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    Microphones, Amps, DIs, Re-Amping, and Amp Sim Software

    Recording the Electric Guitar

    Recording electric guitar? We've got recommendations for the best microphones for guitar cabinets, plus our favorite low-wattage amps for studio recording. And if you're recording direct guitar, we've got the DI boxes, re-amping boxes and amp sim software plug-ins you'll need to get your finished sound.
    How to Mic a Guitar Amp: Dynamics, Condensers, and Ribbons
    The Shure SM57 microphone is perfect for close-miking loud guitar cabs, with its tailored frequency response and ability to handle high SPL (sound pressure level). In general, pointing the mic toward the outer edge of a speaker cone will yield a darker, fatter sound, while the cone's center will yield a brighter sound -- move your '57 around to find the "sweet spot" on your particular amp.

    Another go-to dynamic microphone, the Sennheiser e906 can be hung by its cable directly over the top of your amp -- no mic stand necessary. A 3-position frequency rolloff switch right on the mic helps you shape your sound.

    If you find that dynamic mics sound too harsh or "telephoney" on your amp, try a neutral-sounding large-diaphragm condenser with a detailed midrange, like the Blue Baby Bottle. Especially if you're also planning on overdubbing vocals, this microphone is a fantastic value.

    Ribbon microphones like the Cascade Fat Head II have enjoyed a comeback in the last decade, as modern ribbon materials have become more resilient and less likely to break. Ribbons tend to have a dark quality that can round off the sharp edges of your tone, and they're a natural for recording guitar amps. Many ribbons sound a bit brighter on one side of the capsule -- be sure to compare the front and back.

    Guitar Recording Tip -- Multiple Microphones: If you've got two or three microphones (and enough free tracks in your DAW), why not record multiple guitar mics simultaneously? Try one mic up close, and another mic one to three feet away from the amp. Or try placing two microphones "coincidentally" -- with capsules as close as possible to each other -- to minimize phase cancellation between them. Within your DAW, group the tracks together for editing, then adjust their levels independently as you mix.
      Shure SM57 Cardioid Dynamic Microphone
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      Sennheiser e906 Instrument Microphone
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    Guitar Recording Tip -- Bidirectional Ribbons: Almost all ribbon microphones have a figure-8 or bidirectional capsule that picks up equally on both sides of the mic. So if you're recording a band "live," a ribbon mic on a guitar amp could capture too much bleed from the drums or other instruments. For better results, use a ribbon mic on an isolated amp.
    Shop All Microphones »
    The Best Guitar Amps for Recording
    If you're doing a lot of guitar recording, you may want to invest in an amplifier that really shines in the studio. Often, this means a low-wattage amp with a nice clean tone, that also can deliver hard-driven tube sound without getting overly loud. The best studio guitar amps may look small -- but sound huge, like the Orange Tiny Terror or Vox AC15C1.

    Guitar Recording Tip -- Isolation Cabinets: Your amplifier sounds best when it's cranked up loud, but that kind of volume won't fly if your studio is, say, an apartment bedroom. The solution: an isolation cabinet like the Jet City JetStream ISO12. Plug your amp head into the cabinet, mount a microphone right inside, and close the door to seal the whole rig inside a sound-dampening box. Then play guitar as you listen to the mic's output in your headphones, and dial in your amp sound without disturbing the neighbors.
      Orange TT15C Tiny Terror Guitar Combo Amplifier (15 Watts, 1x12")
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    Recording Guitar "Direct" with a DI Box
    If you're not the world's best guitarist, recording a direct "dry" guitar track can save you a lot of time in the studio. For example, if you only record a "wet" track with lots of reverb and delay, any bad notes or sloppy timing will be tough to edit out. But with a clean "dry" track, you can edit your performance, then add effects and amp simulations later. If you're planning on being able to cut and paste guitar tracks, plan on using a DI (direct input/direct injection) box to capture your dry, clean, "un-effected" signal all by itself.

    To record direct guitar, you'll need a DI -- also known as a direct input or direct injection box -- such as the Radial JDI or the Hughes and Kettner Red Box 5. These boxes accept the high-impedance signal coming through your guitar's 1/4" cable, and convert it to a low-impedance balanced XLR signal that can plug right into an audio interface. If you're looking for an amazing-sounding DI box, check out the Avalon U5 -- with its 6 colorful tone presets, you may never plug your guitar into an amp again!

    Guitar Recording Tip -- Amp Direct Outs: Many guitar amps have a "direct out" jack that functions like a DI, outputting a balanced signal that can be plugged into your interface's XLR input. Since amp-based direct outs can be unpredictable, many recording engineers avoid them -- bypassing the amp completely. On the other hand, your amp's DI may sound great, so it's always worth experimenting to see what works best.
      Radial JDI Passive Direct Box
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      Radial Pro DI Passive Direct Box
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      Hughes and Kettner Red Box 5 DI Direct Box
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      Avalon U5 Class A DI Preamp/EQ
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    Guitar Recording Tip -- Recording Direct vs. Miking an Amp: So you want to record direct guitar, but you love the sound of your amp and pedals. Fear not: you can track both simultaneously. First, plug your guitar into the Input jack of a DI box. Next, connect the DI's XLR output to your audio interface's input. Finally, connect the DI box's "Thru" jack to your amp's input, and mic up your amp as usual. Now, you're feeding your guitar's signal to both places.
    Shop All Direct Boxes »
    Re-Amping: Recording Your Amp, After the Fact
    Once you've recorded and edited a "dry" guitar track, you can "re-amp" it by sending the recorded track out of your audio interface, and into your guitar amp. As the guitar track plays back, dial in your amp settings. Then, mic up the amp and re-record the mic channel back into your DAW.

    Re-amping is a great way to hone your recording-engineer skills: you can focus on the tone of your amp and microphone placement without all the pressure of performing.

    Guitar Recording Tip -- Re-Amping Boxes: Don't plug your interface's output directly into your amp! If your audio interface has +4 dBV balanced line-level low-impedance outputs, you'll need a dedicated box to attenuate and convert the signal to the proper instrument-level, high-impedance signal. We recommend Radial's line of reamping boxes:
      Radial Pro RMP Reamping Device
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      Radial Reamp JCR Studio Reamper
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      Radial X-AMP Active Re-Amplifier
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    Amp Modeling Software: Great Guitar Sounds In the Box
    Sure, if you've got a killer amp collection and plenty of studio space, by all means experiment with re-amping your dry signal and miking up your amps. But if you don't have a killer amp collection -- amp modeling software to the rescue!

    If you're looking for some of the best amp-simulation plug-in software out there, we recommend IK Multimedia's AmpliTube, which supports AudioUnits, VST and RTAS plug-in formats. AmpliTube is loaded with over 160 gear models, from stompboxes, amps, and cabinets to rack effects. You can even model microphones and control the "room ambiance" of your recordings.

    Need an audio interface for guitar? The Line 6 POD Studio UX1 and UX2 are USB interfaces that comes with POD Farm DSP simulations of 18 amplifiers, 24 guitar cabs, 29 effects and more, with tons of tweakable presets. The interface works with just about any Mac or PC recording software (like Sonar or Logic).
      IK Multimedia AmpliTube Amplifier and FX Modeling Software (Mac ...
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