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Electric Guitar Recording Tips with Bob Horn and Erik Reichers

Transcript
Erik: Alright, so for guitar, we’re going to start I think with the Bogner. This is the Ecstasy 101B. This is kind of our house amp. It’s a really versatile amplifier. It can do — it’s not just a one-trick pony, it does a lot of things, and it does a lot of things really great. It’s got really nice clean tones — really bell like clean tones, all the way up to old Plexi type sounds, and then even more kind of a modern metal over distortion, overdriven type of sound as well.

A lot to pick and choose from here, it can be tricky to dial things in, just because of all of the settings, and it can be a little overwhelming, but once you play with the amp and really get a feel for it, you’ll realize you can achieve a lot with just this one amp.

So what we’re doing here is once again, we’re really going to focus on isolation, but still allow all the musicians to be in the room together. So what we’ve got here is the head out here, and the cabinet is in the booth over here. So we’ve got tie lines that we’ve run through our studio, so it’s speaker level out into a speaker line jack in the wall, and that runs through over here into this booth, so it allows us to keep the speaker cabinet in its own space, and keeps the player out here with the other musicians. Line of sight, visual cues, once again.

Bob: Speaker levels and other kind of cable that is okay for really long runs. This run is only about 20 feet, but…

Erik: Right. And then in here, we’ll show you the cabinet. I’m going to turn this, and I’m actually going to move it over here. This is a big Bogner 4 by 12, and the cabinet is all birch. So it’s all hardwood, it’s not MDF, and in our experiences, the cabinet can make a big difference just in the way that it’ll resonate with the speakers inside of the cabinet.

Sometimes, the MDF cabinets, just the sort of sawdust and glue cabinets, they just don’t have the same resonance, and you don’t get quite as tight and punchy and clear sound, but these cabinets that are made with full blown solid wood, solid birch, they’re tight, they’re punchy, and great sounding cabinets.

So we’re going to use this to get our guitar sounds today, and a lot of times, this particular cabinet has four twelve inch speakers in it, and what you should do always is listen to the cabinet before you put microphones in front of the speakers, because sometimes, the speakers sound different, and I can tell you in one case, I was working with some musicians, and the guitar player didn’t realize that one of his speakers was blown, and he kept on saying, “I can never get a good sound out of the speaker cabinet.”

I came in and listened to it, and I said, “That’s because one of your speakers isn’t working. You’ve probably been putting microphones into a speaker that’s not working.”

So this is our house speaker cabinet. I know which ones sound good, so I know exactly where I’m going to put my microphones, but something to keep in mind if you’re ever struggling to get a good guitar sound when you’re miking up a speaker cabinet is to go in there and listen to it first, and make sure that all your speakers are working.

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So what we’re going to do from a microphone standpoint is use an SM57 and a Royer 121 ribbon microphone in conjunction with each other, and you can get a really nice blend of sounds when you use these two microphones together, it’s one of mine and Bob’s favorite combinations.

One thing you’ve got to be careful with is when you’re using two microphones together like this, you’ve got to worry about the phase relationship between the microphones, so one of the easiest ways with these two microphones is to know exactly where these two diaphragms — well, the diaphragm and the ribbon in this case — you want them to be as close to side-by-side as you can, you don’t want one further in front or further back, or you want to try to get them as close as you can, or you’re going to have some phase relationships — some time differences.

So the ribbon on this mic is basically in between these two fins. If you look at this real close, they have these fins on the outside here, and the ribbon element is pretty much right in between, it’s in the center of the microphone, so when you’re using a 57, the diaphragm isn’t right up here on the grille, the diaphragm is actually a little bit closer back, and it’s a little bit closer to where the writing is on this, so if we were to take this cap off, you’d see the diaphragm of the 57 is here, so when you line these up, a lot of times, you can put the fin kind of right next to where the writing is, and you’ll know that your ribbon and your diaphragm are pretty dog-gone close to being next to each other, and you shouldn’t run into any type of weird phase issues.

So we’ll do that next. The other part about miking up the speaker is that for the most part, the center of the cone, and we’ll see if you can see it in here, this grille is pretty thick… That cap in the center, the dust cap in the center, is going to be the brightest part of the speaker, you’re going to get your high end from there. The further you move away from the center and you come out to the edge of the cone, the more low end you’re going to pick up. So center of the cone, brighter, outside of the cone, more low end. So a lot of times what we like to do is take the Royer, the 121, and I like to put that kind of right in the center. The Royer has a little bit smoother response. It doesn’t sound harsh, but you can get a nice top end by putting this kind of dead center in that dust cone, or the dust cap there, and then you can blend it in — it looks like we’re pretty much there.

Then the 57, I like to get it lined up. Once again, get that fin of the Royer and the writing on that 57, try and get those lined up with each other, and then as close as you can, pretty much get pretty good phase response when you listen.

That looks pretty good.

Bob: You’re kind of treating them like one microphone almost having them as close together as possible. These are both on-axis miking techniques. Some people like to use what’s called off-axis miking techniques, which you literally take a mic and turn it — so like, this would be — a lot of engineers like to kind of do this, and this is called off-axis, and it’s still pointing towards the woofer, but not straight on, and it kind of cuts — kind of tears the high end down some.

With the Royer, the Royer is so warm sounding, and the 57 is so aggressive sounding, it works great just this combo of mics right next to each other, and like Erik said, the 57 is not dead in the middle, it’s a little off of the dust cap where it’s really bright.

So now when Erik goes to blend these two mics, he kind of has an EQ built in, where if he needs a little more fullness to the sound, he can push up the Royer, if he needs a little more brightness, he can push up the 57. So you can kind of use your faders as an EQ while you’re mixing, and even during the song, if you get to one part of the song and you want a little more cut through on the song, you can just push up that 57 with automation, then bring it down later. So really, really cool trick.

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Bob Horn

Bob Horn

Bob Horn is a mix engineer who has worked with Grammy Award-winners including Usher, Timbaland, Ashanti, Dave Koz and Akon as well as many others.

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