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How to record SOLO electric guitar! Condenser Microphones
Old 22nd August 2007
  #1
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How to record SOLO electric guitar!

this is a thread for anyone who would like to contribute ideas and techniques on how to make a solo electric recording more interesting and "big" (for lack of a better word). ideas should be for one person playing live. two mics.

the concept is that a person can listen to such a recording and the all around tone, dynamics, depth, punch, etc....is enough to sustain sonic interest. yeah, i know the PLAYING and the SONG.....right. so let's talk sonic ideas on the recording end here.

solo fingerstyle, wailing leads, propulsive strumming, cleanish jazz, small amp overdriving....all these things are part of the scenario.

ideas (in search of more specifics)

1)room mic with without comp and eq

2)1 close mic.....one 5 feet away

3)ideas on "mix comp" settings for extra fatness and "space filling"

4)two amps (ideas on panning, eq, comp etc)

5)one mic on the amp, one mic right near the actual guitar itself

6)i have always thought that comp was something to be avoided with electric guitar (at least on the close primary mic)....but i think maybe that "rule" could and perhaps should be broken if the whole track is just going to be the single instrument.

grateful to anyone who cares to throw down some concepts.

reference points for me run a huge range......from frisell to eruption to heartbreaker to white summer/black mountain side to that radiohead solo guitar track on "amnesiac".

thanks guys!
Old 22nd August 2007
  #2
Gear Maniac
 

Cool topic.

Some of the best guitar sounds I've gotten was at a local studio I did guitar work at.

-two black face fender princetons volume on 4-5 with an American telecaster. Signal from guitar split through a lehle box, then into both amps. Each mic'd with a royer r-121 (4-6 inches back), and a u47 about 4 feet back. We just wheeled the u47 around until the engineer told us to stop. Taped the area on the floor and made 3 different positions where we could place the room mic. Ended up off the side at about a 45 degree angle pointed at the middle of the amps.

live I substitute the royers for sm57's, and obviously no u47.
Old 22nd August 2007
  #3
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side note: i am also looking for the best box to route 1 guitar to two amps simultaneously.

perhaps the LEHLE P Slipt Passive Splitter....i don't need the ones with all the fancy switching options....but don't want to hurt the signal either.
Old 22nd August 2007
  #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dmb10 View Post
Cool topic.

Some of the best guitar sounds I've gotten was at a local studio I did guitar work at.

-two black face fender princetons volume on 4-5 with an American telecaster. Signal from guitar split through a lehle box, then into both amps. Each mic'd with a royer r-121 (4-6 inches back), and a u47 about 4 feet back. We just wheeled the u47 around until the engineer told us to stop. Taped the area on the floor and made 3 different positions where we could place the room mic. Ended up off the side at about a 45 degree angle pointed at the middle of the amps.

live I substitute the royers for sm57's, and obviously no u47.
After the tracks are recorded, do you phase align the mics so they're all in phase? or do purposely leave it out? I really like that idea!
Old 23rd August 2007
  #5
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hle144's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by eligit View Post
this is a thread for anyone who would like to contribute ideas and techniques on how to make a solo electric recording more interesting and "big" (for lack of a better word).
I find that working with a great guitar player with a great guitar really alleviates all the details you went over about mic placement.

I use an SM57 and a 421 up close, maybe a ribbon or tube mic 5 feet away,
run them through some Neves or Api's. Press record.

When working with a guy whose not as good,...It is what it is...Thank god for amp simulator plugins.

You can't get blood from a stone, and as much as you place mics around,...its not on you...

At the studio, we are doing this project showcasing bands. They come in and play live to multi and we mix later. I must say I have been very impress with the gear these guys have been showing up with. The new Marshalls are great, Orange seems to be the trend and the instruments are'nt bad either. We have done about 15 bands in the last 4 weeks. All styles.

I just do my usual setup and make the adjusments with the guitar player. It has alot to do with him and his tone really.
Old 23rd August 2007
  #6
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Faderjockey's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by dmb10 View Post
Cool topic.

Some of the best guitar sounds I've gotten was at a local studio I did guitar work at.

-two black face fender princetons volume on 4-5 with an American telecaster. Signal from guitar split through a lehle box, then into both amps. Each mic'd with a royer r-121 (4-6 inches back), and a u47 about 4 feet back. We just wheeled the u47 around until the engineer told us to stop. Taped the area on the floor and made 3 different positions where we could place the room mic. Ended up off the side at about a 45 degree angle pointed at the middle of the amps.
Funny that is sort of my setup... Except one amp R121 the other 4047 and the room mic was U48.
Old 23rd August 2007
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hle144 View Post
I find that working with a great guitar player with a great guitar really alleviates all the details you went over about mic placement.

I use an SM57 and a 421 up close, maybe a ribbon or tube mic 5 feet away,
run them through some Neves or Api's. Press record.

When working with a guy whose not as good,...It is what it is...Thank god for amp simulator plugins.

You can't get blood from a stone, and as much as you place mics around,...its not on you...

At the studio, we are doing this project showcasing bands. They come in and play live to multi and we mix later. I must say I have been very impress with the gear these guys have been showing up with. The new Marshalls are great, Orange seems to be the trend and the instruments are'nt bad either. We have done about 15 bands in the last 4 weeks. All styles.

I just do my usual setup and make the adjusments with the guitar player. It has alot to do with him and his tone really.
let us pre suppose that you are very pleased with the sound you are getting in the room.....and then further suppose that i have never been totally satisfied that i have even accurately gotten that nice room sound fully across.

the crucial thing i am after here is what really differentiates what you would do while tracking guitars in a band context from what you do if the entire band IS the guitar.

i can only assume you would want to try and fill the space in a way that would be too much if bass, drums, and vocals were involved.

how can i take advantage of the extra space? really fill the ear of the listener with only the one instrument being played.
Old 23rd August 2007
  #8
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hle144's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by eligit View Post
the crucial thing i am after here is what really differentiates what you would do while tracking guitars in a band context from what you do if the entire band IS the guitar.

i can only assume you would want to try and fill the space in a way that would be too much if bass, drums, and vocals were involved.

how can i take advantage of the extra space? really fill the ear of the listener with only the one instrument being played.
Good example was a few years ago; Amex wanted to license a song from this guitar player named Joe Bonnamassa. He's pretty popular now. We got the assignment to arrange and rerecord it for the tv spots. We used studio cats for the rythym section and Joe showed up to play and sing. My feeling was 'what can I say to this guy about his sound? Let him tell me what to do.'

Room tone is out. Its all about in your face sonic clarity. Weather you like them or not, some of the current guitar oriented bands have a very tight, present guitar sound. I thnk its cool. I never liked obvious reverb. room sounds anyway.

If the band is all about the guitar, mix around that and treat it like a lead vocal, in fact I perfer that if there is a solo in a song that has vocals, I make sure the solo is as loud as the lead vocal.

A really good guitar sound for me is a dry, maybe a touch of room, but present sound, with or without distortion. Regardless of how many mics it took, they usually get bussed to one track where I will play with the phasing between the mics. From there, size is dependent on stacking, harmonizing, etc.. If the performance is banging, guitar sounds and tones are easily forgiven.
Old 23rd August 2007
  #9
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i hear ya.....but that dry modern thing sounds totally different if there IS no band....i think that super in your face no room sound thing cuts like crazy if there is a whole band swirling around it. when it is all there is it could sound....too dry and one dimensional.

keep in mind....i am not talking about guitar solos...i am talking about solo guitar.
Old 23rd August 2007
  #10
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by eligit View Post
side note: i am also looking for the best box to route 1 guitar to two amps simultaneously.

perhaps the LEHLE P Slipt Passive Splitter....i don't need the ones with all the fancy switching options....but don't want to hurt the signal either.
If you want control over the phase, you should check out the Diamond ST-MIX. It's simply Amazing! You can flip the phase with a footswitch and it also has a "Pan In" input jack that can be controlled via a large knob above the footswitch. This allows me to pan my delay only output between two amps...and it has an internal switchable transformer to mitigate ground loops...

http://www.diamondpedals.com/products/st_mix.html

works like a charm
Old 23rd August 2007
  #11
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hle144's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by eligit View Post
keep in mind....i am not talking about guitar solos...i am talking about solo guitar.
That is such a classic guiar player quote Is'nt that the same thing?
Old 23rd August 2007
  #12
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FFTT's Avatar
 

Helps if your start with a great amp and a great guitar.

Check out these clips of a Ceriatone Liverpool using a few tricks.

http://members.cox.net/musicfiles/CeriaPoolWreck.mp3
http://members.cox.net/musicfiles/CeriaPoolWreck2.mp3

From the guy who posted the clips on thegearpage.net

Bought this Trainwreck Liverpool clone off a guy here, was built by Nik at Ceriatone. First off, the workmanship was awesome... very clean and well built. I really dig this amp. A few things you should know before you listen to the clips - I had to attenuate the hell out of the amp - ran a Weber MASS on 2. Master on the amp was at about 7 or so. Gobs of gain, but I also pulled 2 EL84 power tubes to cut the volume a bit also. I have no doubt the amp sounds much better with all 4 EL84s, and unattenuated. I also had my SM57 packed up with my gig gear downstairs, so I used a single E609 silver. Guitar used was an Eric Johnson sig strat, with a Duncan Hot Rails in the bridge, other pickups were stock. Cab was a JCM800 w/older than dirt Celestion 75s. What I was playing was one take, cut up into the clips below, and amp settings were untouched - all the different tones were from changing the guitar's volume control and pickups.
Old 23rd August 2007
  #13
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BradM's Avatar
What did you use for the verb?

Brad
Old 23rd August 2007
  #14
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amishsixstringe's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by hle144 View Post
That is such a classic guiar player quote Is'nt that the same thing?
Actually, I think he means that solo guitar is no band. Just a guitar and maybe a vocal over it. Guitar solos usually have backing tracks.

Neil
Old 23rd August 2007
  #15
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hle144's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by amishsixstringe View Post
Actually, I think he means that solo guitar is no band. Just a guitar and maybe a vocal over it. Guitar solos usually have backing tracks.

Neil
Thanks for the clarity.

IMHO as an engineer, mic placement is somewhat secondary regardless of solo guitar or guitar solos. If you have general mic placement and a great tone through a great amp with a great guitar played by a great guitar player,...there you have it.

Once those criterias are met, life is easy. My job is to capture a moment in time, I try not to get too fancy. I find that when I get the usual mics in the usual place, things just happen naturally. Maybe for an effect we will get some room tones. But for recording, just a clean signal will do.

Substitute mics and pres as you see fit but placement is a little lower on the priority list IMHO.
Old 23rd August 2007
  #16
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carival's Avatar
Mic placement may not deliver a compelling musical performance (which always wins), but I must disagree with the thought that it is a lower priority. As an engineer, that is a large part of one's skill. This doesn't mean placing the mic needs to take more than ten seconds. It means that one needs to know where it will yield a certain result. I'm sure we all know what a huge difference a rather small move of a mic can make. It may be somewhat genre dependent, but for me, the following would hold true for any instrument (excluding voice). Some room sound or at least slight ambience is highly desired. Not that I don't like and appreciate tight, dry sounds, but they can tend to make me feel "detached" to a solo human performance. It's unnatural. I need to feel like a person is playing an instrument. This is normally done in a room. I record a fair amount of solo instrumental music (especially guitar) and I always record ambient tracks. It's hard to create a believable ambient sound after the fact with a processor. I've also been placing the "close" mic(s) not as close. It's more pleasing to me. Try placing appropriate mics in positions where they sound good with no equalisation, compression, or added effects. When you find those spots, flavor to taste. or not. YMMV.
Old 23rd August 2007
  #17
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Drumsound's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by eligit View Post
solo fingerstyle, wailing leads, propulsive strumming, cleanish jazz, small amp overdriving....all these things are part of the scenario.
Those things are all really different so I might do different things. I would, however have at the very least a stereo room pair as part of the scenario. I'm very intrigues by M/S these days so I might do that as my starting pair.

I'd probably put a bunch of mics up so it would be easy to just move different ones in place to see how they sound.

I might even have a bunch of mechanical fiilters at the ready heh
Old 23rd August 2007
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hle144 View Post
That is such a classic guiar player quote Is'nt that the same thing?
how can i rephrase this.....no.

what i am talking about is a recording where the ONLY instrument is the electric guitar. no drums. no bass. nothing but a guitar player being recorded in a room. that is the final product....which is very different from recording a guitar solo to be heard with a band.
Old 23rd August 2007
  #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Drumsound View Post
Those things are all really different so I might do different things. I would, however have at the very least a stereo room pair as part of the scenario. I'm very intrigues by M/S these days so I might do that as my starting pair.

I'd probably put a bunch of mics up so it would be easy to just move different ones in place to see how they sound.

I might even have a bunch of mechanical fiilters at the ready heh
yeah... solo finger style and driving strumming are different indeed.....so i am looking for different ideas for different situations.

what do you mean by mechanical filters? baffles?
Old 23rd August 2007
  #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FFTT View Post
Helps if your start with a great amp and a great guitar.
this is covered.
Old 24th August 2007
  #21
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just ONE little bump to see if anyone else has some thoughts on this topic...

thanks again guys....


eli
Old 24th August 2007
  #22
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CaptCrunch's Avatar
 

Take a passive splitter like the mesa hi-gain unit and feed the two (or more) signals as follows:

1) DI signal -> bi or tri split crossover -> each split to a reamp -> each resulting frequency range to a separate amp or preamp and experiment with open/closed back 1-12"/2x12"/4x12" cabs for the differing crossover splits. You can imagine the different gain/eq/cabinet/processing combinations available. You could use only 2 mics, but where is the fun in that?

2) regular mic'ed amp


If the guitar is the only feature, this can give a huge sound that can be stretched to fill audible spectrum. I think Michael Wagener used to do this back in the day.
Old 24th August 2007
  #23
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^^

yikes!

think that might require more gear than i have here at home to do well....interesting thought....maybe some concepts i can use....thanks!
Old 24th August 2007
  #24
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carival's Avatar
One more thought. If the player is truly great, they will have their sound totally together. Your job will likely be that of translating what the guitarist is hearing in the room to the playback monitors. A great musician typically plays according to what he is hearing in a given environment. Their input as to how the sound is coming across through the monitors is valuable. Ask them. If this is not applicable, just do what sounds good to you. Good Luck.
Old 24th August 2007
  #25
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If you are recording in a house, experiment by moving the amp into a long hallway. A long thin room like a hallway can give you a really interesting sound. Close mic with something like an SM57 and then try blending a second "room" mic at various distances until you find the best spot. Also, try recording the amp in a tiled bathroom. This can be really interesting.

J. Mike Perkins
jmikeperkins.com
Old 24th August 2007
  #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by carival View Post
One more thought. If the player is truly great, they will have their sound totally together. Your job will likely be that of translating what the guitarist is hearing in the room to the playback monitors. A great musician typically plays according to what he is hearing in a given environment. Their input as to how the sound is coming across through the monitors is valuable. Ask them. If this is not applicable, just do what sounds good to you. Good Luck.

well.....

two different issues there.....i am NEVER totally satisfied that i am able to "capture" the sound "in the room".....thus all the mucking around with room mics and comps etc.

then again...every great sounding recording is always a mixture of "simply" trying to make the recording sound like you are sitting in the room with the amp (maybe with the player as well)....and then trying to "enhance" the sound, give it more texture, depth, personality, "there-ness", whatever you want to call it. especially in the digital recording end....i seem to miss out on a LOT of this kind of thing.

i take it as a given that no recording can FULLY capture what it is like to simply be in the room....so measures have to be taken to manipulate the recording chain to add interest.

the simplest approach i have used so far that gets across quite a full 3-d picture is the two amps, one panned hard left, one panned hard right, and then a distant mic panned right up the center, perhaps with a touch of compression. this can sort of fill some of the cracks that i would not WANT to fill if there was a vocal banging away in the center of the stereo picture.
Old 24th August 2007
  #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jmikeperkins View Post
If you are recording in a house, experiment by moving the amp into a long hallway. A long thin room like a hallway can give you a really interesting sound. Close mic with something like an SM57 and then try blending a second "room" mic at various distances until you find the best spot. Also, try recording the amp in a tiled bathroom. This can be really interesting.

J. Mike Perkins
jmikeperkins.com
good calls.....i have experimented with the bathroom technique....but not since i got my aea ribbon....maybe that will fare better than my ksm 44 i tried that with before....the hard reflections did NASTY things with the condenser that maybe the ribbon will "mellow out".
Old 24th August 2007
  #28
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CaptCrunch's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by eligit View Post
^^

yikes!

think that might require more gear than i have here at home to do well....interesting thought....maybe some concepts i can use....thanks!

A cheap two way x-over and a reamp and you are there! Just process the frequency groups from the DI signal in multiple passes.
Old 25th August 2007
  #29
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Unclenny's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by eligit View Post
side note: i am also looking for the best box to route 1 guitar to two amps simultaneously.

perhaps the LEHLE P Slipt Passive Splitter....i don't need the ones with all the fancy switching options....but don't want to hurt the signal either.

Voodoo Labs Amp Splitter......I like using three amps for this application. Stick one up the middle.

Good topic!
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