Hello guys, if you have an electric guitar and guitar amplifier then you maybe interested to record yourself at decent quality in your home environment. This can be done in various ways - what you'll need is a computer, an audio interface and a microphone.
The point is we can even do nice guitar tracks without the real amp - just plug your guitar into Audio Interface instrument input and use Software Amp Simulations available with every DAW (Digital Audio Workstation).
But since we have that amp - why not to use it? Let's make our recording as good as possible. Because software amps - as good as they became recently - they'll probably never match hardware characteristics and response. They are perfect for quick punch-in and record some demos or music ideas, they are good for trying different sounds when arranging but that's not the subject of my post today.
Today we are going to record a REAL AMP the good old way they've been doing it for so many years.
Let's make sure you have necessary stuff ready:
- guitar & amp - I used ZION Bent T Super Strat type guitar with landed body/maple top and Joe Barden pickups. The amp is CORNFORD Hurricane 20W Combo. The other video is a ZION reverse head guitar with BOGNER XTC amp (green channel) with Ibanez Tubescreamer TS9 pedal.
- micophone - dynamic mike is our 1st choice: Shure SM57, industry standard since decades or whatever you have. The microphone I am using at home is my favourite Sennheiser E906. If your room has been adapted for acoustic recording you can add condenser microphone too. Mine is not, so I use dynamics only. They are getting sound from near field so they room characteristic is almost not present in the recording when the amp is turned up a little.
- closed headphones for monitoring if you want to record with backing tracks or metronome
- computer audio interface and computer with DAW software (more on this in the next future)
After connecting everything and making yourself as comfortable as possible to play the best of you there comes the time for "soundcheck" and microphone preamp gain adjustment. This is probably the most important part of recording engineer's job so take your time and make sure you'll get the best sound out of your amp. Place the microphone as close to the amp/cabinet speaker as possible. Then adjust the gain of mic preamp so that recorded signal has the biggest possible dynamic range without distortion. And do not mistake that with the tube amp distortion/overdrive effect which is desirable in many musical situations. What I mean now is the "digital' distortion of the signal being recorded. If you set the microphone input gain too high then the signal will be too loud for Analog-Digital converter in your interface and the resulted recording will have unpleasant artifacts which are impossible to correct in post-recording production process.
Check the pictures of recorded signals of various levels. Picture on the left shows correct signal level - there is enough "headroom" - distance between signal peaks and top/bottom of audio dynamic range. Opposite to the picture on the right where you see the signal got too much gain and it's exceeding the track window which means you will hear also very unpleasant artifacts and the audio recorded will be actually useless.
When this is done there is the most pleasant part of our job - play the music and enjoy it.