5 tips for recording great Electric Guitars with amps
Recording guitars can either be a lot of fun, or a lot of frustration. Here are a few tips for recording electric guitars in your home studio.
1 – Guitar and amp selection – All guitars sound different. A telecaster will never sound like a Les Paul, no amount of processing will change that. So if you need the sound of a Les Paul for this recording, your best bet is to have one available. There are some amps that do well in many recording situations but forcing your amp to sound like something it’s not will just lead to frustration. Both a Fender Twin and Vox AC30 sound great for clean tones, but they are drastically different sounds. Using the same guitar and amp for every part of every song gets kinda boring, have a few options available and choose what’s best in that situation.
2- Consider the room – Don’t underestimate the impact the room has on amps. Generally speaking, you want the amp well away from walls and up off the floor a little. If a small amp doesn’t sound big enough, try putting it in a corner to get more bass. A carpet in front of the amp will help keep reflections from getting into the mic.
3- Tuning, new strings and intonation – I mentioned this in the article about Acoustic Guitars, and it is just as important for Electrics. A properly set up guitar with new strings will allow you to play optimally with every note in tune. A guitar should be set up each season as humidity and temperature can really have an impact. Check the intonation whenever you change strings.
4- Mic selection and position – For electric guitar amps the two most often used mic types are dynamic and large diaphragm condenser. The dynamic mic will shape the sound somewhat and the condenser will be more true to the source, not always what you want (too much fizz?). Distance, angle and position across the speaker greatly affect what the mic picks up. Take the time to experiment and get it right, don’t just put the mic where it looks like it should be or the place that worked last time, always listen. Adding a second mic is another challenge but can be very interesting.
5- Double track – Record a double of each rhythm part. A double is the same part performed as closely as possible to the original. Every strum and chug in unison. The original is panned left, the double to the right. When recording doubled guitars you can dial the gain back a bit for each. You can leave the guitar, pickup, amp and mic selection the same, or change it up a little, not too much.
[this article was written for the Revolution Audio Newsletter]