Hey SoundGirls! This months 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 “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|
Virginia Haladyna is a musician, songwriter, performer, and freelance recording engineer based out of Austin, Texas. Upon graduating from The Recording Conservatory of Austin, she went on to intern and worked out of the world-class Orb Recording Studios. She has recorded two full-length albums, EPs, and multiple singles for local Austin bands. As well as recording other artists, Virginia records and mixes her band Happy, Hollow. She’s assisted sessions alongside established musicians, producers, and engineers the last four years and plans to continue honing her craft for many more.