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Many musicians look for the best studio to record their music, and some even travel out of town to make this happen. But not all of us have the luxury of visiting a studio or taking time off work. Recording your own tracks at home can be a great option for many musicians. In this article, we’ll talk about what you need to do before you get started recording your guitar at home and how to be successful in doing so. We hope this article is helpful for all those who want to elevate their recordings!
Why Is Sound So Important in Recording Guitar at Home?
When it comes to recording your guitar at home, you want to make sure that everything sounds great. The quality of the sound produced when recording your music is a major factor in creating a great-sounding song. If your guitar has an off-key sound or if it’s not as strong as you want, you may need to do some adjustments before you get started recording. For example, if your guitar sounds boomy, you may have to adjust the equalizer. If the sound is too thin and lacking in depth, you might need to boost the low frequencies.
Check Out These Tips Before You Start Recording Your Guitar:
The first thing you can do is head over to our recording studio equipment guide. You can use some of the tools we recommend for making your recordings sound their best.
Achieve Great Guitar Sound in Your Home Studio
By following the tips below, you can ensure that your recordings sound great. Remember, it’s all about balancing your guitar’s volume, tone and the amount of feedback you receive.
Get Your Pedalboard and Amps Ready
Make sure your paddleboard is ready to go ahead of recording including having your pedalboard organized with pedals in the order you need. Nothing breaks momentum worse than needing to switch out equipment mid-session. Keep a clean, accessible power strip for your pedals and amp if possible. Clean power will help reduce noise and interference of the pedals while recording.
In addition to your pedalboard, you’ll need to get an amp ready before recording. This can help with your tone as well as making sure that you’ll be able to record at the volume you need. Make sure it’s easy for you to use and understand. Powerful amps can sound great, but if there are too many settings you’ll have to go through, it can be confusing and help create a bad recording.
Setup Guitars Needed
Any guitars needed for the recorded session should be tuned with newer strings. The reason for this is that you can simply switch to the guitar needed for the song as needed without needing to change the tuning and breaking the momentum of the session.
Get the Room Right For Recording Your Guitar
In order to record great, clear audio, you’ll need a room that sounds good. This is especially true if you are not using a close microphone on the speaker cabs, the room will play an important part of the overall guitar tone.
I personally prefer a live room to a dead room for recording. Your amp will sound better when it’s not hooked up to a dead room. If you are having issues driving a high power tube amp for recording, potentially look into low-watt tube amps alternatives for recording purposes. This will help allow you to naturally overdrive the amp without waking up the entire neighborhood.
If a low-watt amp is not in your guitar arsenal, you can also look at recording directly into your sound board. This will eliminate the need for a mixer and lets you easily get your electric guitar the way you want it.
Setup Microphones Ahead of Time
Now that we have our guitar and room ready, it’s time to take a look at microphones. Every time I setup mics for guitar I always am happy I am not a drummer as recording drums is a task and a half! For this there are two options that work great.
For electric guitar, I prefer to close mic the speaker cab with a dynamic mic. My go to at home is the Shure SM 57. This inexpensive mic is rugged and does a great job capturing the frequencies needed for recording guitar.
For acoustic, I prefer to use a quality condenser microphone like a Rode NT1-A or Audio-Technica AT 4040. These microphones are more expensive than their dynamic counterparts but offer the best sound quality and options in terms of positioning them for getting a natural guitar tone.
If you have a high-powered guitar amp at home, you may find that you need a microphone that can handle higher volume levels. A cheap condenser mic may not be able to handle the volume and will create distortion.
Dial In Your Guitar Tone
Equalize the tone of your guitar carefully to make sure it’s not overpowering or thin-sounding. If necessary, adjust the equalizer to get a good mix of lows, mids and highs. Get the tone you are looking for ahead of trying to record.
Check Your Cable Sound and Make SURE You Have Enough Length
Another big issue that can create unwanted noise during recording is your guitar cable. If you notice hissing in the background or have a lot of unwanted feedback happening, make sure your cable isn’t the issue. Swap it out with a different one and make sure you have enough length. While wireless mixers are great for live situations, they aren’t the best option at home because they can be more prone to interference.
Tone Tips for Recording Your Guitar
Do Not Over Compress the Sound
One of the most common mistakes guitarists make is to over compress the sound. You don’t want the sound to become too crushed and not have any dynamic range. This can make it less powerful and make the recording sound dull. If you find that you need to boost your guitar volume, try using a compressor with a ratio that allows for more compression at lower input volume levels rather than one designed for higher compression ratios.
Experiment with reverb
If you are going for a vintage sound, use a reverb unit to help recreate the ambience of the studio. This will give the recording some emotion and make it sound more realistic. A cheap reverb pedal is perfect for this as long as it does not have any unwanted effects.
Use a variety of microphones
While you can use one microphone for all guitars, try using different microphones on different guitars to find what works best for each instrument. Experiment with different mics on the same guitar to see what sounds better. For example, you could use a condenser mic for your acoustic and a dynamic mic for your guitar.
Listen to the Tone Through Headphones
One of the best ways to hear exactly how your finished recording will sound is through headphones and not speakers. This way you can hear how it will record as well as get a good idea if there are any tone issues you need to address. For tracking guitar, my go to has always been the Beyerdynamic DT-770 headphones. They are inexpensive, durable and the sound they produce translates very close to what we will end up with in the final mix.
If you are going to make use of a compressor or similar effects, I prefer to use an effect that I can monitor through headphones as well. I’ve worked with many engineers in the past and can honestly say that this has been one of the best decisions for my tone. It’s also much easier to get your sound just right if you can listen in real time.
As you can see, with a few tips is possible to get great guitar tone in your home studio. Make sure you record at a good volume level and use isolation to keep your neighbors from being awoken by every scratch and pop that comes from your guitar amp.
If you have any questions or comments, please share below! I’d love to hear from you.