Okay, if you’re looking for some“deus ex machina” solutions that will guarantee you choose the absolutelycorrect microphone for each-and every amp and guitar scenario, then I’ve led you astray. Sorry about that.But, hey, as a committed EQ readeryou should know by now that the only sacrosanct rule in the studio isthat there are no rules. So while, asthey used to say about IBM in theearly days of computers, you’ll neverget “fired” (or ridiculed) for plunkinga trusty Shure SM57 right in front of as peaker cabinet, that’s certainly notthe only way to document a ragingguitar sound.
In fact, blind servitude to conventionwill likely compromise your abilityto dial in unique—or at least“personal”—sounds. The real, shuddering-right-down-to-your-toes bliss about crafting and documentingsounds in the studio is discovering something wonderful by making a“mistake,” doing something blatantlystupid, or being suddenly and unexpectedlyinspired by whatever creativemuse you worship. So pleaseabsorb the following mic-selection options as mere suggestions or foundations from which to go boldly forwardin your own quest for trulykick-ass guitar tones.
As mentioned earlier, a Shure SM57pointed directly at a speaker cone isprobably responsible for most of theclassic-rock tones you adore. The presence, midrange attack, and sonicimpact delivered by the 57 are practicallymade for documenting aggro,overdriven guitar timbres. But the SM57 certainly isn’t the only flavor ofdynamic mic available that can coaxballsy tones from a raging amp. Many manufacturers have toyed with thebasic SM57 DNA, adding their ownsecret sauces, and, in the process,they have produced mics with morelow-end or low-midrange emphasis,or a bit more shimmer in the high mids. Some of my favorite dynamics include the Audix i5 (solid low endwith balanced mids), the Sennheisere609 (great for live-sounding trackswith pronounced mids), and CADD189 (in the Joe Satriani Mic Pack;focused mids with a bit of air).
In addition, dynamic mics that have been developed for kick drums—such as the Electro-Voice RE20,Audio-Technica ATM250DE, and theAKG D112—are excellent choices fordown-tuned metal, 7-string guitars,and standard-tuned 6-stringers whowant more chunk in their tone.
One of my approaches—whichdoesn’t have to be one of yours,remember—is to go with a dynamicfor an “impact” guitar track. Thiscould be defined as a revved-up Marshall for a rock song, or a clean jazztrack where the single-note linesneed some articulation or snap. I seldomput the mic right against the speaker (unless I want a dry and verypresence roar), opting instead for anoff-axis position or placing the mic afoot or so in front of the cabinet inorder to incorporate some room toneinto the source sound.
Condensers usually capture a wider frequency spectrum and slightly moredetail than the average dynamic. This makes them a good choice for miking acoustic guitars, but you shouldn’tshy away from lobbing them at acranked amp (that’s wh...