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Ironically, I have recorded friends bands and my own band that have half stacks with huge live sounds, using top of the line hughes and kettner, Mesa Boogie, and Peavy amps and cabs. Most of this is rock, hardcore, metal. etc. They sound HUGE live, talk about a show in a coffee shop.

The thing with these half stacks, is they are loud. They are meant for loud situations where the sound can expand. They sound better when the tubes are opened up, and the volume and gain is cranked quite enough. No, I don't think we turned up the Mesa pasted the 2 on the master volume. EVER!

I record it and I think, ugh, too much gain, not clean enough, doesn't blend well, sounds like its being blasted. sounds blaaaaaaaaah

Then I record songs using my Kustom 16W practice amp and my Ibanez which at one point was split in half! YES, broken! But still works!

"Dude, your song sounds so clean, it sounds great! The guitar sounds really good!"

"How come our guitar doesn't sound that good on recordings?"

What the freaking hell. Shouldn't an awesome Mesa Boogie Triple Rectifier sound way more awesome than my practice amp?

Where am I going with this you say? I've come to the conclusion that you don't need all this high tech top of the line BS. My practice amp sounds damn fine. Who needs 100 knobs and features when you can just get a practice amp and a blazing guitar that sounds just as good. If you want something amazing for recording, get a Roland 30W cube.

My observation through experience is this:

When tracking guitar, use small "practice" amps. Preferably under 60W. Keep it low low low, stick a SM57 straight up to it and adjust and mix accordingly.

Now this is when you say "Haha, DUH. Stupid kid, I've been in the business for 100 years cause I'm damn old and know everything" (that was sarcasm and exaggeration for you older engineers)

Well, does anyone wanna prove me wrong and tell me that using half stacks have a bigger advantage other than small practice amps during recording? This is a great day for me, because I'm a student, I mean that literally, I am a sound arts student learning more and more through experience. I think thats the best way to learn.

I just thought I'd share my experience with everyone today. And I want to hear what people think. Maybe I am doing something totally wrong. but my Kustom 16W always comes out clean. I used a Cube and loved that even more! When I record a band, I'm going to tell them to leave the half stack at home and bring their practice amp.


hxckid88 Fri, 03/16/2007 - 17:01

you can actually go to

All songs I recorded were with my Kustom 16W amp with the gain on about half (solos done at full) volume was very very low. If I put on headphones I can't hear the actual speaker.

Keep in mind I am using a crappy entry level Ibanez GRX that was split in half and glued back together (intonation is hard to readjust cause I have to do it so often).

Recent bands I have recorded include and my old band both of those bands we mic'ed their half stacks. I'm not particularly happy with the drum sounds, very amature but trust me, I learned alot haha. Anywho, look at those for samples of at least guitar.

anonymous Tue, 03/20/2007 - 06:11

I think the old adage is if it sounds good to you it's good enough! If you like what you're doing now more than other techniques you've tried then it's the best for you. It's important to try different methods and then pick your favourite, if you've got all the tools you can use the right one for the job. Posting about what you like is good because it might turn other people onto things they haven't tried before. Old or young, there's always stuff you don't know.

hxckid88 Tue, 03/20/2007 - 07:24

very very true. I just wanted to give some people something to talk about, I was interested in hearing thoughts from other people.

I was actually passing the SSL studios at my school, and I was just taking a peek inside the guitar corner and what do you know, everytime I pass by it looks like theyre using the same Fender 2x12, mainly for those indie bands in jazz styled groups. Can't wait to get in there. ha

But yeah, I'm sticking with my small combo amps =P

anonymous Wed, 03/28/2007 - 15:00

I like the idea that crappy equipment + inovation sounds better than High dollar equipment. Isnt that the true art anyway.

Yeah man if the cheesy amp works use it! There is no real advantage to using a bigger amp other than personal preference. My experience as an engineer is you wont get too many guitar players that like YOUR amp. They all have specific qualities dialed in to their own equipment that they need in order to sound like they do. So recording a guitar players half stack or burly tube amp is necessary in many of my situations.

Granted all mikes have different attributes, but imagine you use the same microphone for all guitar recordings for this example.... I have noticed through experience that mic placement and surrounding environment play a key role when recording guitar. Depending on the qualities you are looking for. Generally, Distortion sounds great when recorded in a padded area and reverb is added in post production, and clean guitar sounds great when recorded in a space more prone to echo and reverb. If your amp requires the volume knobs to be cranked to achieve a certain sound, the mic should be farther from the cone. I measure how far away my mikes are and try to stick to what works. Also, take the time to test the raw signal before comiting. I always burn a raw signal test track for the Guitar player as well and get his input too...after all its his track.

anonymous Thu, 03/29/2007 - 13:23

"Dude, your song sounds so clean, it sounds great! The guitar sounds really good!"

"How come our guitar doesn't sound that good on recordings?!"

"The thing with these half stacks, is they are loud. They are meant for loud situations where the sound can expand. "

hit it dead on here. i use to record on a 80w 2X12 trace elliot and it sounded really clean (actually too clean couldnt punch out leads on it). from what i understand theres a sweet spot in volume and lower watt amps get to that sweet spot at lower volumes (obvious way of stating it yes i know). stuff to do with the speaker i cant explain it as well as other people. plus mesas are gain heaven to begin with, theyre meant to be played at 11. i will say you can get a great clean sound out of a peavey, the 5150 (now6505) lines are incrediby clean even with the gain cranked. generally speaking though most amps perform very well around 7, just after you get all the drive you can get out of it and before the knob only starts adding more fuzz. if its lacking you can always try throwing an overdrive in front of it, thats usually cleaned up the sound (adding warmth and reducing mud, just make sure the gain on the pedal isnt up much its just for color not drive).