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How to record a guitar

Guitar with a microphone

Here we’ll explain in a few simple steps how to record a guitar (electric or acoustic). The tutorial is geared towards those who are new to music production and want to get great results without delay. Bear in mind that there is more than kind of setup. Ultimately, the aesthetic end result that you want to achieve is connected to the way in which the music is created. In other words, there’s a range of possibilities to get the desired sound. We’ll describe the standard methods here.


Necessary equipment:

  • 1 acoustic guitar with pickup or 1 electric guitar with amplifier
  • 1 large diaphragm condenser microphone (e.g. Neumann TLM 103)
  • 1 dynamic microphone (e.g. Shure SM57)
  • 1 mixer or audio interface

Recording acoustic guitar

Acoustic guitar is recorded with pickup and microphone. If your guitar doesn’t have a pickup, skip the first step and go to step 2. You will have less leeway this way when mixing later (more on this to follow).

→ Step 1 – Line-in:

First, connect your guitar to your mixer or audio interface via the jack socket. You’ll notice that the signal when the guitar strings are struck will be recorded rather than the signal of the microphone. The sound character will have a more percussive nature.

→ Step 2 – Microphone:

Position the large diaphragm condenser microphone between the 12th and 15th fret. Experiment with this position until you find a place where it sounds best! The mic should be at a distance of four finger-widths away. It shouldn’t be placed in front of the soundhole, because this will lead to a recording that is very mid-heavy in terms of frequency range and will conflict with the frequency range of the voice. The sound will be harmonic in character.

Now we’re coming to the leeway that was mentioned above: you can subtly mix in the recorded line-signal to the microphone track. In this way, the percussive sound of the line-signal from the string attack can be added to the harmonic sound of the microphone signal. Play around to find out which mix is best for you!

 

 

Recording electric guitar

Die E-Gitarre nehmen wir über ein Großmembran- und dynamisches Mikrofon auf. Diese Mikrofone findet ihr auch in unserer Übersicht der Mikrofonarten.

→ Schritt 1 – Verstärker abnehmen:

Den Verstärker nehmen wir mit einem dynamischen Mikrofon ab. Um einen druckvollen direkten Sound zu bekommen, sollte das Mikro möglichst nah am Gitter positioniert werden. Bewegt man das Mikro Richtung Rand des Amps wird die Aufnahme zunehmend bassiger und weicher. Zur Mitte hingegen höhenlastiger und aggressiver. Wenn ihr den Abstand zum Gitter erhöht, wird der Sound luftiger, aber allerdings auch weniger druckvoll und direkt. Wandert mit dem Mikro ein wenig herum, um herauszufinden welcher Sound für euren Zweck der Beste ist. Üblicherweise wird das Mikro auf halber Strecke zwischen Rand und Mitte positioniert.

→ Schritt 2 – Raumklang aufnehmen:

Um den Raumklang aufzunehmen, stellt ihr das Großmembranmikrofon in einem Abstand von 85 cm zum Verstärker auf. Ihr erhaltet dadurch einen räumlicheren Klang und zudem etwas Bassdruck, da sich die tiefen Frequenzen erst mit Abstand von der Klangquelle entfalten.

Jetzt könnt ihr beim Mixen erneut experimentieren, indem ihr den Raumklang der Verstärkeraufnahme hinzumischt. Passt auf, dass eure Aufnahmen bzw. euer Mischverhältnis nicht zu bassbetont ist, da ihr sonst den Platz für die Bass-Gitarre nehmt.

 

 

Tips:

  1. Try bringing in more takes. Then you can separate your guitars in Stereo Panorama (left/right) and get a fuller sound.
  2. Don’t forget to play along with a metronome or clicks, otherwise you’ll be driven crazy when different takes don’t fit the same rhythm!

 

Don’t have any software for mixing yet? Try out the free full version of Music Maker or get started at full volume with Samplitude Pro X4!

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