Recording electric guitar

Any body out there record guitar and then add tracks (vocals,keyboard, drum machine, etc.) over it?
I could use some tips, thanks.

Sure, all the time. Here’s the proof:

What exactly do you want to know? There’s a ton of information you need to be familiar with before you can start making decent recordings. Remember that recording engineers can get $100+/hour for their work.

The most important thing to know is that experience will do you more good than anything else, once you know the fundamentals (e.g. how to use the software, how to plug everything in, etc).

Do a google search for “home recording” you’ll find quite a few resources that way.

I can give you some general tips now:

  1. Plan things out before you start recording. There’s nothing more annoying than recording 2 guitar tracks, a piano track, and the vocals and then realizing that you want another 8 bars worth of music between the chorus and the second verse.

  2. Get a hold of some good monitors. Good monitor speakers are the most important pieces of equipment you can buy. If you’re trying to choose between a $400 Epiphone or a $400 keyboard and you’re still mixing while listening to those Creative surround sound speakers you bought for $80, please go buy a pair of Tannoy 6’s or something similar instead.

  3. Experiment. This is the most important piece of advice I can give you. Tomorrow Never Knows would never have been made if the Beatles hadn’t been willing to light the rule book on fire and smoke it.

thanks andy, good music and good advice, heres a couple more direct questions:

1)i have an electric guitar, a computer, audacity, and a song, what else do i need as far as equipment goes?

2)i would like to add other instruments using a cheap midi keyboard(which i do not have yet), besides the keyboard, what will i need to edit the sounds to emulate different instruments?

thanks again

I always prefer to mic up the cabs for electric guitars rather than DI, but if you must DI, put it through a modelling pre-amp first (example line 6 pod) - (the guitar effects for Audacity are still pretty basic).

For a song, you’ll need a decent mic for vocals - Check out the large diaphragm condenser “T-bone” mics from they are astounding good value. Also with a condenser vocal mic, you will need phantom power (unless you use a USB version or one that can be powered by batteries such as the C1000). If you’re not using a USB mic, you will need a little mixing desk - if you’re on a tight budget, have a look at Behringer.

Depending on the kind of sounds that you want, you could use a cheap midi keyboard and a soft synth - there’s quite a range of these. One type use “Sound Fonts”, and there’s a huge range of Sound Fonts available for free on the internet. If you need to buy the sounds separately from the keyboard, look into the cost of this before you buy the keyboard - some types of sample disk are very expensive. Alternatively you can look fore a soundcard that has good midi sounds built in, or just a keyboard with sounds that you like.

This really is a huge subject - the important thing is to get started and make some music - if you have a killer song, you can always record it again later.

Take a look at the Recording Equipment forum, there’s an ongoing thread there with several lists of all the equipment people use. Personally, I’ve been collecting my equipment for the past 8 years or so, and practicing recording for the same amount of time.

Steve’s suggestion about micing a guitar cabinet is probably the best way to get a great guitar tone, but those modeling boxes do a pretty damn good job. The biggest problem with micing a cab is that it takes 4 things to get you off the ground, a nice amp and cab, a nice mic, a decent pre-amp, and tolerant neighbors. If you’re missing any of those then you won’t be completely happy with the guitar sounds. I use a Line 6 POD 2.0, and I have no complaints about my guitar sounds. The Behringer V-Amp 2 is cheaper and seems to be just as well respected, but I have never plugged into one.

As for the other instruments, I use a Casio WK-3700 keyboard. I have not yet begun to use MIDI controlled soft-synths, mainly because it’s not easy to do this in Windows (It’s almost trivial in GNU/Linux though using the JACK protocol). Soft-synths are my next big project. It’s not a fancy synth, but the piano sounds nice enough and I like it’s electric piano sound and it’s Mellotron sound. I’ve never used it for horn, string, pipe, or guitar sounds (it’s a synth, not a trumpet). I also no longer use it for percussion since I now own a Roland V-drums kit (the Roland kit sounds so much better than the keyboard’s drum sounds). I just plug the Line Out of the keyboard into my sound card and record that way, I don’t use any MIDI sequencers or anything like that. I do still use it to lay down a guide drum track though, but I only listen to that while recording, it doesn’t show up on the final mix in most cases.

The equipment you need really boils down to what kind of music you want to make and how much fancy stuff you want lying around. I used to get by with a lot less equipment, but as my studio grew and as I got better at recording, my music has gotten a lot more listenable. Don’t go out any spend a fortune on equipment if you don’t know how to use any of it. Let your studio grow slowly.

Tweakheadz is a good website for studio equipment. He recommends using software that’s quite a bit fancier than Audacity, but you don’t need to follow all of his advice. If you think of Audacity as a multi-track tape deck it becomes a lot more intuitive. Just be aware of the difficulties of using soft synths with Audacity under Windows (and presumably under OS-X, but I have no experience there).

The easiest way to record soft synths on Windows is to either use DXi or VSTi instruments and a suitable host program. Unfortunately Audacity doe not support this, so you need a program that does. Some examples:
Sonar, or several other Cakewalk products.
Cubase, or several other Steinberg products

The first two products are commercial and quite expensive
Reaper is free to try and very cheap to buy and has excellent reviews

Reaper does not have its own audio editor, but you can edit audio with Audacity.

For other ideas see here:

Thanks alot dudes, very helpful.