Q: I’ve been recording for a number of years now and I’ve always considered myself a bit of a perfectionist.
However, one bad thing about that is I tend to really annoy guitar players.
I guess it’s because when I’m setting up microphone before the session I’ll want them to play so much to get the sound perfect that they claim to be “fatigued” during the session.
I used to think they were just complaining, but I took up guitar about 6 months ago and I’ve started to record myself and I’ll admit I’ve been really high maintenance.
Do you have any advice on how I can make my soundchecks go faster and be less painful for the musicians?
A: Well, you’re certainly correct in the eventual realization that deciding on the best place for a microphone on an electric guitar or bass cabinet can be both numbingly boring and fatiguing for a player – having to repeat a lick over and over while the engineer tries to find the best spot.
As you’ve also discovered, if you’re both the player and the engineer, it can be even more difficult, trying to be objective about the sound you hear while also making tone and mic adjustments.
Here’s a solution: record some guitar and bass playing through a direct box, straight into your DAW. Now set up the direct track so it feeds the amp through a reamp box.
Now set the DAW to loop playback and let it play the guitar for you while you make the adjustments.
That’s really it, and it will be easier on both you as an engineer and your talent.
This trick also works when setting up effects during mixdown, setting compressors and limiters, EQ, just about any situation where you need to hear a particular passage over and over while you listen and make changes.
As always, we welcome input from the PSW community and would love to know how you would handle this particular situation. Feel free to let us know in the comments below.
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