5 Key Points for Electric Guitar Recording
Guitar recording at home is more popular than ever. Many musicians find joy in generating completely fleshed-out masters in their home studios. More artists desire to learn good recording techniques as the number of home recordists grows. This article will concentrate on the most acceptable ways to record electric guitar. We’ll go through direct recording possibilities, microphone setups, and how to combine the two for the best of both worlds. Whether your studio is a corner of your living room or a converted area like a garage, it doesn’t matter. You should be able to make pro-level electric guitar recording for your home recordings by the end of this course.
Because guitars are used in many kinds of music, recording electric guitar is essential for making music in your home studio. The electric guitar is a popular instrument, and producing high-quality recordings is relatively easy if you know how.
Electric guitar may be utilized in various ways, including as an essential vocal accompaniment, as the main lead instrument in a band, or as a technique to produce textured layers for production, to name a few.
This article will cover the many areas to consider and what to do to get the most excellent recordings possible.
Before we go into methods, let’s talk about how your home recording studio is set up. What gear do you have, and what you might need to obtain the most remarkable results while recording guitar?
5 Key Points for Electric Guitar Recording | Studio
Throughout this post, we’ll assume you’re recording on a computer or mobile device with an audio interface and DAW software. Because each DAW system operates differently, we will focus on general functions such as routing, signal/dynamics processing, and audio modeling plug-ins.
A few pieces of equipment are essential for getting the most acceptable results while recording guitar. First, you’ll need a multi-input audio interface with adequate gain in the internal preamp. In general, this is roughly 30-60dB of gain. However, some microphones, such as passive ribbon mics, may require a bit more. Your interface should also be able to supply phantom power for condenser microphones. Some external equipment, such as an active DI (direct injection) box or an external mic preamp, may also be powered in this manner.
Second, if you intend to record directly and your audio interface lacks instrument-level 1/4″ inputs, either as separate jacks or on an XLR/TRS combo input, you will require a DI box. There will be more on them in a moment.
Third, you’ll need microphones if you’re going to record your amp live in the room. You may get started with a single mic, such as a Shure SM57, the most often used amplifier mic in the world, but some of the approaches we’ll go through require more than one. Unless you have exceptionally tolerant roommates or relatives and understanding neighbors, you may also need some form of amp separation. These issues will be addressed when they arise.
There are two main techniques to recording electric guitar when you step back far enough. The first step is to record a tone on your amp (or amp model). This process is straightforward and quick if you understand how the finished music should sound. Unless you go through the procedure again, you’re very much tied to that fundamental tone for that song.
The second method is to record the guitar tracks as cleanly and directly as possible, with the guitarist(s) monitoring via whatever sound they choose. This approach allows you to record the performance but modify the fundamental guitar tone without re-tracking it. You can make an adequately duplicated sound that goes through a different virtual signal chain without bothering the guitarist. You may want to use the studio as an instrument, or the nature of the song may change. Recording this way allows for incredible creative flexibility and can save a lot of time.
So, when you put on the producer/engineer hat, take off the player hat, if you’re wearing one, and consider the roles any guitar tracks will perform in the song you’re recording. Pre-planning your tracking sessions might save you time on the other end of the process.
5 Key Points for Electric Guitar Recording | Key Points
1. Set up your guitar for recording.
Before you consider amplification, tone shaping, and other accessories, you must guarantee that your guitar is ready to perform. First and foremost, clean the strings. If they’ve seen better days, replace them with fresh ones and break them in. Make sure no buzzes or other undesirable noises originate from the instrument and that any connections used to connect everything are of the highest quality. You or your guitarist should be completely comfortable with the portion you’re playing before pressing the record button. The comping features of your DAW will make combining many takes into one simple, but the idea is to master it in as few takes as possible before the enthusiasm wears off.
2. Get the tone and sound of the room just right.
Begin by getting your amp to sound good in the room. Spend time thinking about the type of music you want to create, then listen critically. This is the time to explore; getting it perfect at the start will make micing much simpler.
Test your amp in various locations of your room at the volume you intend to record. While playing, sweep your amp’s tone knobs over their range and stop each one when it sounds perfect. After you’ve established your sound, it’s time to place the microphone.
There are many methods to modify and process guitar sounds in your DAW, but it’s still best to get them right at the source, so spend as much time as necessary wrestling your amp’s EQ knobs and dialing in distortion/overdrive to obtain the perfect tone for the track. Don’t forget about the room’s sound. Shift the amp about to locate the place where it sounds best to your ear.
When it comes to effects, you may use ‘non-spatial’ processors like chorus, phasing, flanging, compression, and so on as long as you’re sure they’ll function in the mix. However, turn them off if in doubt and utilize plug-ins after recording. And it’s nearly always preferable to avoid putting delay and/or reverb into your guitar tracks. Since they may distort the sound and cause all sorts of problems during the mixing stage.
3. Microphone positioning and selection.
You may use any microphone to record a guitar amp. However, dynamic microphones are typically favored, and the Shure SM57 is by far the most common choice. This studio stalwart’s frequency response is especially well suited to guitar cabs, and its low price, adaptability, and dependability make it a production must-have.
The position of the mic concerning the cabinet will significantly impact the recorded sound, so spend some time auditioning and experimenting with various places and angles. The closeness effect will emphasize lower frequencies the nearer the mic is to the speaker cone. In contrast, the position between the center and edge of the cone will affect mid-range presence. Angling the microphone off-axis will softly roll off the higher frequencies.
If you have a second mic, increase your mixing possibilities by recording two different sounds into a separate track. One off-axis and just off-center, and the other on-axis and out towards the edge. You can subsequently combine this with the primary signal(s) to create some natural spacing. Alternatively (or concurrently if you have enough mics and inputs), record the ambient room sound by placing your second (or third) microphone as far away from the cab as feasible and experimenting with placement.
How to Record Electric Guitars with Multiple Mics
Some engineers prefer to capture electric guitars with many microphones to get intricate tones. Mixing and matching various mic “colors” is a typical approach.
A bright Shure SM 57 combined with a midrange-heavy Sennheiser MD 421, for example, is a classic combination. Others favor a variety of precise condenser microphones and dark, musky ribbon mics.
Simply use the “3:1 rule” to avoid phase difficulties while utilizing numerous microphones. To prevent phase difficulties when utilizing multiple microphones, the second microphone should be three times the distance from the first mic as the first mic is from the sound source, according to the 3:1 rule.
Most DAWs include default plug-ins with phase invert controls for quickly testing your songs. After switching the phase, your recordings should sound weak and thin; if not, you may have phase troubles.
Using numerous microphones also allows you to make stereo recordings, which may be helpful in producing huge, broad guitar tones. Don’t scare to try out different microphones and positioning approaches. Just be careful not to overdo it.
5 Key Points for Electric Guitar Recording | 4. Recording in the box.
Of course, you can record your guitar straightforwardly through your audio interface’s instrument input, with no amplification, mics, or other equipment implicated, capturing a pure guitar sound that you can then define and process non-destructively using the superb real-time amp modeling and effects plug-ins accessible in your DAW. However, this raises the issue of latency, the unavoidable delay between input and output caused by the processing in your DAW. Audient interfaces allow you to select small enough sample buffers to reduce latency, but even a small amount can degrade performance.
Fortunately, your audio interface has a straight monitoring circuit that feeds the input directly to the output, skipping the DAW altogether for monitoring but still delivering the signal there for recording. The Monitor Mix knob on your Audient interface enables direct monitoring. Crank it clockwise to mix the live, lag input signal with your DAW’s result to any level you choose. Otherwise, you’ll hear both the direct and (delayed) DAW-monitored inputs. The negative is that you’ll listen to your performance without any effects. Direct monitoring, on the other hand, is a godsend when you need to hear exactly what you’re playing and when you’re playing it.
5. The best of all: amplified and DI
Why not record the boosted tone and clean signal on separate tracks for optimum mixing flexibility? Simply route the clean guitar tone into the guitar input on your system, in parallel with the amplified tone coming in via the mic input, using the pre-EQ DI feed from your amp or a DI box. If your amplified recording is spot-on, you’ve lost nothing. Still, suppose it falls short during mixdown, or you simply want to keep your options open. In that case, the DI provides effectiveness in its natural form for customizing with virtual amp simulators and other plug-in effects, then blending with the amplified signal or using on its own.
While you should aim to obtain as near to the completed guitar tone as appropriate during the recording session, you should not rule out alternative possibilities. When you use a direct box or DI box to record the isolated guitar signal from performance, you may manipulate it with digital guitar amp emulators or even “re-amp” the signal afterward with alternative gear.
DI boxes transform unbalanced “hi-z” 1/4″ instrument inputs to balanced “low-z” XLR outputs that you may record with your interface. DI boxes also divide the guitar signal into a second “through” output that can be connected to the amplifier, allowing you to transmit the sound to your amp and DAW at the same time.
Use an active DI while recording guitars with passive pickups and a passive DI while recording guitars with active pickups for optimal outcomes.
5 Key Points for Electric Guitar Recording | Conclusion
Recording electric guitar is a necessary skill for the home studio and is simple to master after you’ve grasped the fundamentals. Your music productions will increase when you can capture fantastic electric guitar recordings, whether recording an amp with a microphone or two or plugging your instrument in directly and then utilizing a plug-in for your sound.
Aside from getting set up, the main challenge of recording guitar is nailing the proper takes. Nobody ever learned how to record electric guitar without some trial and error, so get in there and experiment! You’ll be riffing with the best of them with a bit of practice and patience in no time.