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A Beginner's Guide to Recording Guitar

by Jonathan Richard Meager

Some people could find the prospect of recording an electric guitar quite daunting, but musicians and engineers in fact have many options open to them.

For instance, they can use plug-in computer software, using physical modeling pre-amps or miking up valve amplifiers. Indeed, the number of choices is limitless and a person's chosen set-up is largely dependent on personal taste.

Miking up a valve amp is one of the most popular methods of recording an electric guitar, as it gives a much truer sound than amp modeling hardware or software. Where you site your mic in relationship to the speaker is a matter of personal choice, as is what type of mic you want to use.

This is important as there are many different models on the market, such as cardioid or dynamic mics, both of which give a full tone with smooth high end. By contract, capacitor mics are very good for those who want a brighter tone.

Any decisions on recording set-ups may also be influenced by what type of guitar amp you are using. For instance, a mic would need to be positioned several feet away from a stack of cabinets to make sure that elements of each unit are picked up. Alternatively, people with open back cabs could choose to put the mic at the rear of the unit.

These will then run into your soundcard, which typically runs into a computer via firewire or USB. The sound can then be recorded onto your digital audio workstation, such as Cubase or Cakewalk.

However, some people who are recording electric guitars favour physical modeling pre-amps, such as a Line 6 Pod X3 Pro.

These can be used both on stage and in the studio and include various options such as changing cabs or microphone distance. Alternatively, they can be used to emulate stomp boxes and numerous studio effects. These are very easy to edit and good for helping people achieve the perfect guitar tone. This can then be plugged straight into a soundcard, which will then run into your computer.

However, it is worth noting at this point that some microphones will require phantom power, so you should check this out before purchasing a microphone or soundcard, depending on your requirements.

Electric guitar players also sometimes use plugs-in such as a Fender Amplitube. This allows people to manipulate a dry guitar signal that has already been stored on a digital audio workstation. Musicians have the option of changing and editing the settings as they please even after the recording has been completed.

So ultimately, there is a great deal of personal choice available to musicians and engineers. There is no right or wrong way to use this equipment and you have total freedom to do whatever you wish. Indeed, you could even mix and match elements of each and blend the results together. Experiment with each option and you will soon find out what suits you best.

I am the Communications Manager of Gear4music.com. I am committed to delivering the most informative and useful articles about musical instruments and equipment.

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