Guitars That Rock

Recording guitars that blast out of speakers or headphones like the Hulk smashing through a mountain range is all a matter of managing technical and arrangement perspectives. On the tech side, you want to lay down guitar tones that absolutely seethe with impact. If you’re miking amps, this means spending as long as it takes to find a thrilling combination of amp, guitar, microphone, and mic placement that renders your guitar sound as articulate (you can clearly hear every note), powerful (the notes snap with energy), and vibey (that “X” factor that sends shivers down your spine).
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When using modeling devices or preamps, consider defeating compression and diminishing effects that can often tank aural impact, and play with your guitar’s pickup selector and volume and tone controls to dial in a truly exhilarating tone. Don’t ever default to whatever the box gives you, futz around with parameters until your guitar rages like it has never raged before.

On the arrangement side, embrace strategies that brashly highlight the guitar. Layering doesn’t always make a guitar sound bigger, for example, so critically assess how many parts you really need to conjure guitars that explode out of the mix. Also, EQ guitar parts so that they sit in their very own frequency spectrum—which may mean dialing in a tone that sounds crappy all by itself, but kicks ass in the context of the other sounds in your mix. Finally, extreme positioning of elements in the stereo field can really punch up guitar parts. Try putting rhythm stabs, solos, or riffs on just one side of the mix. The main idea is to hurt people with the intensity of your guitar parts, so be fearless or tasteless or excessive. Just don’t be timid and unheard.