I’ll be in session tomorrow tracking electric guitars. I’m not sure what to expect as I suspect the players do not have much recording experience. Studio playing is very different from live playing. And, the producer wants to track both of them at the same time. Which makes it really tough to hear what each player is doing in real time. Should be an interesting session.
My approach to recording electric guitar is pretty straight forward if the following holds true: a great guitarist, using a great instrument and getting great tone from the rig. If I do not start there, there is nothing that I can do in the control room to get a good sound. I can improve upon it, but I will not get a really great guitar sound. If there is an issue with the sound of the guitar, it can usually be traced back to the player, the player’s instrument and the player’s rig.
I generally start with a dynamic mic, a Shure SM-57 or Sennheiser MD421, and experiment with mic placement close to the speaker grill. In some cases, I may decide to get some ambient mics into play and I will use a large diaphragm condenser. For open-backed combo amps I have achieved some interesting results with a dynamic close miked pointing at the rear of the combo and an ambient mic pointing at the front.
There are numerous issues that I see in the studio when tracking guitars. Guitars not set up properly with poor intonation, old strings, buzzing electronics. Big, loud solid state amps that sound terrible. Sloppy technique. Tuning issues. Microphonic tubes (and no spare tubes in the gig bag). Harsh sounding effects.
I will need to remember to be patient tomorrow and I will have some backup plans in case the issues with getting good tone are severe.