S IGNALCHAI N
Rub a dub dub... Record in the Tub
I’m sure that at one point in your life, you little amps are great recording tools and stun
have asked yourself, “How come every me on a regular basis.
time I plug into my analog or digital multi-
track recorder my tones really suck?” It’s a
pervasive problem among guitarists trying
to capture their tone, so this month I’ve
chosen to share a few recording tips and
fun little bits of information to help you
create better recordings. I have to admit
that recording music is a great passion
of mine, and I really love sharing some of
the more interesting techniques I’ve
stumbled upon and learned from
other minds in the industry.
When it comes to playing around in the
bathroom, I like to position a small ampli-
fier at the far end of the bathtub and put a
close mic somewhere towards the other end.
This is where using headphones definitely
comes in handy; the key to getting a good
recorded tone is to listen carefully to each
microphone as it is being placed. Do you
ment – you might be in for a big surprise
when pushing the envelope. Try placing the
second mic up high, towards the ceiling and
above the amplifier. Condenser mics tend to
work best when it comes to recording room
sounds, but the only hard and fast recording
rule is that there are no hard and fast rules.
Remember that old saying, “Rules are meant
to be broken?” Feel free to shatter any and
all of them.
You can make wonderful sounding
recordings for less money now than
ever before in history, meaning this is
one of the best times to get involved
with this fascinating art form. Once
you have collected a few decent
microphones – and the more the mer-
rier here – the big payoff comes when
you are able to start using multiple
mic’ing techniques. These techniques
will open up a variety of sonic options
for you, and will in turn make your
setup more versatile.
Now, here’s where the real fun starts.
Keep in mind as you are reading this
article that you can take these tech-
niques anywhere, so don’t be afraid to
open up your imagination and experi-
ment. That was the idea behind this
article to begin with!
Staircases work really nicely for record-
ing any number of sources; I particularly
like them for recording acoustics. Hard,
wooden staircases are the best, as they
add their own inflection to the sound
of the guitar. I usually work with two
condenser mics on an acoustic guitar
– in this particular case, one mic can be
at the bottom of the staircase pointing
upwards toward the instrument. The
second mic is usually positioned closer
to the guitar but can be placed up high,
aiming down towards the instrument if
the ceiling is high enough.
I have used closets, bathtubs, stair-
cases, shower stalls and many other
spaces found in any modern dwelling
to record great tones to a multitrack
tape deck or digital audio workstation
– these unique locations can be mic’ed up
in ways that sound tremendously cool. Using
tiny, 5-watt amplifiers in these situations can
result in a larger-than-life sound, particularly
when mic’ing from a distance, because more
of the room sound is added to the signal. To
do this, I have several small amplifiers that
I rely on in my home studio – among them
are one of the new, retro-looking Fender
Champion 600s and an Epiphone Valve
Junior, with its unbelievable 70-watt 1x12
speaker cabinet. The speaker contained in
the Valve Junior cabinet is worth the price of
admission alone – $129 at last glance. These
When you start looking at your sur-
roundings in terms of recording aids,
you’ll discover all kinds of ideas. Have
you ever thought while you were brush-
ing your teeth in the mirror that it could
be used as a sound reflector? A van-
ity mirror can easily be taken from its
usual spot on the wall and positioned
to reflect sound coming from your amp
or guitar; use a condenser microphone
aimed at the mirror, not at the acoustic
guitar or the amp’s speaker, to record it.
With some savvy experimentation, you
can achieve some really amazing results.
like the sound you’re hearing? If so, record
it! If you don’t like the sound, simply move
the microphone. Just remember to avoid any
water when you’re using a bathtub or shower
stall as a recording venue. You may also want
to check with your girlfriend’s bubble bath
schedule, to make sure there are no conflicts.
But all kidding aside, you have been officially
warned – no water at all!
These are just a few options that can be
called upon when the creative urge strikes.
Look around your house or apartment and
you’ll find plenty of interesting locations to
use in your recordings. It’s a gas to do, a ton
of fun and can sound quite incredible. Enjoy!
You can also look at the mic as another
form of equalization. With this in mind,
experiment with placement and multiple
microphone usage in any recording environ-
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( sobstrings.net) and has had a profound influence
on the trends in the strings of today.