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|
|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|