In order to get a great recording of your guitar, it is important to know how to properly mic a guitar amp.
There is no single right way to mic a guitar amp. It all depends on the sound you’re going for and the technique you are using to record your guitar.
This might seem like a simple task, but there is a bit of a science to it. You need to follow a few simple yet important steps like choosing the right mic, placing it in the right spot, etc.
What’s The Best Way To Mic Guitar Amps?
In this blog post, I will give you a general guide for micing up any guitar or bass amplifier to get a good guitar sound with depth.
1. Choose The Microphone
There are two main types of microphones – dynamic and condenser. When it comes to micing a guitar amp, either type of microphone will work fine. It really just comes down to personal preference.
However, before you start the process, consider what type of sound you’re going for. Do you want a dry, in-your-face sound, or do you want to blend different microphone sounds with a room sound?
I like to record with two microphones that I will blend later in the mix. One mic will be the main source of the sound and the second one is for blending purposes.
In general, the main mic is almost always a dynamic microphone and I use a condenser for blending. But you can use both dynamic or condensers. It all depends on the sound you want to get.
There are many great microphones for guitar amps you can choose from but you can use any mic you have if it has a decent quality and sound.
If you are a beginner, my recommendation will be to use only one microphone to learn it and that mic would be the Shure SM57 which is perhaps the most recorded microphone in the history of music.
2. Find The Best Spot For The Mic
Once you’ve chosen your microphone, it’s time to start experimenting with placement.
The most important thing to keep in mind is that you want to avoid getting the mic too close to the source as this can cause distortion. However, placing your mic far is not a good idea either.
First, you need to find the best spot for your main microphone and only then for the additional mic if you use two mic technique.
Micing a guitar amp consists of two components – the distance between the mic and amp grill cloth and the spot on the speaker the microphone aims to.
For me, the best spot is slightly left or right from the speaker center. If you aim for the center of the speaker, the sound will be too harsh but if it’s too far from the center, you lose the power.
So, you need to find the best spot depending on the sound you want to get. Try different spots and record each spot to listen and hear which one sounds the best.
And after that, you need to choose the distance between the microphone and the amplifier grill cloth.
In my experience, the distance shouldn’t be more than 4 inches. In general, the distance between 1″ and 3″ is the best.
However, it might be different for your amp and mic so try different spots, record them and listen to find the sound you like.
Once you find the best mic placement for your bass or guitar amp, mark it with blue tape or something similar because you might forget it later.
After you find the sweet spot for the main microphone, do the same for the second microphone and find the best placement for that microphone.
Then record both together and you might need to do small adjustments to the positioning of the mics.
The goal is that both microphones must sound good together. If you are using only one mic, then it’s easier.
3. Add The Room Microphone
Now, this step is not mandatory but I like it when my guitar sound has depth. And it works with any guitar tone whether it’s clean or distorted.
If you want to add more depth and dimension to your recording, consider adding another microphone for room sound.
This is a great way to add more texture to your recordings and make them sound more professional.
This microphone can be placed anywhere in the room and will pick up all of the ambient noise in addition to your guitar amp.
And the distance depends on many things such as the type of amplifier you use, microphone type, room size, etc.
I use condenser mics for picking up the room sound but you can use any mic you like.
And I place the room mic at least 10 feet away from the amplifier to get the best results but that depends on the room size. Sometimes the distance might be greater or smaller.
If you want to go further, you can use another microphone and place it behind the amplifier, especially if it’s a combo amp.
This will pick up low frequencies and you can use it to blend in your mix to add low sound to your guitar.
Queens Of The Stone Age used techniques like this on their 2002’s album Songs For The Deaf which is one of my favorite albums.
There are countless ways to mic up a guitar amp and you can experiment with it and create your own method. This is a general guide for beginners who start their recording journey and want to level up their game.
I recommend using this post as a guide and starting micing your amps with one microphone and when you get better, then try recording with additional microphones.