Modeling amps and their ilk can make recording guitar, bass, and other instruments easier
as well, especially if you’re recording while
others nearby are trying to sleep. As much
as I don’t like to admit it, they do a great job
of channeling the sound of the many vintage
amps I own and record regularly. In the final
mix, anyone would find it nearly impossible to
say with accuracy which guitar was recorded
with an amp and which one wasn’t.
When you rent time at a recording studio,
you’re paying for a controlled acoustic environment. Recording at home is another story.
Remember to turn off phones and any other
noisemakers in your recording area. If you
hear a noise, so will the microphone. If a
room booms or echoes, those reflections can
be diminished by hanging packing blankets,
comforters, or bedspreads on extra boom
stands, positioned like a big ‘T’. You can even
make isolation booths with them for recording vocals and other acoustic instruments.
Having a blanket over the amp may not make
it quieter in the room, but it might keep other
unwanted sounds out of the mic on the amp.
“Bagging the kick drum” (draping a packing
blanket over the mic and the front side of the
drum) is another common studio technique.
If you thought Guitar Acquisition Syndrome
was bad, Gear Acquisition Syndrome can be
exponentially worse. Words like boutique,
vintage, reissue, and classic can bring on bouts
of lust for recording equipment we must have
to capture that elusive thing called “great
sound.” Buy quality whenever possible, and
that means spending a little more sometimes,
but many of the newer budget items do a
great job—and in some cases deliver results
that exceed vintage gear. Software plug-ins
emulate a lot of the vintage standards that
recording engineers and producers demand.
Although some are pricey, they are a lot less
expensive than buying one each of the real
vintage units, and you can usually use more
than one instance of them in a session without
having to pay for extra for each one.
Reading articles about recording techniques
and interviews with those who record for a living can be extremely valuable. I’m frequently
asked, “What’s the most important thing to
making a good recording?” Sir George Martin
said, “All you need is ears.” My answer is, “A
good performance, a good-sounding instrument, and a good microphone, in that order.”
Great gear makes the job easier, but you
can get the results you want with less—you
just might have to work a little harder. It’s
not the machine, but the monkey who runs
it. Knowing what to use and when to use it
comes with experience. There are no hard-and-fast rules, and even if there were, well,
you know what they say about rules. Besides,
if it sounds good, it is good.
If you have questions about specific aspects of
recording, email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org, and
I’ll do my best to accommodate you.