Recording Solo Jazz Guitar

Discussion in 'Guitars' started by jobu2u, Apr 30, 2005.

  1. jobu2u

    jobu2u Guest

    Hello everyone,

    I posted a similar topic a while back in the "Recording Studio" forum, and as of late I have a bit more gear to choose from this time. So, that said, here goes...

    How might you all utilize the following gear in order to record a professional Jazz guitarist playing *solo* electric guitar?

    The guitarist will be playing a Gibson 335 through a Fender Twin Reverb (I also have a Mesa/Boogie DC-5 here at our disposal).

    The Room:

    I have a small tracking room (9ft x 11ft) separate from my control/mixing area. The tracking area is well treated with DIY mineral fiber panels and is quite dead for the most part. As I live on a busy street this would definately be the most quiet place to track with mics. I usually use a touch of convolution reverbs during mixing to give instruments "space."

    The Mics:

    1x AT 4033
    1x Oktava ML-52
    2x Cad E-100
    1x Kel HM-1
    1x MXL V69
    2x Oktava MC-012
    2x Senn MD421
    1x Senn E609 silver
    2x SM57
    2x AKG D112

    I don't yet have any mic pre's to write home about. I have been getting pretty good results using my Presonus M80. And sometimes I also run vocals and bass through my ART Pro VLA for a bit of warmth.

    What primarily concerns me about this project is that it's only one guitar. I have recorded electric guitar many times that would end up in larger mixes--but never just on its own. So, any ideas would be greatly appreciated! :D

  2. JoeH

    JoeH Well-Known Member

    Jun 22, 2004
    Philadelphia, PA/ Greenville, DE
    Home Page:
    Well, you've got plenty of mics to at least make a start, so I'm not going to tell you which one specifically to use...that comes later.

    For right now, I think you need to have a serious chat with your artist and see what he/she is expecting to hear. Ask them about THEIR favorite sounds, who are their influences, who they emulate, who they dislike, and what they THINK you're going to do for them.

    Ask for an example of the style they intend to do....Pat Methany electric jazz guitar? Django Rhienhart style? Freddie Greene? Wes Montgomery? Tuck and Patti? (sp?) Eric Johnson?

    Also, you may want to consider some direct (DI) sound as well. And, you may want to mic the strings themselves (no joke) as the guitar will generate sound all on its own regardless of the amp. (I LOVE hearing plectrum sounds on guitar strings, even when it's amped to the max....) It's a neat trick that's been done on many recordings for that little extra zing - the sound of the pick hitting the strings in the air out to the mic; NOT through a pickup & and an amp. It can work the same way with Jazz, if you work it tastefully.

    The fender Twin is notorious for its 2-3k resonance area; like most of those guitar amps with dual 12" spkrs and no tweeter, it's a great amp for cutting through live bands & hot mixes (BB King's favorite, among countless others), but it may NOT be the best sound for a Jazz recording, at least all on its own. You may want to start with the sound of the cabinet mic'd up in the traditional way (with an SM57, front and maybe a mic on the open back as well, or experiment with the other stuff), but again, you may still want to blend in some DI or room mics.

    I recently did a remix of a Jazz combo for a client who was upset with the mix he had from the original sessions. When I heard the raw CD, the "Jazz" guitar had no top end at all; it was muddy, thumpy and almost completely non-descript. (Someone's bad idea of what a "Jazz" guitar should sound like.) I went back to "Flat" EQ and then began carefully working up some top end and a little (VERY little) sparkle, (along with a tiny little bit of plate reverb) for it to cut through when need, and to stay articulate when in the background. The client loves the "new" sound of his guitarist in the mix.

    You also mentioned some Room Sims, and these days, there's so many good ones out there, you could help generate a convincing stereo room/stage sound to help expand the room sound you're getting. (You just may not have enough ambience and space in the room you describe without RSims.) For an entire CD's worth of material, you may also be subtly changing the sound of the guitar from track to track to avoid boredom, but hopefully not TOO much. It's more the artist's job to entertain, you shouldn't have to worry about that TOO much........

    Mainly, I would suggest you avoid gimmicks and fad-ish sounding approaches; if this is true Jazz, you're going to want to help your artist create something that sounds good 5, 10 years or more from now. Avoid trendy stuff. Go for detail and warmth, with enough ambience to let it breathe, and most important of all, let the music speak for itself. If your artist is talented, you'll have a great time with this.
  3. Midlandmorgan

    Midlandmorgan Active Member

    Jul 21, 2002
    I record (and play live) quite a bit of jazz (30-60s stuff, easy listening, etc)...and for most things live (and all things recorded), I prefer:

    - A 15" speaker, preferably a JBL D130, in a semi open back cab
    - Any amp but a could rent/beg/borrow a 15" speaker for the Twin, and you'll be in bebop heaven.
    - Polytone Brutes have been a jazz staple for many years.
    - Mics - for your choices listed, I would start with the D112 and take it from there...if you set it back 4-6 feet in your room (assuming there are no other instruments being played) your ambience issues will be autimatically taken care of...if this is not possible, then blend in the next tip.
    - Direct is certainly not out of the question for this kind of music (or any kind, anymore...) if you can locate a stmp box called the
    BlueTube" (originally made by Chandler, then Mosvalve, now Genz-Benz...fet the one with the power cord and NOT the wallwart) you can get some really GREAT sounds...
    - The 335...choice!
    - Avoid compression if at all possible...

    Have fun.
  4. jobu2u

    jobu2u Guest

    Thanks JoeH, Midlandmorgan!

    Both of your insights have given me new inspiration and direction. It was definately a mistake the last time I attempted this: not to talk more with the artist about what kind of sound he "expected" ME to get for him.

    As I think back, I had worked really hard at replicating the sound I heard in the tracking area (his tone/sound). I figured this would be the best aproach; the more organic--the better, right? Though I feel I was quite successful at capturing an accurate image, this was indeed NOT the sound he wanted to hear on his CD in the end.

    In my own experience, I know that my guitar tone live vs. recorded is usually quite different and requires a different methods to get it where I like it. So my lesson learned here: although replication of sound in it self is an art in it self, it is not always the best method to achieve the desired results.

    I will communicate more effectively with this one!

  5. JoeH

    JoeH Well-Known Member

    Jun 22, 2004
    Philadelphia, PA/ Greenville, DE
    Home Page:
    Hey, you're welcome. Hope we could help. Sounds like you're on your way to getting it all sorted out. I hope you have a great time with it - should be fun!
  6. pmolsonmus

    pmolsonmus Well-Known Member

    Jun 23, 2003
    Put in the For What it's Worth Dept,

    Although I mod here (in the vocal booth) I consider myself a hack when compared to many at this site. I know singers and mess with recording. I tend to advise how to sing more than how to record.

    That said, I did a project for a local jazz guitarist I work with regulary. I took a DI out into a Seb pre. Mic'd the cabinet with a 421 slightly off axis (setting toward M) sent it through the Seb as well, and put 2 AKG 414 B/ULS's in omni mode in the room.

    We were VERY pleased with the results. Very little EQ, adjust the balances and we were home. Gave the vibe of a solo jazz gig in a small club, but with the DI we could add some excellent presence.

    Good luck with your project.
  7. JoeH

    JoeH Well-Known Member

    Jun 22, 2004
    Philadelphia, PA/ Greenville, DE
    Home Page:
    That sounds like a GREAT setup, Phil! I like the idea of two omni's in the room as well, dial it in for taste.

    And, I like the switches on those MD 421's....they go from S to M.....and you KNOW what some engineers say the "S" is for.... :lol:

  8. pmolsonmus

    pmolsonmus Well-Known Member

    Jun 23, 2003
    I'm a singer, trust me, I KNOW what the S stands for. And they're usually right!

  9. timtu

    timtu Guest

    If I was you I wouldnt even go through an amp. If you went straight through a DI and to the desk it would provide a mild and clean tone. You can mix the guitar to a fuller extent and and any effects through the auxillary sends. Any effects such as foot pedals can be placed between the guitar and DI for control by the guitarist. As a guitarist, this is my preference in recording.


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