Which amp should I use??

Hi everyone.

I have some strange questions for you all.

I’m planning on writing a song for my wife kind of as a surprise (depending on when I finish it). I primarily play country music and acoustic guitar. I’m planning on “stretching” with this and writing a rock song for my wife (she likes rock, mostly). I’m planning on making it either in a hard rock or power metal style (a lot of fifth chords, for instance) if at all possible. I would try to go “old school” Metallica (black album and back) style, but I’m nowhere near that talented. I’m barely talented enough for the music I do try to do myself.

So I have a couple of questions about micing amps.

I have the following mics to choose from:

  • SM58
  • AKG P170
  • MK319

The P170 and MK319 are condensers.

I have two amps, both are Crate amps. One is a small 10 watt amp, the other is a 30 watt amp. I’d like to get a completely different amp, but that’s for another thread and another day.

I’ll be doing this in my garage, and don’t want to crank my amps too loudly. I don’t want to attract attention.

I won’t be releasing this song, obviously, and it’ll be a “one-off”. So is there a particular mic/amp combination you would use in this scenario? I’m probably going to use the MK319 for vocals, though I may go with the 58.

Although as far as micing an amp goes, I’m wondering if I couldn’t just run directly from my guitar, to my amp, to my audio interface, into Audacity, and just record that way.

Also, I have two guitars I’m thinking about using for this, at least for the guitar parts. I’d rather use one or the other, but I could, in theory, use both.

One is a Fender Telecaster, and the other is a Gibson LPJ. So for an application like this, is it then just about “what sounds good to me”? I could really see this performed with either guitar.

I do have a bass guitar, too, and I’m probably going to come up with a relatively simple bass line for it (probably, again, based around roots and fifths), mainly because I’m not good at bass, either. As far as drums for the song, I’m probably gonna put together a drum track with Hydrogen.

Thoughts? Tips? Suggestions?

Much of your question comes down to personal preference / taste.

Personally, I much prefer to mic up an electric guitar amp rather than DI (direct inject = plug it in).
As you want to keep the volume fairly low, I’d suggest that you try the little 10 W amp first, so that you can “drive it” a bit harder (for tone) without being too loud.

Traditionally guitar amps are “close mic’d” (the microphone very close to the speaker). When close mic’ing, the exact position of the mic can make a big difference to the tone. Right in the middle of the speaker and right up to the grill with an SM58 will tend to give more bass, but could sound a bit boomy / muffled. A bit further away and toward the edge of the speaker may give a more “edgy” sound. Close to the edge but very close and pointing toward the centre of the speaker may give a bit of both. You will need to experiment to see what works best for your guitar / amp / mic / garage acoustics.

Vocals: close up with the SM58 may give a more “on stage” kind of sound, but SM58s aren’t very bright. The condensers, about 20 cm from your face will give a brighter, more “open” sound, and done right will be more like a “studio” recording. When recording in a garage you will probably not need to add any reverb - the opposite is more likely to be a problem (too much reverb / echo).

If I played guitar (I don’t, I’m a violinist / fiddle player), I’d be tempted to use both guitars, pan one a bit to the left and the other a bit to the right.

Work out your drum track early, and record that first. It’s much easier to play to a drum track than to try to fit a drum machine to a live recording.

Most importantly, have fun doing it :smiley:
Good luck.

Thanks, @steve!

I have no real opinion vis-a-vis personal preference/taste. I just want it to sound halfway decent when I give it to my wife. If I had the amp that I think might work well (I’d like a Fender Twin), I don’t think I’d really feel the need to ask the question, but I don’t wanna spend that kind of money right now.

The speaker in the 10-watt is so small, I’m not sure it really matters where I put the mic (cone/edge or in between), especially if I use the 58. I think the speaker is only like a 6 inch (roughly 15cm) speaker. If I mic it, I was planning on putting it right next to the speaker to pick up as much sound as possible.

I am, as you note, planning on doing the drum track first, and playing along to that.

I’ll probably go with the condensers for vocals, then. I already have a pop filter, and I’ll probably just use the MK319 that I have for the vocals.

You can have dozens, for free, with an amp-simulator plugin.
Boogex is a free one which works* in Audacity on Windows.


[ * plugins can only be used after recording in Audacity, so unfortunately not live as in the YouTube video].

[EDIT - ] Steve beat me to it!

I’m wondering if I couldn’t just run directly from my guitar, to my amp, to my audio interface, into Audacity, and just record that way.

Yes, if your interface has a guitar/instrument input or if you have a DI box (which goes between the guitar and a mic input). You can get a “sim” (a guitar amp/cabinet simulator) plug-ins and I’ll bet you can find one to simulate a Finder Twin. You won’t find a free one labeled “Finder Twin” because they’d have to pay to use the name but you can probably find something close. That’s a popular way of doing it, especially for home recording where everybody doesn’t have the amp of their dreams, or where they can’t crank-up that big amp, or where the amp just doesn’t sound right in a small room. (Some sims may not work with Audacity.)

If you do go direct, you’ll probably want a Y-splitter on your guitar cable so you can use the amp while recording. That’s especially helpful if your interface doesn’t have direct zero-latency monitoring.

You can also record direct and from a mic at the same time. That’s a common technique and you can either choose one of them or blend them and of course you can try a variety of sims after recording.

It seems to be very common to record bass direct, and you didn’t mention that you have a bass amp. I haven’t seen many bass amp/cabinet sims so you probably don’t need one, but I assume it’s common to use compression and/or limiting to bring out some “bite” (to accentuate the harmonics) and you might want to try some EQ too.

I’d be tempted to use both guitars, pan one a bit to the left and the other a bit to the right.

I like that idea too! The vocals and bass should be centered and if there’s only guitar/instrument you don’t want that off to one side so that would leave the drums as the only possible stereo sound.

I primarily play country music and acoustic guitar. I’m planning on “stretching” with this and writing a rock song for my wife (she likes rock, mostly). I’m planning on making it either in a hard rock or power metal style

I’ve heard of country-rock, or southern-rock (which has a country flavor) but I’ve never heard of country-metal! :smiley:

A good thing about country (or country-rock) is that the lyrics are usually intelligible. :wink: My nephew plays heavy metal (death metal?) and he sent me a couple of recordings. I could only understand about half the lyrics so I asked him to send me the real lyrics and also I typed-up what I was hearing/guessing. I also advised him to “publish” the lyrics because he’s trying to “say something”.

Boogex comes with unnamed amp/cabinet Impulse Responses,
but you can load IRs from elsewhere, including ones derived from Fender …
unofficial Fender IR in Boogex.png

Hi, I’m a bit late to the party but I thought I’d add a few comments is case others are interested.

I used to volunteer manage and maintain an auditorium PA.
As is commonly the case in most audio question, the answer is “well it depends”.

Basically guitar amps use a series of overdriven preamps that have fantasy names.
They are all just overdriving into different types of distortion which is what gives you your all important signature sound that you live or die by.
However some degree of distortion will generally come from the speaker itself, particularly if it’s a classic early model amp.

That said, there is no difference between going directly from the guitar to interface or going via a guitar amp pass through, unless the pass through is actually DI. You should never go directly from a guitar into LoZ (Low impedance) as that will at like a tone filter, because the guitar pickup is HiZ. You can go from Guitar directly into HiZ (high impedance) or via a DI which handles the impedance matching for you. The downside of this is that you just get the guitars native sound without all that signature guitar amp sound and quite frankly, that usually sounds pretty lame.

However, if the guitar amp has a post signal out, this would contain the processed sound from all those fantasy controls and that would be a lot more useful to anyone. There is still a question of impedance matching. Generally, LoZ is XLR (balanced) and HiZ TRS (balanced). So, apart from the impedance matching issue, you have the connection schema between unbalanced (SE) and Balanced (MP) to consider. Again, a DI is generally the answer, but a cheaper option is just a simple in line audio transformer, such as is available from Altronics. There are different qualities and prices. Jenson do nice transformers in their DIs, expensive though. So, it’s up to you. A big advantage of these transformers is that they provide direct electrical isolation and ground lift which can kill noise floor issues like hum. So this should be a very clean (low noise) solution, but may not capture the tonality you want.

Next option is to mic the Amp’s speaker, this was the original way to do it because those days, almost all the electric distorted guitar sound was due to the speaker cone itself, so the other options discussed here just didn’t work at all then. They may or may not work now depending on the specific gear used. There are some good YouTube tutorials on miking guitar amps, I’d suggest looking at those if interested because they get pretty specific about mic’s & position.

So the conclusion is: It depends, try it & hear & above all have Fun!