In this article I will try to give you my opinion on how to record electric rhythm guitar.
Do you USe Microphone or Amp simulator?
Personally, I do not microphone my electric guitar. I find the sound I need through my analogical multi-effect pedal which I connect directly to my sound card. This multi-effect has all the effects I need and I can rewire them as I like. There are plenty of good pedals, amp simulators or DI boxes you can choose from. For each you need to learn how to use them, there’s a lot of trial and error involved.
The advantage of this technique is that it allows me to hear the sound from my monitors exactly as it will be after the recording. Were I to use a microphone and an amplifier, the recorded sound would not be the one I hear from the amp, as the room, the mic distance and position would affect the end result.
What effects should I use?
For rhythm guitar, I only use the compressor and amp simulator for clean sounds, and I use distortion and amp simulator for distorted sounds. I created presets for specific recording purposes. EQ is carefully worked later on with a precise parametric equaliser and spectrum analyser. After that, reverb and delay are added as send effects in my DAW (Digital Audio Workstation), which are the same I use for all the tracks, but in different amounts. This will help glue the tracks together.
SHALL I RECORD Mono or stereo?
I always record each guitar twice, mono tracks, identical takes and pan them L R (From L50 R50 to L100 R100) to obtain the desired stereo-imaging. I normally export them a stereo stem for each guitar once I’m satisfied with the result.
Despite having an amp simulator integrated with my sound card, I still use my old analogical multi-effect because it saves me time.
If I record a solo, I use a different approach. Usually, I record it stereo and sometimes with chorus or other stereo effects. That is because a solo is a central sound, similar to a main vocal. Were I to dub the solo, then I would record mono takes and pan them as I prefer.
A LITTLE BIT ABOUT Other techniques
There are still people who use 35 pedals with 35 cables. Learning how to use a multi-effect can be challenging as hard as learning how to use a DAW. To me though, it has been a real game changer. You can literally do everything you want.
Most people would disagree with me and say that you always have to use a microphone to record the amplifier. True, if a guitarist cannot find the sound they want from a multi-effect, it is still common in some recording studios to use microphones to record the amplifier. However, the sound will never be the one you hear from your amplifier and this is why then some guitarists blame the studio for not being able to record.
As usual, this is my way of working and works for me. There is no better way, the more you experiment, the more opinions you get, the better your result will be. For solos, bass, acoustic or classical guitar I use totally different techniques which I will discuss in other articles.
EXAMPLES OF END RESULT
The following two tracks have been recorded using this technique. The first one has a clean rhythm guitar and the second one distortion. Most if my backing tracks are recorded using this technique.
How to record electric rhythm guitar is part of a blog in continuous evolution, stay tuned for more updates.