Hi I’m Daniel from forward audio and in
this video i’m gonna show you how to record clean electric guitars. Let’s go! Before you are starting your guitar
recording you should ask yourself two important questions:
How many microphones should I use and how do I place them which is probably
the most important question. So let’s begin with how many microphones should
you use. As always there’s no general rule for that, but if you look up guitar
recording tutorials most engineers tend to use between at least two microphones
up to four microphones. Some sophisticated experts even go so far to
use a dozen of microphones with different cabinets, different speakers
different amps and so on. That doesn’t mean that you have to use that many
microphones yourself and some engineers are perfectly fine with only one mic, but
it’s important to understand why people tend to use that many microphones. I
remember when I was in audio engineering school right before my first guitar
recording and I thought well you take a microphone and you put it in front of a
cabinet and that’s pretty much it and boy was I wrong. Recording guitar
properly is more like an art form and you have to carefully think about
different variables to get your own unique sound and after all that’s what
you really want. So let’s compare the pros and the cons of using less or more
microphones: If you have only one mic the setup and post-production is
comparatively fast. Only one track means less work to do. But you can only take it
or leave it. If you’re in the mixing process and you notice that you’re not
completely satisfied with your recording you can only take the DI track, reamp it
and start from the beginning. By using several microphones you have a series of
advantages. Firstly, you can achieve a more unique sound as the combination
possibilities are almost endless. You can combine different microphone types like:
dynamic, condenser and ribbon mic’s who all have different frequency
and dynamic responses. Furthermore different cabinet and speaker models
also have a huge influence on the sound and can be combined. Secondly, you can
emphasize strengths and minimize weaknesses of single microphones. It’s
very hard to cover all sound aspects of the amp with only one mic. By combining
several in the right fashion you can get a great result without too much extra work. Which leads us to the next point: You can gain flexibility in the mix and
have a better control over the sound. On the con side: Using several mice also means more setup and post-production time and you can also highly likely run into phase
issues between the microphones. So to sum it up using more than one microphone can
help you to get to your own unique sound but it also takes a lot of practice and
you have to avoid using several microphones just for the sake of it and
end up with using only a few in your final mix. Let’s proceed with the mic
placement: The most important thing to know about the mic placement on a guitar
speaker is that the sound can change radically even with small changes in the
placement. Generally speaking the center of the cone is the area with most
overtones and less low-end. Vice versa the edge of a cone has strong mids and
low end but it tends to sound muddy and less defined. We can use this effect
for our benefit. We can use one microphone close to the center as a
so-called bright mic and another closer to the edge of preferably another
speaker as a so-called dark mic. Then we can combine these at any level even in our final mix. To demonstrate this even further I’ve
cranked up the master volume of the amp added the boost and only captured the
noise that is coming from the amp. Something interesting happens if we
compare different positions like this and this. Although both of the points
have the same distance to the center they don’t sound the same. And you can
think of it this way: there are different sweet spots around the speaker where
some frequencies focus and ours tone down. As a result every position on the
speaker slightly differs and this variety only intensifies if you start to
use different mic angles which also have an influence on the amount of overtones
and low-end in the signal. The speaker model itself also has huge influence and
can differ widely throughout all available models. It’s therefore not unusual to combine different speakers to get a wider sound.
In this recording I’ve decided to use a Shure SM57 as a bright mic on one
speaker and a Shure SM7b as a dark mic about 30 centimeters away from the
speaker. Now, the reason I’m taking this microphone further away is because I
want to get a snapshot of the whole speaker and if you are aiming for a
sound with good low end taking the microphone a little further away often
helps to let the sound develop as the sound waves have enough room to make at least one period of the sound wave. Because we now have different distances
between the mics and the speaker’s you should expect serious phase issues if the
mics are mixed together and we will deal with these phase issues in the next video.
Dduring the setup of these mics you should carefully hear how each of them
sounds, adjust for placement and then also hear how both of them sound
together. In the next step we’re gonna take the DI signal, the dry signal coming
directly from the guitar and mix it with our microphone tracks. This is a common
technique which is often used for bass, for clean and crunchy guitar and
sometimes even for heavy guitar, as well. Although a pure DI signal can sometimes
sound a little bit boring and not very colourful, there are still advantages if
you mix them together with your microphones. Usually a guitar signal has
to go through a lot of components like pedals, the amp, the cabinets, the microphones. Each of these components can weaken the transients, lower the peaks and therefore
can reduce a little bit of the percussiveness of the sound. The DI
signal still has that and if you mix them together you can get the best out
of both worlds. The third microphone of use in this setup is a room microphone,
which is six on the half meter away from the cabinet. I don’t use room mics on
every guitar recording I do but if I want to have a nice reverb and I have a
decent recording room why use an artificial reverb if I can get a natural
one. Let’s summarize: a guitar sound is dependent on a lot of different factors
and components. As an audio engineer you should experiment with these factors to
get a remarkable sound. In a recording situation the placement of the
microphones is one of the most important factors. By combining different mics,
speakers and placements you shape your own sound and at the same time get more
freedom and safety in the post-production. Adding the DI signal to
your microphone tracks can help you to preserve transients which make the sound
more vital and fresh. Optionally, you can place room mics to get a natural reverb.
Some factors wish I’ve not shown and video are for example: the microphone
choice. We will cover this issue specifically in future videos. The amp
you’re using also plays an important role regarding the sound. For the sake of
this tutorial, we assumed that you already have your favorite amp and
cabinet or you have a guitarist you are recording which wants to use his amp. I
hope you found this tutorial helpful. In the next video we’re gonna take this
setup and talk about the proper phase alignment and the mixing. Be sure to
subscribe and click the notification bell and I’ll see you in the next video