I have been playing guitar since 2004 and I started recording music videos on YouTube in 2009. In this post, I am going to explain how I record guitar tracks in my home studio. I will detail the gear I am using including amp, effects, mics, audio interface and software.
Feel free to have a look at my videos here: youtube.com/EricDaoud.
Basic setup for recording audio
Before I talk about my setup I want to briefly explain the different tools you need to have a working home studio that will let you record various instruments:
- The instrument(s) you want to record: obviously you must have the instruments you want to record with you.
- A computer: you will need a computer to record the tracks, mix them and export the result as an audio file.
- An audio interface: your computer cannot properly record instruments without an external audio interface. You will connect your instruments or microphones to this interface that will be connected to your computer via USB.
- A sequencer: this is a music software that runs on your computer. It will recognize your audio interface and let you record the various instruments on separate tracks. You can then mix the tracks, apply effects and export the final result as an audio file.
- Headphones or monitoring speakers: When recording music, you want to have proper headphones or speaker to listen what you’re recording.` More importantly, you want speakers that sound “neutral” and won’t color the sound. These are called “monitoring” speakers or headphones.
- Microphones: If you’re recording an instrument that you can’t plug to your audio interface, you will need to use a microphone. For instance, if you’re recording drums, you can place various microphones around your kit, plug them to your audio interface, and record the different micrphones on separate tracks. If you’re recording guitar, you can either plug you guitar straight into the audio interface and use amps emulation, or place a microphone in front of your amp cabinet and record that.
- MIDI keyboard: MIDI keyboards are not really capable of producing a sound on their own. Instead, they’re sending signals and notes to your audio interface (or computer directly). You can then use audio plugins on your sequencers to emulate various instruments, controlled by that keyboard. For instance, you can play organ sounds, drumkits, flutes, violins, etc … all that with the keyboard.
Here’s a visual recap:
Mix audio and video
Now you know how to record audio tracks. To record good quality music videos, you will want to record audio and video separately. You will have different choices:
- Record audio and video at the same time. You will use your phone or a camera to record the video, and the previously described setup to record audio.
- Record the audio first, and then film yourself “playing along” the already recorded tracks. This is probably what musicians do when they record their music videos, they don’t record both audio and video at the same time.
Once you’re done with audio and video tracks, you will need to use a video editing software like iMovie, Final Cut Pro or Adobe Premiere. You will add your video track, remove its audio track and replace it with the audio track you recorded on your sequencer. Make sure audio and video are in sync so it doesn’t look like you faked your video, and you’re done.
Now that we covered the basic, let me show how I am recording my videos and what gear I am using.
Recording gear overview
Here’s a non exhaustive list of the gear I am using in my home studio:
My studio gear is fairly simple, here is what I am using:
- Audio Interface: MOTU 828 mkIII
- Speakers: Yamaha HS Speakers
- MIDI Keyboard: M-Audio Axiom
- Sequencer: Apple Logic Pro X
This part gets a bit more complicated, here’s the list of what I’m using and I’ll explain how they are setup and why:
- Guitars: I have a lot, I’ll probably write a dedicated post about my guitars.
- Amplifier: Elmwood Modena M60
- Mic & Cabinet simulation: Two Notes Torpedo Live
- TC Electronic G System
- Various distortion and overdrive pedals
First, I plug my guitar into my TC Electronic G System multi effect unit. This unit is no longer manufactured but it sounds great, very versatile and handy. The unit has almost every effect built in, like reverbs, delays, modulations, uni-vibe, wah-wah, whammy, etc … It does not provide overdrives though, but you can plug up to 4 external overdrive pedals in the system and control them via the dedicated switches. The unit can also control your amplifier channels and midi devices. In the end, you can create different presets by choosing among the various effects, overdrives and amp settings.
I am using an Elmwood Modena M60 amplifier. Unfortunately this brand no longer exists but they were making awesome amps, hand built in Sweden. It’s 60 watts tube amplifier, with 2 channels (but each channel has a boost so it’s almost a 4 channel amp). I’m controlling the amp channels with the G System.
Then, my amplifier goes into a Two Notes Torpedo Live. This unit is a load box and a speaker plus microphone simulation device. This means that I do not need to have a speaker connected to amplifier, the unit has various cabinets simulation built in, they’re all very high quality and sound great. Since I do not have a cabinet, I can crank my amplifier and let the tube screams, it sounds much better this way. I can listen to the recorded sound via headphones or speakers and adjust the volume so that I don’t annoy the neighbors. It’s possible to setup different presets on the Torpedo Live, by using different cabinets and microphones combinations and settings. I am controlling the presets with my G System once again. This means that when I create G System presets, I can chose a combination of:
- Guitar effects
- Amp channels
- Speaker simulation
Finally, my Torpedo Live is plugged into my MOTU audio interface, connected to my Mac Book Pro which runs Logic Pro X.
Here’s a visual recap:
I am a guitar nerd. I love learning about new gear that’s coming out and spending some time tweaking my settings and trying new sounds. I hope that post helped you in some way. Don’t hesitate to let me know in the comments, and please check out my music videos on my YouTube channel.