Recording electric guitar direct or through a mic and amp

Discussion in 'Recording 101' started by Jeff Routledge, Jun 7, 2017.

  1. Jeff Routledge

    Jeff Routledge New Member

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    Hello, I'm having trouble determining if there really is any advantage to record an electric guitar through a mic and amp over just plugging the guitar and effects pedal chain directly into my DP32 SD? Is there really a significant enough sound improvement using an amp and mic to justify spending$300 or $400 for a small 5 watt or less tube amp? If so, are there any recommendations out there about what tube amps sound good for the money and what mics sound good? Thank you for the assistance.

    Jeff R.
  2. cmaffia

    cmaffia Moderator Staff Member

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    It's all about the tone and what you are looking to capture. Direct has it's advantages but can sound sterile. Mic placement with great guitar/amp tone is fun and creative as well. Certain types of music are also served better by each type of recording. Personally I use both techniques depending on the song and style. I also had invested in amps and mics so I didn't need to make a financial decision. They always say your first mic should be a Shure SM57. It records guitar cabinets and many other instruments quite well.
  3. skier

    skier Active Member

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    I agree with cmaffia's response and want to add a few more points. As he stated, this is first about tone, and that is affected by the amp and speaker you run through, the room and its furnishings, the position of the speaker(s) in the room, and the position of the recording mic on the speaker cabinet — they will all affect that. My experience is that recording direct has never given me a sound that I like.

    However, if you ever want to change or remove an effect or want to edit your guitar take after the fact, such as with a tool like Melodyne, then you want the signal as clean and pure as possible. As soon as you begin to add any effects to a guitar's output, especially grunge or outright distortion, the additional artifacts will become almost impossible to edit properly and the result will be cruddy. So I like to record the guitar output directly as well as from miking the amp itself. The direct take allows you to re-amp the sound later. That means that you can edit the guitar take, or even just change the effects in the guitar chain, both pedals and any effects contained in the amp itself, without having to record another take of you trying to play the part better or identically.

    To re-amp a cleanly recorded guitar, take the output of the cleanly-recorded track, run it through a re-amping box (some direct-in boxes can include this facility) and into any pedals, then into the amp of your choice, and finally into the speaker cabinet(s) of your choice. The foregoing gives you almost any option you can imagine to re-color your sound using any effect (or combinations of effects), amplifier, and speaker cabinets just as if you played the edited take perfectly through the new combination. The re-amping box provides proper impedance matching between the low impedance output of your interface and the very high input impedance of the typical guitar pedal and/or amplifier.
  4. Jeff Routledge

    Jeff Routledge New Member

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    Thank you "cmaffia" and "skier" for the info... I appreciate it very much. I'm thinking about picking up a small tube amp (either a VOX AC4C1-12, Blackstar HT-1R, CT special 6 or maybe a Burega V5 Infinium). I can't seem to decide which of these will record better. Thanks again.
  5. Gravity Jim

    Gravity Jim Well-Known Member

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    First question: what are you recording?

    If you're not recording for broadcast and are doing it just for fun, a decent modeler like a POD HD or better will work fine. It won't have the depth of a good amp recorded with a good mic, but it will do a lot of different tones with zero hassle.

    If you're recording anything you might charge people for, you want to record the guitar through an amp (unless you're specifically going for the "direct effect").

    All the amps you mention will probably work okay, but my favorite low-wattage, super versatile amp is the Egnater Rebel 20. See if you can play one at your local GC or someplace.

    The advice that a Shure SM57 is the best cheap guitar cab mic is getting a little long in the tooth (no offense, Charlie): a 57 is fine (I own a couple and use them on guitar tracks once in a while), but there are tons of good dynamic mics that might sound even better. Also, don't neglect the possibility of a condenser mic or even a cheap ribbon.

    I was a staunch defender of modelers and software for many, many years, but I finally had to admit that they sound generally bad, and in a way you can't fix with EQ. Nothing yet sounds as a good as a solid. mic'ed amp.... not to mention the boost it gives the player in performance.
  6. Jeff Routledge

    Jeff Routledge New Member

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    Thanks Jim, I'm recording my 2017 Gibson SG Standard on original songs.

    I'm going to check into that Egnater Rebel 20 amp you mentioned. Is that a tube amp? Getting a real tube amp is about the only thing I've definitely decided on at this point due to the warmth and natural crunch sound you can obtain from them.

    I was also considering the Fender Super Champ X2 because it has real tubes but it is a little pricey and I don't really need or want the extra effects and modeling features.

    Thank you.
  7. cmaffia

    cmaffia Moderator Staff Member

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    Very true Jim. In addition to recording with an SM57, I also use a Sennheiser e609 and modded MXL R144 ribbon mic (replaced with Cinemag transformer) on my cabs. They are all at the $100 price range so it won't break the bank.
  8. Jeff Routledge

    Jeff Routledge New Member

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    Do the Sennheiser E609 and the MXL R144 mics require phantom power?
  9. BikerDude

    BikerDude Member

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