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Recording E. Guitars: Where to shoot at the cone (Part II)


The article 'Recording Electric Guitars: Where to Shoot at the Cone' continues with the ‘Crunch’ and ‘Lead’ tones, analyzed in this second installment.

Download and listen to 40 new audio files, to discover what to expect from each part of the cone.

Where’s the guitar tone you are looking for?

When recording electric guitars, moving the mic a little may go a long way.

This is the second part of an article which analyzes the varied sounds you can obtain when placing a microphone in different zones and at different distances from the same speaker/cone.

The 20 ‘Clean’ audio files were analyzed in the first part of the text. If you haven´t read this yet, it is advisable to do so before attacking this, as there are several useful details explained in it.

Crunch Tone (G2)

This is the matrix with the ‘Crunch’ tone audio files:

'G2 pos. A00'

'G2 pos. B00'

'G2 pos. C00'

'G2 pos. D00'

'G2 pos. A05'

'G2 pos. B05'

'G2 pos. C05'

'G2 pos. D05'

'G2 pos. A10'

'G2 pos. B10'

'G2 pos. C10'

'G2 pos. D10'

'G2 pos. A20'

'G2 pos. B20'

'G2 pos. C20'

'G2 pos. D20'

'G2 pos. A30'

'G2 pos. B30'

'G2 pos. C30'

'G2 pos. D30'

When examining the ‘Clean’ audio files, one of the first noticeable things was that the closer distances are those that offer more differences between mics, as each one is recording a specific part of the cone.

Listening now to the files A00, B00, C00 and D00 of the ‘Crunch’ tone, the differences are even bigger than those encountered in the ‘Clean’ tone, especially between the central position and the others.

The first logic conclusion is something you may already knew or suspect: usually, when recording distorted sounds, paying attention to the exact position of the mic is even more important.

In this specific case, the A00 position seems somehow too bright. If I had to record this sound with only one mic (at this distance), I would probably choose between positions B or C.

Details of the four points covered (the SM57s were side by side)Details of the four points covered (the four SM57s were side by side)

However, before deciding between one of these, it would be wise to check the result of angling the A mic towards the outer part of the cone. Sometimes, a microphone at 45º in position A offers an interesting tone for this kind of sound.

In addition, a good way to take advantage of the variations between the different parts of the cone is to use several mics, so the timbre characteristics of each one will also come into play. You can obtain a varied palette of sounds with two or more mics.

Regarding the proximity effect and the spatial character of the mics with tone G2, they are similar to those encountered with G1, so they can be used (and abused) in similar ways.

Lead Tone (G3)

Audio matrix for G3 ‘Lead’ tone:

'G3 pos. A00'

'G3 pos. B00'

'G3 pos. C00'

'G3 pos. D00'

'G3 pos. A05'

'G3 pos. B05'

'G3 pos. C05'

'G3 pos. D05'

'G3 pos. A10'

'G3 pos. B10'

'G3 pos. C10'

'G3 pos. D10'

'G3 pos. A20'

'G3 pos. B20'

'G3 pos. C20'

'G3 pos. D20'

'G3 pos. A30'

'G3 pos. B30'

'G3 pos. C30'

'G3 pos. D30'

Regarding the variation between the different positions (A, B, C…), the general response of the mics to the ‘Lead’ tone is similar to that encountered in the guitar G2.

The four mics, at distance '10'The four mics, at distance '10'

However, something else must be taken into account regarding a sound with these characteristics: you´ll probably want the arrangement to cut nicely through the mix.

So, maybe you´ll find more useful positions that offer a brighter tone, for example points A or B.

In a similar way, shorter distances will show the arrangement as being closer to the ‘stage’, and this can also be useful if you want to place the guitar arrangement in a certain ‘part’ of the mix.

Final thoughts

Usually, the last mile is the hardest to finish, and the same is true of audio: transforming something good into something excellent usually requires paying attention to a lot of tiny details.

As we´ve seen, there are many options and alternatives to the tone provided by a single speaker, and each one may be better in different situations.

Did you notice a certain general pattern when mics are placed at different positions or distances? Do you have now a better idea as to what each zone of the cone will offer, and how it will change with the distance?

I hope you found the article useful. I´ll be happy if it has inspired you or given you one or two ideas you might want to try out in your next session.

Do you have any thoughts on this? Join the Open Mic in the comments section.

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