You’ve worked hard on your tone. You’ve got the settings on your amp and effects dialed in. How do you go about capturing that tone in a recording?
You’ve worked hard on your tone. You’ve got the settings on your amp and effects dialed in. How do you go about capturing that tone in a recording? In this article, we’re going to talk about the two most important things in translating that killer tone to a recording: microphone choice and position.
Make Your Choice
Since guitar amps can be loud, and dynamic microphones can take a lot of sound pressure, they’re often the choice for this application. The classic choice is the venerable Shure SM57. This is a real workhorse of a mic that, despite its relatively low price tag, finds a home in most professional studios. Its response is characterized by a pretty serious presence peak in the 5-6kHz range, which helps to bring out articulation and bite. Another popular dynamic mic is the Sennheiser e609. These mics have a broader presence peak than the SM57 that starts a little lower in frequency, giving them a warmer, slightly less cutting sound.
Condenser mics tend to be more sensitive than dynamic mics, and are often positioned farther from the speaker. They tend to have extended high frequency response, which can add a sense of “air” to recordings. Most condensers used for guitar cabinets are flatter (more even) in frequency response than dynamics. The AKG C414 and Neumann U87 are common choices for this application.
Ribbon mics are a special type of dynamic mic that tend to be very natural sounding. They usually have more proximity effect (boost of lower frequencies when placed close to the source) and smoother top end. Older ribbon mics were very sensitive and could be damaged by a loud amp, but modern ribbons like the Royer R121 and AEA R92 are built to withstand guitar amp volumes.
Once you’ve decided on a mic, you have to figure out where to put it. The center of the speaker cone puts out the brightest sound, and placing the mic closer to the surround gives a little mellower tone. You can also angle the mic instead of pointing it straight at the speaker. Again, angling toward the center of the cone will be brighter, and angling toward the edge will be mellower.
Typically, guitar amps are miked close up — from a few inches away to right up against the grille cloth. When the mic is that close, very small adjustments in position can make a huge difference. Try listening on headphones as you move the mic to make sure it’s getting the sound you want.
You can also use a distant mic if you want to capture more of the room tone. This is where condensers often outperform dynamics, though dynamics can work well in this application. Try this: put your finger in one ear to close it off, and then walk around the room listening through the other ear while someone else plays, until you find the sweet spot in the room where the amp sounds the best. If you place a mic at that position, you should get a good representation of what the guitar sounds like in the room.
Miking In The Real World
I was fortunate enough to help record Sonny Landreth’s live record, Grant Street. Sonny used a variety of guitars, including a ‘68 Strat and a ‘60 sunburst Les Paul, plugged into a Dumble Overdrive Special and a Matchless DC30, each powering a road-worn Fender 2x12 cabinet. The cab for the Matchless was on-stage, and a Royer R121 and a Sennheiser MD421 were placed about three inches off the speaker. To keep the stage volume down, the Dumble’s cab was isolated off-stage, where it was miked with an R121 three inches off the speaker, and a Neumann MK185 condenser mic about three feet back to capture air and room sound. Check out the album to hear the final result!
David Klausner has been playing guitar and bass professionally for over 25 years. He has owned his own commercial studio, and worked at major studios in New York and Philadelphia. He is a Sales Engineer at Sweetwater.
(800) 222-4700 ext. 1314.
Looking for more great gear for the guitar player in your life (yourself included!)? Check out this year's Holiday Gear Finds!
D'Addario XPND Pedalboard
DR-05X Stereo Handheld Recorder
Wampler Pedals Ratsbane
Outlaw Effects introduces their next generation of NOMAD rechargeable battery-powered pedal boards.
Available in two sizes, NOMAD ISO is a compact, versatile tool that offers the convenience of a fully powered board plus the additional freedom of not having to plug into an outlet. NOMAD ISO is ideal for stages with limited outlet availability, quick changeovers, busking outdoors, temporary rehearsal locations, and more!
NOMAD ISO builds upon the legacy of the ultra-convenient and reliable NOMAD rechargeable pedalboard line originally launched in 2018. The brand new NOMAD ISO editions feature eight isolated outputs (1 x 9V DC, and 1 switchable 9V/12V DC) for even more versatility and clean, quiet power. With an integrated lithium-ion battery pack boasting 12800mAh capacity, NOMAD ISO can fuel a wide array of pedals, and will last over 10 hours* on a single charge.
Each NOMAD ISO pedal board includes adhesive hook & loop pedal-mounting tape, eight (8) standard DC connector cables, and one (1) reverse polarity DC cable, giving you everything you need to build your ultimate "off-the-grid" rig. A rugged, road-ready padded gig bag with shoulder strap is also included, to safely protect your gear while you're on the move.
NOMAD ISO S: MSRP $309 / MAP: $249
Dimensions: 19 ¼" x 5 ¼"
NOMAD ISO M: MSRP $349 / MAP $279
Dimensions: 19 ¼" x 11"
More info: https://www.outlawguitareffects.com.
Dunable announce new Minotaur model featuring Grover Rotomatic Keystone tuners.
The Minotaur's DNA is rooted in their classic Moonflower model, which Dunable discontinued in 2017. However, they have long since wanted to create a fresh take on a carved top guitar design, and various attempts to rework the Moonflower led them to a brand new concept with the Minotuar.
Dunable's goal is to give the player a guitar that plays fast and smooth, sounds amazing, and gives maximum physical ergonomic comfort. The Minotaur's soft and meticulous contours, simple and effective control layout, and 25.5" scale length are designed to easily meet this criteria.
- 25.5" scale length
- Dual Humbucker
- one volume, one tone, push pull for coil splitting
- Grover Rotomatic Keystone tuners
- Grover Tune O Matic bridge with brass Kluson top-mount tailpiece
- jumbo nickel frets
- 12" fretboard radius
This full-amp-stack-in-a-box pedal brings a new flavor to the Guitar Legend Tone Series of pedals, Missing Link Audio’s flagship product line.
Adding to the company’s line of premium-quality effects pedals, Missing Link Audio has unleashed the new AC/Overdrive pedal. This full-amp-stack-in-a-box pedal – the only Angus & Malcom all-in-one stompbox on the market – brings a new flavor to the Guitar Legend Tone Series of pedals, Missing Link Audio’s flagship product line.
The AC/OD layout has three knobs to control Volume, Gain and Tone. That user-friendly format is perfect for quickly getting your ideal tone, and it also offers a ton of versatility. MLA’s new AC/OD absolutely nails the Angus tone from the days of “High Voltage” to "Back in Black”. You can also easily dial inMalcom with the turn of a knob. The pedal covers a broad range of sonic terrain, from boost to hot overdrive to complete tube-like saturation. The pedal is designed to leave on all the time and is very touch responsive. You can get everything from fat rhythm tones to a perfect lead tone just by using your guitar’s volume knob and your right-hand attack.
- Three knobs to control Volume, Gain and Tone
- Die-cast aluminum cases for gig-worthy durability
- Limited lifetime warranty
- True bypass on/off switch
- 9-volt DC input
- Made in the USA