You love music, and you know you have the talent to show it through singing and playing the guitar. You’ve listened to countless artists and written a few songs of your own. Now, you believe you’re ready to start recording.
However, here’s the unfortunate truth: Bad recording equipment won’t do anything to improve your overall sound.
But don’t panic! All you need are some tips to make your studio recording sessions better.
Preparing the environment
Before anything else, you have to look for a good recording location. If you cannot get into an actual studio, turn one of your rooms into a mini studio environment. Choose a “dead” room with soft surfaces, like a bedroom or living room, as mattresses, pillows, blankets, and curtains make good sound absorbers. You can cover the room with soundproofing. Just don’t overdo it. Too much soundproofing can create overly muffled sounds.
Additionally, avoid rooms with reflections and echoes, like exposed glass windows and hardwood floors. If you can, create a vocal “booth” in the room — all you need is a small space and a high-quality microphone. This leads us onto our next point.
Choosing your mics
To achieve the best sound, use separate microphones for your vocals and guitar. This will let you record individual sounds, allowing you to get your hands on separate tracks you can use for mixing.
However, this is not an easy task. For vocals, choosing the right kind of microphone involves thinking about frequency responses, pickup patterns, and dynamic range that you’ll need for your setup. For instance, for deep voices, large-diaphragm microphones are better, as they capture lower frequencies more, while small capsule microphones are recommended for voices with higher frequencies.
Moreover, decide which directional pattern suits your microphone needs. You can never go wrong with a cardioid pattern, as it can block out unnecessary noise coming from the direction opposite the microphone.
Also, consider using a pop filter, which is a noise protection filter made to reduce the impact of air from plosive sounds during singing.
On the other hand, clip-on microphones can be attached to your guitar, capturing its sound while giving you the freedom and space to play. But for a more rounded recording, you can always set up a reliable condenser microphone in front of your instrument.
Whatever type of mic setup you go for, be sure to test it first.
Setting up the equipment
Now that you have a recording space and a microphone, it’s time to set up your equipment. For example, don’t put your vocal microphone in the center of the room; however don’t place it too close to the walls either. Both will throw the frequencies of your recording off.
After deciding the position of your vocal microphone, place your guitar microphone near its 12th fret — that is, where the neck meets the body of the guitar. You can also try the three-microphone approach, where you have a dedicated vocal microphone and a pair of guitar microphones placed near the 12th fret and at the bridge. These setups will give you a natural and balanced sound. Plus, you’ll be able to hear the distinction between the instrument and your voice.
Just remember that the more microphones you use for recording, the more freedom you’ll have to mix the sounds afterward — although setup and mixing will definitely be more complex.
From choosing the right microphones to finding the right spaces to record in, following the tips listed above will allow you to improve the quality of your recording sessions. However, while recording does play a key role in producing great music, so do skill and practice. Therefore, consider enrolling in vocal and guitar lessons when you have the time.
Written by Aubree Jill Cawley
Exclusive for learnguitarmalta.com