There’s is nothing better than recording a top guitarist using great gear, but some of us need to add some electric guitar to tracks now and again. We don’t have the money or can’t justify spending a fortune on a top guitar and amp, but is it possible to get a great guitar sound on a budget?
Here are our top 5 tricks that should help you get a great guitar sound on a limited budget;
Use An Amp
Try and record using a guitar amp whenever possible. Even if you have to borrow or hire a guitar amp, there’s nothing like the real thing. Amp sims have come a long way, but the combination of a real amp, the mic and the room will still give you a sense of space and dynamics that can’t be beaten.
Work The Mic
Try a number of different microphones. If you have little budget then you can’t beat the Shure SM57, then try moving it around in front of the amp until you get the sound you want. If you have the chance to try a few mics then set them up in front of the amp and then have someone move them around whilst you check the sound – if you have no control room then use a pair of headphones for this task. You will be amazed how different a guitar can sound as you move the mic around in front of the cab.
Keep Your Options Open
Track a mic’d version and a DI version at the same time, this gives you a lot of options in the mix. If nothing else adding an effect or another plug-in and mixing them together can give some great results. This is often done when tracking bass guitar but less so when tracking electric guitar.
Plug in To A Plug-in
There are some great amp sims out there in plug-in form. Sansamp ships with Pro Tools but is often overlooked. There’s also a lot of FREE guitar amp plug-ins like Amplitube, Eleven Free and others. Do some searching and you’ll some cool free stuff for both Mac and PC. As a last resort download a demo copy for a session and use it – it’s not illegal, just smart if you only need it for a day!
Track More Than One Guitar
Whilst I’m not a fan of tracks with hundreds of guitar parts there is something to be said for playing several different parts, it’s partly down to the genre of music you are recording. If you only have one guitar part recorded then a nice trick is to make a copy of the guitar track and then slip it slightly on the time-line, then add a different sound to it using an amp sim. Finally pan them left and right. You’ll be amazed at how big one guitar can sound using this effect.
These are just 5 tricks for those just starting out or on a budget.
How about your tricks, we know some of the community have some real gems, please leave them in the comments section.
Here are a few more tips to get a better sound.
Double track with a capo
Double track the same inversion but with guitar in different tuning.
Double track with a different guitar.
Double track with a different player ( differences are good!)
Double track just the bottom string (or strings depending on the chords) gives you a more positive sound
A good pop punk sound is gtr 1 @ 8 o’clock, double track gtr (different guitar capo’d or different tuned) right @ 4 o’clock, single bass string centre
Split between 2 amps with one 57 on each and a stereo xy for the room
Speakers need to be driven but not so loud that the room is adding too much to the mic
Don’t ignore using practise amps, they can sound huge with the right treatment
learn the part and record at half speed ( be careful of the top end)
Double with an acoustic for that Keef sound
Commit fx to record as often as possible except reverb which if you have it as vital to your sound then you should record to extra tracks
Use only really good quality guitar leads. If it costs less than a tenner you need to really check your thinking
Stand up while playing. Makes a huge difference to the attitude
Even if you are recording in the control room wear headphones. This will enable the engineer not to have the monitors too loud and make accurate judgements about your sound
Mic the guitar even if its electric . (plectrum on strings can sound great mixed back)
USE A TUNER…..Preferably the same one as the other guitarist and the bass player.
New strings are great but for the night before.
Use loop record
I’m sure there are tons more of these type of tips