Recording Guitars and Bass

Hey SoundGirls! This month’s blog is a continuation of the last month. In March, I started writing about the process of recording a simple four-piece band. I started with drums. This month I will be moving on to guitars and bass.


Recording this instrument is truly in its own ball game. Capturing guitar tones is an art and a skill that has to be honed. Having a good ear is essential for recording any kind of guitars. For time sake, I’ll just be covering recording electric guitars and bass. (I’ll make a blog about recording acoustic later on – I promise).

I’m going to create a scenario here (there are many different factors that go into what mics you’ll pick depending on the kind of gear the guitarist is using). Let’s say he is playing a Fender Jazzmaster through an Orange combo with your standard pedal board (reverb, delay, distortion, compressor). For this setup, I usually like to keep it simple. I’d go with a dynamic, and a condenser microphone. Although for this, I’ll make it interesting and go with a ribbon microphone rather than a condenser. Recently I’ve been recording electric guitars with a Royer 121 (ribbon mic) paired with a dynamic microphone (usually an sm57 or an sm7b).


For the SM57, I will place this facing directly at the center of the cone of the speaker. For the Royer 121, I will place this off-center of the cone all while setting up the mics to have a “good phase.” Alright, now that we have picked our microphones and placed them on the amp- let’s pick our signal chain and start getting tones!

For pre-amps, I’m going to send the SM57 through a Shadow Hill. On the Shadow Hill model, I am familiar with; you can pick what kind of metal you want your sound running through. You can choose from nickel, steel, or have a mix of the two called “discrete.” Let’s go with discrete. Since its an SM57, we aren’t getting much warmth from the microphone. This is why I picked a tube pre-amp. I want to have some color. For the Royer 121, I want to send this through a Neve 1073. My reasoning for this is because I really want to have full control of the sound here. With the 1073, I have some simple high, low, and mid-band eqs to mess with after I dial in the mic. If I hear something I don’t like- I can take it out without there being a dramatic change. That’s my main reason for picking this pre for this mic. Before we move on, I want to touch on why I chose the Royer 121. The 121 is a ribbon. Ribbons are known for being a little dark. In this situation, I don’t mind, because we are recording guitars. Especially where I have placed the ribbon mic on the amp, having a dark microphone will round out the top end of what we are getting from the guitar a bit.


For this instrument, nine times out of ten for live tracking I send the bass DI through a tube pre-amp. Which tube pre do you use, you ask? Well, it depends on what studio I am working out of. The studio I went to school at, and still, frequently occupy while recording with my band- I use the Voxbox. So, let’s say we are at that studio. I like to use the Voxbox because it also has a built-in compressor. I just tap the compressor a bit to put the bass in its place during tracking, and usually, heavily compress in the box during mixing. The Avalon is another great pre-amp choice for tracking bass. Both of the pre-amps have built-in EQs that you can use to bring out the fundamental of the bass.

Here is a mic sheet with the added addition of what we added to our session today.

Instrument Mic Wall Input Pre-amp Compressor Eq Pro-Tools Input
Kick In D112 1 API 1 DBX 1
Kick Out Fet47 2 API 2 2
Snare T Sm57 3 API 3 Chandler Little Devil 3
Snare B Km84 4 API 4 4
Rack Tom V421 5 Vintech 1 5
Floor Tom V421 6 Vintech 2 6
H.H SM7B 7 TubeTech 1 7
O.H Hat Coles 8 Gamma 1 (shadow hills) 8
O.H Ride Coles 9 Gamma 2 (shadow hills) 9
Room L Royer 121 10 UA 610 Distressor 10
Room R Royer 121 11 UA 610 Distressor 11
Bass DI J48 DI 12 Voxbox 12
Elec Dynamic SM57 13 Gamma 1 (shadow hills) 13
Elec Ribbon Royer 121 14 Neve 1073 14

Browse All SoundGirls Contributors