Take Your Mixes To The Next Level

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

6 Mic Placement Tips For Electric Guitars

Guitar cab miking with 2 mics image
When it comes to recording electric guitars (or any other instrument, for that matter) so often we rely on experience or sight when placing the mic. That might be a good place to start, but there's a more thorough way to get a great sound.

Here's an excerpt from my Ultimate Guitar Tone Handbook (written with Rich Tozzoli) that outlines 6 mic placement tips for making sure that the mic placement will capture the right sound for the track.

"A common recording process has an engineer EQing, compressing, and adding multiple mics in trying to capture a sound, yet never taking into account what the sound in the room at the source is like. That’s why it’s imperative that every engineer use the following steps in any serious microphone placement:

1. Go out into the room, stand in front of the amp or acoustic guitar player, and listen to them play the part from the song you’re about to record. Playing the song is important because you might be deceived if it’s another song or just random playing. Listen for the tonal balance from the amp or instrument as well as the way the room responds. Listening to the amp or acoustic guitar in the room will give you a reference point to the way it really sounds so you have a better idea of what you’re trying to capture.

2. Find the sweet spot. There are several ways to find the sweet spot.
  • To place an omnidirectional mic, cover one ear and listen with the other. Move around the mic or player until you find the spot that sounds best. That’s where to place the mic to begin.
  • To place a cardioid mic, cup your hand behind your ear (instead of covering it) and move around the player or amp until you find the place that sounds best.
  • To place a stereo mic or stereo pair, cup both ears and move around the player or amp until you find the place that sounds best.
  • As an alternate method, crank the amp until it’s noisy, then put on headphones and listen to the mic as you move it around until the noise has the best combination of highs and lows.
3. You can’t place the mic by sight. The best mic position must always be found, not predicted. It’s okay to have a starting place, but it’s usually never what ends up being the best spot.

4. Change the mic position instead of reaching for the EQ. Chances are that you can adjust the quality of the sound enough by simply moving the mic in order to avoid using any equalization. The EQ will add a least a small amount of phase shift at some frequency and can’t be undone later. Moving the mic (which amounts to an acoustic EQ) will usually sound smoother and more pleasing to the ear.

5. Give the mic some distance. Remember, distance creates depth. The guitar and amp will sound a lot more natural than using artificial ambience. If possible, leave just enough distance between the mic and the source to get a bit of room reflection to it.

6. Be careful miking multi-speaker cabinets. 4x12 cabinets like the typical Marshall 1960 pose a special challenge in that at a certain distance you have phase anomalies from the multiple speakers that you really don’t want to capture.

The cabinet will sound fine when close miked from right against the grill cloth to approximately three inches away from the best sounding speaker in the cabinet, but until you get to a distance of 18 inches where the sound of all the speakers converge, you may be capturing some speaker interaction that’s not all that pleasant sounding. That distance varies with the make and model of speaker cabinet.

Also, be careful about buzzes and rattles from the cabinet, which could sound very much like distortion or a blown speaker. Finding it may take some time, but a bit of tape should do the trick to quiet things down."


4 comments:

Sound Engineer said...

That was great , It was the way that i always do for my own miking not just for guitars family, i do this way to mike most of the instruments, i will read this book as soon as i can find a dealer in my country.
Thanks

Janny said...

This is listening to the amp or acoustic guitar in the room will give you a reference point to the way it really sounds so you have a better idea of what you’re trying to capture.I would like this blog.

Rafee said...

This cabinet will sound fine as soon as close miked from right up against the grill cloth to approximately three inches clear of the best sounding speaker from the cabinet, but until you get into a distance of 18 inches where the sound epidermis speakers converge, you may be capturing some speaker interaction that’s only a few that pleasant sounding.

LarryC said...

Other tip: The goal of a room mic would be to capture the amp in a space that is pleasant, and put it to use in the context of your combination. The close mic(s) will do only that – deliver you an in your face close sound. Some measurement will be added by the room mic. Because the actual sonic space you set the place the amp in will have its unique sound like adding reverb, but distinct it’s.

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...