How To Record An Electric Guitar - The Basics

The Basic To Recording An Electric Guitar

An electric guitar differs from an acoustic guitar in that it uses electric pickups to convert the sound into an electric current, this is then amplified which produces a clear signal audible to the human ear.

There is a wide variety of electric guitars, each with their own tonal characteristics, that can be used when recording. An example of the different range of electric guitars would be solid body electric guitars, hollow body electric guitars, semi hollow body electric guitars, acoustic/electric guitars, pedal steel guitars and Hawaiian style lap guitars.

Recording an electric guitar is a fairly straight forward process. In a nutshell there are 2 different ways of recording an electric guitar.

how to record an electric guitar the basics

The modern way involves connecting the instrument via a 1/4 inch guitar jack to an audio interface or a stand alone recording device and then using either sequencing software of some sort or the units onboard recorder.

The old fashioned way (yet still extremely popular) is to connect the electric guitar to an amplifier and then capture the output from the guitar amplifier using a microphone.

Both methods have their place within the recording process and can be used together to achieve the desired sound for the recording. Whichever method you use there are certain things that you need to take note of during the recording process.

Recording Electric Guitar Checklist

In Tune

One of the first things you should always do before recording the electric guitar (or any instrument for that matter) is to make sure your instrument is in tune. This may seem like a fairly obvious suggestion but you would be surprised how often it is overlooked. You could have the ultimate take of your guitar solo only to find out when you listen back to it that it's out of tune. So ALWAYS check your tuning.

Avoid Hum

Hum and buzzing noises can be a pain when recording. Try to avoid them by making sure all transformers, amps, speakers and cables are not kept too close to each other as this is the number one cause of sound distortion.


Before recording starts it's important to get the right tone required from the amplifier. Although the tone may change slightly due to the position and type of microphone used, having a solid base to work from will save on eq adjustments later on. Just like guitars, every amplifier has its own characteristics so if you're looking for a specific type of sound I would suggest using Google to find out what amplifiers were used during the recording of your favourite tracks.

When recording an electric guitar, it is advisable to use a dynamic microphone because it is built in a way it can easily sustain high volumes without causing distortion. This does not exempt other microphones from being viable options in case the dynamic microphone is not within your reach.


The easiest way to choose the most suitable microphone for your recording is to simply listen. When you slip on your producer/engineer hat it becomes your job to listen carefully to the output from a microphone and then decide which will give you the desired sound for the recording you want to achieve. After selecting the right microphone it's then paramount to get the positioning right.

Microphone Placement

When it comes to microphone placement there are three methods to consider.

  • On Axis Positioning - The microphone is placed directly towards the speaker cabinet giving you a more direct, fuller sound
  • Off Axis Positioning - The microphone is placed at an angle to the speaker giving it a different sound than on axis position.
  • Room Microphone - This is the method of placing a condenser microphone about 4 - 6 feet away from the cabinet giving it an ambient, distant sort of sound and feeling.

If you found this songwriting article interesting and would like to learn some more tips and techniques then why not check out Free Songwriting Tips.

Craig S.

Professional Songwriter & Musician.

by Craig Spain; Wednesday, June 1, 2011 @ 07:57 AM [2095]

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History of the Electric Guitar - Music Technology

History of the Electric Guitar - Music Technology

The fame of the electric guitar started in the big band era when guitarists wanted to amplify their guitars to compete with the large brass sections in jazz orchestras. Earlier, electric guitars were mainly made up of empty acoustic bodies with electromagnetic pick ups attached, to convert the sound into electrical energy for amplifiers.

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