Anyone Use Condensers On Low-Gain Guitar Amps?

Discussion in 'Recording/Live Sound' started by alvagoldbook, Aug 19, 2008.

  1. alvagoldbook

    alvagoldbook Member

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    Just wondering if anyone uses condenser microphones to record guitar amps. I've tried this on a high gain marshall once and it sounded pretty lousy. Yet, I've seen people use them in live and studio applications with great results. What am I missing?
     
  2. Randaddy

    Randaddy Member

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    It's been awhile, but I have done that. If I recall, I moved the mic away from the amp a bit before it started sounding good.
     
  3. LSchefman

    LSchefman Member

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    Well, first of all, you need to start with an idea of what it is you want to accomplish. Then you can pick the right mic, select the polar pattern that works best for your idea, place it to do what you want, and set the amp and mic preamp up to work best with what the mic does.

    Then there's the whole matter of compression, which can come from your pedalboard, or from an outboard box. There's the matter of the preamp's headroom. There's the matter of the mic's headroom. Lots of factors.

    So these are a few of the things you're missing. It doesn't happen overnight. It takes work and lots of experimentation.

    Dynamics and ribbons are, of course, the usual selections for guitar amps. This is especially true for the greater dynamics of a clean or low gain amp (remember that a high gain amp is usually clipping, and compressing the waveform, reducing the dynamic range and making it easier to record).

    So it's not a matter of "does a condenser work in this application?" Instead, it's a matter of "How do I balance these various factors if I decide that I want the sound of a condenser for this track?"
     
  4. Ulysses

    Ulysses Member

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    All three of these clips were recorded with a pair of small diaphram SM-81's. I've had these mics for years and never used them for much. Never really thought try them on guitar. By chance a few weeks ago I found by getting them off axis of the cab they do a pretty damn good job of recording guitar as a pair:

    http://www.soundclick.com/player/single_player.cfm?songid=6670388&q=hi&newref=1

    http://www.soundclick.com/player/single_player.cfm?songid=6633726&q=hi&newref=1

    http://www.soundclick.com/player/single_player.cfm?songid=6341226&q=hi&newref=1
     
  5. rob2001

    rob2001 Member

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    I've used condensers on clean to low gain guitars and I thought they added nice texture to the songs. A cool trick is to get right up on the mic when playing. It captures the actual pick attack from the unamplified guitar and the amp, which gives yet another interesting texture. It doesn't work with all songs though.
     
  6. stratovarius

    stratovarius Supporting Member

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    I don't know what I am doing so take this into consideration.

    I've used a BLUE Dragonfly with excellent results. When I've used an SM57 it is like adding an effect pedal to the signal IMHO. The Dragonfly sounds more like what you hear in the room.
     
  7. mike80

    mike80 Member

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    I used a SM57 close-mic'd, a MXL V67 condenser about 3 feet away, mixed them together and got a damn good tone on a Mesa Dual Recto.
     
  8. BluesForDan

    BluesForDan Member

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    What sounds like hi-gain recorded is usually a lot lower gain than you might think.
     
  9. jmoose

    jmoose Member

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    Bah!

    I've stuffed many a condenser mic right on the grille of an amp, high gain... low-gain... volumes ranging from TV to stadium level air displacement and they've all been survived with nary a whimper.

    Using good mics though... no cheap imported stuff with crappy diaphragms that fold over. AKG C460's, 414s, I've got a pair of Blue Baby Bottles (sn#47 or something, the early first version before they made 'em brighter) that sound KILLER on high-gain guitars...

    The only problem you may have is the SPL from the amp clipping the mic and/or micamp farther up the line, especially if the mic has a high output like the BB or Neumann TLM's.

    Use the pad on the mic first, and in-line pads second...

    Play a performance worth recording & you'll be fine...
     
  10. Burstplayer

    Burstplayer Member

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    I always use my Rode NTK as a distance mic for recording a guitar cab- low gain or high gain. About 6 ft way, pointed right at the 4 x 12

    Blend with a 57 or a Senn 609 to taste.
     
  11. stratovarius

    stratovarius Supporting Member

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    Oh yes, I forgot to mention that I use a Shure A15AS switchable in-line attenuator!
     
  12. alvagoldbook

    alvagoldbook Member

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    these are good ideas guys. very much appreciated. I've only tried putting a condenser on a guitar once and that was up on the grill, and I think it was clipping pretty bad. of course I have a pretty lousy AKG condenser though.
     
  13. MichaelK

    MichaelK Member

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    A condenser mic ought to work fine. I've been using them on guitar amps more than dynamic mics recently, particularly with low-gain settings.

    When you ask "what am I missing" that's hard to answer without knowing the particulars.
     
  14. MichaelK

    MichaelK Member

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    Ezzockly.

    I love that quote from Keith, BTW.
     

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