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DIY Album

Recording & mixing guitar : My own recipe


Even if there might be a perfect way to record electro-acoustic guitar and electric guitar, I assume mine is not perfect. Below I explain the way I recorded and mixed the acoustic and electric guitar on the album, with extremely cheap gear and stuff.

What I used for the recording itself :

  • USB soundcard (E-MU tracker pre, probably the cheapest one ever) with two Jack/XLR input and a stereo output for direct monitoring (i.e. without latency).
  • Headphones
  • Korg ToneWorks Pandora Box (a very cheap multi-effect device that I got from my guitar teacher Yann-Guirec Le Bars almost for free, some years ago)
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The USB soundcard, the headphones and the Pandora Box
  • Of course a Laptop (Mine is 2GHz AMD Athlon Dual Core, 4GB RAM, Windows 7-32bits)
  • Microphone : Behringer B-1 (Also used for percussions and vocal, actually for all the instruments of the album !)
  • One microphone stand.
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The microphone listed above.
  • 2 Jack cables, one XLR cable
  • And the music recording software, the wonderful Cubase SX3 !!

Of course the microphone has to be put in a suitable way next to where the right hand will touch the strings… Listening carefully with isolated headphones can help to find the best setting.

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Microphone setting for acoustic recording

Okay, now let’s talk about the recording itself, for acoustic guitar first. I record two mono tracks, one with the microphone and one from the Pandora Box.

01
Two guitar tracks

The upper track is the one from the microphone, the lower is that from the Pandora Box. See for each track the routing I used (Microphone on right-in, Jack on left-in).

Then, each track will be doubled. Jack track 1 will be sent to the right output, and its copy to the left output. Then Microphone track 1 will be sent to the left and its copy to the right. The levels of the two copies have to be reduced in order to separate them in the stereo output. I also add a time delay of say 15-20ms to those two tracks to enhance the stereo effect.

02
Then both tracks get doubled, a time delay of 15ms is added to the two copies.
03
The mixer shows the routing and levels used for each track…

And of course, basic effects such as compression should be added to each track…

04
“Multiband compressor” effect.

Reverb, delay, flanger etc… are also possible, only your ears can tell you what is missing, in case something is actually missing !

And what about electric guitar ? Let me show mine :

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My electric guitar ??

Yes, I know, this is not really what we can call an electric guitar, I have a nice Kort electric guitar but I left it in Brittany, we have to reduce the amount of luggage when travelling from Brittany to Istanbul ! But here is the Pandora Box, EXTREMELY helpful ! So, Pandora has a stereo output, I use a special cable to split it in two mono outputs that will be connected to the soundcard as follows :

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The way Pandora is connected to the soundcard, see the two thin cables on the left.

Then, I only use two tracks, one for each mono output. From Cubase, one is sent to the left output, the other to the right. Some examples of what it sounds like here or here !

I used exactly the same kind of procedures for electric baglama and electric ‘ud. For acoustic ‘ud I only used the microphone and two tracks.

Well, I’m quite satisfied of the result so far, even if this surely has to be improved ! Would you have any useful advice, please let me know, all suggestions are welcome 🙂 !
§ Yann

Buy Astrakan Project debut album

DIY Album

When recording latency is a problem…


1 Comment

As most Cubase SX3 or any other music recording software users I have little latency problems. Of course, it is possible to set up automatic time shifts to correct this unwanted artefact during the recording sequences, by telling Cubase to automatically shift the recorded tracks by a certain number of samples backwards. However, I have noticed that latency depends on a combination of various parameters such as : the number of tracks, the number of insert effects; the CPU activity etc… which means that latency is never exactly the same from one recording to another. Well, this is quite annoying, isn’t it ?

I found a tip to correct this unwanted latency effect once I have recorded a new track :

  • I activate the tempo “click” and I get its level to the highest value as possible.
  • I put my monitoring headphones on top of the microphone used for the recording.
  • I record a few seconds of “clicks”.
“Click” recording.

Then I select the content of the new tracks including the “clicks” and I zoom onto one of these “clicks”.

Select the last recorded tracks including the “clicks”.
Set the cursor at the beginning of a measure, i.e. where the “click” should be.
Zooming…

I shift (by hand) the click to the right position it should have (like beginning of a measure).

Set the beginning of the “click” at the right place.

OK, it sounds like a grand mother’s remedy, but it works well !

[ yann ]