thread: 421 / 57 Combo
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Old 21st July 2016
Big Rock Guitars by Sylvia

I've been recording aggressive rock guitars pretty much the same way since day one. It works darn good, so if it ain't broke, don't fix it!...

Below is a diagram I drew for the "Recording Unhinged" book, which shows the basic recording technique used for the System Of A Down debut album recorded for producer Rick Rubin. I used this set up while recording Daron's guitars at Sound City Studios and Rick's house in West Hollywood. It is essentially the same set up I use for most rock sessions, with the swapping out of different guitar heads and cabs to document each project's individual character, but the mics and techniques are usually very similar.

In my previous Gearslutz Q+A, I went into quite a bit of detail on the setup, including choices of guitar amps, speaker choices, microphone placement and blending. Here is the page:

I really like the summing of 57s and 421s on rock guitars because I get more edge from the 57s and more beef from the 421s. So from track to track on a song I will change the blend of mics on a cabinet, as well as adjust the blend of cabinets together. From console position I can control the guitar sounds without a lot of swapping out amps, cabinets or mics. A whole range of sounds are available just by moving a few faders! And from console position I can really find the sound that fits the song without guessing.

This brings up a point I find extremely important. Make mix decisions as you record! To do this I determine the placement of a part even before I begin recording it. Will this part be in the middle of the picture? Will it be panned wide for drama? Next I make track count decisions, for instance in a verse I may only want one track placed in the middle, but when the chorus hits I want the audio panorama to get wide and powerful. Well, then I will plan on recording four tracks (four separate performances) so I can place two on each side. That'll make for some tasty good guitar drama!

I use this approach in nearly everything I record: vocals, strings, keys, acoustic guitar and electrics... and when the tracking is done, all the panning and blends have already been finished and the tracks have been recorded in such a way that very little EQ or processing is needed. Maybe just adding some fun stuff with plug-ins and the overall stereo bus processing for a little pre-mastering EQ and compression. And there ya go!
Attached Thumbnails
421 / 57 Combo-fig07-24-copy-2.jpg