Recording Electric Guitar
Recording Electric Guitar is one of the fun parts of recording music. Tone is the major player here. If you plug straight in and record a dry electric guitar sound you may not be too happy with it. It’s hard to get a good recording and performance if the guitar player is unhappy with the tone he or she is getting in their headsets.
Some Professionals will just place a trusty Sure SM57 dynamic microphone in front of the guitar amp. The microphone will be placed in the center of the speaker close to the grill. Dynamic microphones are great for this. Typically there is no high-end to capture from a guitar amp. Dynamic microphones also have a higher SPL rating and are more rugged. Therefore less distortion from the microphone will be introduced. Dynamic microphones will handle the higher volume coming from a cranked up amplifier better than condenser microphones.
Your trusty sure SM57 is perfect for this. Sometimes engineers will use as many as four SM57s to mic a cabinet with 4 speakers. Sometimes engineers will use two microphones, one close up and one further away. You really only need one microphone to get the job done. This may be your only option if you are on a tight budget. Some popular microphones for a guitar amplifier include. Sure SM57, Sennheiser MD 421,
You can also take advantage of amp modeling. A good amp model program will mimic a guitar amp. The modeling technology is done by measuring every circuit and knob on the amp and converting those measurements into equations better known as algorithms.
I own a lot of guitar amp models from various manufactures. I also own a bunch of bass amp models, and I have guitar effect models. Some amp models allow you to choose a microphone model and place it in different parts of the room. Every tone is modeled. Even if you think the models are not accurate, you can still find many great tones and sounds this way. I have over 150 amp models and over 100 pedal effects. Using amp modeling allows me to combine anything so I can create any tone I want. I also have other amp modeling packages that allow you to blend amplifiers.
Be advised that the learning curve on all this can be pretty high at first, but the tones I came up with are pretty good. Another option would be to get one of the free amp simulations I listed in the Free Software section of this website. There are many great amp models available for free.
A nice option with modelers is the ability to re-amp. If you use the amp model and it is applied as an effect instead of blended in with the recorded audio, then you will be able to switch your amp later on. Never print the amp model to audio while recording unless you are absolutely sure you have the tone you want and you will not change it later on. This process means you just listen to the amp model in your headphones as an effect and you wind up recording a dry guitar signal with no amp tone at all.
When it comes time to mix you can switch your amp model and totally change your tone. This is all because you did not record the audio using an actual guitar amp and you did not record your model blended into into the audio signal. That is the magic of re-amping. If you have hundreds of amp models at your disposal and you don’t like the way the guitar is sitting in the mix, you can change the amp model to find another tone that may work better for the overall song. You can also combine amps and come up with your own custom tones.
Plugging into a direct box allows you to send one signal to your audio interface for amp modeling and another signal to a real amp. You can then use a microphone to capture another signal. This will allow you to use a combination of the two processes. Actual guitar tone from a real amp and reamping blended together will thicken your sound.