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Direct Recording (Guitar Lesson)

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Chris Liepe

Direct Recording

Chris explains how to successfully record through some direct recording techniques. When done correctly, you can record a clean signal from your guitar with no microphones.

Taught by Chris Liepe in Recording and Micing seriesLength: 8:33Difficulty: 2.0 of 5

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Supplemental Learning Material



Member Comments about this Lesson

Discussions with our instructors are just one of the many benefits of becoming a member of JamPlay.

vvidalvvidal replied

Hi Chris, I first watched this series of lessons when it first got out in 2011. I'm watching it again and I really appreciate the content. I'm still learning a bunch the second time. However, almost 7 years later, does the gear still hold up? For example, having a Scarlet 8i6 (2 inputs) do I still need a guitar impedance matching box for DI recording (Waves stoped making the box you have years ago). Is the microamp MXR still the pedal I should get. What about the dynamic and condenser mics? Should I look at getting the SM57 or the C4 or are the obsolete? Hope you can answer my question. Thanks.

zco2289zco2289 replied

I have a Scarlett 2i4 interface that has 2 instrument jacks on the front with adjustable gain for each. Would I still need an impedance matching device? I always assumed the gain knobs on the interface was doing much of what it sounds like the impedance matching device does. But you know what they say about assuming things...

pmg902pmg902 replied

Chris, I currently use a Zoom R8 interface and plug directly into it with a 1/4" guitar cable before going into my DAW. Now since this is a powered interface I'm not sure if it is also impedance-matching like the Wave Guitar interface you mentioned. Furthermore, I recently purchased a Line 6 Pod HD which will be arriving soon and intend on making my signal path: Guitar -> 1/4" guitar cable -> Pod HD -> 1/4" XLR cable -> ZOOM R8 interface -> laptop. Is this going to create the proper effect (ie: will the zoom and/or the pod perform the same task as the Wave Guitar interface in balancing my impedance?) Paul

DrapteDrapte replied

What you say about not using the EQ on the guitar.. Should that be the same with condenser mics? Considering we can easily add a high pass in pro tools is there any difference between doing it on the mic as opposed to pro tools? Thanks

Chris.LiepeChris.Liepe replied

EQ is best used as an enhancer rather than a fixer. If you find yourself using it to fix, perhaps you should consider a different mic placement or room adjustment. This is true for all mics and all instruments really.

azziazzi replied

I don't understand this concept. I have a m-audio fast track pro. The manual says: Microphone/Instrument Inputs (Mic/Inst) – These Neutrik hybrid connectors will each accept a low-impedance mic level signal on a standard three-pin balanced XLR or TRS plug, or a high-impedance instrument level signal on an unbalanced 1/4” TS plug. Then says: Instrumental inputs (A/D): > 220k Ohms, unbalanced It seems to be prepared for guitar input levels.

rick_lovisonrick_lovison replied

Chris, I'm still a bit confused. Correct me if I'm wrong but I'm assuming you're saying that I will have more options available to me to tailor the sound of my guitar, in my case an acoustic/electric Ovation with a Op-Pro preamp, with the use of an active direct box. I initially had a problem connecting my guitar to a Hi Z input on a Delta 1010LT soundcard in a Linux system as the gain was far too low and I needed to have my guitar preamp at max volume. The sound was horrible. I solved that by using a passive DI, a tubular shaped device that allowed me to plug the 1/4" guitar jack into a Lo Z XLR mic input. Now I have enough gain. I don't use a virtual amp but either play along with a drum track using Hydrogen or record using Ardour. I guess my question would be, would there be any added benefits in using an active DI such as the Waves device you've mentioned or one such as the LR Baggs para DI? Thanks.

Chris.LiepeChris.Liepe replied

acoustic-electric guitar is a little different story. Since you're not going in to amp sims, you won't notice as much of a difference.

didierluxdidierlux replied

These tutorial series is really really great!!! I was waiting for something like this. Can't wait to see more!!!! Thanks!

FezzlerFezzler replied

Are these guitar DI boxes Hi-Z? Is that essentially what you are describing? Do DI interfaces come with Hi-Z?

Chris.LiepeChris.Liepe replied

"True" guitar input on most amps is slightly "lower" than a typical Hi-Z input. So they are not quite HI-Z, and definitely not Lo Z

Chris.LiepeChris.Liepe replied

The official "Guitarists Definition of Input Impedance": The amount, and therefore quality (based on the standard set by cool guitar amps) of OUTPUT that is drawn from your guitar when plugged into any given INPUT device. If your input device is not drawing the right amount of signal out of your guitar, it will not sound or feel 'right'... it will suck.

tomruggieritomruggieri replied

Hi Chris: I've listened to this lesson a couple of times and, before I run out and get a direct box, I want to make sure I'm understanding the main point you are trying to get across. It seems like the direct box primarily affects the quality of the sound. It does not seem to be a volume issue. I've plugged guitars directly into my M Box 2 and get plenty of volume. I generally have to turn the volume knob on the guitar down to about 3 and the gain knob on the M Box 2 to about a quarter turn to keep from clipping. I find this to be the case with either active or passive pickups on the guitar. I can then insert a virtual amp like SansAmp or Eleven and get a pretty decent sound before I actually record. Going direct is nice too because you don't have to wear headphones. That being said, and having recorded both direct and micing an amp, I find, at this point, that I prefer the mic'd amp sound over the direct in recorded sound. Will the direct box level the playing field or even surpass the mic'd amp sound? Thanks.

Chris.LiepeChris.Liepe replied

Your comment about having to dial back your guitar volume is a perfect case for why you would want to invest in an active "guitar specific" DI like the one I talked about in the video. When you dial back the volume knobs, you are really changing the sound of the pickups, depending on the electronics on the guitar, you may be creating a brighter, thinner sound when the volume is rolled back. It's great to be able to do that because you think the part or the song calls for it, but kinda crappy to HAVE to do it just to get a decent level in to your recording software. If you have one of these DIs, you can feel free to set your guitar the way that best fits the playing for the moment and tweak the DI to get your levels right for the recording. Some people (depending on the interface they use) are able to get an okay 'level' going into the software but there may be an 'impedance' mis-match. Without getting to techie, a standard guiitar's output plays best with an input that is somewhere between a "low impedance" input and a "hi impedance" input... much more towards the "Hi" side, but still not quite as "hi impedance" as your standard instrument input. A Mic input is to "Lo" of an impedance, and a standard "line" level doesn't really work either. these guitar boxes are built with inputs that are almost as hi impedance or "Hi-Z" as an instrument input, but just slightly lower so it makes your guitar playing FEEL like you're plugging in to a real amp. A lot of this probably doesn't mean much until you experience it. So if you ever have the chance, take your favorite guitar, and a couple of your favorite pedals and plug them in to your favorite tube amp. Then take the same exact guitar/pedal setup and plug in to the HI-Z input on a keyboard amp, then go to the LO-Z. Take notes on the differences in tone and feel. I realize that the tube amp has other guitar specific aspects that help the sound and feel, but a huge part of that is "impedance". You'll notice with the keyboard amp, that, when plugged in to the HI Z, your playing feels thinner, lacking in "umph" and your pedals don't react the same way when you fiddle the knobs. With the LO Z input, your sound will sound muddy, non-articulate and non responsive. Most people wouldn't even joke about regularly playing guitar through a keyboard amp, but they just accept the same crippling impedance mis-matches when they plug directly in to an interface or line jack on their computer.

AaronMillerAaronMiller replied

I think the main benefit of certain direct boxes are that you can split the signal and send the raw clean sound of the guitar to your DAW and also send the signal to your mic'd amp or whatever simultaneously. That is what we do at JamPlay. This gives us great flexibility in mixing as we can use the mic'd amp sounds as well as the direct track with guitar rig or any amp simulator. I see what you are saying though about level. I have ran my guitar direct into my delta 66 breakout box and it sounded great for plugin reamping.

Recording and Micing

Found in our Beginner Lesson Sets

Understanding the basics to recording and micing your guitar can help you develop as a musician. Gain a grasp on how to create your own personal studio

Introduction and Getting StartedLesson 1

Introduction and Getting Started

Welcome to lesson 1 of the Recording and Micing series! Here Chris provides some information essential to getting your home studio up and running.

Length: 15:50 Difficulty: 2.0 FREE
Setting Up Your SpaceLesson 2

Setting Up Your Space

Setting up your space for optimal audio recording and play back is key to creating a successful home studio. Chris explains how to create the best possible environment in this lesson.

Length: 27:48 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Understanding MicrophonesLesson 3

Understanding Microphones

Chris demonstrates how microphones work and how to choose the right microphone for a specific application.

Length: 12:26 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Direct RecordingLesson 4

Direct Recording

Chris explains how to successfully record through some direct recording techniques. When done correctly, you can record a clean signal from your guitar with no microphones.

Length: 8:33 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Electric Guitar / Amp Micing TechniquesLesson 5

Electric Guitar / Amp Micing Techniques

Chris liepe unlocks the wonders of micing an electric guitar amplifier. He explains how to find a speaker's "sweet spot" as well as the differences in tone between various common micing techniques.

Length: 21:13 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Acoustic Guitar Micing TechniquesLesson 6

Acoustic Guitar Micing Techniques

Chris Liepe teams up with Jim Deeming to present proper acoustic guitar micing techniques. Chris covers both single and dual micing placements and explains why each position is effective for certain situations.

Length: 20:34 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Acoustic Recording OptionsLesson 7

Acoustic Recording Options

With the help of Jim's playing, Chris has rigged up Jim's guitar three different ways and demonstrates the different qualities of sound you can get by recording with a direct line in, micing the amp, micing...

Length: 6:18 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Layering Multiple Guitar TracksLesson 8

Layering Multiple Guitar Tracks

With Jim playing 3 different sequences to overdub on top of one another, Chris will record them using 3 different micing techniques with 2 different guitars to create 1 final track.

Length: 14:07 Difficulty: 3.5 Members Only
Effects Signal RoutingLesson 9

Effects Signal Routing

Chris takes a step back from electric and acoustic micing to demonstrate the proper way to route your effects to achieve the best possible sound.

Length: 14:20 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Direct Guitar Recording (Using a DAW)Lesson 10

Direct Guitar Recording (Using a DAW)

Chris uses a Pro Tools session to demonstrate not only how to create a solid lead guitar sound within your home DAW, but how the basic tools and tips that he demonstrates can be applied to any software...

Length: 30:12 Difficulty: 4.0 Members Only
Direct Guitar EQ BasicsLesson 11

Direct Guitar EQ Basics

Chris Liepe reveals the basics of how to properly understand and utilize EQ tools within a DAW to define and enrich your overall guitar sound.

Length: 40:17 Difficulty: 4.0 Members Only
Chris Liepe

About Chris Liepe View Full Biography Chris Liepe was born on September 17th, 1981 in Portland OR. His first instrument was piano which he pursued until discovering his love for the electric guitar in high school. He became fans of such groups as Soundgarden, Collective Soul and U2 inspiring him to start singing, songwriting and helping others in their musical endeavors with teaching, co-writing and album production.

Having moved to Colorado with his family, he began gigging, recording and teaching in a number of music stores as well as out of his apartment until deciding to pursue music full time. He moved to Denver, CO to complete a Bachelors in Music Technology and was then hired on by Sweetwater Productions, a division of Sweetwater Sound and one of the largest, most successful recording studios in the Midwest.

Chris spent nearly 4 years at Sweetwater as a producer, recording engineer, studio musician and writer. During this time he had the privilege of working with many artists including Augustana, Landon Pigg, Jars of Clay, and Mercy Me. He also wrote for and played on numerous independent albums and hundreds of radio/TV commercials.

Wanting to get back to his favorite State in the world (Colorado) and feeling the urge to 'go freelance', Chris moved to Greeley, CO and opened his own recording and teaching studio. He continues to write and produce music for artists and agencies and is happy to be among the proud instructors.

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