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Recording Guitar Amps, How Loud???
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Gatsby
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#1
14th December 2009
Old 14th December 2009
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Recording Guitar Amps, How Loud???

I'm new to recording and I have a question about recording guitar amps, which is, how loud should I set my guitar amp for my microphones to pick-up the fullest, best sound? So far when I have recorded my guitar amp I just set the volume to the level that I usually have it when I play by myself which is just loud enough to be clear, but far from being loud at all.

So yeah, how loud should I set my amp when I record it?
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14th December 2009
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There's no answer to your question, since it depends on too many factors. The only way for you to find out is to record something at different volumes (from very low to cranked), gain match all the takes and listen back. You can't go wrong this way...
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14th December 2009
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I usually get my amps sounding good in the room. When I have that satisfied smile I turn down the gain a little and hit the red button.
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14th December 2009
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Depends on the part, just make sure that you are pushing the speaker the way you want it to sound.

Higher wattage speakers require a certain minimum of juice to get them working properly.

Conversely, a speaker may produce a desirable sound when pushed to its max. Think a 100 watt Marshall with 4 x 25 watt speakers in a closed back cab, or a Vox AC30 with 2 x 15 watt speakers.

As others have stated, get it sounding the way you want to in in the room.
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14th December 2009
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one louder... 11
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14th December 2009
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Thanks for the info. I'll try to get the room sound I want before recording and then do some trial and error investigation by recording bits at different volumes. I just thought there was a general rule, like keeping the volume on your guitar up and the volume on the amp low instead of vice versa which would add a lot of amp "noise."

Can anyone tell me what the most popular miking setup people use when recording amps. I have just enough mics to close mic my amps in stereo but I was thinking of adding a third mic farther back for ambience and room size. Is that overkill?
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14th December 2009
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Add an sm57 to your 414 and you'll be in a good starting position. 57 close to the grill. 414 close if you want modern rock, farther if you want more space.
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15th December 2009
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There is a very distinctive sound that a speaker makes when it is breaking up. So you should certainly try cranking it up. 'Loud' also gives you the chance to distant mic it and get a room sound going.
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15th December 2009
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wasn't it Michael Wagener who said he has no vermin problems in his live room?
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15th December 2009
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I think lower the better these days with so much gain in the amps. back in the day you had to go to 11 to get the natural overdrive
nowadays unless your amp is a dinosaur it has multiple gain stages and plenty of dist or overdrive. If your amp is like 5 watts you may have to crank it to get good motion out of your speaker. But a 50+watt amp on 1 or 2 is gonna provide all the gain and speaker mojo it will at 10 if not a better result.

As far as clean goes you always want to record as quiet as possible to eliminate any rumble and In my opinion try keep reflections to a min. I always record on 1 or less throw couple moving blankets or baffles in front and back of the cab.

Unless you have a whimpy amp there is absolutely no reason to crank it. You actually get more distortion at lower levels with any amp made after like 1980...... If your client suffers from LGD (better known as Lead Guitarist's disease) and will have psychological trauma if you lower his volume then I guess try to trick him or suck it up and keep it loud and to sound you're going for.

Keeping the amp low with heavy dist. gtr has so many advantages. It keeps the horrid 6k fizz to a min, eliminates rumble/noise that is still audible even with a high pass/lowcut.

I dunno, that 30 year old '10' thing to get 'the sound' is all in the mind and is a myth unless you play through a 1965 fender with no master vol and don't use a pedal to get overdrive. Not too many of those guys left. I know a few, but very few. I find a fender w/ a tube screamer at lower vols is so much more creamy. When it's cranked it loses some musicality I think. I admit I do like an old fender bassman on 10 with no pedal though for good natural overdrive, but w/ new amps '10' it's just not required. The master volume is your friend and that's what it was designed for. Also a nice attenuator can get some more lushness sometimes depending on the amp.
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15th December 2009
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I must be a dinosaur or something...

I never use master volume type amps in studio situations for the most part.
I record a lot of Fender and Vox amps I suppose....

My suggestion is to just record the same level that you usually play at.
Make yourself comfortable and play at the volume that you are comfortable at.. don't be surprised though if the speaker reveals the deficiency of your current setup or volume level.

I generally record at the EXACT same volume level and setups as my live rig.
in fact, one of the Fender amps that I play through literally has my live settings sharpie markered into the volume/tone knobs. I literally play it at pretty much the exact same settings regardless of the venue or whether live or recording.

That being said, there's a chance I play the amps at a lower stage volume than many guitar players do @ live shows. I certainly don't have them turned up to 10.. in fact.. they don't see much time above 5 or so..
Which is plenty loud when they aren't master volume type amps.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A LaMere View Post
I must be a dinosaur or something...

I never use master volume type amps in studio situations for the most part.
I record a lot of Fender and Vox amps I suppose....

My suggestion is to just record the same level that you usually play at.
Make yourself comfortable and play at the volume that you are comfortable at.. don't be surprised though if the speaker reveals the deficiency of your current setup or volume level.

I generally record at the EXACT same volume level and setups as my live rig.
in fact, one of the Fender amps that I play through literally has my live settings sharpie markered into the volume/tone knobs. I literally play it at pretty much the exact same settings regardless of the venue or whether live or recording.

That being said, there's a chance I play the amps at a lower stage volume than many guitar players do @ live shows. I certainly don't have them turned up to 10.. in fact.. they don't see much time above 5 or so..
Which is plenty loud when they aren't master volume type amps.
I didn't mean dinosaur in a bad way I just meant that non master vol amps are not the norm these days. Anything without a master vol is 30+ years old with a few exceptions like some reissue stuff. For blues guys and alike they are still the norm. Record any way that makes you comfortable.

I'm just referring to the 17 year old metal heads that come in with the 100 watt Engl amp cranked to 10. It's silly and unnecessary with dist gtr. I used to think that way until I read an article in Mix about 10 years ago on how some metal producer mentioned he used a 1x12 at very low volumes and used more of the gtr amps pre section as opposed to cranking the power section to get a smoother warmer gain. I started doing it and it really worked out great for me and bands I recorded. It eliminated that horrible celestion fizz and all that crappy phasing you get from all the distortion and reflections at high levels. If you need it on 5 or 4 or whatever do what works. '1' works the best from what I've seen (and heard). So much more control and you really get only what's out of the speaker. No room or unwanted roar and rumble. I just think in general cranking the amp up to outrageous levels in a studio is pointless and is the 'old' way of thinking. But again If your amp doesn't have a master and you don't use a pedal you have to crank it to get some gain?

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15th December 2009
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Power tube distortion is pretty different from preamp tube distortion - especially when dealing with a Class A amp. For many, many players, the whole reason to have a Fender or Vox is to get that sweet saturation that comes from pushing the power tubes. It's somewhere between compression and distortion, and can be absolutely magical. Combine that with a bit of speaker break-up and you will likely be happy with what you hear. It isn't about getting more gain; it's about getting a very different tone from an amp that is being pushed.

Yes, if you only want a lot of gain you can get that from a Peavey Rage at ow volumes. But I can certainly hear the difference between an amp that is cranked and an amp that has a lot of gain.

That said, it really just depends of the sound you want. If you want a modern high gain sound then buy a new amp and record quiet. If you want a old-school rock sound buy an old amp and crank it.
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15th December 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by robertshaw View Post
I think lower the better these days with so much gain in the amps. back in the day you had to go to 11 to get the natural overdrive
nowadays unless your amp is a dinosaur it has multiple gain stages and plenty of dist or overdrive. If your amp is like 5 watts you may have to crank it to get good motion out of your speaker. But a 50+watt amp on 1 or 2 is gonna provide all the gain and speaker mojo it will at 10 if not a better result.

As far as clean goes you always want to record as quiet as possible to eliminate any rumble and In my opinion try keep reflections to a min. I always record on 1 or less throw couple moving blankets or baffles in front and back of the cab.

Unless you have a whimpy amp there is absolutely no reason to crank it. You actually get more distortion at lower levels with any amp made after like 1980...... If your client suffers from LGD (better known as Lead Guitarist's disease) and will have psychological trauma if you lower his volume then I guess try to trick him or suck it up and keep it loud and to sound you're going for.

Keeping the amp low with heavy dist. gtr has so many advantages. It keeps the horrid 6k fizz to a min, eliminates rumble/noise that is still audible even with a high pass/lowcut.

I dunno, that 30 year old '10' thing to get 'the sound' is all in the mind and is a myth unless you play through a 1965 fender with no master vol and don't use a pedal to get overdrive. Not too many of those guys left. I know a few, but very few. I find a fender w/ a tube screamer at lower vols is so much more creamy. When it's cranked it loses some musicality I think. I admit I do like an old fender bassman on 10 with no pedal though for good natural overdrive, but w/ new amps '10' it's just not required. The master volume is your friend and that's what it was designed for. Also a nice attenuator can get some more lushness sometimes depending on the amp.
If you like that kind of pre-amp buzz saw distortion. I'm old school, turn the amp up
use less pre amp
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15th December 2009
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One of the guys from Big Wreck (Brian D.) was in to track guitars. It was the nicest guitar sound I had ever gotten. The same month I must have mic'd up four different 4x12 Mesa/Marshall/Fender/Randall combos and every player that I worked with who HASN'T done a big record wanted to crank the amps to hell and back for "the sound."

It was an eye opener that Brian tracked very quietly. In fairness he also used a Bogner Ecstacy and a Matchless DC30... and it's HIM, but still, the point is that the lower volume didn't hinder the vibe at all. I used a vintage MD409 and thought my this is easy, this whole tracking amazing guitar sounds thing!

The only amp I track loud is my Fender Deluxe Reverb 65' reissue for reasons stated before... it breaks up around 7... and it sounds nice with a ribbon or a 414 about 2' or more away from it to capture some room.
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15th December 2009
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Consider how a microphone works. There's a diaphram that moves back and forth. Where do you think it will sound best as close to it's position of rest or as colste to its position of maximum excursion?

I agree with get it sounding right at the amp, but not get it sounding right in the room. Think about Fletcher Munson curves and how that affects your perception in the room.

IF you're standin 4 feet from the amp, it's going to sound totally different to you than it does to the mic a few inches in front. In theory you can put the mic where you ear is, but most likely that going to sound to roomy.

There will be am optimum setting for an amp and it may be loud, but the optimum volume capturing it is preferably lower, so you need to balance the two out.


Try doubling the same sound loud and soft. You'll probably have a preference in the mix and if there's a patter over time, that may be very revealing.
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Push the amp as hard as you need to for it to sound good in the room you're recording in.
Walk around the room to find where it sounds best to you.
Set up your best mic at that very spot.
Maybe add a close mic to the speaker, in case you need a more direct sound during mixdown. Most dynamics should be able to take that volume.
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Moderate volume is fine.
You should be able to stand in the room without your ears bleeding.
You should also have the amp head in the control room so you can adjust it while hearing it through your studio monitors.
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26th December 2009
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thanks for all the added info!!
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26th December 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mobius.media View Post
Add an sm57 to your 414 and you'll be in a good starting position. 57 close to the grill. 414 close if you want modern rock, farther if you want more space.
I agree both are great , mix and match. A little less gain can be amazing vs live.
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26th December 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gatsby View Post
I have just enough mics to close mic my amps in stereo
I'm not sure if everyone missed this or I'm missing something but your amps are a mono source, you can't mic them in stereo..!
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26th December 2009
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If you're using anything over 30W, in my opinion, you're not going to get the optimum tone. Unless you have a studio that's REALLY big and quite isolated. And even then, why bother?

I confess, I've never understood when guys (even metal guys) come into the studio with 100W heads and ask how best to get the ideal "tone." In my experience (which includes a number of "name" shops, as well as my own place), you can do the same thing with (much) smaller combos.

But I'm sidestepping the original poster's question.

If you want to get the tone of your amp "to tape," get the guitar and amp sound you desire (however loud, with whatever wattage, in the live room) and stick a dynamic mic in front of it. It's that simple. Sorry. Most engineers don't entertain questions of loudness and wattage. They ask the player to get the tone he wants and then devise the best means (given the room and the studio's resources—mics and preamps and such) to capture it. That's his job, after all.

Candidly, I don't know a recording application more devoid of difficulty (strange effects, aside) as recording electric guitar. Put a 57 in front of the speaker, on-axis, half-way between the cone and the periphery of the cone, 3-6" out from the grill. That should be, at a minimum, workable, if not fantastic. Move the mic around (different distances, different angles), if the initial settings aren't fabulous. Or add a ribbon (Royer R-121 or R-122) or LDC (Gefell UMT70S is my favorite) or a "different" dynamic (421 or SM7) if you want. Adjust for phase. Blend to taste. Play around. Have fun.

But a lowly 57 on the right amp in a "decent" room should totally work. Assuming your "guy" can play.

Sorry for the preamble. Best of luck.
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26th December 2009
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If your doing rock music, turn it up wicked loud!!!!
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Another vote for less pre, higher master volume settings. Generally pushing the preamp gives you a real fizzy, buzzy tone but a balance between the two is always a good starting point.

If it's "that" tone then it generally requires the output tubes being pushed to the point that they're starting to overload. How loud that is depends on a bajillion variables. Single-ended, low powered amps will break up earlier and thus at lower volumes, but you won't get a 4x12 moving much air if that's your bag.

A higher powered amp will sound pretty different when breaking up, not least because higher powered amps need different tubes to handle the increased power. Generally you'll also be able to start pushing speakers at these sorts of volumes, and increasing the level of reflections from the room.

One of my favourite amps to record was my Orange Tiny Terror, just because it sounded huge at bearable volumes. My Mesa on the other hand takes my head off, but sounds fantastic when you find the sweet spot.

I like a 57 on axis and a 421 45 degrees off. I read about it in an interview with Joe Baressi and I just find that it nearly always works. An m201 on the cone works nicely, as does an m88 or an RE20 to the side for low end grunt. For pretty stuff I like a 414 and an R122 both on axis, about 6-12 inches away, play with the phase till it sounds about right.

P.S. Trying to push a Twin Reverb to breakup is a bad idea...unless you're in space...and even then it would melt the sun.
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27th December 2009
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That's funny that you mentioned those mics Blacklight, because I have another thread asking which dynamic mics to use, with people recommending the m88, re20, m201, and the r121 ribbon mic. Other suggestions were the sennheiser e906 and the md 421 which I'm leaning towards getting soon. (I am considering the re20 but I haven't heard enough about it) And then I'd like to pick up a r121 but that's a long ways off.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Daedalus77 View Post
If you're using anything over 30W, in my opinion, you're not going to get the optimum tone. Unless you have a studio that's REALLY big and quite isolated. And even then, why bother?

I confess, I've never understood when guys (even metal guys) come into the studio with 100W heads and ask how best to get the ideal "tone." In my experience (which includes a number of "name" shops, as well as my own place), you can do the same thing with (much) smaller combos.
No to be argumentative, but you will not get the same tones with a small combo. Yes you can get huge guitar tones from a combo but if you're trying to cop the tones I'm getting with a Framus Cobra/Bogner Uberschall/Dual rectifier etc. you aren't going to get them unless you use them.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gatsby View Post
(...) (I am considering the re20 but I haven't heard enough about it)(...)
Not really a go-to guitar mic - at least for me - but great on a lot of stuff:
vocals(works for Radiohead, among others)
sax
bass drum (try it on a well-tuned, closed front head)
bass amp (love it on a portaflex 15"!)
snare (either side)

It's got very little proximity effect for a cardioid, so you can get really close without boomyness. (acoustic guitar)
It's got its own hpf (handy when your pramp hasn't got one)
You can internally change its impedance, if you need to.
It's a great conversation piece (at least for male rock'n'rollers)

All in all a great workhorse mic to have in your collection.
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27th December 2009
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thanks for the input andy, I think that pushed me towards the sennheiser md 421.
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27th December 2009
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I prefer to put the gain a bit lower and the volume higher for recording.
I use foam. perhaps the cab sounds about 110 dbs or more, but the foam helps.
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27th December 2009
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old small combo tube amps. tone to die for. IF we ever bought an amp post 1980 it would only be boutique amps modeled after old small combo tube amps.

I don't think you can get sexy good recording tones and nuances out of a 100wt amp... please leave your marshall stacks and peavey amps at home!

same with your line 6 or any digital modeling amp.... total crap.

give me a 60's fender or vox or ampeg or supro or ........ a new oahu or supro boutique amp.... tubes TUBES TUBES!

you get the sound and tone you want and THEN press record. there is no such thing as fixing it in the mix... if that is what your guy is telling you.... find another studio.!
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