Have you ever found it hard to record quality guitar tracks for your songs? In the beginning, you might find it hard to get the right guitar sound for mixing.it is much easier to master a guitar track if you record it with the correct leveling. This article will give you seven useful tips for quality guitar tracks.
For recording quality guitar tracks, you will need a guitar, an audio interface, and a computer or laptop. To get good quality audio, you must know how to adjust the levels and record with at least a 16 to the 24-bit sampling rate.
2 Ways of Recording
There are two ways to record your guitar tracks. 1) You can record the signal by directly connecting your guitar to a computer by using the 1/4 inch input on your audio interface, and 2) You can record the live output from the amplifier you prefer by using a dynamic or condenser microphone.
The latter is usually harder to execute because there are more factors to consider like:
- Amp levels
You will need to adjust the levels of the amplifier, including the gain, volume, and equalizer to get the right amount with no clipping.
- Mic Positioning
You will need to adjust your microphone to the right angle and get the right amount of clearance away from the amplifier speaker to get the best sound. This method will take time, and the output will depend on the microphone you are using.
- Acoustic Treatment
In mic to amp guitar recording, you have to consider the acoustics of your room. The sound is affected by the reverb and bounce of sound vibration. You have to consider the size, noise, and acoustic treatment of your room.
You must consider not making noise when recording mic to an amp. Your room has to be quieter, so your microphone won’t pick up any outside noise. The DAW you are using to record into might have a noise gate plugin that would limit the amount of noise the microphone picks up.
- Type of Microphone
You must consider the microphone your using to record. For louder and distortion-heavy guitar tracks, a dynamic microphone is a better choice. A condenser microphone, on the other hand, is suitable for clean-sounding and low gain guitar. Condensers are better for recording acoustic guitar and vocals.
1) MAKE SURE YOU HAVE NEW STRINGS
One of the things most guitarists overlook is forgetting to change their old strings before recording. New guitar strings will sound better when you are recording. However, you do not have to change your guitar strings after every recording session. It will depend on the condition of your strings.
You can get long-lasting guitar strings that you don’t have to change frequently. These kinds of strings do not rust or oxidize quickly. However, even though these strings do not rust, they lose the quality of tone after a while of playing.
Long-lasting strings would last about six months if you don’t use it very often.
What I would do is have two separate guitars. One for recording and one for practicing; this way, you would not have to change your recording guitar’s strings frequently. If you only have one guitar, it’s okay.
Side tip: to extend the life of your strings always remember to wipe them with a rag after using especially for some of us with sweaty palms.
ELIXIR ELECTRIC GUITAR STRINGS OPTIWEB
These strings are built for long-term use. The Optiweb coating technology protects against common corrosion and debris buildup. Although, you will notice that you are losing the new string sound after a while of use.
ERNIE BALL REGULAR SLINKY PARADIGM ELECTRIC GUITAR STRINGS
These strings have the new state-of-the-art wire drawing process that dramatically increases strength. These strings still feel like the regular Ernie Ball strings with the reinforced Nano treatment.
ERNIE BALL WONDER WIPES STRING CLEANER 20-PACK
These wonder wipes will help extend the life and tone of your strings. It eliminates acid, dirt, and grime.
2) CHECK CABLES AND PATCH CABLES
Guitar cables affect the quality of sound. Different cable lengths may affect the signal, and extra-long cables might cause latency and audio. Investing in quality cables will improve your tone.
It’s not a question of how expensive your guitar cables are, but rather the durability and quality of the shielding and materials. Some wires have better shielding that reduces noise and feedback.
However, the guitar tone is subjective, and the sound will still depend on you. Just remember when recording, you want every cable to functions properly.
If you are using an amp and actual guitar pedals, you will be using a lot of cables depending on the number of effect pedals. If you are using software and VST effects, you’re only going to need one decent guitar cable.
Side tip: Make sure you get the heavy-duty cables and patch cables with the right length (6-10 feet is ideal). Trust me. It will save you time and lessen your hassles in the long run.
MOGAMI GOLD ¼” GUITAR CABLES
This guitar cable provides a crystal-clear tone with noise reduction. The construction of this cable is durable using, a conductive polymer shield and an Ultra High-Density spiral shield for low noise, low feedback, and heavy-duty use.
MXR PATCH CABLE 3 PACK
The MXR patch cables are durable and flexible. The flat angle of the ends is a pedalboard space saver. These patch cables are equipped with a spiral shield for lower noise.
In addition to this, make sure you clean the cables, plugs and even the pedals to make sure the signal is not scratchy and loud. It will affect the noise and feedback if the contact ports are rusty and dirty.
3) CHECK LEVELS OF EFFECTS AND EFFECT PLUGINS
Another essential thing to remember when recording guitar tracks, is to check your effects levels, especially when recording from amp to microphone. Make sure the levels of the guitar effects are balanced to get the mid frequencies.
The mid frequencies are where the guitar dwells in the mix. The bass is on the bottom end frequencies and keyboard on the high end to mix well. Make sure there is no clipping but also make sure the volume is not too low.
MAKE IT LOUD, but not too loud. Getting the best raw sound before mixing and mastering is the best way to get high-quality audio.
Side Tip: When you are doing test recordings, check the wave height of the guitars on your DAW. The waves should be a little higher than the middle, but still has enough headroom for mastering and editing.
If you are recording through an audio interface, make sure your DAW and Interface has a 16 to 24-bit capacity and maximize your recording to up to 24-bit. You will find the bit rate on the bit rate on the file details of the recording clip itself, but it depends on what DAW you are using.
|LOGIC X PRO (Price: $199)||*Massive selection of presets|
*Wide selection of loops
|Logic Pro X has a very minimalistic user interface. The design is straightforward, user-friendly, and can do what most digital audio workstations can like record, edit, mix and produce music. The Multi-touch mixing feature allows you to use your mobile iOS device as an extended screen for easy knob manipulation.|
|REAPER (Price: $60)||*Efficient and fast loading|
*Powerful audio and MIDI routing
|Like Logic Pro X, Reaper also has a minimalistic design. It looks effortless to use and could probably be the most effective DAW for its price range. I prefer Reaper for more straightforward guitar bass and drum recording.|
|CUBASE (Price: $579)||*The standard for music production|
*Suitable for all genres
*Fast and flexible workflow
*Audio alignment Channel strip
|The Cubase is the whole recording package that is used by a lot of professional musicians and producers. The audio alignment lets you quantize your tracks for more precise on-point recording. Chord pads for easier composing and works as a real-time instrument with a press of a button. Easily integrate records with maximum control. The Cubase comes with tons of virtual tools to choose from. The drum editor is easy to use. You can create any beat pattern you can think of.|
|IK MULTIMEDIA iRIG PRE HD (price: $99.99)||*Headphone jackAmp output|
|Besides the compact size, it can record fantastic audio. It can also connect it to your mobile phone and record music wherever you are if inspiration strikes. This audio interface is a small but powerful interface for computer and mobile recording.|
|M-AUDIO M-TRACK 2×2 (price: $99.99)||*2 inputs|
*Crystal power preamp
*¼” guitar input24-bit/Khz response
|This device is a high-quality signal capturing audio interface. It is compact so; it won’t take a lot of space on your desk, and you can also use it for mobile recording. The low-noise feature is essential for getting the most out of your record.|
|FOCUSRITE SCARLETT SOLO (Price: $99.99)||*2 inputs|
*XLR preamp input¼” guitar input
*Indicator lights for levels
*Gain Control24-bit sample rate
|This brand has been well-known throughout most professional music producers. It has low latency, a preamp, and outstanding qualities for its low price. The 24-bit sample rate is best for recording guitars and vocals.|
4) ELEVATE YOUR AMPLIFIER
Something as simple as elevating your amp can help you capture the best sounds when recording guitar tracks. When the amp speakers are on the floor, it bounces quickly, and you get more reverb. The sudden bounce of the audio will sound a little unclear.
Get your amp up on a chair or any other object to optimize the sound. Having your amp elevated, it prevents the microphone from picking up any vibrations coming from the floor.
Side tip: try to angle your amplifier to get more optimization of sound. You can tilt the amp on the chair it is sitting on. If you have a bigger amp, it might be harder to tilt it because of its weight.
5) PRACTICE YOUR RIFFS
Before recording anything, practice your riffs and chord progression. Make sure you are at your best when recording. High-quality guitar recording does not always depend on your gear, but also your ability.
If you are an on the spot recorder, like you record what you think about, that is good too. You can record drafts and re-record them later on if you record the right track the first time, that’s even better!
Side Tip: When you are practicing guitar regularly, always find time to practice the next chord progressions or riffs that you plan to record in the next session.
6) PLAY TIGHTER
When I say play tighter, your guitar playing must be precise and tight. Sloppy playing can affect the overall output. One good practice is to stretch your fingers and arms before recording. It will save you a lot more time.
Make sure your strings are in tune and at the right tension. A nicely set up guitar is also a key factor when recording. If you do not know how to set up your guitar, you can always bring it down to the nearest Guitar Center, and they got you covered.
Side tip: to play tighter, try to practice minimizing your hand movement. Practice to always have the right distance between your hand and guitar.
7) FIND THAT SWEET SPOT
To find that sweet spot, you have to have a mic stand with a swiveling base so you can angle the mic the way you want.
Find the cone of your amplifier and point the mic about two inches away from the grill. The ideal microphone to use is a Shure SM57; it is a cardioid directional microphone.
A directional microphone picks up the sound of where it is pointed at and ignores all the other sounds surrounding it.
The further the clearance of the mic from the amplifier, the lower the bass you get. The sweet spot is subjective to what sound you want. You will have to try a lot of positions to get the music you want.
By angling the microphone, you change the frequency response and get different tones.
The position of the mic depends on what sound you’re looking to record. If you want a more massive sound, place the mic closer to the amp’s speaker.
For an acoustic guitar, sometimes you don’t need an amplifier. You can capture a more natural sound if you record the sound coming out of the guitar itself.
Shure SM-57 Dynamic Cardioid Microphone
This is an industry-standard microphone for live performance and recording. This product is suitable for recording guitars, drums, bass, and vocals.
Side tip: use a dynamic mic when recording guitar directly from an amplifier. Dynamic mics have a full mid-range frequency that is best for mixing guitar tracks.
- STEREO AND MONO
If you like to record dual guitars and have harmonies in your music, a stereo configuration is best especially when your listening through headphones. Mono is good for the more monotonous song that is not guitar-driven.
Stereo outputs are suitable if you want the listeners to distinguish each guitar track on your final recording, plus, it adds a nice effect when you pan the audio from left to right.
- SAMPLING RATE
The bit depth or sample rate is the amount of audio information that comes from the audio interface into your computer. Each DAW can process up to a certain amount of bit depth.
it determines the amount of headroom or space to adjust the audio levels higher without compromising the quality of the audio.
Imagine a low-quality photo being stretched or zoomed. Despite being pulled and stretched, the quality should remain the same. 24bit is enough to produce high-quality music.
- POWER SUPPLY
Getting a low noise power supply for your guitar’s effect chain can optimize your overall sound. It is useful for recording and playing live music. This might be a subtle difference, but for recording, you want the cleanest possible output.
- RECORDING BASS
For recording Bass, it is the same process. You can do it by amp or straight to the computer. Make sure you use a bass amp for monitoring or HQ headphones. In equalizing, you might want to cut off the high ends. Some professional music producers say that the perfect bass sounds can affect the overall quality of your whole track.
If you want to get the best quality in recording your guitar tracks, it will take time to master the art. you will need the right gear, practice, and the ability to play clean. I hope this article helped you understand what you need to know when recording guitar tracks.