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Guitar amp mic'ing

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Guitar amp mic'ing

Postby 62Strat » Tue Apr 22, 2014 6:16 pm

Hi,

So I've read the SOS article a million times now -- well not quite a million, but close. You know, the article about recording guitar cabs.

Anyway, even though I know it by heart, I still can't seem to get a good sound. I fear that I may be running into a limitation somewhere in my signal chain, and I think it might be my preamps.

This is the environment: I'm recording in my basement "studio/man cave". I've treated the area where the guitar amp is with GIK bass traps.

--Amp is a Fender Tweed Blues Junior with new JJ tubes.
--Guitars are Fender Telecaster and Gibson Les Paul
--Various pedals and boosters...
--Amp is off the ground on an amp stand, angled up
--Mics that I have: SM57, Beta 58a, KSM27, SM81, Sennheiser e609, AKG d-112
--Preamp: FMR RNP
--A/I: Focusrite Saffire Pro 40
--Software: Cubase 5

I've tried dozens of mic placements, combining one or more of the above referenced mics. I've tried most, if not all of the suggestions in the SOS article. I've tried really juicing the gain, recording hot, recording cold. Up close, far away, off-axis, room, ambient, etc.

I feel like I'm doing everything correct, but it still sounds like dog crap.

So, I guess my question is: is it my FMR RNP preamp? Is that just not capable of doing justice to a simple SM57?

Thanks!
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Re: Guitar amp mic'ing

Postby The Elf » Tue Apr 22, 2014 6:47 pm

The first thing is to get the amp sounding good in the room. If you have achieved that then it should be relatively simple to capture it with a few tweaks to mic choice and placement. As long as you aren't recording at silly levels then I doubt your pre is going to be the problem, and I've recorded so many albums with little more than an SM57 that I know the mic won't be a limiting factor.

I'm not a big fan of multiple mic's, though I wouldn't rule it out. If I can't get the sound with one mic then I try other options first.

With some guitarists I find that they expect something magical when their amp is mic'd and they can be disappointed with the raw sound they hear - only in the context of the mix does the penny drop that we actually got a great guitar sound. It is important to process the result with care, mainly to remove the 'cardboard' sound and tame nasty resonances.

Maybe you should let us hear some of your results. They may not be as bad as you think.
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Re: Guitar amp mic'ing

Postby Jack Ruston » Tue Apr 22, 2014 6:48 pm

I'm willing to bet heavily that the amp is not able to deliver the sort of recorded tone you've got in your head whatever it sounds like in the room. If you stick a 57 front and centre on a guitar amp in any space, with any preamp and almost any guitar and you don't hear something vaguely resembling what you're going for, then it's usually the amp. Yes, the sound could be refined, and possibly refined a great deal, but you should be hearing the raw semblance of what you're after. My experience of those smaller Fenders is that they have quite a cool 'cheap' sort of vibe but they never sound posh, refined, expensive or punchy. Borrow something else, anything, and see if it changes things a lot. It's that or it's the player

J
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Re: Guitar amp mic'ing

Postby 62Strat » Tue Apr 22, 2014 6:56 pm

Thanks all for the suggestions so far.

As to the sound in the room, I think the guitar sounds great. I've really dialed in the sound that I'm looking for. I would just love to capture that on a recording.

I know there's going to be slight differences: I know the sound is bouncing off of everything in the room before hitting my ears, but the two just don't gel.

I too prefer not to use too many mics. I'd rather just get it with one SM57. I've never really had this problem before, I've always seemed to be able to record guitar cabs fine.

however, this is the first time that I've ever recorded single coils before. All the rest of my guitars are humbuckers... but that shouldn't really change anything.
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Re: Guitar amp mic'ing

Postby 62Strat » Tue Apr 22, 2014 6:58 pm

Jack Ruston wrote:I'm willing to bet heavily that the amp is not able to deliver the sort of recorded tone you've got in your head whatever it sounds like in the room. If you stick a 57 front and centre on a guitar amp in any space, with any preamp and almost any guitar and you don't hear something vaguely resembling what you're going for, then it's usually the amp. Yes, the sound could be refined, and possibly refined a great deal, but you should be hearing the raw semblance of what you're after. My experience of those smaller Fenders is that they have quite a cool 'cheap' sort of vibe but they never sound posh, refined, expensive or punchy. Borrow something else, anything, and see if it changes things a lot. It's that or it's the player

J

Hmmm, perhaps you're right. I just like using the Blues Junior because it has a master volume knob, which lets me saturate the tubes to get a good sound, yet keep the volume not insanely high.

I have a Bassman as well that I could try. I like the sound of that too, it's just VERY loud, like too loud for my neighborhood.
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Re: Guitar amp mic'ing

Postby Jack Ruston » Tue Apr 22, 2014 7:17 pm

Mate, there are few amps better than a good Bassman for recording guitars. In many ways they're the most versatile of all the Fenders and some would say that if you could only have one studio amp, it could be that. I'd stick it in there and just quickly see if your problem goes away. At least you'll know. I do appreciate what you're saying about the noise, but the uncomfortable truth is that recording guitars is a noisy business. Even a 10w valve amp makes a racket. Typically the sort of level you're going to end up with is one that would sit alongside a drum kit without too many problems. If you're recording amps at conversational level they just don't tend to sound good. The speaker doesn't move enough.

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Re: Guitar amp mic'ing

Postby 62Strat » Tue Apr 22, 2014 7:31 pm

Jack Ruston wrote:Mate, there are few amps better than a good Bassman for recording guitars. In many ways they're the most versatile of all the Fenders and some would say that if you could only have one studio amp, it could be that. I'd stick it in there and just quickly see if your problem goes away. At least you'll know. I do appreciate what you're saying about the noise, but the uncomfortable truth is that recording guitars is a noisy business. Even a 10w valve amp makes a racket. Typically the sort of level you're going to end up with is one that would sit alongside a drum kit without too many problems. If you're recording amps at conversational level they just don't tend to sound good. The speaker doesn't move enough.

J

So, what you're saying is, it's more about how much air the speaker moves as opposed to tube saturation? That's an interesting idea, I've never really thought of that before.
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Re: Guitar amp mic'ing

Postby Jack Ruston » Tue Apr 22, 2014 7:41 pm

Well it's a combination of a lot of things, but yes the role of the cabinet is really important. There's a sweet spot, a sort of balance in the limiting and frequency response that occurs when the level is right. In a great amp that will coincide with the sweet spot of the amplifier and the design of the cabinet, materials and speaker choice all have a part to play. Obviously as that level comes up the room begins to play a greater role and the choice of mic may be affected. Try the Bassman for a few minutes whenever you can get away with it, and let us know what you discover.

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Re: Guitar amp mic'ing

Postby 62Strat » Tue Apr 22, 2014 7:46 pm

Thanks Jack, will do!
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Re: Guitar amp mic'ing

Postby CS70 » Wed Apr 23, 2014 8:47 pm

62Strat wrote:
Anyway, even though I know it by heart, I still can't seem to get a good sound.

A lot depends of what you mean with "good sound"?
Or perhaps easier: what is it, that is bad?

Also, certain stuff is not done with a single take.. if you're going for the epic solo or wall of guitars, it's done by layering at mix time, for example.

Also, a tele tends to have a scooped sound, with less mids for example than a stratocaster - so if you are not used (or don't like) the sound, it can be simply the guitar.
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Re: Guitar amp mic'ing

Postby Billum » Thu Apr 24, 2014 9:31 am

After working with a guitarist who loves his Blues Junior, I think that amp has a significant design flaw, and it could be affecting your recording.

The 12" speaker in this amp is just in far too small a cabinet for it! A 12" speaker needs a much bigger space to develop its sound (look at the BJ's biggest brother - the Hot Rod - and see the cabinet, probably double the size! And it sounds 10 times the amp.).

So if you've got a Bassman, as well as trying Jack's suggestions, why not try running your Blues Junior through the Bassman cab (the BJ allows external cabs, but check the impedance matches)? It could give you the master volume loveliness you're after from the BJ but with the proper room to breathe...
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Re: Guitar amp mic'ing

Postby matt keen » Sat Apr 26, 2014 7:35 am

The chances of Jack being right are very high

If you like the Bassman type sound but it really is tooo loud in the long run you could think about other tweed Amps
I use a Tweed Deluxe clone by Eli Abbott. Its in a pine cabinet. Fantastic 3D tweed sounds at a reduced volume compared to a Bassman. The Bassman is the greatest amp ever made in my old boy type of opinion.
Just listen to this for a tele into a bassman
bassman joy
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