As I mentioned in my previous blog, there are several different pieces of equipment you will need to make your home recording studio complete. One of the most important pieces is your guitar amp.
If you are recording an electric guitar, it is helpful to use an amp. You could just plug your guitar directly into the computer using an audio interface, but if you do this you will not be able to hear what your guitar sounds like until after you have recorded it and played back the results. This can make it difficult to mix properly and get optimum sound quality. Instead of running directly into the computer, it is better to run your guitar into an amplifier, and then run the output from the amplifier into your audio interface so that you can hear what you are playing while recording.
Although they serve similar purposes, it is important not to confuse a guitar amp with a PA system. A PA system is used for live performances where the primary function is to amplify the sound of the instruments so that everyone in the audience can hear it well. A guitar amp on the other hand does not necessarily need to be used for live performances; rather it can be used by a solo musician or small band for practices or even studio recordings. It will amplify the sound produced by your instrument so that you
I am not an audio engineer by trade. I’m a home recording hobbyist who is constantly on the lookout for new recording techniques and tips to help improve my recordings.
Here are 7 things that I’ve learned along the way that might be of interest to you.
1. If you want your guitar amp to sound better, use less distortion.
I know…what’s a guitar amp without distortion? Actually, it sounds a lot better when you put the distortion where it belongs…in the mix. Really, if you think about it, there are only a few types of music where the distorted guitar is really heard. And even in those genres, it is usually in the background with other instruments sitting on top of it. So why record with all that extra distortion? You’re just making it harder on yourself when you’re mixing later on because all that extra distortion is going to muddy up your tracks. All you need to do is add enough so your guitar can cut through and no more!
Here’s a little secret. I’m not really a guitar player. I own two guitars and I can strum a few chords. But that’s about it. A couple of weeks ago, I spent an afternoon at the home of a professional guitarist friend of mine, trying out several different amps and asking him questions along the way. By the end of the day, I felt like we had just scratched the surface.
I had just been reminded of how complex the subject of guitar amps is. Guitar players are extremely picky about their sound, and if you’re looking for advice on buying one, you’ll need to be specific about what you want to do with it. Which is why my advice will be general: buy a tube amp.
OK, so you got your microphone, your computer and your recording software. You’ve even got a few mics to choose from — it’s a start. But what about that guitar amp?
You can spend $$$ on one of those fancy mic preamps with the compressor and EQ built right in. But for this article, I’m going to show you how to treat your guitar amp like a giant microphone and make it sound good with nothing more than a cheap radio shack mic and whatever recording software you already have.
Step 1: Choose Your Amp
There’s a reason why every guitarist has an arsenal of amps lying around their house. Every amp sounds different and reacts differently to the guitar that you play through it.
The first thing that you need to figure out is which of those amps sounds best for what you’re recording. If you’re recording distortion, does it sound better through the clean channel or the overdrive channel? Does it need any EQ tweaking? How much gain do you really need?
What I like to do is spend some time with my guitar making recordings of myself playing through each amp that I own until I find the one that sounds best. When I’m ready to record, I set up my mic exactly as I did while making the
Guitar Amplifiers and Speaker Cabinets
There are some general rules of thumb that can help you decide which amp and speaker cabinet to buy. First, remember the more power an amplifier has, the louder the volume. Second, the greater the number of speakers in the cabinet, the more sound will be projected. Third, if you’re looking for a heavier, crunchy sound, choose a combo amp with a closed back cabinet; open back cabinets project less bass and have a cleaner sound with better highs.
It’s important to know what type of sound you want before purchasing an amplifier. Do you want a clear, clean tone? Or do you want something that’s heavier and crunchier? Once you’ve determined this, visit your local music store or search online for amplifiers that offer those specific characteristics. If you’re still not sure which is best for you, ask someone at the music store or call their customer service line for assistance.
1. Guitar amps are a lot more versatile than you think.
Most guitar players have a limited knowledge of what their amp is capable of. Other than using the gain knob to create distortion, most guitarists don’t even realize that they can use their amp as a multi-effects processor, and as a result they’re missing out on a lot of its potential. You see, in addition to having the usual controls for volume, tone and gain, many guitar amps also have built-in reverb and delay effects. Even better: some amps actually have built-in effects loops that let you plug in different effect pedals so that you can mix and match different effects and create your ideal sound. It’s important to note that when adding effects pedals to an amp’s effects loop, you’ll need to insert them after any existing effects already there (i.e., if the amp has reverb built into it, you’ll need to put your distortion pedal before the reverb). However, if your amp does not feature an effects loop then simply placing the pedal between your guitar and amp should work fine (i.e., most people place their distortion pedal right at the beginning of their chain).
1. You don’t need a lot of fancy equipment.
2. It’s okay to record with a mic in front of the amp.
3. You can use a cheap microphone for electric guitars and basses.
4. Don’t try to get the best sound you can for each part of the song.
5. Use a simple effects chain when recording electric guitars and basses. Over-thinking it will get you into trouble and make you lose focus on the performance aspect of playing an instrument and/or singing (if applicable).
6. Let your guitar player listen to themselves while they perform as much as possible; this helps them play better and will save you time during the mixing process (less editing).
7. If you don’t like what you hear after tracking, call it a day and set up again tomorrow or later in the week if you have time.”