Recording Distorted Guitar Tutorial Part 1: Which Microphone to Use?

Hi, I’m Dave from and welcome to my tutorial on recording distorted guitar.

This will be a collection of videos exploring the different techniques used to get different tones. I’ll be going through the use of different microphones, positioning of mics, different amps and settings and then move on to computer-related things like using amp sims, EQ, compression and double tracking.

However, I’m not an amazing guitarist, so I’ve recruited my homeslice Kieran from to help out! Do you want to give your site a quick plug to the boyinaband viewers?

[something english and gay]

Wow, his voice is even more gay and English than mine! Check out his site if you want to learn how to play guitar! He’s also the guitarist in my Rave Rap Rock band “You and What Army”, so be sure to check us out!

For consistancy, I’m going to record him playing it once, then run the same sound through the amp with different microphones. For entertainment, I’m going to record him in front of a green screen so we can watch him play it in front of several different inappropriate places!

Before we get started, I just want to make it clear that this is a tutorial explaining how to get different tones, not about how to get the best tone – Different people will obviously have different opinions on what sounds good. This is just to help you find out what you like best!

We’re going to be miking up Kieran’s Line6 Guitar Cab with his Line6 Vendetta HD Head, complete with seriously manly dinosaur stickers, providing the amplification and distorted tone – we’ll be talking more about the settings on the head in another video, but for now we’ll be using one tone just so we can hear the effect different microphones have on the sound.

Let’s turn it on and get to work.

We’ll be testing 3 different microphones today – A Dynamic mic, A Condenser mic and a Crap mic.

The Dynamic mic is the SM57 – The long standing studio standard and considered by many as the go-to mike for good guitar amp recordings.

The Condenser mic is the Rode NT-1 A – A great vocal microphone, but let’s see what effect it has on recording heavy guitar.

The Crap mic is the SH1T Microphone – The cheapest mic I could get when I set up my studio. It has a label on it from when I used it at a gig when I was the drummer in my old band – if you’re wondering how to pronounce that band name, it’s pronounced XxXZYZYN.

Ok, so let’s start with the SM57. For this one, let’s put Kieran somewhere pretty conventional for a green screen… like the Taj Mahal.

As you can hear, it’s quite an in-your-face tone, with the high end nicely represented, but the low and mids are where it’s really captured it nicely, with the chunky powerchords in this riff sounding particularly beefy.

Now let’s move on to the condenser mic, since it’s a Rode mic, I’ll put him on this road! Ha! Ha! Let’s move on.

You have to be careful when recording loud sounds with a condenser mic – they’re very sensitive, so you may have to reduce the volume to compensate or risk damaging the mic. Also remember that condenser mics require phantom power, so if it’s not working that might be why.

The tone for this mic is less focused and wider – the high end has been captured really well, but doesn’t have the same punch as the dynamic SM57

Lastly, let’s give the Crap mic a go. To set the scene, I’ll put Kieran somewhere suitably crap. There we go.

The sound is very wide and uncontrolled – it’s quite tinny and there’s an undertone in there which just sounds kinda like noise.

Alright, now to get a good idea of the difference between the tones, I’ll switch between the different recordings during the same riff.

We’ll start with the SM57, then the Rode and finally the SH1-T mic. See how different the tone can be simply by using a different type of mic?

And there we have it! Join us for part 2 where we’ll be exploring the effect that positioning the mic differently has on the tone!


2 Responses to “Recording Distorted Guitar Tutorial Part 1: Which Microphone to Use?”

  1. To show how to capture tone, you should have started with some actual tone. The equipment used and general lack of decent technique = not a good example.

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