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Once upon a time, plugging your guitar directly into a console was the last thing a guitar player wanted to do. Players hated the sound because the high- end was rolled off and the output was just so wimpy that virtually no one thought it was usable. That's all changed now as guitars have more choices of going direct and getting a great sound than ever before. In this movie, we'll look at the three ways that you can record the guitar direct. The real secret to getting a great sounding direct recording is compression and plenty of it.
When you use a tube style guitar amplifier, there is already some compression built into the sound, between the circuitry, the tubes, and speakers. Unfortunately, you don't have the benefit of any of this help when plugging your guitar directly into the console or a DAW. That's why it's important always use some compression to keep the sound at relatively the same level. Without it, the sound will be weak and wimpy. Here's what you have to do. After you have plugged the guitar into a Direct Box, and the output of the box into a console, mic preamp, or DAW, flip the ground switch to find the quietest setting.
Plug the hardware compressor either into the output of the mic preamp or an insert on the console. Don't add a plug-in, because it might add a delay to the recording which can throw the player off, because what he'll be hearing in his headphones will occur after he plays it. Start the compressor set to either 4:1 or 8:1 compression ratio, then set the Attack control to its lowest setting and the Release control set to its fastest. (music playing) Lower the Threshold until there is a few dB of compression on the guitar peaks...
(music playing) Decrease the Attack time until the audio just begins to sound dull, then back it off a bit. This means that the compressor while catch more of the peaks and the amount of compression will increase. (music playing) Increase the Release times so that it breathes with the pause of the song, which should be somewhere around the midway point.
(music playing) A compressor with the release time set too fast can cause the sound to pump, which is usually an undesirable effect. (music playing) Don't go beyond 5 or 6 dB of compression, because adding too much compression at this point can change the sound.
This can't be undone later, so remember that less is more. (music playing) The correct amount of compression is when every note is equal in level. (music playing) Compression will cause level to drop, so set the Output control of the compressor so that the record level is about -10 dB on the meters.
(music playing) While many of the newer amplifiers have outputs intended for direct recording, don't expect to get the same sound that you get from the speakers. (music playing) You are hearing the sound of only the preamp section of the amplifier.
It sounds nothing like an amp cranked through the speakers and then miked. (music playing) Keep in mind that settings that you normally use on the amp might have to be changed in order to get a usable direct sound. Another way to record direct, especially with an amp that doesn't have a direct output future is to feed a signal from the extension speaker jack of the amp, into a Direct Box that has the ability to accept this type of input.
Usually the DI will have two inputs, one labeled Guitar and the other labeled AMP or SPEAKER. (music playing) Make sure that you only connect to the AMP or SPEAKER input as the voltage coming from the extension speaker output on the AMP is high enough to destroy the Direct Box if plugged into the guitar input and may even damage the amp as well. (music playing) As with the Direct Output from the amp, the sound will not be what you'll experience out of the speakers.
So you may have to adjust the amp's controls in order to get a sound that you find useful. (music playing) Direct recording is no longer that a big deal, since there are so many effects boxes and amplifier emulators on the market that are capable of acting as sort of a super Direct Box for recording. Just about every manufacturer now offers an inexpensive guitar box capable of direct recording, regardless which amplifier emulator you use, keep the following in mind: Be judicious with the distortion and sustain.
Lots of distortion and sustain is fun to play with but isn't always appropriate for the song. Be prepared to dial it back to make your part fit better in the mix, especially if you'll be adding other guitar parts later. Be judicious with the effects. One of the cool things about modeling multi- effects boxes is that you get such a wide variety of sounds, some with over-the-top effects. Just like with distortion, think of what's appropriate for the song, not what feels fun to play with. Once again, take into account how everything will fit together in the mix, especially if you add additional parts.
To sum it all up, there are three ways to record a guitar direct. By plugging a guitar into a Direct Box, by plugging the output of an amplifier into a Direct Box, or by using an amplifier emulator. When plugging a guitar into a Direct Box for a clean sound, remember to use a fair amount of compression to keep the level strong and even. I'm plugging an amplifier into a Direct Box, remember that you'll probably have to change the parameter settings to get a good sound, and when using an amplifier emulator, remember to be judicious with the distortion and effects. You have heard this before, but remember that little goes a long way
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