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Oliver Phillips
Oliver Phillips

Electric Guitar Amp



You can connect an electric guitar or another electric instrument to your computer to play and record in an audio track, and use the included amps and pedals to shape your guitar sound. There are several ways to connect an electric instrument to your computer.




electric guitar amp



After you connect an electric guitar, you choose the input source for the track you want to record in, and optionally turn on monitoring. Monitoring lets you hear yourself play so that you can hear the part you want to record as well as the rest of the project.


The first subject I concentrated on is (you guessed it) recording electric guitars. What became immediately apparent was that there was a huge range of different techniques being used, and also that there were strong differences of opinion between different professionals, which left the question 'who do I believe?' The only way I could answer that question was to put the different techniques into practice in the studio, and then A/B them to sort the sheep from the goats.


Also using his room to advantage is Jay Graydon, who talks about placing a guitar amp on his studio's drum riser for certain sounds. "The riser eliminates low-end coupling with the floor. I am looking for a sweet mid-range tone, so as to not take up too much room in the track, meaning that I do not want low-end information for solos."


On a practical note, Steve Churchyard has this to add: "You'll want a good A/B box so that you can split the guitar feed to the two amps and obviously use the shortest [cable] run. Ideally have the amps in the control room and run the longer leads to the speakers."


Shure SM57.Sennheiser MD421.For a rock sound, many (though not all!) engineers will use a dynamic mic placed close to the speaker (sometimes on its own, sometimes in combination with other mics) like this Electrovoice RE20.Why such a strong preference? These days, force of habit has got to be part of the answer, but there is also a lot about the microphone's frequency response which suits guitar recording. For a start, the sub-200Hz response roll-off reduces low-end cabinet 'thumps', which might otherwise conflict with the kick drum and bass in the mix. This also compensates for proximity boost when the mic is used very close to the speaker cone. However, there's also a slight 'suckout' at 300-500Hz, an area where muddiness can easily occur, and a broad 2-12kHz presence peak, which adds bite and helps the guitars cut through the rest of the track.


Producers as varied as Chuck Ainlay, Mike Clink, Mike Hedges, Gil Norton, Bob Rock, Elliot Scheiner and Tony Visconti all claim to have recorded electric guitar using this mic alone, and it would probably be fair to say that it's often the first mic to come out of the locker for many more than these.


Small-diaphragm condenser mics, on the other hand, tend to have flatter frequency plots and a better-behaved off-axis response, giving a sound sometimes described as more focused, but they seem to be less commonly chosen by the interviewees than large-diaphragm ones. Neumann's KM84 seems to be the most regular choice of small-diaphragm condenser, and numbers John Fry and Bill Price amongst its high-profile users, while Sennheiser's MKH40 warrants a particular mention from Mike Hedges: "I started using [these mics] when I was working with the Beautiful South. I started off with two and now have more than 20. I think they were originally designed for classical recording, because they have very high gain and very low noise. This means that you can get a very clean sound. They also accept massive amounts of volume, so you can put one against a guitar amp on full and it will take it." Hedge's concern about the ability of the microphone to handle the sheer volume of some guitar amps is echoed by several of the other producers, who make a point of mentioning that they switch in a condenser's 10dB pad when recording electric guitars.


However, John Leckie states an interesting preference for an SM58 and U67 rig instead: "SM57s tend to be that little bit brighter than the SM58, which really isn't what you want when you're miking up an electric guitar amp. You really want to pick up a flat signal, an 'unstimulated' signal I suppose is the word... The U67 gives you the warmth and a broader sound."


Coupling an SM57 with a small-diaphragm KM84 condenser finds favour with Bill Price and John Fry, while Mike Hedges chooses his favourite Sennheiser MKH40. Bill Price also mentions the importance of finding a very close phase match between the two microphones. "What one had to do was balance those mics equally, grab a pair of headphones out in the studio that were turned up nice and loud, and fractionally position one of the mics so that they were perfectly in phase at high frequencies, because if you had one mic five inches away and the other six inches away you'd obviously get really bad phase shift that would take the top off the guitar sound."


Beyond specific favoured mics, a number of engineers also mention more general principles when choosing pairs of mics for guitar recording. Jim Scott and Stephen Street both mention using a 'cheap' or 'bad' mic with a good mic (both give the SM57+U87 combination as an example). "Between the two you can find the ideal sound," remarks Jim, "and you can get brightness and fullness."


While recording AC/DC's Back In Black, Tony Platt used a pair of condenser mics to pick up different speaker cones and give a wider sound to each guitar: "I developed a technique for recording guitars with two microphones roughly pointing at different speakers, which can be spread out in the stereo mix so it's not just a series of mono point sources. It makes for a more open-sounding guitar. That sound suited their particular technique, which involved Angus and Malcolm playing the same chords but with different inversions to get a very big unison guitar sound."


Perhaps the most dramatic of ambient mic techniques, though, comes courtesy of Chris Tsangarides. His 'Vortex' involves using studio screens to build 30-foot-long walls along each side of the guitar cabinet, creating a flare shape (apparently inspired by the shape of a bass bin). Within this flare, he places a close condenser mic and typically another couple of condenser mics with different distant positionings, perhaps at 15 and 30 feet away. "I walk around while the guy's playing and find a sweet spot and put the mic there", says Chris.


By panning the distant mics to the opposite side of the mix from the close mic, you can create interesting panning effects for solos. "If it's a rhythm part, you get this huge sound because the whole thing is spread across the stereo spectrum." When double-tracking lead or rhythm parts, a useful trick is to reverse the panning of the direct and distant mics. "If there were two guitarists in a band, I would record them like that, so you got a wall of sound that had a transparency that would allow the drums and bass to come through."


For his work on Supernatural, Glenn Kolotkin turned to elaborate multi-miking as a way of managing Carlos Santana's complicated setup. "I used multiple microphones on Carlos' guitars: Electrovoice RE20s close, Neumann U47s further away, an SM56, U87s. He was playing through an assortment of amplifiers at the same time, and by using multiple microphones I was able to get just the right blend."


Complex though some of these techniques are, probably the most powerful use of multi-miking I've encountered during my investigations comes courtesy of Jack Douglas, who makes creative use of phase cancellation between microphones. "For guitar overdubs, the best EQ in the world is the phase EQ, which you get by using multiple mics on a speaker. For example, take a Shure SM57, a Sennheiser MD421 and your favourite condenser, and set them up in a triangle with the two dynamics at an angle up against the grille, but off axis. Then take your favourite condenser mic, put a 10dB pad on it, and place it about a foot away, facing the speaker, on axis.


Having tried out this technique, I have to say that it's something of a revelation to hear the enormous range of radically different sounds it makes available. When you start inverting the phase of a mic, it sounds like the most extreme EQ you've ever heard, which means that you can substantially reinvent guitar sounds at mixdown without using any heavy processing. For even more sonic mileage, you can also take a leaf out of John Leckie's book and process each of the three mic signals independently.


If you hook up other instruments, like an acoustic guitar or a harmonica with a microphone, and feed an electric guitar amp their signals, you will get totally different results throughout the circuit. You may not get the tone you expect, or, in the worst case, you might damage the amp. But generally, all passive sources with electromagnetic coil pickups are safe to use. This includes piezo pickups mounted to the bridge of an acoustic guitar and vocal microphones. Since they are not powered by an external source like a 9V battery, they are passive and create a weak signal.


Well, acoustic guitar amplifiers are designed differently from electric guitar amps. Acoustic amps are built to reproduce the natural sound of an acoustic guitar as cleanly and as accurately as possible. The goal is to add volume to your natural acoustic tone, not make it different. In contrast, electric guitar amps are built to handle the compression and distortion that electric guitar players want from their instrument.


Consider the purposeWhen choosing an amp, you have to consider what you will be using it mainly for. There are different kinds of amps for different situations and needs. To give you an idea of the kinds of guitar amps available, here are some common scenarios and the kinds of amps that will be suitable for them.


Practice sessionsWhile you may easily hear the sound coming from your guitar during quiet times at home, using a small practice amp lets you listen to your playing with a more critical ear. Amps that are designed for practice purposes usually produce 10-40 watts and come with a single speaker. Some practice amps have built-in effects and EQ controls, allowing you to shape your tone and fine-tune your acoustic sound. 041b061a72


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