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Best way to mic/record electric guitar amps in the studio??

Discussion in 'Guitars' started by Playjerise, May 22, 2006.

  1. Playjerise

    Playjerise Guest

    Hey all,

    Just wanting to hear everyones thoughts on their preffered method of recording heavily distorted electric guitar (lets say a marshall JCM2000 stack) in the studio.

    What are your preffered mic options and why?

    How do you all get a phat crunchy guitar sound..EQ/layering/panning etc??

    Would be good to hear some suggestions as I have a project coming up.

    Thanks all

  2. took-the-red-pill

    took-the-red-pill Active Member

    Well, I ain't got no marshal stack, but I'm running all tubes, a Strat and a reasonably inexpensive Peavey Classic 30. I've been trying different things and multiple mics and such lately and I keep coming back to:

    -a 1/2" condenser about 1 foot away from the speaker and a tad off centre.

    -I play 3 identical passes, panned L-C-R

    -I might add a hair of 4.5KhZ. Lately I've been leaving the bottom end EQ in and have the bass follow the guitar exactly. They haven't been conflicting so far.

    -I throw in a bit of chorus to taste, and leave out the verb.

    -Oh, and even though it seems counter intuitive, I turn things down at the amp, both the pre and post, and it seems to sound better, more balls, than running flat out and loud.

    -I've found I can lay off the compressor and the chunky palmed notes still come through for me. Maybe a sniff of compression, but not much is necessary.

    It's simple, but it floats my boat.

    I once asked a similar question and the guys basically said you should get the tone, effects, and sound you want at the amp, the way the guitarist wants to sound, and then just mic that sound and run pretty much what is coming out of the box. It seems to have worked for me.

    Oh, and remember, you always have to hold your tongue the right way. And as everyone knows, the most important thing while mixing is the colour of your socks.

  3. Nirvalica

    Nirvalica Guest

    yes. this is especially true with heavier music. i find that black socks with a gold toe really give the guitars a heavy sound in mixing. whatever you do, don't wear white socks when mixing. my second fav choice, believe it or not, would be pink socks. they bring out pinch harmonics really well.

    for holding your tongue the right way, i find if you just open your mouth and kinda just stick/flop your tongue out like a dog does on a hot day, it improves the recorded sound. the high frequencies hit the tongue and get stuck in the little crevaces (sp?) to really smooth out the guitar tracks. try it, and let us know how it works out.
  4. Artifex

    Artifex Guest

    I mix barefoot. Mabye this is why my mixes tend to lack 'warmth'.
  5. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Find the best speaker in the stack.

    Run a multiple number of mics....three is a good number

    Record several takes of the same passage

    Each passage ,cut EQ particular sections of the low mids and use LESS distortion than you think it should have, decreasing this each time.

    If you're on a computer, sub-bus all of these with a separate compression.

    Blend to taste.

    Will this make it LARGE?

    try it before you answer.

    Thank me later.
  6. took-the-red-pill

    took-the-red-pill Active Member

    Mr Dog

    Cool, I do the 3 seperate passes, but I haven't tried different levels of distortion. Good to try new things.

    By the way, not to derail the topic from our questioner, but do you have approximate locations for those three mics that you like to use, and reasons for those locations? Jest curious.

    Pink socks bring out the pinch harmonics? HAH!!! NEWBIE! everybody knows it's red ones that do that.

    As for the high frequencies getting caught in the crevaces of your tongue...I have to go change my shorts now and clean up the puddle. :lol: :lol: :lol:

    Cheers mates.
  7. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    If I want a particularly big fat nasty sound, I'll sometimes use a Sennheiser MD421. It has a broader response with more articulation than the venerable SM57 has. It's got that presence rise that adds to the crunch and a more prominent low-frequency response to make it sound twice as big as an SM57 can.

    I've always been too frightened to use my precious ribbon microphones on death metal. I'll use them on jazz guitarist. They're sweet and smooth with a great degree of accuracy.

    Distortedly yours
    Ms. Remy Ann David
  8. Playjerise

    Playjerise Guest


    I like the idea of the 421.

    When you say 3 passes - do you mean three takes?

    Explain to the young and eager.

  9. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Passes=takes=sweat under the cans...etc.etc.

    Placement of three(perhaps) mics on a guitar cabinet......

    This is something that it helps to have a friend and several good sounding headphones and a decent way to plug em in at the source...in this case the said guitar amp thingy.

    Your friend is going to move the mics, ONE AT A TIME, in very very small increments until you find the optimum placement for each style of mic thats set up.

    Each mic has its OWN TRACK.....

    I will usually have some of the standard mics for this.. In this case I would dig around in the bottom of the old mic drawer, and get out my favorite SM57. This is the very first mic I will place. Even if I NEVER USE IT IN THE MIX! Its a point of reference for me as I know exactly when it hits that spot. I then will leave it alone. NEVER TOUCH THE P.O.R. mic. If you are a second on my project and you touch the P.O.R. mic in any way, you will immediately be sent on some coffee run/scotch collection patrol, or you may have to clean the bathrooms. SO....dont touch the .....etc etc...

    If its a very very heavy track and the guitar sound has a lot of bass in it, I will then put up a fast mic with lots of low-end. An ATM25 is perfect for this as would be an MD421 Senn, Electrovoice RE20, and even an AKGD112. I'm gonna have to EQ the 112 but thats what those knobs are for. Your friend is going to move this mic in small increments also.

    Did I mention this will all be done while the guitarist is wanking off something fierce. I'm not talking idle wanking, but IN FACT rehearsing the part he/she is gonna play. Amazing huh. Did I also mention why the headphones? Got it yet? And did I also mention that you MUST have a way to directly talk to your friend whos out in the room endangering his hearing just so you can get that amazing guitar sound? Of course HE has the phones on......unless you have your set-up in the same room in which case you BOTH have on headphones........simple really.

    When this mic is settled in and sounding like GAWDSOWNROCKSTARGITAR, then we're ready to add the 'color' to the proceedings.

    I do this with a couple of special condensers. Your choice here may vary. I use an adulterated ADK A51 ModelV. Its cardioid so I tend to tilt it and off axis this one some. Realize that these mics are all in the same approximate area and you have to be able to check and change the phase if need be. A KEL HM1 sounds good in this position as will any reatively dark and accurate mic. Like I said its all about the color .

    At this point your friend is really sick of listening to the wanker over and over so its beer time. You can add ANOTHER condenser. This one would be in the room and used as a mic to create size. This where I like the cheap stuff. Studio Projects B3,C3, AKG C2000, C1000, etc etc. This is also a mic that will benefit from large moves until you find a realtively good spot and then move it in smaller increments until it goes BANG...and there it is, Bob's yer uncle. Start four to six feet out and have lots of gain available. This is also a mic you can compress the HOLYBEJESUS out of. You will also have to time align this one....you can do this later as long as you dont feed it into the phones whilst the WankerKing is tracking. This can cause some confusion...and we certainly dont want the 'Star' confused...

    Have fun and buy your friend a drink for doing all that moving. Remember, it only taks a silly millimeter to make or break a great guitar sound.

    One other tip. Isolate the cabinet from the floor as best possible. The Auralex Pads for this work GREAT!

    peaceout Dadogg
  10. MadTiger3000

    MadTiger3000 Active Member

    " One other tip. Isolate the cabinet from the floor as best possible. The Auralex Pads for this work GREAT!"

    I have been playing guitar and bass for 26 years, and been a home studio recording enthusiast for about 3 years, and I have never seen this gem.

    I remember why I check RO daily!!!
  11. Great thread and very good tips!
  12. Sidhu

    Sidhu Active Member

    Remmy records death!!!! >>>> ????

    Wwwwooooooooooooooo !!!!!!!

  13. took-the-red-pill

    took-the-red-pill Active Member

    By 'time align' my newbie brain thinks you mean moving the track back 5 or 6 milliseconds so it aligns with the original mic? Is that what you mean? If so why would it be bad to have them that far apart in the old time line? Also my software, to my knowledge, will only do so to the nearest MS, and I would think that if things were a 1/4 or 1/2 MS off, they would sound pretty wonky.

    Maybe I have this all wrong.

  14. twon

    twon Guest

    yeah thats it, but you would move the room mic track forward, to compensate for the delay of the sound getting there from the amp. if they are not aligned you will get phase cancellation

  15. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Yeah....just so. You only have to worry about the room mic, and only if its obviously out of time. Shouldnt be a lot and it might be perfect dependant on placement. Afterall, the room mic is all about getting size to the track, and a few milliseconds is what you would be looking for. Time-align only needs to happen as a correction in this case and only if needs be. The phase is going to be the thing you must look out for the most with the close mics.
  16. alimoniack

    alimoniack Guest

    Love it


    Nice post dude!

    That procedure is exactly what we do here in Bonnie Scotland, I love it! From cone selection (a deafening process), crawling about a lot with cans on, down to the 57, EV RE20, cheapo condenser, & isolating cabs from the floor. I think every step is a total nececessity especially with saturated guitar sounds. I also spend a bit of time obsessively tightening up every mic stand fitting really tight and applying Gaffa (duct tape), your point about preventing any mic movement is critical. Put a police line around it...

    Oh, and the point about beer. Very important.

    Some highly personal opinions (ie random & to be taken with a pinch of salt) regarding saturation, amps and recording:

    To me, any Marshall head fitted with 5881's sounds like fizzy wasp music with any significant amount of gain channel preamp vol, but a JCM 800 or a pre-'95 900 fitted with EL-34's would probably sound heavy were one to merely haphazardly "bung a 57 on it" as they say (kerAAANG!!). Is it just me? I say this because I agree that as a general rule with loud stuff distortion will always be perceived to have increased, I reckon (on some really saturated sounds) by anything up to almost 20% after it hits tape and the "shred" factor makes some newer marshalls sound like triple rectifier mesa's when recorded. Basically, less is more, as Davedog already said. Of course I'm an amp snob who likes old things, I like heavy sounds but there are clients who want a bright, fizzy, crispy wash of riffage like a million crisp packets being opened at once*. Anyway the point is amp choice itself can be a factor if you have options.

    Also, want real chunk on those riffs? (ChuGGaChuDDunGaDrrraanG!!!! for example) Try analog tape at some point, it adds a certain savagery to hvy gtr parts. The slight, yet fat compression and touch of harmonic colouration which tape provides gives that "classic" crunch effortlessly.

    I could easily sit here and yak about guitar sounds for days....shall we?

    Have fun with it,

    * Note: "crisps" is a British term for "chips". "Chips" is a British term for "French fries", which originated in Belgium and so should be referred to as "Belgian fries". Thank you for your time.
  17. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Quote:"Oh, and the point about beer. Very important. "

    And also:"To me, any Marshall head fitted with 5881's sounds like fizzy wasp music with any significant amount of gain channel preamp vol, but a JCM 800 or a pre-'95 900 fitted with EL-34's would probably sound heavy were one to merely haphazardly "bung a 57 on it" as they say ...."

    Then this:"Basically, less is more, as Davedog already said. Of course I'm an amp snob who likes old things, I like heavy sounds ......"

    This is what its all about children.

    Around here, there's a LOT of EL34 and EL84 powered stuff. Early JCM800...Carr Hammerhead...Bogner Metropolis...Fender Blues Jr...Fender Blues DeVille w/YellowJackets...And then theres the 6550 stuff...Seymour Duncan Convertible....Marshall SuperLead100.....

    I think the difference is the perception of distortion in a large room with lots of other noises, pink and white goin on, as opposed to the clinical transposition of a mic or two or three capturing that same sound under drastically improved conditions, is a very sobering aspect for a lot of guys wanking around on the gits. All of a sudden that 'bitchin tone' aint so bitchin and is actually quite a bit out of control.

    Less is more. Gawd Bless the Scottish people and their liquor.

    (I'm a single malt guy from WAY back)

    Remember, distrtion is part amp, part perception in the subjective sense, and ALL environment .

    Mics dont lie.

    Alimoniack, yer a man after me own muthers heart.
  18. Nirvalica

    Nirvalica Guest

    i thought those fender amps were 6l6's....
  19. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Nirvalica....No sir...Blues Jr has always been EL84's and the Blues Deville we have has the YellowJackets sockets in it , changing it from 6L6 to EL84's. The 64 Fender Bassman head is quite another story!

    If you havent experienced the Blues Jr in a studio setting you're in for a serious treat.
  20. Nirvalica

    Nirvalica Guest

    have you ever used a peavey valveking in the studio? im just curious, because i own the valveking i really like the tone i get. i just wanna know how it compares to the blues junior. also, do you have any experience with that little epiphone class A all tube head thats like 5 watts and only has a volume knob - all for under $100? That looks pretty cool, and i've heard good things about it.

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