Electric Guitar Recording Tips

Recording guitars is an exhiliarating experience, whether it's your own music or someone else's. But frustration often crops up in the studio when things don't turn out how you imagine they will.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind next time you record electric guitars. These are presented in no particular order other than the order in which they come to mind.

  • Know your gear. Guitars. Amps. Effects. Know them inside out. The faster you can dial in a particular sound, the faster you can get that track done and move on.
  • Don't expect the tones you use live to translate to the studio. They may. They may not. Your rig may sound fantastic on stage with your band, but things are different in the studio. Get comfortable with the fact that all your "favorite settings" on your pedals and amps may not sound great in a recording situation.
  • Get comfortable with a capo. I know, it's a crutch, real guitar players don't need them, blah blah blah...The fact is, the capo is extremely useful in the studio. Remember, the result is all that people care about. How you get the sound is of no importance.
  • Overdubs - less is more. If you're going for a slick modern sound you'll more than likely be adding a few overdubs. Keep each track rhythmically and harmonically simple. Think ahead to the next track(s) you'll record and leave plenty of space for those additional tracks.
  • Overdubs - vary your tones. Clean/dirty. Humbucker/single coil. Wet/dry. Dark/bright. Mix it up to avoid muddiness and add character to each part.
  • When recording rhythm guitar parts, the drums are king. You can't go wrong basing your rhythm guitar parts off of what the drums are doing. Lock in.
  • When recording lead guitar parts and fills, vocals are king. How can you complement the vocal melody? Figure that out and you'll be the producer's hero. Figure out how to do that without reinforcing the singer's prima donna tendencies and you'll be the stuff of lengend.
  • More gain does not equal bigger sound. In fact, the opposite is true. Dial the distortion back and your parts will cut through.
  • Treat every recording session as a learning opportunity. The world of recording electric guitars is complex. Enjoy the process of learning through experimentation. Brent Mason didn't happen overnight. Go easy on yourself and soak up the experience.

    This list should give you plenty to consider during your next recording session.

    I'd love to hear your thoughts. What are some things you've learned that are helpful when recording electric guitars? Leave a comment and join the conversation!


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