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Ideas for Recording and Editing Guitars by Mike Harrison

Shure SM 57This week I’m going to talk about some of the ways I record and edit guitar tracks.


When recording a guitar amp I always use two microphones for a couple of reasons.

1. I like to have a couple of choices at mix time. Mic number one will be a Shure SM 57 since it’s tried and true and works most of the time for the right sound. For mic number two, I usually use some sort of ribbon mic in contrast to the 57.

2. I also think it a good idea to record with two mics and send each to its own track. Just in case something goes wrong with one of the tracks (bad cord, noise, unwanted distortion, clipping, etc…) and you find out later that the track is unusable.

3. On occasion I might use a third microphone as a room mic to capture ambient sound. This mic is generally placed at the far end of the room opposite the am and sometimes elevated. Or, I might place it somewhere strange, like the back of the speaker cabinet or a foot or two back from the speaker. I use an ABY box to split the signal of the guitar. The A signal goes to the guitar amp and the B signal is recorded to its own track using a direct box. This track with the B signal can be used to reamp the guitar signal to a different amp at a later time. (Reamping is a cool thing and I’ll go into more detail in a future blog)

Sometimes, I record midi information from the guitar using a midi guitar pickup. The midi information can be edited and used as notation if needed for transcription or used to trigger hardware and or software midi sound modules.

When recording it’s a good idea to keep things moving along. I like to record and save all of the takes so that I can review them and pick the best performances later at mix time.


After you’re done with your recording it’s time to do your track editing. Here are a few things you might need to address. I use Digital Audio Software (Nuendo, Cubase) on a computer so that’s the perspective I’ll be coming from.

1. Cleanup the heads and tails of the tracks. Go to the start of the track and take out any noise that might exist so that you get a nice clean start at the beginning of the performance.

2. At the end of the track make sure the track has a smooth and natural decay to it. If not, do a fade to make it sound even.

3. Listen to and fix any punch-ins. Sometimes I punch in a little early so that after I can go back and fix the punch-ins for a smooth and natural performance.

4. If there’s more than one take, I’ll listen to the different passes and choose the overall best performance. Then I take parts from some of the other takes to make a composite (Comp) track and that will be my final edited guitar track.

Some other things done in editing would be:

1. Lowering or raising the track volume.

2. Making a copy of the track to be offset to use as a fake double.

3. Send the track to an output and route it into your favorite hardware mic preamp, eq or compressor.

Until next time …

Posted: 5/15/2009 3:14:08 PM with Comments | Add Comment | Email Link | Permalink
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