What's the best way to mic my guitar amp for recording in a studio/practice room?
November 22, 2008 7:41 PM   Subscribe

What's the best way to mic my guitar amp for recording in a studio/practice room?

Hello everyone-

I'm trying to figure out the best way to record my guitar amp based upon the current gear I have. I've looked many places and still can't find the information I'm looking for, so I wonder if anyone has any suggestions how to do this. I have a Line 6 Spider Valve 112, which packs a Celestion Vintage 30 speaker. So far I've been pushing up an SM57 against the grill and tried some other mic arrangements, but the sound isn't working for me. (I'm recording onto protools with an mbox2 so I know I'm capable of getting good quality). The sound I'm going for is just a very generic full and solid rock sound, cranking the tube amp and trying to get the best tone. I've tried some other mic arrangements, its in a large practice room and I've probably got about 3-4 feet in front of the amp to position mics and play with. Here are the current mics I own, most are vocal but would some of these work on the amp, possibly back a couple ft?

EV ND967 Dynamic Mic
Audix 0M2 Dynamic Mic
Shure Beta 57A Dynamic
Shure SM57 Dynamic
Shure PG 81 Condenser Mic
M Audio Nova Condenser Mic (kinda junky but came with the mbox bundle)

I'm definitely interested in adding another good quality condenser mic, what do you recommend? I was looking at the AKG Perception 220, lots of ppl seem to like it and the cost is right. Basically I'm open to any suggestions on which mics I should add/use, how to position them, and any other additional info. Also, what would be a good way to isolate the noise from the rest of the room? I don't know much about plexi-glass sound screens, but could that do the trick? I was hoping that would maybe preserve some of the sound too as far as recording. Sorry for all the information, I'm just very interested in the best way to do this. I know there's a thousand different ways but I was hoping more experienced persons than myself would have some valuable light to shed on this topic. Thank you!
posted by andruwjones26 to Media & Arts (6 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
From my husband:
57s are good mics to record guitars with. try moving the mic about 2 inches off the center of the speaker. keep it off the grille, it causes unwanted vobrations. take your beta and set it up 4-5 feet in front of the amp and try going for a mix between the two mics.
posted by kellyblah at 8:03 PM on November 22, 2008

Be sure you mess with the mic's angle in relationship to the speaker cone as well. I often find that pointing a dynamic at about a 45-degree angle toward the edge of the cone gives me a beefier tone.

As far as isolation, you're not going to get too much with a condenser if a band is playing. A dynamic right on the amp should give you mostly guitar w/ not much drumset (assuming there is one). But really, if you're recording a band, maybe just record bass (direct) and drums together, then add the guitars later.

As far as plexiglass goes, I've never really heard of anyone using it for guitar isolation. I think it would probably create a bouncy mess from the inside and a muddy mess from the outside.

Speaking of bouncy/muddy messes, it may be that your room just doesn't sound great. I wasn't happy with my guitar tones, then moved to a new studio with a big, great-sounding room, and my guitar recordings sound much better. If it's the case that your room isn't great, I'd probably go with only/mostly close mics, or at least find the spot in the room where the amp sounds the absolute best.

My favorite recording forum, by the way, is the TapeOp Message Board. You can find PLENTY of suggestions for recording guitars there. Also, by the way, you should subscribe to TapeOp and read it religiously if you enjoy recording. It's free, and it's wonderful.

Good luck!
posted by nosila at 8:53 PM on November 22, 2008

I often find that pointing a dynamic at about a 45-degree angle toward the edge of the cone gives me a beefier tone.

This. I came in here to say this but I see it was done for me. Do it with the SM57, it'll improve the tone quite a bit.
posted by ikkyu2 at 10:00 PM on November 22, 2008

I know you're asking about how to mic your amp, but have you tried the XLR DI on the back of your amp? Line 6 has built their brand on tone emulation and easy home recording solutions, and they've thoughtfully put a DI there for just this purpose (I don't know of any other tube guitar amp that does this). It's worth trying -- it might sound pretty good and it's darn easy to set up. You could also try a mic on the speaker as well as the DI. Good luck!
posted by redshifter at 9:18 AM on November 23, 2008

I have nothing useful to add, just to note to follow the above advice and see where that gets you.

Other useful forums are the recording.org forum, the Sound On Sound forum, and gearslutz.

I've never used an AKG 220. The frequency response looks relatively pleasing, and should be a bit more neutral than a 57. If you can, borrow one from your friendly neighbourhood audio shop and test it out. If you don't have a friendly neighbourhood audio shop, scour the above linked forums for impressions.

Actually, if you want a really full rock sound, stick all your mics all over the shop and record tons of tracks, then play with layering them. Then compress the hell out of it. Grow long hair too, that seems to help. Have fun!
posted by Magnakai at 5:35 PM on November 23, 2008

One little trick that's worked for me in the past: if your amp has an open back where the speaker is visible, try aiming a spare mic into the back of the amp. You get some deeper tones this way, and mixing this mic in with the ones pointed at the front of the amp can give you a wider range of sound.
posted by arcanecrowbar at 2:25 PM on November 24, 2008

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