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how loud amp do I need to record distorted guitars , W spekaing. ?

Discussion in 'Guitars' started by tommyknocker, Nov 8, 2013.

  1. tommyknocker

    tommyknocker Member

    how much Watt's should a guitar amp be, to record electric distorted guitars, in studio, professional, or home ? (is there a minimum... standard, or maximum Watts ? )
  2. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    Many's the hit that has been recorded using a 15W practice amp. It's the tone you are after, not the volume. Get the tone you want at a low volume level and you have the makings of a good track.
  3. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    Tube amps in particular seem to like to be cranked up anywhere from halfway to 11, to get the power tubes working. so whether it's a 150w stack or a 5w practice amp, theres a certain place where they come to life, and thats usually when the power tubes are working fairly hard.

    so in a place like a home especially, there are a few good reasons to use a small amp. like boswell said, you'll get to the sweet spot alot quieter. you'll have a better chance at no pissing the neighbors off. people around the house, even 15w tube is enough to annoy them, especially at night. also w/ a loud amp like a stack your gonna excite alot of unpleasant rattles, be it pictures on the wall, the walls themselves, shelfs, ect. although to be faur i never had any issues w/ the mic picking up a mesa full stack from an inch or 2 away, it's just too much sound for the wall rattles to creep in, except for like chunky pauses and jugga jugga chunk, type riffs, usually the walls will rattle after you stop the strings w/ a palm mute.
  4. TheBones

    TheBones Active Member

    yeah if you don't live in the middle of nowhere by yourself you should probly look into something that's not a tube amp. Even the "little' ones don't sound good unless the person on the other end of the house is irritated. Go to your local music store and check out some of the smaller modeling amps. Look online too, but check them out in person as well. Some sound much better than others. another option would be amp modeling software, i haven't been able to get much of anything that i was in love with out of that sort of thing. Though some people can make them sound good.
  5. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    i think you need the biggest loudest amp you can get. put it in the smallest room you can. turn it up all the way. mash the mic into the speaker as far as possible. crank the mic pres gain all the way up and attenuate the output. also you should record the track as loud as you can all the way up to zero if you can. cream everything, all the way in, turn up the tone controls all the way and if you use a compressor push it as hard as you can. pin the needles on any devices Vu meters as well.
  6. audiokid

    audiokid Staff


    OMG. ROTF.

    I'm with Bos.

    I've wanted a pignose for years. I also love processors.
    Every guitar player has their sound. That's the sound you record.

    If they are freaks on 11, use earplugs, grab a 57/58 and hope for the best. Then, re-amp it all when they leave and tell the guitarist he/she is amazing. But, I'm assuming it is for you? Bos said it most respectfully with others to follow.

    For added topic fun, I have a VocalBooth amp enclosure on standby waiting for the 150watt screamer that have their best moments around 10PM.
  7. Kapt.Krunch

    Kapt.Krunch Well-Known Member

    A small amp, cranked, can sound HUGE with a mic stuck right up on it, and maybe even one a bit back. Ask Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, Ray Davies, etc...and just about any other big-name guitarist. Champs, Supros, etc,...small amps made some of those huge recorded sounds.

  8. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    i forgot to mention you should rip the grill cloth on the amp if it has any so you can really get the mic right up against the speaker cone ...
  9. JohnTodd

    JohnTodd Well-Known Member

    As a guitar player and amateur engineer, let me offer some input.

    Each different amp will have a sweet spot where it is sounding it's best. That usually is pretty loud.

    My 100x Marshall half-stack is great for live use because I get to crank it. Sounds like a dream. But in the studio, turning it up that loud causes problems with bleed into other mics, if present. So I always track alone.

    If I had a smaller amp, I'd use it in the studio. These guys are right, a small 5w-15w amp can sound HUGE when recorded correctly. Rookies will try to put too much treble on the amps (or later with an EQ) and that makes them sound smaller. The "right amount" of treble is what is needed.

    Also, when tracking rhythm parts, backing off the distortion to about 75% will make the rhythm guitars sound much bigger than full distortion will. This is assuming you want big heavy rhythm guitars in the mix.

    During leads/solos, 100% distortion may be the only way the player can play fluidly, and that's OK. Just watch out for that treble component here, too.

    Finally, an old trick: When cranking a guitar amp, put it in a room that "suits" it. There is a particular type of desirable compression that occurs when an amp is loud enough to "drive" the whole room. The air in the room interferes with the speaker cone moving, and this makes a neat, tight, compressed sound. Finding the right size room that still sounds good can be a tricky thing, though. Watch out for resonances that will muddy it up.

    As always, none of the above are absolute rules. Adjust and season to taste to get the sound you want.

    Hope this helps!
  10. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Those of you perhaps reading this for the first time please understand that Kurt is being totally facetious. He knows what hes doing and would never actually do that in his studio.

    Nor would I.

    3 to 5 watts is about all it takes to get that huge guitar sound. And a low-wattage efficient speaker too. The point is to have the power section working on the amp. Amps with preamp gain controls can be brought into distortion rather easily but it is preamp distortion and not the kind of harmonics you get from the power amp section of the amp really heating up the output tube(s). The environment has a lot to do with this concept of huge guitar sounds. I like a 'neutral' room....not dead, but one where to position of the amp in the room makes a lot of difference. Multiple mics can also give the size of the guitar sound a bump towards the better. A close mic or two and then a room mic can help. The thing about room mics is placement of them is so subjective. A lot of guys never really spend any time listening to the source in the room to find the sweet spot. They just throw up a mic of some sort away from the source and then deal with whatever is produced. Learn what the sweet spot is. It requires time and an associate to wank away on the guitar while you move the mic around the room while under the phones. This is a lot easier if the amp isn't 100 watts.

    And then theres relative distortion.

    What you think is the right amount of distortion when recorded and played back may sound spitty and pitchy and basically awful. Confusing because your ear said it sounded great when you dialed it in. Mics dont lie. Every nuance is magnified when they do their thing. Think for a minute where you HEARD it sound great in the room. Put a mic there. Call it good. Also. Dial back the distortion when recording. It makes everything larger and its amazing how distorted a very small amount of distortion sounds through a guitar amp into a mic.
  11. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    i would hope everyone understood i was being sarcastic. and facetious.

    all of this ... recording arts; is such a subjective topic. opinions abound and vary widely. what sounds good to some of us doesn't to to others. the best advice for anyone is to record, record again and then record more. find out what works for YOU.

    that nothing is across the board is obvious. there are tried and true techniques and then there are ways to do something that recordists keep secret. then there are varied environments. something that sounds great in one room might not work so well in other spaces. build a tool set, rooms, gear, techniques and then learn to apply them. usually simpler is better.
  12. Rumy73

    Rumy73 Active Member

    Just another perspective... Speaker size is something to consider. An amp with 1x12 speaker will produce a fuller sound with a better bottom end than say 10 or 8 inch speaker. For that reason, I use 1x12 for rhythm guitars. A good lead sound, however, can be had on a smaller speaker.

    Tube amps can sound nice at lower volumes. It depends on the sound you are after. If you feel you need to crank it, consider building an isolation box (only for cabinets not combo amps, as it will overheat them). Power attenuators can also be an option. Lastly, try close and far mic positions. See what sounds good. Even use two mics, making sure to handle phasing issues correctly.

    If all this fails, you could try direct recording. I encourage a preamp or amp emulator (sans amp, blackstar, line pod, etc.) and applying your favorite amp sim program. The preamp or emulator will "warm" your guitar sound.

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