How To Record Chunky Guitars

Hi! I wonder if some professional or somebody better at this than myself can assist me.

I have been recording for maybe 6 years now and have always been experiencing this same problem. It has brought me to think whether or not it is simply my lack of knowledge or could it be that I am using the wrong gear?

I am recording mainly guitar driven music encompassing Bass, Guitar*3 maybe 4, Drums, Vocals and sometimes some keys. I have a Digitech RP6, a Korg 2020, Yamaha FX550, Yamaha DG100 (Wonderfull piece) amongst a whole host of other gear, however, when I record a guitar part it never sounds how I would like it to. There is often a lack of grit, body and warmth. I have tried recording from my amp using various mics and alas the problem still remains. It is a full y digital setup, however I still experienced this problem in my analogue days.

Please can somebody help me? I need to know.

The Mighty Druid.
OH Mighty Druid:

I think you might want to run your guitar into a mic preamp and then run the signal into your recorder. The preamp will give you plenty of "boost." Recording or micing from a guitar speaker is much harder as you may need different mics for different affects.

When you run the guitar from a preamp to a recorder you can put in the FX in the headset and when you've finished recording the cut, you can check the mix and add the same FX (most recorders will let you hear FX but not record it) or you can change the FX anyway you want and tweak the EQ anyway you want. This, I think, will finally get you to the gritty phatt sounds you are looking for.

Happy experimenting,

Green Hornet
Well thanks for the advice. But I have tried to do this via the Yamaha DG1000 Guitar Preamp. I must say that I do however get some marvellous clean sounds using this piece. Alas the Heavy stuff is still second rate.

Can you advise me maybe on how the EQ section is set on Distorted guitars in order to gain a decent recording? Any Ideas greatly received.

I see you suggested a Mic Preamp. Is this what you really mean or was that a spelling mistake? Anyroad! I'm gonna try it. S*%t. I don't own one.

I've read in plenty of other posts that a good set up for guitar into the digital realm is as follows:

guitar into a DI box into a mic preamp with a tube (for warmth) into mixer/tape deck.

This tube mic preamp can be had from ART for about $100, DIs cost abot $50-100 depending on company. The Art MP series has alot praise going for it, though I personaly don't have one.

As for your setup: Guitar into amp, mic the amp into mixer/tape deck. This is fairly common and can work very well. A few suggestions for getting a chunky sound.

Costly suggestion--get a really good condensor mic capable of handling high speaker pressure. Doesn't have to be really expensive, but it is more costly then using your existing mic. I read that you have tried to use various mics, so that may not be a problem, maybe you own one already or can borrow one. Again, this mic may go into a tube mic preamp first for added warmth.

Cost effective suggestion--try different mic PLACEMENT. Sometimes snug on the speaker grill can suck. Sometimes not. Centered verses off axis (to the side of the speaker center). And sometimes a foot or two in front of the speaker with slight noise gate settings gets rid of pickup hum and gives the ever allusive "air" of being in front of a bone shattering, lava erupting guitar player. You will have to do this mic placement test with each different mic and for each different guitar sound, but hey, that is how Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughn and etc. did it before little miracle boxes. And alot of guitarist still do.

The "Duh" suggestion--are you going through a mixer of some sort with eq capabilities. If so, boost the bass and mids a little bit to give your guitar a little "rattle the bones" effect. And if you have a low cut filter, turn it off, you are not on stage. Some of those low tones need to be felt as well as heard and if you cut the tremors with a low cut filter, forget chunky.

The other "Duh" suggestion--maybe you are trying to get a certain sound of your favorite guitarist and you can't. Well if you are recording your guitar track solo and then later you will put on a bass track and overdub other guitars but are stuck trying to get "this guitar track to sound just right" you will be stuck a long time. Certain guitar sounds are actually multiple guitars and one of those guitars might be a bass. Added all together they are explosive. Seperately, they may not be all that much different from what you get now. I play alot of chords with plenty of open strings close to the guitar nut to get a very heavy sound. I add bass and find I have no highs. Well, duh, I just tried to play bass and rhythm at once. Sometimes you need a crispy guitar part PLUS a driving bass part to give you that chunky feel. You need to go for the total package, not just one sound. Along with that is the pickup selection, I use very little of my bridge pickup alone for rhythm parts. Lots of middle and neck pickup selections work well for me.

Well, enough of the book writing. Pretty lengthy for one question. I hope that this helps, though. Good recording.

Peace, Jim
When I had this problem, I took a simplistic approach. I have the usual array of stomp boxes and multi effect units that all guitarists have but, when I thought about what I was trying to do it was pretty simple- I wanted to get the sound of a big, overdriven tube amp. So, guess what....I use a big, overdriven tube amp.
The solution then comes down to Jim's "cost effective" solution above, mic placement and the mic itself.
I tried a condenser mic, WHOA - way to much room ambience, didn't work for me.
Then I tried the much touted SM57, YUCK- sounded like a chainsaw going through sheet metal.
Then I tried a Sennheiser 421 and that was what I was looking for. After playing with the postioning I was able to take that big, crunchy sound all the way to the tape.

Anyway, that's what I do. Everyone's given you good advice but, I think everyone has to go through a period of trial and error to get the sound they want. What works for one person won't work for everyone. But if you take all these suggestions and some time to play, you'll find it eventually. Good luck.
Some great ideas above--and I agree on the Sennheiser 421. You can get some huge sounds by doubling--if you've already done this, then ignore the rest. Oldest trick in the book. Track the guitar twice, then pan the tracks left and right. You can try for identical right and left channels, or try eq'ing left and right channels differently--perhaps do your tricky rhythm playing on one side and 2-string power chords on the other, or full barres one side and mini chords higher up the neck on the other,or clean on one side and dirty on the other, etc. Whatever you do, the tracks should balance evenly down the middle once you've set them up. As you experiment this way you can get a very cool variety of very big sounds that might surprise you. Another trick--for certain metal sounds, compress your signal into toothpaste and gate the track really hard, to get a staccatto effect. It's like a sonic punch in the nose. Just a few thoughts...
The Book "Making the ultimate demo" is a compliation of magazine articles from one of the big music mags.
There is a section. "Thick and chunky guitar" they mention would make ac/dc proud! (or jealous, I dont remember the exact quote)
Get the book but I'll give you the idea. I dont remember the settings.
1 amp
2 Mics, one close, one farther (maybe 7 to 10 maybe 15 feet (get the book my memory sux!))
heres the clincher. Different compression settings for each mic. Again, the settings are in the book.
They said this is what bands like AC/DC do to get the 'thick and chunky guitar'
Good luck.