THE SECRETS OF MULTI-MIC’ING BY MITCH GALLAGHER
Mic’ing up a guitar ampli- fier and getting great
tone can be very easy—just
jam a Shure SM57 up to your
amp’s speaker cone, right? Don’t
get me wrong, but there’s more
to a tone-filled life than that!
There’s a reason the SM57 is
the standard—it always works.
But why not open your mind
and explore some other options,
especially in the studio?
In last month’s column
(“Going the Distance,” May
2011 PG), we talked about
mic’ing up the studio room to
achieve a more open and ambient sound. We also discussed
the advantages of combining
one mic (like the trusty SM57)
close up on the amplifier with a
second condenser or ribbon mic
placed further away. We saw
how you could set the latter to
an omni or figure- 8 pickup pattern to capture room tones, and
also learned how to minimize
We’ve discussed most of
these microphone terms in past
columns. If you need to refresh
your memory, or missed any
of the columns the first time
around, they’re available 24/7
But we’re not done yet:
There are several things you can
try to expand your microphone
horizons even further, and that’s
what we’ll explore right now.
If one is good, two are bet-
ter. One microphone positioned
away from the amp will give
you a nice ambience to blend
in with the dry amp sound
captured from the close mic.
Taking it to the next level, try
using two room mics with space
between them. Depending on
the size of the room, set up
the mics at ear height 6' to 10'
from the amp, and 6' to 10'
apart. Record your close mic
to one track and the two room
mics to separate tracks. Pan the
close mic to the center, and pan
the two room mics hard left
and hard right. Voilà—instant
depth, space, and perspective!
Using EQ to tweak the sounds
from the two room mics, you
can emphasize the room char-
acteristics you want to blend in
with your dry sound.
Mic’ing a speaker from the rear of an open-back cab can yield extra
low-end booty. In this configuration, an AKG D 3500—a dynamic
often used for kick drums—is positioned behind an early-’80s Fender
Super Champ equipped with a Kenrick 10". Photo by Andy Ellis
a ribbon as the second, or try
a dynamic and a condenser.
Maybe a condenser and a ribbon will do the trick for you.
The key is choosing the first
mic for the basic tone you want,
and then matching it with a
second mic that will fill what’s
lacking. If the amp has more
than one speaker, positioning
the second mic on a different
speaker may give you more
tonal options. Again, try using
the same model mic for both or
test out different models for a
more diverse tone.
No matter where your second close mic is placed, remember to record it to a separate
track so you can balance it with
your first close mic. You can
pan them both to the center,
slightly pan left and right for
more depth, or hard pan left
and right for a wide sound.
Relocate. There are other
places a second close mic
can go—it doesn’t have to be
jammed into the speaker like
the first one. If you have an
open-back cabinet, try placing
the second mic at the back of
the cabinet and mic the speaker
from there. You’ll achieve a very
different sound from the mic on
the front. There is one caveat in
this scenario: You’ll need to flip
the second mic’s polarity to 180
degrees out of phase, or it will
suffer from phase cancellation
with the front mic.
MITCH GALLAGHER is
the former Editor in Chief of
EQ magazine and the author
of six books on recording
and one instructional DVD
on mastering. He operates
MAG Media Productions
and the Sound Sauna studio, and is
Sweetwater’s Editorial Director. His upcoming
book is Guitar Tone: Pursuing the Ultimate
Electric Guitar Sound. mitchgallagher.com