Help Recording Guitars

Trying to record two guitar parts to get a guitar duo effect using Audacity. Just close miked the speaker cab nothing fancy. It’s only sounding “alright” right now not great. Need suggestions for getting the best sound with Audacity.


  1. Best ways to get rid of digital clipping? Seem to be getting clipping even when mike level is turned down very low.
  2. Best way to get a good sounding mix with?
  3. Is it possible to use the limiter on the input microphone to avoid getting clipping in the first place and if so how? Just can’t seem to get the track recorded hot enough to get a faithful reproduction of the live sound.
    Right now I’m using clip fix, amplify, normalize, and some hard limiting.

Avoiding clipping is the same issue regardless of what you are recording. The signal level through all parts of the signal chain must be within the limits of the equipment. That means that the microphone must be able to handle the sound pressure level (SPL) produced by the speaker, the pre-amp must be able to handle the signal from the microphone, analogue to digital converter (ADC) must be able to handle the analogue output from the pre-amp and the digital output from the ADC must not be scaled beyond 0 dB.

If the microphone is overloaded it will cause distortion. The solution is to either reduce the sound level (turn down the amp or move the mic further away) or use a microphone that can handle higher SPL.

If the mic pre-amp is overloaded it will cause distortion. Most good pre-amps will allow the gain to be reduced at the input stage so as to avoid distortion.

If the output from the pre-amp is too hot it will overload the ADC and cause clipping. The usual solution is to turn down the pre-amp gain.

the same principle applies to every component in the signal chain.

The peak level when it reaches Audacity should ideally be around -6 dB (about half the track height for the highest peaks).

Once you have a good, undistorted recording, all things are possible. If the original recording is distorted then it’s an uphill battle to make something that sounds even half decent and very unlikely that you will be able to make something that sounds good.

Bear with me here this is really my first crack at computer based music recording. Spent some time yesterday experimenting with all the levels. Now I’m getting some excellent results with no clipping and definitely NO compression on the tracks.

People new at this are stunned at how much different their live recordings are from the commercial music produced by The Big Kids. Both shows start out life sounding clear but low level and uncontrolled like yours. Theirs goes through extensive volume compression, management, editing and mixing before it goes out the door. Clipping and distortion will kill their show, too, so that’s common across the board.

You can do some interesting things with products like Chris’s Compressor.

Chris’s Compressor

Record a simple two or three minute solo, listen to it and make sure there’s no distortion or clipping. Apply Chris’s Compressor and change the compression number to 0.77.

The performance should get a lot louder and denser and powerful without clipping or obvious distortion. There are other tools, but that’s the one with the most bang for the buck.


Hey, I am also fairly noobish to Audacity and also trying to record guitars/bass and drums.

I was curious to hear what other Audacity users do or effects they use to improve sounds quality to a live band recording.

Like, do you guys have a standard couple fo things you would do to the recording automatically (for example use Compression and amplify like thread topic starter) or does it depend on the recording each time?

Appreciate your help.


Virtually nothing.
When recording a live band I will generally record direct from the mixing desk as a stereo Mix taken from an Aux send on each channel. I will also record with a couple of mics to pick up audience sound and a bit of “room ambiance”.
I would not use compression, but would possibly use a bit of EQ, and a touch of reverb (the mix off the desk is usually pretty dry because the live sound through the speakers will get a lot of natural reverb from the venue). Then I’d add in some audience noise, particularly applause between tracks.

99% of getting a good live recording is getting a good clean recording to work with. Ideally you would record each instrument and each microphone onto a separate track using the “channel direct outs” from the desk into a multi-channel recorder. Failing that, just get the best stereo mix that you can off the desk. If the original recording sounds sh*t, there’s little point in trying to polish it.

For live recording I try to record each instrument and vocal on a separate track. I use a Zoom R16.
My main aim is to get a good “hot” signal onto each track without clipping.
Then I import the separate tracks into Audacity to get a balance and add reverb.
Compression is a matter of taste

Thanks guys.

I probably wasn’t clear enough, as I am actually recording my own bands jam sessions, as opposed to going to a gig and trying to record.

Appreciate any and all assistance!

For recording jam sessions / rehearsals, I use a Zoom H2. Just put it as far away from the drums as possible and press the red button.

I’m using a Blue Yeti USB Mic and it took me a while to get the recording input level right with out clipping.

I was listening to it again last night and I was really impressed with how the drums sound.

I use a Zoom H2 to record our band practices.

  1. In 2009, my friend was using “MixPad” to add some EQ to this 1 track mix, and it really “fattened” up the sound.
    We have started playing again. Can he just use Audacity to accomplish this post-proc on the 1 track recording?

  2. Any best practices for this Zoom H2 setup?
    We set it on “Low” gain.
    To get direct MP3 output, we use “Front”
    (and not 2/4 channel which only does huge WAV files)
    We position it far away…in the back of the room.

  3. Is it worth getting a Yeti mic instead of using the Zoom H2.