Recording Guitar and Bass With a Signal Splitter
This is a quick tip that will make recording guitar and bass worry free. No matter what mic technique you use, this is a great way to avoid any headaches when you get to the production and mixing stages.
Record the mic’d amp and the direct guitar signal at the same time.
When recording guitar I often use an sm57 close up to the cone (on-axis), a large diaphragm condenser roughly six and a half feet away from the amp, and occasionally two room mic’s twenty feet away if I want to capture a natural room reverb. On top of all that, I split the signal from the guitar before it gets to the amp, and record the direct signal along with the mic inputs for every take. That way if I ever get to the mixing stage, and decide that I radically want to change the tone of the guitar or bass, I can re-amp it or send it through an amp emulation without losing the original performance. This means saving time for you and your client.
You can use whatever mic technique you prefer, and just add the splitter idea to achieve the same results. All you need is a good splitter box to make this trick work. Plug the cable from your guitar into the splitter, and then one output from the splitter directly to your recording preamps, and the other output to the guitar amp.
Some cheaper splitters can introduce noise and distortion, so it is worth shopping around for a good one. I use the Radial J48, and it reliably gives me a super clean signal to tape every time.
This guitar recording technique has come in handy when I just needed to alter the tone a tiny bit. In those type of cases I use the original mic signal tone, and mix in a re-amped signal to either add clarity, or grit depending on what is needed. You can use this split concept on guitar, bass, keyboard, or any instrument that puts out a line level signal.
If you are interested in finding out more about the Radial J48, I wrote an detailed review of it called “Radial J48 X-Amp Re-amping Pack Review“.
I hope this article helps you find a technique for capturing great guitar and bass performances, and always having a safety track for additional tonal changes.
Leave a comment if you have another favorite way of splitting your guitar, bass, or keys signal.