Today, there is an abundance of equipment gadgets to choose from and for guitarists of all levels. If you have not gotten that far on the guitar fingerboard and want to get started with both songwriting and improving the guitar playing, it is pretty easy to do it with the help of mobile, tablet and / or computer. The best part is that it does not have to cost the shirt to make good quality recordings or want to practice dexterity anywhere – as long as you have a battery left.
IK Miltimedia Irig is one of the more well-known guitar accessories for Iphone and Ipad.
In this guide, we focus on some of the basics of guitar recording – both for acoustic guitar and electric guitar – what to think about plus some tips and tricks. We provide suggestions for affordable equipment. Remember that there are many products in the segment that do the same or similar jobs, so the choices are great. Also keep in mind that even used can be good, even if the product has a few years on its neck. Line6 launched their groundbreaking Pod over 15 years ago and roots rock guitarist Pete Anderson still uses it in recording and live.
So once you’ve got what you need to get started, like instruments, pickpockets, mics, puff guards, tripods, sound cards, recording programs with power plugs and other gadgets, it’s time to start recording.
Find your sound
There are as many guitar sounds as there are guitarists. The guitar sound is in the combination of instruments, amplifier and as they say “in the fingers”. Nine guitarists playing the same guitar and amplifiers with identical settings will sound quite different depending on their way of playing. Finding the right sound and way to play and record for your music is the most important thing. A truth that always applies to recordings is the following: get a nice signal level without noise and / or hum or that you record with too strong a signal – digitalist is not something that sounds particularly good. All this always makes the last mixing job much easier when you have come this far.
Apogee Jam is a really good adapter to jack into your smart phone or toad to record guitar.
Choice of instrument
You probably already have one or more guitars, but remember that even if the expensive favorite guitar is more comfortable to play, it does not automatically give the right sound for the song you are working on. Make sure the guitar is correctly tuned, adjusted with sensible string height and has decent new strings – but a brand new string set can give “squeaky noise” especially when you record with a microphone on acoustic guitar. If there are several of you who record different instruments, always use the same tuner.
Slightly simplified, you can say that there are two ways to record guitar. Today they are often used in various combinations. Mic up the amplifier (or the acoustic guitar) with one or more microphones is a proven way to make a nice guitar sound – but also a way that takes time – both to learn and to perform it. We start with acoustic guitar recording.
Recording acoustic guitar and vocals
If you have guitar and voice as the main instrument and write songs, it is easy to record both at the same time. To remember an idea, a mic is enough. Then there is everything from simple digital pockets to portable recorders, but a nice alternative is the mini studio Boss Micro BR-80 which has a built-in stereo mic and eight tracks for less than two thousand kroner. Any accessories will be added.
The Boss Micro BR-80 has many flexible features in a small format, and you do not need a computer, phone or toad.
If you work with a recording program on a computer or tablet such as GarageBand, you may want to record with a simple sound card. And maybe you want to record with two mics. Recording song and guitar at the same time often gives more feeling and nerve. That the vocal mic also picks up the guitar and vice versa rarely becomes a problem if you do some provincial gigs first. If you sit down, a good starting point for microphone placement is to direct the vocal mic upwards and the guitar mic towards the guitar neck’s 12th band.
If you only record your guitar playing, the microphones are placed in an x / y position, but if it is intended as a guitar that will glue the song together, it is usually easier to record it in mono. Guitars with a built-in mic system can always be recorded as a complement – but rarely give a nice acoustic guitar sound.
With standard mics such as Shure’s dynamic microphone SM57 and a capacitor mic like any from the SE Electronics X series, you can go a long way. Remember that mic placement and the room where you record plus your song and performance are the most important.
Shure’s dynamic mic SM57 is as close to standard as you can get.
Recording of electric guitar
Mickeying up a guitar amp is often superior to many sounds but not always entirely practical if you are recording in a home environment. But the gameplay is better and the amplifier has no delay that a simple sound card has. So if you have the opportunity, a little amplifier of 5 – 15 watts can give a really big and fat guitar sound with a SM 57, which can handle strong volume. The mic is placed close to the speaker cone / front fabric. This gives a basic sound that usually works well for electric guitar sounds. If you aim the mic at the edges of the speaker cone, it gives a warmer sound, and nothing is more right than the other.
Other common mics for mica guitar amplifiers come from Sennheiser, AKG, Audix, Samson, Røde and more. In the professional world, you often record with more mics and with a DI-box that gives a completely clean signal on a separate mono / stereo track which can then be sent out to another guitar amplifier with a completely different guitar sound – which in Swedish is called “re-amping”. ”.
There are lots of floor multi-effects and sound cards from several manufacturers – think Fender, Vox, Roland, Blackstar, Line 6 and more – that have speaker-simulated outputs or USB for recording to a music program. Two amplifiers that deserve a little extra in terms of price and sound are Yamaha’s THR series and Blackstar’s ID: Core series – there are several models in both. On them you can set a nice guitar sound and via usb send two separate guitar signals via usb to your music program – one with your sound and the other pure without effects.
Guitar Amplifier Blackstar ID: Core 20.
Get started with sound cards
Many sound cards come with a simple music program that is usually easy to install. Then just connect the sound card to the computer tablet or mobile phone, and then the guitar cord to the sound card and then record.
Sound cards are available from a few hundred bucks and up. Some simple but common ones are Apogee’s range (only for Mac), Roland / Boss, PreSonus, IK Multimedia, Alesis, M-Audio, but the list can be made much longer. Take advice from friends and in a nice music store – the important thing is that you think about how many inputs you need to have, support for drivers, preamplifiers and your listening while you work on the recording.
Guitar plugs nowadays everyday food
Today, even the simplest music programs contain one or more guitar plugs that often sound perfectly okay. If you want more of everything – read amplifiers, speaker boxes, mics and more – names like Guitar Rig, AmpliTube, Waves GTR 3 Amps, Peavey ReValver, Pro Tools Eleven (also in rack format) and Swedish Softube are the most famous. Less well known are Studio Devil and Overloud and there are a plethora of free plugs of varying quality.
Recording with guitar plugs is today everyday food and the big difference lies with the player. The listener can probably often not determine whether the recording was made via a plug or amplifier, but compared to plugging into an amplifier, the whole game feeling can vary from cash to very close. It can feel like playing with a latency that gives an untidy feeling where the attack you both hear and feel when you hit the string comes a little late. Here, your hardware, sound card and software as well as settings are crucial for whether it feels as if the guitar plug gives a similar response as with a real amplifier.
Apps also come in a never-ending stream with everything from guitar tuners to recording programs. What you need is a gadget that leads the guitar signal into your mobile or tablet via the headphone or battery charger input. Some of the ones we tested earlier are IK Multimedia’s iRig and Peavey’s AmpKit Link, Sonoma Wire Works GuitarJack with okay results for the pennies, but if you want a more versatile portable sound card, Apogee JAM is a really high quality variety in this context.
If you want to record and or practice guitar with the help of your mobile phone, it can be a little more cumbersome if you have a small screen. The advantage is that you can practice and capture your song ideas in flight – as long as the batteries have the energy left.
Here are the apps we like
Gibson Learn and Master / android & iOs
Apple’s GarageBand / iOs
Guitar Toolkit / Agile Partners / iOs
Amazing Slow Downer / Roni Music / iOs
… and an odd but fun one
Recording guitar sounds is not always easy. Getting a sound that sounds like your role models can be next to impossible, so test yourself and above all write songs.
Remember that a good song is always a good song even if you have not gotten to the recording or the guitar sound yet.
TIP: Avoid hum and other noise
It is not a fun expense but getting high quality cables and wiring always pays off in the long run.
Do not use your nine-meter guitar cord for live gigs when recording.
If you like single coil mics (single coil) as on Tele and Strator, they are extra sensitive to hum. Try moving away from computers and monitors and turn around until you find the best position.
Do not connect all gadgets to the same electrical outlet.
About the writer
Micke Linderoth is a freelance and Studio guitar writer. He recently translated Yngwie Malmsteen’s autobiography Relentless: The Memoir into Swedish and in the meantime he listened to Twisted Blues Vol. 2 with Oz Noy and A Dotted Line with Nickel Creek.