5.3 Electric Guitars

In this module we’re going to be learning some of the easiest methods to record electric guitar.

In this digital age, there have been constant advances in digital modelling technology and it’s becoming increasingly easy for anyone to plug a guitar into their DAW and record some great high quality sounds. That being said, there are also a lot of people who crave the real amp and cab tone. We will look at the two common ways to record an electric guitar.

METHOD 1: Single Close Mic

The single close mic method is probably the most common way of recording electric guitars. It involves micing up a guitar amp or speaker cabinet using just one microphone.
When it comes to mic selection, there are a few options to choose from that are all suited for different applications. The most common choice however is the SM57. As stated previously in this course, this is a dynamic mic which can handle high volumes and has good isolation. There’s a good chance that a lot of your favourite records were recorded using a single Shure SM57 on a guitar amp. It’s been an industry staple for decades.
When it comes to mic placement on your amp, there are a few main points to consider in order to shape your tone. Varying the distance from the centre of the speaker cone to the edge, will dictate how bright or dull your tone sounds. You can also point the mic off axis (angled at the speaker) to adjust how punchy your tone becomes. Finally, the closer you position your mic to the speaker, the warmer it will sound, while moving it further away will make the sound more natural and open.

METHOD 2: DI and Amp simulator.

Using a DI and Amp simulator is arguably the simplest way to record your guitar and doesn’t involve the use of an amp or microphones. As mentioned above, amp simulators have progressed immensely in how well they can capture guitar tones.
To take advantage of this technology, all you need to do is plug your guitar straight into your audio interface. You can shape the sound and tone of your guitar from inside your computer, using amp simulators. Plugins such as Native Instruments Guitar Rig, Eleven Rack, Waves GTR are all fantastic choices. It’s important to note that to achieve a smooth recording experience through amp simulators, you’ll need two things: Low Latency and enough CPU power. Latency is the amount of delay it takes for your guitar signal to be sent to the computer, processed through the amp simulator, then sent back through your speakers or headphones. Latency can be reduced by setting a small buffer size in your DAW. Your CPU power is the amount of power your computer has to run your amp simulator plugin. Some can be quite power/processor heavy. However, most modern computers adequately handle minimal processing.

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