Recording electric guitar without a preamp, acoustically

Hello there.

For the time being if I want to record any music I need to do it acoustically until I can obtain better equipment.

Using my guitar amp I can get a decent sound just by placing it next to my computer and using the web cam microphone. The sound quality when I play back the recording is nothing special, but its okay.

However, when I try to do the same thing using gain/distortion I just get buzzing and static noise when I play back the recording. What am I doing wrong?

Thanks from Andrew

I suspect that it is due to the poor little web cam mic being unable to cope. :wink:
Could you post a couple of short audio samples (just a few seconds) of:
a) Clean recording
b) Gain/distortion recording.

Export the samples as WAV files. Do not do any processing or adjustment to the recording - we need to hear it exactly as it appears when you record.
See here for how to attach audio samples:

However, when I try to do the same thing using gain/distortion…

I assume that’s louder? In that case, you are probably overdriving the laptop’s preamp. You can try moving the laptop farther away from the amp, or maybe put a pillow over the laptop’s mic. (Both of those things are going to change the “character” of the sound.)

In general, the mic/preamp built into a laptop and the preamp in a consumer soundcard are worthless for “quality” recording. And the mic input on a computer is simply wrong for a good stage/studio mic which is low impedance balanced with an XLR connector.

…without a preamp…

You don’t need a preamp. You need an [u]Audio Interface[/u] (which has preamp with an XLR connector built-in). You can also get one with an instrument input, or a switchable mic/instrument input. The Shure SM57 is the most popular mic for recording guitar amps.

Or, you can get one of [u]these[/u] little “USB mic adapter” interfaces.

Another inexpensive option is to use a [u]Behringer UCA202[/u] to record directly. Then, you can use software to simulate the sound of a guitar amp & cabinet (and/or to simulate effects pedals).

Or, starting around $100 USD you can get a “studio” USB mic ([u]example[/u]). The cost-quality-convenience trade-offs are very good with a USB mic. But, you loose some flexability because you can only record from one of these at a time (no stereo or muli-track recording), and it won’t plug into a PA system.

Thanks very much for the replies.

Ive always done my recording acoustically by using a tape recorder, and I expected similar results; the recording wasnt amazing by any stretch, but it was audible at least, and I had no problem recording the distortion.

Ideally Id like to record it all directly, but Ive never made the attempt since the equipment is expensive. What I had in mind was a way to record the output as heard with earphones, and make the proper adaptations to record that sound onto the computer.

In that case an anyone suggest a decent overdrive/distortion/fuzz for not a lot of pennys?

We still have not established for certain what the problem is because we have not heard the recording.
If you could post a couple of short audio samples as described in my first post then we would be in a much better position to be able to offer relevant advice.