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Recording the electric guitar direct

From: Audio Recording Techniques

Video: Recording the electric guitar direct

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.

Recording the electric guitar direct

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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This video is part of

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Audio Recording Techniques

130 video lessons · 17556 viewers

Bobby Owsinski
Author

 
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  1. 5m 28s
    1. Welcome
      2m 11s
    2. What you should know before watching this course
      1m 22s
    3. Using the exercise files
      1m 29s
    4. Listening to this course
      26s
  2. 6m 39s
    1. Setting up your monitors
      4m 17s
    2. Using a basic listening technique
      2m 22s
  3. 25m 29s
    1. Exploring different microphone types
      5m 16s
    2. Microphone directional response basics
      2m 43s
    3. Hearing different directional patterns
      4m 58s
    4. Exploring how the proximity effect works
      3m 55s
    5. Explaining microphone controls
      1m 49s
    6. Reviewing microphone accessories
      3m 3s
    7. Exploring direct boxes
      1m 9s
    8. Exploring amplifier emulators
      2m 36s
  4. 24m 32s
    1. Explaining the microphone preamplifier
      3m 59s
    2. Choosing a preamp
      1m 35s
    3. Setting up the mic preamp
      1m 39s
    4. Setting the record level
      2m 29s
    5. Using proper gain staging
      1m 46s
    6. Knowing what to do if distortion occurs
      2m 0s
    7. Using the compressor during recording
      2m 58s
    8. Using the equalizer (EQ) during recording
      2m 24s
    9. Using the high-pass filter during recording
      1m 4s
    10. Exploring the principles of EQ
      47s
    11. Avoiding latency
      3m 51s
  5. 15m 40s
    1. Finding the best place in the room to record
      2m 44s
    2. Choosing the right mic
      2m 24s
    3. The secret to mic placement
      2m 12s
    4. Understanding phase cancellation, the sound destroyer
      2m 29s
    5. Checking polarity
      3m 9s
    6. Checking the phase by listening
      2m 42s
  6. 54m 29s
    1. Finding the right placement in the room for the drums
      1m 48s
    2. The keys to a great drum sound
      2m 2s
    3. Tuning the drums
      2m 19s
    4. Tuning tips and tricks
      2m 26s
    5. Miking the bass drum without a front head
      2m 15s
    6. Miking the bass drum with front head port
      1m 5s
    7. Miking the bass drum with a front head
      1m 12s
    8. Using a subkick microphone
      1m 31s
    9. Miking the snare drum: Technique one
      3m 2s
    10. Miking the snare drum: Technique two
      57s
    11. Adding a bottom snare mic
      1m 45s
    12. Miking the hi-hat
      2m 14s
    13. Miking the toms
      2m 24s
    14. Miking the cymbals
      3m 14s
    15. Miking the overall kit
      1m 25s
    16. Using room mics
      2m 2s
    17. Getting the drum sound
      2m 47s
    18. Getting the correct drum mix balance
      2m 50s
    19. Checking the drum phase
      2m 18s
    20. Panning the drums
      2m 25s
    21. Tweaking the drum sound with EQ
      3m 10s
    22. Using the one-mic drum recording technique
      2m 37s
    23. Using the two-mic drum recording technique
      1m 5s
    24. Using the three-mic drum recording technique
      1m 45s
    25. Using the four-mic drum recording technique
      1m 26s
    26. Tips for drummers to use before recording
      1m 15s
    27. Tracking a solo drum part
      1m 10s
  7. 27m 31s
    1. Finding the right placement in the room for the guitar
      1m 24s
    2. Miking the amplifier: Technique one
      1m 58s
    3. Miking the amplifier: Technique two
      1m 30s
    4. Miking the amplifier: Technique three
      1m 54s
    5. Using the Marshall cabinet miking trick
      1m 30s
    6. Recording the electric guitar direct
      6m 51s
    7. Prepping for recording acoustic guitar
      58s
    8. Recording the acoustic guitar with one mic
      2m 46s
    9. Recording the acoustic guitar with two mics
      1m 46s
    10. Recording the acoustic guitar with three mics
      1m 19s
    11. Exploring stereo acoustic guitar miking techniques
      1m 31s
    12. Recording the acoustic guitar direct
      1m 14s
    13. Using a limiter when recording acoustic guitar
      1m 39s
    14. Tracking the guitar part
      1m 11s
  8. 14m 0s
    1. Finding the right placement in the room for the bass
      57s
    2. Recording the bass using a direct box
      1m 44s
    3. Miking the bass amplifier
      2m 13s
    4. Using a limiter when recording the bass guitar
      3m 8s
    5. Miking an acoustic bass: Technique one
      3m 4s
    6. Miking an acoustic bass: Technique two
      1m 43s
    7. Tracking the bass part
      1m 11s
  9. 20m 47s
    1. Finding the right placement in the room for vocals
      53s
    2. Recording a scratch vocal
      1m 24s
    3. Exploring vocal mic placement
      3m 2s
    4. Using a limiter on vocals
      2m 7s
    5. Recording in the control room
      1m 35s
    6. Setting up the vocal headphone mix
      2m 26s
    7. Doubling the vocal
      2m 52s
    8. Getting the best from a singer
      1m 16s
    9. Exploring background vocal mic placement
      2m 53s
    10. Layering background vocals
      1m 5s
    11. Recording the lead vocal part
      1m 14s
  10. 10m 49s
    1. Recording a solo grand piano with one mic
      2m 14s
    2. Recording a solo grand piano in stereo
      1m 8s
    3. Close miking a grand piano with one mic
      3m 10s
    4. Close miking a grand piano with two mics: Method one
      1m 39s
    5. Close miking a grand piano with two mics: Method two
      1m 25s
    6. Recording the piano part
      1m 13s
  11. 13m 57s
    1. Finding the right placement in the room for horns
      1m 18s
    2. Recording a solo sax: Technique one
      2m 40s
    3. Recording a solo sax: Technique two
      2m 30s
    4. Recording a solo brass instrument
      3m 20s
    5. Recording a horn section: Technique one
      2m 27s
    6. Recording a horn section: Technique two
      30s
    7. Recording the horn section part
      1m 12s
  12. 7m 30s
    1. The key to miking any acoustic instrument
      1m 3s
    2. Recording an acoustic string instrument
      2m 25s
    3. Recording a dobro
      1m 36s
    4. Recording the dobro part
      1m 13s
    5. Recording the string section
      1m 13s
  13. 2m 36s
    1. Recording drum percussion
      1m 19s
    2. Recording hand percussion
      1m 17s
  14. 5m 23s
    1. Recording electric keyboards
      1m 58s
    2. Recording acoustic instruments with a pickup
      2m 11s
    3. Recording the synth part
      1m 14s
  15. 12m 4s
    1. Understanding the idea behind stereo recording
      1m 14s
    2. Using the X/Y configuration
      3m 21s
    3. Using the ORTF configuration
      2m 27s
    4. Using the spaced pair configuration
      3m 16s
    5. Using a stereo mic
      1m 46s
  16. 20m 26s
    1. Setting up for a tracking session
      4m 17s
    2. Setting up a talkback mic
      1m 27s
    3. Using sound leakage to your advantage
      1m 36s
    4. Setting up the headphone mix
      2m 31s
    5. Setting up a click track
      2m 11s
    6. Setting up for overdubs
      2m 17s
    7. Recording the rhythm section in the studio
      6m 7s
  17. 48m 47s
    1. The keys to a great rough mix
      4m 55s
    2. Setting up the effects
      3m 47s
    3. The rough mix of Simply Falling
      35m 35s
    4. The final mix of Simply Falling
      4m 30s
  18. 1m 2s
    1. Goodbye
      1m 2s

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