Recording Different Musical Instruments

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If you’ve already put up your own recording studio, whether a professional one or a home-based studio, you are now set to start making your first record. However, you cannot jump into recording a song right away. You must ensure that you have the proper backing and instrumentals to guide the vocals of the artist. Therefore, you must learn how to record the different musical instruments used in a track.

Every song makes use of at least 3 different musical instruments. Each instrument must be properly recorded so that you end up with a clean and isolated track that won’t mess up the whole song. With the different instruments that require different microphones and produce varying acoustics, learning how to record can be quite overwhelming.

If you were in a professional studio, usually, recording instruments is an easy task because you have top of the line acoustics and equipment. However, if you are based at home, there are some factors that are different from a professional one, so you have to make shortcuts in order to achieve same quality tracks. Lucky for you, we have prepared an easy guide on how to record the most common musical instruments right at the comfort of your homes.

Tips on Microphone Placement

Mic Position

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Before you start recording, you must learn some general tricks on microphone placement, so you can maximize the acoustics of your instrument. First, you must have a good understanding of your instrument’s sound and tone. This way, you would know where it’s best to place the microphone. Second, a rule people follow is a microphone’s distance must be proportional to the instrument’s size. The bigger the instrument is, the farther the microphone is placed. Another trick is placing the microphone next to the ear of the musician so that the musician can adjust the sound based on what he hears. There are many tricks you could try before you find the one that suits you.

Electric Guitar and Bass Guitar

Recording both instruments is essentially similar, except that an electric guitar uses a standard dynamic microphone whereas a bass guitar uses a bass microphone. The microphones are placed up against the guitar cabinet or bass cabinet. To improve sound, you could add some good quality amps or add virtual effects that simulate amps.

Acoustic Guitar

You might think that recording an acoustic guitar is simple because it is more low-key than an electric or bass guitar. However, it is more complicated. This is because other than the actual notes, you also have to record the strumming of the guitar, the fingers sliding on the strings, your hand muting them, your palm tapping the soundboard, and the strings tapping the frets. Depending on the song, you don’t have to record all those things. The best way to record this guitar is by stereo recording. Other alternatives include using an acoustic DI or a condenser mic. For the mic position, point it towards the 12th fret. Experiment with the distance and angle until you are satisfied with the sound.

Keyboard

Keyboards are easier to record because they are already digital instruments. You could record using the keyboard’s direct recording function and a stereo DI. You could also use a virtual keyboard which is easier to edit and faster to use.

Drums

Drums are the most difficult to record because of their massive and complicated sound. You will need a lot of equipment and a big and soundproof recording area. The easiest way to record drums is by using a virtual instrument. Not only is it easier, but it also sounds better because they were professionally recorded.

Using an electronic drum kit is a good and more realistic way of recording drums. Think of it as like a garage band type of instrument. They’re not real drums, but you get to play them like they are and record the sound at the same time. This is a quieter and more comfortable way of recording drums without sacrificing the sound’s quality.

If you want to record actual acoustic drums, the method is very complicated. You have to use different types of microphones and several different mic positions for each instrument of the set. For more details, you will need an actual manual or book to guide you. You can also seek help from experienced studio professionals.

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