Micing a guitar amp with two microphones

In this article you will find a sound clip to hear the sound of a guitar amp …
(a) mic’ed close to the speaker (Shure SM 57)
(b) mic’ed at a distance of about 2 m (6 ft.) (Audio Technica AT 4050)
(c) with both microphones [of (a) and (b)] blended together.

The close mic’ing results in a dry and precise sound with hardly room. When you move back the microphone, the guitar will become lower in volume. As the sound reflections from the walls always have the same volume, they will seem to be louder now. In other words, the more you go back from the amp, the more room you will hear. Here it depends on the acoustic quality of your room whether this leads to pleasing or unwanted results.
What is often done is blending the signals of two (or more) microphones. This way you have the precise attack of close mic’ing plus some natural sounding room. You can also pan both microphones differently to create a wider stereo sound in your mix. You should definitely record both sources to different tracks of your recording software to keep all options open in the final mix.

Blending two microphones inavoidably leads to phase issues, some frequencies are cancelled, others are boosted. This effect depends on the distance between both microphones and varies actually with each inch. Many engineers move around the second (or both) microphones while listening (e.g. with headphones) to find the ultimate “sweet spot”, the position that has a magic sound. But this will be covered in a future article.

The video is in youtube high quality. If you have problems with bandwidth, you can watch it in normal quality directly at youtube, click here.

By the way, the amp is a clone of an old Fender Tweed Princeton, model 5F2-A. I built it out of scratch many years ago. It has a ceramic (!) Jensen 10″ speaker from the early 60ies and normally sounds great at all volumes. Its 4.5 watts are ideal for recording, you simply set the only volume control to the desired level of distortion and shape the sound with the single “Tone” control. The guitar is a maple neck Telecaster.

5 thoughts on “Micing a guitar amp with two microphones

  1. I have a very similar set up. I’m using Gibson GA-5 Skylark (8 watt PP model) and I am surprised how loud the amp has to be before the mic picks up much signal. I’m on 5 or so (with a new weber alnico in there) and that’s fairly loud. The mic (SM57) goes into the balanced input of a Mackie Onyx Satellite interface and with the gain all the way up.. I still get a fairly weak signal .. Almost never to -10 db ..

    I’ve moved the mic all over the place. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

  2. I have the feeling something is wrong with your setup. Normally it should be no problem to boost the signal to the desrired 0 dB with any mic pre amplifier – how would you record e.g. a almost whispering voice at 0 dB otherwise?

    You should swap the mic, the cable (!) and the amp for a test to pinpoint the source of the problem.

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