20 Quick Tips on Recording Guitar
*Always make sure your guitar is in good condition. Use new strings, properly fitted and check both the tuning and intonation.
* Check your tuning before every take, as it tends to drift in warm studios.
* Equipment containing transformers will tend to cause hum interference on electric guitars, especially those with single-coil pickups. Rotate your position in the room to find the angle of least hum and keep as far away as possible from the interfering equipment.
* Use different guitar types or sounds when recording two or more overdrive guitar parts to keep the sounds separate in the mix.
* Compile a ‘best of’ solo from multiple whole takes recorded on separate tracks.
* Create a sense of stereo space by processing a mono guitar sound via a gated or ambience reverb program.
* In the recording studio, it’s common to leave effects processing until the final mix so as to allow sounds to be changed right up to the last minute.
* Don’t assume the speaker simulator in your preamp is the best one for the job. Better results can often be achieved by taking the unfiltered output from a recording preamp or effects unit, then processing it via a good quality stand-alone speaker simulator.
* Following on from the previous tip, it’s often interesting to try splitting the signal into pseudo-stereo via two different speaker simulators — for example, using the simulator in the recording preamp and, at the same time, taking the unfiltered output via an external speaker simulator.
* You don’t necessarily need a big amp to achieve a big sound.
* Compression is a useful tool to even out the tone of the guitar and also to add sustain. By using compression, you may able to get a better lead tone with less overdrive.
* Hedge your bets by recording a clean DI feed (via a high-input impedance DI box) on a spare track so you can reprocess it later.
* When you need a thicker sound, try real double-tracking rather than ADT (Artificial Double Tracking).
* When DI’ing, you can still use a small guitar amp to monitor what you’re playing. This often makes playing seem more natural and the acoustic coupling between the speaker and guitar strings will add life to the sound.
* To get a more lively electric guitar sound when DI’ing or recording with the amp in another room, mic up the strings and add that to the main sound. Use a mic with a good high-end frequency response — a capacitor or back-electret mic is best — and position it around 15 to 20cm from the strings.
* If using a valve amp with speaker simulator, be sure to use a simulator model with dummy load if the amp needs to be silent when you’re recording.
* If you play in the control room with your amp in the studio, you can hear what the recorded sound is really like via the control room monitors as you play.
* When using cabinets with more than one speaker (for example, four by twelves), listen for the best-sounding speaker and mic that one.
* If you decide to use a gate to reduce noise or interference, put the gate after the overdrive stage if possible, but before compression or delay/reverb-based effects.
* To get a ‘glassy’ clean sound, compress the guitar signal and then try adding a little high frequency enhancement from an Aphex Exciter or similar processor.
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