What’s quite exciting is that the electric guitar is still a very popular choice among music enthusiasts of different backgrounds. In fact, it seems that electric guitar sales have been higher than ever, breaking all records in recent years. After all, the electric guitar provides more expressive qualities compared to other instruments. After all, you can do with it almost anything you want and ultimately create some very versatile tones.
But what’s also really exciting is the fact that you can easily lay down guitar tracks and make music from the comfort of your home. And the process doesn’t require an elaborate setup but rather just your computer and an audio interface. Of course, you could also add microphones, but there are some other methods that either include preamps or using software emulations of famous guitar amps. Whatever may be your preferred choice, one thing remains – it’s not that hard to do it. With all this said, we’ll be doing a brief guide on how to record electric guitar with an audio interface.
Choosing the Right Audio Interface
You can’t really use your computer’s integrated audio interface if you want to record quality guitar tracks. You could use it, but you’d experience latency and reduced audio quality in multi-track projects, making it next to impossible to record anything good. External audio interfaces give you an option to do all this in a real-time setting, all while retaining good sonic qualities. Of course, there are plenty of guitar-oriented audio interfaces on the market today, and it’s really easy to find a good one. However, you’ll need to choose the right one for your setting as well.
If you’re recording electric or acoustic guitars, you’ll do fine with an audio interface that has one or two channels. Of course, almost all audio interfaces these days have instrument inputs, but you can also find those with both the instrument and microphone (XLR) inputs. In case you feel like recording your amp with microphones, we’d recommend a 2-channel audio interface. In this setting, you’ll have an option to use two microphones at once and record them as two separate tracks.
Another thing to think about is the audio quality that the interface provides. Since they do analog to digital and digital to analog conversion, the quality is expressed in bit depth and sample rate. The best audio interfaces these days have a 32-bit depth and up to 192 kHz sample rate. But the better the audio quality, the more expensive they get
Setting Things Up in Your DAW
When you choose the right DAW (digital audio workstation) software, you’ll have to map the channels in it. Every audio interface and every DAW comes with their own settings, but this shouldn’t be too complicated to figure out. Just follow the instructions that come with the DAW and the interface and you’ll be all set to record.
Of course, you can also add any type of plugins that fit your needs. What’s more, you have plenty of guitar-oriented plugins to use these days. These come with digital replicas of amp models and various effects units. They may not always be that cheap, but you get an abundance of tone-shaping options with it.
What’s Your Perfect configuration?
Up next, you’ll need to think of your perfect recording setup. The simplest one is to go directly into your audio interface and shape your tone using different plugins. Another simpler option is to use any type of preamp that can emulate the tone and feel of an electric guitar amplifier. What’s more, many amps these days have a special output for these occasions, and you can often use the headphone output of some amps.
But while going directly has its practical advantages, some users might prefer to capture the sound of their guitar amps. For this, you’ll need one or two microphones which you’ll connect with your audio interface. There are plenty of ways how you can position a microphone, or multiple microphones, in order to get different types of tone. The closer you position a microphone towards the center of a speaker cone, the more high ends there will be in there. And if you go towards the edge, you’ll notice more bottom ends. There are also differences that you can make with the distance from the amp’s speaker, as well as the angle from a speaker’s axis. With two microphones and two separate tracks in your DAW project, you’ll be able to create and mix a fuller tone.
Layering Your Guitar Tracks
One of the most common “tricks” when recording guitar is to layer the tracks to make it sound fuller. This means that you’ll have to record the same exact riff or lead part two or more times as separate tracks and put them on top of each other. These little imperfections and differences between two or more takes are what makes it sound so great. It’s also not unusual to have guitarists record two tracks with the same tone and pan them a little to the left and right channels. Then they do two new takes of the same part with a different type of tone and once again pan them left and right. By putting 4, 6, or more tracks this way, you can achieve some pretty cool effects.
Should I Use My Effects Pedals?
There are no strict rules of how you should or should not record your guitar. However, using pedals before you go into your audio interface may be a little impractical. First off, a regular distortion pedal without an additional DI box can make your guitar sound awful.
Additionally, using these effects before you go into an audio interface will have them recorded as they are and you won’t be able to edit the effects parameters later on. This is why we’d always recommend using plugins in your DAW of choice instead of pedals. We hope you’ve learned something new on how to record electric guitar with audio interface. Stay safe and rock on, folks!