5 Miking Techniques and Tips

Guitar and Drum Miking Techniques and Tips

Each drum should be miked separately, but cymbals don't require mics.
Each drum should be miked separately, but cymbals don't require mics.
© Iain Crockert/Photographers Choice RF/Getty Images

What's the best way to mike a guitar or drums? Find out below.

3. Miking a Guitar

To record an acoustic guitar, use any of the stereo miking techniques as above, except on a smaller scale. The left mic would be aimed at the bridge of the guitar, where the strings are connected to the face, and the right mic at the 12th fret, the metal wires that sit on the guitar neck, creating a nice sense of space and openness [sources: Maximum Musician.com, Humbucker Music].

For electric guitars, check out the next tip.

4. Miking an Amplifier

Every professional recording engineer and home hobbyist has his own technique for recording electric guitar audio. The most basic, garage-band technique is to take a dynamic mic and push it right up close to the guitar amplifier, maybe 3 to 6 inches from the cloth. Dynamic mics can take the high sound pressure levels (SPL) of the amp without distorting the sound.

Most engineers agree that the best electric guitar sound comes from an amplifier that's turned up to ten. Let the amp warm up and then crank it up for the best recordings.

Different guitar miking techniques produce different sounds. As do different guitars, amps, rooms and microphone types. The best way to experiment is by setting up several mics in front of the amp at different angles and distances from the amp and test each one for the best sound.

If a mic is angled toward the cone in the middle of the amp, for example, it's going to get the clearest, hardest sound with the widest frequency range. But if you point the mic further toward either side of the cone, it'll warm up the tone a little [source: Electronic Musician]. You can also experiment with using two mics -- a dynamic up close and a condenser a foot behind -- and mixing the two recordings for a fuller tone.

5. Miking drums

Drums typically require the most mics. Even the most basic setup, called the "triangle," requires three mics [source: Home Recording Connection]. One mic goes right inside the kick drum (the large floor drum) and two other mics are placed on either side of the drum kit to capture a realistic stereo sound.

But to get the clearest, sharpest sound out of a drum kit, you'll want to mic each drum separately. This requires small dynamic mics (the most durable) that can be pointed toward a single drum head, such as the snare, toms and floor tom. Cymbals and high-hats don't need mics of their own since their sound is picked up easily by other mics. In fact, the biggest trick with miking drums is making sure that the cymbals don't overpower the mix.

If you're recording drums with other instruments, it's important to prevent the other audio from bleeding onto the drum track. This usually requires some kind of sound barrier around the drum kit made of dense foam, cubical dividers or some other kind of noise dampening material [source: Home Recording Connection].

For lots more information about miking techniques and related topics, check out the links below.

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