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Recording Tips for Bass & Guitar

January 17, 2013; Caleb Knott

Recording Tips for Guitar And Bass

Hello and thanks for reading. This article is a culmination of knowledge I've learned from videos, friends, and most of all, from the school of hard knocks. I'm going to talk about:

  • Direct input recording vs. miking your amp
  • Microphone selection
  • Mic positioning
  • Methods for recording your bass guitar
  • Panning audio from side to side
  • How to reduce noise

For starters, I would like to say try each method separately so you can find your preferred sound. Record a small clip to get your guitar sound down and always use good quality headphones or speakers. Computer speakers don't always do justice to sound quality. I know this from experience. I once used drumming headphones with muffling in them and I lost all of my lows and they made my sound very thin and depthless.

Direct Recording vs. Miking an Amp

When recording your guitar, you may ask yourself "Should I record directly into the soundboard or mic my amplifier?" The answer depends on your situation. If your amplifier is of low quality or a very low-wattage solid state amp, you might want to go directly into the sound board, unless you don't have any effects in your recording software, such as distortion, overdrive and reverb. I personally use the amp miking method, and most of the music industry uses the amp miking method. Next I'll we talk about mics, and some different miking methods.

Microphone Selection

Generally, a standard dynamic microphone is what is used on amplifiers throughout the industry. A condenser microphone can be used as well, but usually is used for a room mic instead of a direct mic. Room mics are for getting a deeper sound and more natural reverb. A problem with room mics is timing. The time it takes to get from the amp to the room mic is longer than that to the mic directly in front of the amp, causing timing problems, considering the distance and speed of the sound.  

Dynamic mics are cheaper because they are easier to make and less complex. Dynamic mics work off of induction and condenser mics work off of conduction, with a plastic film. Condenser mics require an extra power source or battery to polarize the film. That power source is generally referred to as Phantom power.

Dynamic mics are better for amplifier miking because they work well up close and they are focused. Condenser microphones are stronger, more sensitive microphones from a distance so they are used for overhead mics like ones used for choirs. If you decide to use a condenser, try to keep it farther from the amp grate because if the amp is too loud, you could ruin that film inside the mic, or wear it out.

Check out the microphone selection at SamAsh.com.


Microphone Position

Believe it or not, the position of your microphone makes a big difference. I'll be speaking in terms of the mic moving side to side. The more centered the mic is, the brighter and thinner the sound. The more towards the edges the mic is, the darker and thicker the sound. If your amp is open in the back, you can mic from the back or add a second mic to the back of the amp, which is also a very thick and dark sound as well as a little more muffled.

Try each of these methods until you are satisfied with your sound. Sometimes putting the mic toward the edge but angling it toward the center can give you a different sound, so it's good to give different methods a try.

Bass Miking

When miking a bass guitar, you can use the same mic as the guitars, but you could also use a bass drum microphone to capture plenty of lows. If you go directly into the soundboard with your bass guitar, you might lose some lows, but sometimes you can use a multiband compressor or an EQ booster to recapture those lows. When in the studio, engineers usually use compression on bass guitars. Compression can give you a smoother tone and even out your sound while adding some punch and beef to your lows.

Panning

Say you're recording guitar and you want a thicker sound. Double the track by recording the same track twice, but pan both tracks to the one side, then record two more slightly different sounding tracks and pan them the opposite way. You can do this on the sound board/mixer, or sometimes in certain recording software.

Clip Sizes

In your software, after you've recorded your tracks, you can cut out parts of the clip between your playing to cut down on overall noise. I would recommend cutting any significant areas of track you can eliminate.

Thanks for reading, I really appreciate it!

Caleb Knott has played guitar for 8 years, drums for seven, bass for six years, and the mandolin for 2, all self-taught. He plays most styles of music other than Country, Rap, Opera and Dubstep. He primarily plays Metal, Rock, Blues, and Grunge. You can hear some of his music at : http://www.youtube.com/caltamadrummer

  
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