 2022, Gualtieri’s titles included songwriter, arranger, singer, rapper, guitarist, keyboardist, programmer, and deejay. This year, he officially jumped to the other side of the sound board by venturing into advanced audio engineering, mixing and mastering. All with a newly minted master’s degree in music production from the Berklee College of Music in Boston, one of the world’s leading musical universities for generations.
And to put a bow on it, he gives clients the options of bringing his top-shelf recording equipment to them on location in live or closed environments, or recording in his own home project studio. Clients often choose both, using the latter for overdubs and mixing after Gualtieri records them in their preferred location — whether at a nightclub or in their living room, either of which he uses his expertise to sound-enhance beforehand.
“Berklee’s reputation was what drew me to them,” Gualtieri says. “It took me more than a year-and-a-half to complete all the online classes and remote recording projects, and it was well worth it. I met lots of great people, and their faculty is outstanding. My teachers included Prince Charles Alexander, who’s worked with Sting, Usher, Aretha Franklin, and Mary J. Blige, plus Susan Rogers, who’s engineered for Prince, David Byrne, Toad the Wet Sprocket, and Warren Zevon. You don’t get taught by lifelong academics there, you learn from people active in the industry.”
The flexibility of Gualtieri’s remote recording truck is valuable, since he offers both reasonable rates and an alternative to the costly established method of paying hourly fees to studios. It’s also rare, especially in South Florida, reducing the need for artists to travel to quality brick-and-mortar locations like the Power Station in Pompano Beach or Criteria in Miami.
“That was my business model all along, the I’ll-come-to-you approach,” Gualtieri says. “I wanted to do some more traditional recording work with real instruments; people performing music as opposed to electronic programming. And commercial studios are so expensive. So I invested in some of the same gear they use, like great modules for compressors, EQs and preamps, plus high-end microphones, all of which can travel pretty easily. And my sound boards can accommodate 64 channels. I’ll only need that many to record a live show.”
Gualtieri’s mention of electronic music hints at part of his multi-faceted past. His songwriting has ranged from an all-original pop music cassette he recorded in the mid-1990s to dance music compositions, collaborations and recording projects, both for Berklee and as his alter-ego DJ Gual between 2007 and 2020. In-between, his versatile vocals and musicianship were showcased on original compositions and cover songs with area bands The Uninvited, Inflatable Men, and Numb while he engineered demo recordings for them along the way.
“After those bands, I got into the electronic side of music, which in turn got me into deejaying,” Gualtieri says. “The thought was that I couldn’t recreate all the parts of my dance tracks by myself, so I’d deejay and spin them for people. Most don’t necessarily want to hear originals, so I’d slip them into mixes with better-known songs and get good reactions. But when COVID-19 hit, I lost all my bookings like almost everyone else, and decided to go back to school.”
Since earning his master’s degree late last year, Gualtieri has hit the ground running, getting rave reviews from clients for his abilities, suggestions, and attitude.
“His ability to creatively and effectively solve problems; his encouraging demeanor that puts everyone at ease, and his incredible wealth of audio recording and mixing knowledge make him the only engineer you should be working with,” says Andy Mensing of Palm Beach County roots rockers The Smokeboss Militia.
“I never heard us sound so good live,” says Rich Lamb of West Palm Beach rock band The Rotorheads. “Great work under a tight and demanding schedule.”
“I have to say Guy is the best producer and engineer I’ve ever worked with,” says Lake Worth Beach-based singer/songwriter Todd Rouse, “and I’ve worked with many top professionals through the years, including Butch Vig and Niko Bolas. Everything we’ve done has turned out wonderfully. I’m fortunate to work with him.”
An Ocean Port, N.J., native, Gualtieri actually moved to South Florida in 1989 for engineering, albeit a very different kind. With a fresh degree from Penn State University, he was hired by Pratt & Whitney, the Jupiter-based aerospace manufacturer.
“I packed everything I had into my Pontiac Firebird, which had a big glass hatchback window,” he says. “It was June of ’89, and I put my guitar cases against that back window, but the sun melted bubbles into them. I didn’t know anyone in Florida, so while I was working at Pratt, I also first started experimenting with layering and sequencing different sounds together.”
Naming George Martin (The Beatles, Jeff Beck, Mahavishnu Orchestra), Sam Phillips (Elvis Presley), Hugh Padgham (The Police) and Sean Slade (Radiohead) among his favorite producers and engineers, Gualtieri hopes to emulate their work as he eventually pays off the equipment his Berklee degree inspired.
“I’ve crunched the numbers, and I think I can get into the black in about five years,” he says. “But my idea is to make recording affordable for some really good area composers. There are some great songs being written locally, and I want to provide a way to bring those visions to life.”