Ten tips on better guitar recording
1: If you are using an electric guitar, have it set up and have the intonation adjusted.
This means you are going to be in tune anywhere on the neck you play. If the intonation is correct, a string will be in tune no matter which fret you play all the way up to the 21st or 22cnd fret.
Many acoustics are pretty close especially in the first seven frets, and many have compensated bridges to deal with intonation issues.
2: Tune often.
There is no reason for your guitar to be out of tune with electronic tuners. Taking the time to be ‘in tune’ is one of the best uses of time in the studio there is.
3: Play in a ‘controlled manner’.
Listen to what is going on with the rest of the track. Keep it simple is the credo for a great sounding guitar recording.
4: Any time you use a capo, RE TUNE.
No exceptions. Any time you take the capo off, RE TUNE.
5: Pick sounds that have feeling and don’t need extreme EQ setting to make them ‘fit in the mix’.
Many times guitar players like muffled bass heavy guitar tones that fill a lot of space when playing live but are muddy when recorded. The flip side to that is to not have knife blade highs either.
6: Be flexible.
Pick your guitar sounds that fit the song, they don’t necessarily need to be the go to sounds you use every day. Recording can be a good platform to do some experimentation. Try different amps or plug ins, many studios have all kinds of different things you can try.
7: Try using fingers and/or picks, depending on the song.
Fingers give a smoother mellower sound and picks give a more biting attack. Don’t be afraid to try something you’ve never done before.
If you are not 100% sold on the track you just recorded, do another, and another. You can save all the versions that you come up with. That is the beauty of the modern DAW. You may just hit on something fantastic.
9: Be your own best critic.
There may be times as a recording guitarist when you will be in a situation where you feel like what you are doing is important, but for whatever reason, no one else in the general vicinity feels the same way.
You don’t have to get into a physical altercation or anything but don’t be afraid to stand your ground on a part you feel strongly about.
Obviously if you are a hired studio guitarist you have to play what the artist wants, but remember, they might have tunnel vision. Don’t be afraid to try something totally out in left field.
10: Be humble and willing to learn new things and take direction.
Don’t look at anything said as criticism, but realize that in many situations you may be working with folks who have been working on records for a lot longer than you have. You have a golden opportunity not only to learn, but to make friends and build relationships that can pay dividends for years or even decades.
The flip side is that you may be a seasoned guitarist and have recorded many times and are working with folks who are new to recording. You can be a big source of help and encouragement. Recording music should be considered community and not competition.
I hope these points help. Good luck and keep on recording.