Wednesday, November 30, 2005

The Secrets of Making Great Guitar Recordings

By: George Nellas

Not every guitarist records. In fact, most guitarists will never
make a recording of themselves. However, many of the burdens
associated with the task of recording have been, in recent
years, pushed aside. In the past, it was necessary to assemble
an entire team of people to make recordings. You had to have one
or two engineers, usually a producer, several band members and
generally a few hangers-on who just wanted to get in on the
action. As technology has increased, the amount of labor
associated with recording has decreased, along with the number
of people needed to produce recordings.

For most guitarists who want to record, especially in a home
studio, the recording environment will consist of three primary
things: the guitar, the amplifier or direct device, and the
recording device. All three of these are of equal importance in
producing quality guitar recordings.

First, you must make sure that your guitar is of quality and in
good working condition. If you're not up to the challenge
yourself, take it to a quality repairperson who will be able to
make sure that your string heights are adjusted correctly, the
action is comfortable and that your electronics are in working
order and free of buzzing and other electrical noise.

Second, the amplifier or direct interface. More and more these
days, guitar recordings are made with direct recording
interfaces, such as the Line6 POD. These types of devices can be
great time-savers in the studio and, more and more, can offer
you a tone equivalent to or better than a traditional amplified
signal. If you're more of a purist, make sure that you have a
quality microphone to pick up the signal from your amplifier
(the standard is a Shure SM57) and that your signal is free from
interference. This means making sure that your amplifier,
microphone and microphone cables are free of buzzing and that
all fluorescent lights in the recording environment are turned
off. Fluorescent lights, although great energy-saving devices,
reflect up to sixty percent of their energy back into the
system. If an amplifier or loudspeaker is hooked up to the
system, a beautiful 60-cycle hum ensues, ensuring that whatever
recordings you make are utterly useless.

Third, the recording device. For most of us these days, our
primary recording device is a home computer. Macintosh has been
the industry standard for years, but most PC makers have revved
up their models enough (and made them crash-free enough, thank
you very much) so, although the majority of studios still use
Macs, the only real difference is your personal preference.
Whatever type of computer you decide to purchase, however, make
sure that you max it out with speed and memory.

Although many computer programs and direct recording devices
will have some pretty good-sounding presets, to get original
tones, make sure that you experiment and try to come up with
something that sounds original. Many presets are loaded with
gain and effects to make them sound impressive to first time
hearers. Remember, a whole lot of great guitar sounds have been
recorded with a minimal amount of distortion, and effects can
always be added later, so don't risk screwing up a great take by
committing your effects to tape right away, without being sure
of the tone that you're going for.

Good Luck!

About the author:
You can find more information about guitars, recording and
recording techniques at

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