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Thread: How to record my guitar playing to cassette given that I like the sound from my amp?

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    How to record my guitar playing to cassette given that I like the sound from my amp?

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    I am a brand new guitar player with a new electric guitar and a Crate G60 XL 1x12 combo amp. I love the sound from the amp and I want to record it to cassette to remember my riffs and to share with my friends and to listen to in my car (that has an old Blaupunkt cassette deck). How can I go about doing this?

    I have a stereo system of old components like a receiver, cassette deck, Cd player, and turntable.

    I don't want to like mix or change the sound of what comes out of the amp because I think it sounds great coming from the am's speaker, so why alter it. I feel like I should buy a mic like an SM57 or something to place in front of the speaker, but after that I am at a loss. What do I plug the mic into, etc.? The idea of "digitizing" it or adding special effects makes me sick which is what I thought mixers were for. Even if I had a mixer I would not know what to do with it. Can you help me please or get me unstuck?

    I am playing hardcore/heavy metal but no solos if it has any bearing.

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    Using a mixer won't force you to change anything about the sound, but it will give you a mic preamp to plug the SM57 into, and probably have record outputs on RCA connectors you can plug into most cassette decks.

    Microphones produce very weak signals that need to be boosted to be usable, which is what a mic preamp does. You probably want the sound of the guitar to come out of both speakers in your car stereo, so a mixer would take care of that as well. Something as simple as the one below would get it done for you.

    Mackie Mix5 5-channel Compact Mixer | Sweetwater

    But don't be too quick to write off going digital or using effects. You're already using an effect by putting the guitar through an amplifier, so there's no real difference between that and working on it a little after the fact. For now, though, the above mixer and a decent cassette deck should get you going.

    [Edit] I should add, just using different mic placement will affect the sound. Pretty much any change you make to how you record constitutes an "effect" of some kind.

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    The fear of electronics probably has a name, but I've no idea why something that is meant to be pure and as transparent as possible has this impact on you.

    You could indeed buy a 57 and a reel to reel from the 70s and record it pretty noise free and with decent quality. You could also plug the same mic into a portable, solid state recorder like a zoom and record it to a memory card. If you plug a pair of headphones into both these systems I suspect the results would be quite similar. The snags or benefits come from what you want to do with it. What exactly are you going to do with one track of heavy metal? Remembering the riffs? Historically, musicians have recorded their creations for memory on really awful devices - dictaphones and really low fi kit - and then recreated them in the studio.

    A tiny zoom I your pocket vs a large reel to reel? A no brainer really. You seem to worry that digits are bad? You hate the idea of reverb? You don't want to use any processing? isn't this like cooking without seasoning? You don't go over the top, but a bit of it is always good.

    You are perfectly entitled to hate digital, and refuse to use it. There are plenty who persist with analogue kit to stay true to their aims - but they use decent analogue gear that performed well, not rubbish. With digital there is very little that is now rubbish. The possibilities with digital audio are immense - you can do so much, so easily. Lots of analogue folk even sneakily get their stuff into the computer and then do the polishing, then stick it back and keep quiet.

    If you have a mic input on your ancient cassette recorders that if you are happy with the results. Nobody on the forum will tell you you are crazy or foolish if the results make you happy.

    I've got a Tascam here from the 90's. I put a new set of belts on it and it is perfect. There is NO way I will ever record in it. In my mind, if I did use it, I know the recording would be less good than it could be. Digital for me now is normal, trouble free and infinitely superior in what it can do. Very few younger guitarists will ever have played without digital assistance of some kind. Music Technology is marching forward constantly, and while many people love that old analogue sound, I suspect nostalgia, not audio quality is at the bottom of it. Why not see if you can borrow a Zoom and then record on your cassette, then record on the zoom and get somebody you trust to do a blind test and see which you prefer, purely based on sound quality. Then you'd be certain the decision was a sensible one.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bouldersoundguy View Post
    Using a mixer won't force you to change anything about the sound, but it will give you a mic preamp to plug the SM57 into, and probably have record outputs on RCA connectors you can plug into most cassette decks.

    Microphones produce very weak signals that need to be boosted to be usable, which is what a mic preamp does. You probably want the sound of the guitar to come out of both speakers in your car stereo, so a mixer would take care of that as well. Something as simple as the one below would get it done for you.


    ... Mackie 5 ...

    But don't be too quick to write off going digital or using effects. You're already using an effect by putting the guitar through an amplifier, so there's no real difference between that and working on it a little after the fact. For now, though, the above mixer and a decent cassette deck should get you going.

    [Edit] I should add, just using different mic placement will affect the sound. Pretty much any change you make to how you record constitutes an "effect" of some kind.
    That makes total sense now. Thank you for being thorough.

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    Understood, and you may be right, but I would be short changing myself if I did not see this through first. In any case, I'm too young to be nostalgic I think (29). It's not fear; it's impact. I've never been impacted as much by music from a computer.

    Can you link to the zoom you're referring to? Also, after it is on a memory card how can I transfer it to cassette for my car at least? I don't have computer speakers.

    Thanks!
    Last edited by tHmEstanCisEntI; 6 Days Ago at 14:56. Reason: clarity

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    Quote Originally Posted by tHmEstanCisEntI View Post
    I have a stereo system of old components like a receiver, cassette deck, Cd player, and turntable.
    What model cassette deck do you have?

    What kind of inputs does it have?

    Does it have microphone inputs?

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    The cassette deck is a Denon DRM-555 and the receiver is a Pioneer SX-780.

    The cassette deck has a 1/8in jack labeled "synchro" and rca openings for "line in" and "line out".

    The Pioneer has a "tape 1" and a "tape 2". Each of these has rca openings for "rec" and for "play". The Denon is currently plugged into "play" for "tape 1".

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    So looking up the specs for the Denon I note that it records via line-in at the back of the unit.

    If you want to use the Denon to record your guitar amp with a mike, you will need, as someone suggested, a microphone and a mixer.

    Something like this little mixer would do the job.

    Behringer Xenyx 502 5-channel Analog Mixer | Sweetwater

    Connect the rec out of the mixer to the rec in of the Denon.

    YOu then need a mike, maybe Shure SM57 as others have suggested) to plug into the mixer

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    You may find it more convenient to use the AUX inputs of the Pioneer amp, saves disconnection of the cassette deck from the system. That will of course allow the mic to come through the speakers so keep the amp's volume at zero whilst recording to avoid feedback and IF you play the recordings back through the hi fi, keep the volume low. Distorted electric guitar can blow tweeters.

    As told, the mixer feeds to the amp from the RCA 'phono' sockets so you will need an RCA-RCA stereo cable. Mic? SM57 is about as standard a mic for guitar cabs as you will get. Don't forget you need an XLR 3pin female to male cable. I would buy two at 3mtrs each. Why? One you now have a spare. Two, although 3mtrs is probably as long as you need, XLR cables can be plugged together almost ad.inf. to extend them.

    The mixer: The Mackies are an excellent buy from all I have read but PLEASE don't buy one with just ONE mic input! You will I am sure come to regret that. The Mix 8 is not all that much more.

    I am not going to try to convince you to 'go digital' If you wanted to record 'classical acoustic' guitar then I might but electric guitar is a noisy source to start with and "Metal"? Distortion personified!

    Once you have a few cassette recordings 'in the can' you can easily digitize them for computer where you can edit/effect or burn to CD, post here, put on YT.....The Behringer UCA 202/222 is easily good enough for tape/vinyl dubbing.

    Just another point? Whist the handheld digital recorders are excellent you would still need to transfer to cassette to play recordings in the car! Also, hhelds use capacitor microphones and they are great but most folks like a dynamic on a guitar cab?

    Dave.

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    Thanks, Dave. That's very helpful. I think you're right about perhaps outgrowing one mic in the mixer. The Mix8 sounds perfect.

    Can you clarify your first paragraph about allowing the mic to come through and turning the amp down? I can't visualize the scenario or quite understand what you mean. How could the mic pick up the sound if the volume's down all the way?

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