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  • Writer's pictureJames Meder

3 Microphones on a Guitar Cab

Happy #MicMonday !!

Here’s 3 favorite microphones that I’ve been using on electric guitar cabs recently.

First up is the venerable Beyerdynamic M160, which has been around since the ‘60’s and was favored by none other than Jimi Hendrix… so you’ve likely heard this mic before. Being a ribbon mic, it has a smooth and clean sound to it. It lacks a little in the top and bottom end, but makes up for it throughout the midrange where it provides a lot of ‘chewiness’. My general feeling is that it likes capturing overdriven-to-more-distorted guitar tones because of its slightly peaky/lopsided hi-mid representation. On guitars with little harmonics in the hi-mids end, the sound can feel a little uneven, which is why I feel it’s best used alongside other mics when recording cleaner guitar tones.

Next in line (center mic in photo) is the Groove Tubes md1 large diaphragm tube mic. This is a USA model, before Groove Tubes shipped its manufacturing overseas. Mics from this era(‘90’s) of Groove Tubes are sleepers… Where the M160 lacks in the very top and bottom frequencies, this mic steps in and delivers. I cherish its sound for picking up the tone-of-the-cabinet. It provides definition to the bottom - chunky resonance/woodiness come to mind. The mic is also slightly scooped around 1k (where a lot of guitar mid-energy frequencies reside) so it plays well with a lot of other mics…hello M160!

Last up (nearest mic in photo) is somewhat of an oddball, the Sony C22 FET. This is a small diaphragm condenser mic (powered by an internal 9v battery) and is somewhat similar in frequency response to the M160, but the similarities stop there. This mic has a hardness to it, it kinda reminds me of a dynamic mic like a Sennheiser MD 421, but retains a little more detail akin to a proper condenser microphone. While the M160 has some unevenness in the hi-mids, this mic represents a solidness in that area. It’s great for both clean and dirty guitar sounds, adding clarity and character to the mid range - lots of firm detail from 1-3k. Like the M160, it rolls off gradually in the highs and lows.

A note on how I generally record electric guitar these days… Because sessions move fast, my goal is to arrive at sounds quick, and in turn have less work in post. I try to commit tones at the source whenever possible. This means summing multi-mic setups down to a single audio track. In this case, I’ll run the outputs of my preamps (often API 512c or Neve 1073lb) into the Quantum Labs console via the line level ins. On the console, I route the outputs of all the channels to a single mono bus that then goes to my audio converters. I can solo mics to quickly hear each, and use the faders to get a blend between the mics. I even have individual eq on each channel if I need it - I usually don’t use eq here, but it’s nice to know that the option is available. If a part needs to be double tracked, it is convenient to quickly change fader positions and have a unique and different blend from the original guitar track - quick tonal contrast without having to leave the control room!

That’s it for now, I may have a different combo of mics for guitar cabs next week... There’s always ongoing discovery and more to learn!

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