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Electric Guitar Recording

Discussion in 'Guitars' started by InstruMETAL, Mar 12, 2009.

  1. InstruMETAL

    InstruMETAL Guest

    Hi i'm pretty new to recording and I record my electric guitar with vocals using Pro Tools M-Powered. My gear is... Guitar: Ibanez RG2EX1, Amp: Line 6 Spider 3 75w, Audio Interface: M-Audio Mobile Pre USB, Mic: MXL 992. I've been recording my songs and the quality is great for clean songs and i'm pretty pleased with vocal quality, but i've noticed the electric guitar isn't what i want it to be. I'm wondering what I can do to upgrade my electric guitar sound quality when recording. So far the way I record my guitar is I put my MXL 992 mic in the center of my amp about 2 inches away and record. I find i get the best quality that way but i'm still not that satisfied. So it seems to me like I need to upgrade something but i'm not sure, is it the mic I need to upgrade or would a whole new audio interface that would give me that perfect electric guitar sound I'm trying to achieve. Or is it even my method... I'm just not sure at this point. What can I do in order to record my guitar with the best possible quality? I don't have the most money to spend on gear but I would like to know what I could do with a limit of about $1000.
  2. jg49

    jg49 Well-Known Member

    Before you spend $1000.
    Technique, technique, or technique.

    If you are not easily offended you might want to read this http://www.scribd.com/doc/2067256/Slippermans-Guide

    Multiple mic tracking is my preferred method, mic placement is GOD, but amp settings are very important esp. distortion levels, tone and volume because for recording it is best to tweak a sound that works for the studio that is not necessarily what you might use live.
  3. InstruMETAL

    InstruMETAL Guest

    I'm perfectly happy with my amps sound and i do double both the mic and guitar tracks in my recordings... its just the recorded quality of the amp doesn't seem the same to me as it is when i'm playing it live. I think i need a new mic or interface but i'm not sure which would help the quality more...
  4. jg49

    jg49 Well-Known Member

    Did you read the article?

    Let me get this straight you like your amp sound but not the recording? You don't think that the mic is recording what it is "hearing" but something else?

    I don't know anything about MXL mics buy a SM57 ($99.00)and if that doesn't solve the problem, guess what? It is your technique.
  5. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    Dynamic mics are a more standard choice for close micing a guitar amp. I don't expect this to completely solve the problem, but it seems like a logical first step. The 57 is a very "standard" mic and a lot of the advice you will get will be based on using it.
  6. dave_p

    dave_p Active Member

    i love the condescending tone toward the artist/musician, you know the people who actually keep recording engineers in business.

    i think the bitterness stems from the fact some engineers are just wannabe musicians who lack any musical talent, and could never be in a band themselves.

    i mean really, who made who? if there wasnt anything to record, what would this putz be doing?

    back on topic, good technical information. just a piss poor delivery and indicative of the small penis/no talent rage a lot of engineers suffer.
    at least einstein with the canoe paddle probably gets laid regularly.
  7. ouzo77

    ouzo77 Active Member

    you do have a line6 spider, don't you? have you tried to record the direct out? it is a modelling amp with speaker simulation. maybe that's the sound you're looking for.
  8. jg49

    jg49 Well-Known Member

    Geez dave_p you sure got me pegged, including my penis size. Maybe my delivery was poor it was 4:54 am and I hadn't had coffee yet, that is something I will think about.

    You know nothing about me so let me clue you in. I have been playing guitar for over thirty years and I am definitely a better musician than a recording engineer. I've been in so many bands I've lost count. I spent three and half hours just two days ago in someone else's pro studio as a paid session man putting rhythm tracks on someone elses original music.

    The things I said about amp settings came from working in other studios and it came from enraged engineers.

    Maybe I too can get laid one day, here's to hoping.
  9. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    I think he's referring to Slipperman.
  10. InstruMETAL

    InstruMETAL Guest

    yeah i've tried direct recording and it doesn't sound too good, it sounds way better with the mic for some reason... and yes i do think the mic is taking away something from the sound of what i hear from the amp... i was wondering if maybe this mic wasn't meant to record amps and only acoustic because it sounds good on the clean channel, and i also thought maybe the m-audio mobile pre isnt very high quality because it was only like $150...
  11. ouzo77

    ouzo77 Active Member

    i don't think it's the interface. it wouldn't make such a big difference. more likely it's the mic or/and placement.
  12. Guitarfreak

    Guitarfreak Well-Known Member

    To tell you the truth, after visiting this site for a few weeks, I started to double track my guitars. Instead of just doing double takes I would mic my amp and also take a DI at the same time. You will need to do a little work to get the DI to sound good, but the two tones will mesh together nicely and sound fatter than if you didn't.

    EDIT: I too have the same problem of the clean channel sounding good and the distortion sounds $*^t. Try double tracking^ It helped me. Also how do you mic your cab? Could we get an audio sample of how it sounds? Then maybe we could help you better.
  13. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    Even a fairly cheap pre should do an OK job on distorted electric guitar. The distortion compresses the sound to nice little blocks that are pretty easy for a pre to handle. (Hardest things are sharp transients like drums and subtle shades of vocal (which the human ear is particularly attuned to).) A good pre may be an improvement, but it won't fix a bad sounding electric guitar.

    A lot of high frequency energy in distorted guitar and an inexpensive LDC used close to the speaker is my chief suspect. (Though I have not used the MXL, so this is just a guess.) Again, an SM57 just seems an obvious thing to try. If you can borrow one, good. But it's about as low risk a purchase as I can think of.
  14. jg49

    jg49 Well-Known Member

    The slipperman article (or rant if you prefer) contains a lot of good information about recording distorted guitars while at the same time being a rambling spew. The concepts are important however. There is also a great Sound on Sound (recording magazine) article which I can't seem to find a link to that goes into great depth re: mic placements, (center speaker, edge, off axis, distance) and has sound clips for each.

    Your interface should give you very good results and is the last thing I would look at as Bob Rodgers and Ouzo77 both said.

    Getting the right "sound" in recording is a number of intensely variable things, mic placement being incredibly high on the list. The thing that most guitarists don't understand is that amp settings that sound good in a room are affected by the room itself, bone cavitation (which is how we hear things thru our bodies esp. at high volumes) and the fact that we don't actually have our ears right in front of the speaker like the mic. So it is important to adjust the tonality to work with the recording medium.

    So how do you do that? Experimentation. I have found that the old adage "less is more" is especially true in the studio re: settings. I don't know if you are talking about a little "crunch" blues overdrive or death metal dist.

    Half to 2/3 of the drive I use on stage seems to work best, I use no reverb when recording as I think it is best to add it afterwards, same for delays. Tone set more towards flat than boosted to get my tone. One thing you said that keeps me pushing this idea is that you are not satisfied with your amp out direct sound. The best recordings IMO are made mic'ing speakers but you should be able to get a pretty good sound with the line six w/o as it is a modeling amp.

    I know a number of truly great guitarists that use practice amps for recording in part because they can drive them w/o high volume and small speaker size seems to help. These same guys would never gig like this.

    Edit: This is the S.O.S. article http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/aug07/articles/guitaramprecording.htm
  15. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    There are two truths to keep in mind when making a recording...."Mic dont lie" and "$*^t in=$*^t out".

    For a moment there I thought davep was going all JP22 on us....

    But for those who are carrying around their own chip, this would be the logical reaction to someone really trying to ferret out the problem in order to help.

    By your nik I'm assuming your doing Metal of some sort. Probably highly saturated and distorted from the get go and you're looking for that 'clarity' in the distortion that you're getting in those 'clean' sections when everything calms down for a moment before the storm....

    How am I doing?

    Mr jg49 has been hitting it square with you from the beginning as have all the other posters.

    This is all about the source.

    This where you're lacking.

    Oh sure, it sounds good to your 'ear' in the room at the volume youre working at....but the ear is a funny thing. Especially about overly saturated,compressed sounds. It tends to eliminate ,without any thought, some of the seriously complex overtones that eminate from such a source in order to process it in a pleasant way.

    The mic has no such filter. Maybe not the best mic in the world....maybe not the best interface....etc...

    Doesnt matter. Mic dont lie. Its what it is hearing with a few odd anomolies of its own, but certainly not enough to completely screw-up the sound youre hearing.

    You can throw money at it till you're blue in the face....and broke....but if the source isnt attended too and looked at from the standpoint of a recording source, which has all these 'other' anomolies associated with this, then you're gonna find a better sounding sack-o-crap.....but still have a sack-o-crap. $*^t in=$*^t out.

    So not to get you to thinking that the awful recording engineer is trying to alter your vision of your art, I'll just say theres physics involved and capturing your art in a positive light is a little more detailed than simply throwing up a mic and away we go. And THIS is my art.

    ESPECIALLY for a complex signal like DISTORTED GUITAR.

    Take the advice already given.

    Back that heater off a whole lot. Turn it down. Open up the mic pre a bit more. TURN IT DOWN.

    Incredibly heavy, thick, richly doused in harmonic layers of sound can be achieved with a Champ amp and a single mic.

    But you have to think like a mic.
  16. Link555

    Link555 Well-Known Member

    Great post Davedog. Being a guitar player first (before the recording bug bit me) I always seem to spend more time on guitar tone than any other instrument. I find it the most difficult to get right, or at least to match what is in my head.

    All I can say is take your time and listen closely.
    For close micing:
    Move the mic is small steps.
    Use the mic like a microscope and map out your speaker.
    Once you the know each speakers response, put the mic where you think it will sound the best for the mix.

    When you add in room mics or distant mics:
    Again use the mic like a microscope,
    Record the changes in sound relative to the distance you move the mic.
    Make measured moves for the mic .

    It takes time and great attention to detail, but at least it is methodically and repeatable.
    There is no shortcut that can do that for you.
  17. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    Let me start by saying that I haven't really recorded a lot of heavily distorted metal guitar, so what I'm going to say is speculative. But I keep hearing different versions of this complaint about the disconnect between what people experience when hearing their amp live and what they hear when it is recorded. My guess is that a big source of the problem is that unlike most other sound sources, we don't just "hear" a loud, distorted guitar directly from the amp. We feel the vibrations in many other parts of our body than just our inner ears. As Dave says, the mic doesn't lie. That's basically what your amp sounds like. It's just not the same experience as feeling the amp directly. The basic problem is that the best sound and the best feel doesn't necessarily come at the same place. So - as several people have suggested - rethink how to make your amp sound its best to a microphone 2" from the speaker. Go back to your current settings when you play live.

    Side Note: Fortunately for me, this isn't a problem for those of us who play little 15 watt amplifiers whose idea of distortion is driving the preamp to 7 and pulling back the master volume back to 2. The sound really is in our ears, not the feel of the wind fluttering our pants. (Been there, done that, got the tinnitus.)
  18. dave_p

    dave_p Active Member

    yes, thats who i was referring to

    and while the advice was certainly correct, and the technical information priceless, i still stand by my assertion that the delivery sucked.

    and some of the best (recorded)distorted guitar tone i have ever heard came from a little mesa studio 22. those things are worth their weight in gold.
  19. dave_p

    dave_p Active Member

    i wasnt referring to you

    btw, i live in CT too. i have been sucking at bass for 20 years or so, done some stints in some crappy bar bands, and have NEVER been recorded in a pro studio. i have worked in one. maybe we will bump into each other one day.
  20. Guitarfreak

    Guitarfreak Well-Known Member

    where in CT are you guys? I am from WH near Savin Rock.

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