By Ryan Worsley**
I really like sending miked signals into guitar amps, especially with drums. When I’m tracking drums, I usually have an amp miked up in the bathroom, with an SM7 on it, that I can send any of the close mics to. Typically, it will be a kick or snare… or both. You can do this right off the console via sends, or back out of your DAW sends, but make sure to that everything is in phase (especially when sending kick and snare together).
Sometimes I’ll add a bunch of spring reverb from the amp, or keep it tight and punchy. I also like to do something similar but with pedals and a Radial EXTC. I’ll send the snare mic to the EXTC and send it through my guitar effects pedals. Usually I’ll have an overdrive, fuzz, delay, and reverb, and just pick and choose for whatever sounds right for the song.
My two favorite amps for this are a Fender Deluxe Reverb and a vintage Traynor YGM-3. Sometimes this will end up as a cool effect that I blend to the rest of the kit, and other times, it will become the entire close mic sound, replacing the original unprocessed track.
This next tip is a more advanced technique for finding the ideal guitar tone. It’s adapted from Michael Stavrou as described in his book, Mixing with Your Mind.
One way I like to get guitar tones is by moving the mic around while wearing headphones. This can be tricky to do, because the volume of the amp is typically louder than the headphones, but there is a solution. I first put the mic in a place that I think will sound good. Once I’ve heard how it sounds with the loud guitar signal running through it, I’ll unplug the guitar from the amp. I then plug my phone into the amp via a headphone to 1/4-in. adaptor cable. I have a loop of pink noise that I play through the amp at a very quiet volume (so I’m only hearing through the headphones what is being picked up by the mic). Similar to white noise, pink noise contains all of the frequencies in the spectrum. One will need to be familiar enough with how it typically sounds. I crank the headphone volume and listen to the pink noise through them. Once I hear how the pink noise sounds in my first mic position, I adjust the mic placement to find a position that gives me what I’m looking for. For example, if the initial guitar tone sounded muddy, I change the position until the pink noise is more balanced and the midrange frequencies are no longer jumping out. This is great way to judge how the different mic positions sound.
Ryan Worsley is a producer, audio engineer, multi-instrumentalist, and songwriter who owns Echoplant Recording Studios in Vancouver. He has worked with Dear Rouge, Emilie & Ogden, Said the Whale, Courage My love, and others. www.echoplantsound.com.