If you’re recording and mixing your own music, you know how difficult it can be to simultaneously capture the drums and guitar. One solution is to record the parts at different times, but this isn’t always possible. What can you do to make sure that both the drums and guitar sound good in a simultaneous recording?
To record drums and guitar at the same time, make sure you’re recording in a big enough space to accommodate both instruments. Record the song using dynamic cardioid microphones. Then, fine-tune the recording in the mixing stage so that the drums don’t drown out the guitar.
This article will walk you through the best way to record drums and guitar at the same time.
Why Is Recording Drums & Guitar Simultaneously So Tricky?
If you’re at the beginning of your recording career and find yourself incredibly frustrated each time you listen to your home studio recording, know you’re not the only person struggling with this. Why is recording these two vital instruments in popular music so hard?
Subpar Recording Equipment
If you’re using the wrong microphones, only one microphone, or cheap microphones, your drums are going to drown out your guitar every time. When recording drums and guitars, you need to use high-quality cardioid microphones, not condenser mics.
There’s no way around the need for high-quality cardioid microphones. This article will explore some good recording mic options below.
Drums Are Loud
Very loud! There’s a reason parents dread the day their teenager asks for a drum kit. Playing the drums makes a lot of noise, and unless you have something like mesh drum tips or drum mutes, there’s just no way around that.
In any case, you can’t use drum mutes when making a recording. The noise from the drums tends to drown out the noise from all the other instruments.
Recording Space Is Too Small
While quality recording equipment is critical, some musicians miss the most vital aspect of making a quality sound recording: having a space big enough to accommodate all the instruments you need to record. The closer together all the musicians are playing, the muddier your mix will be.
If your recording space is slightly smaller than ideal, you might be able to counteract it with microphone placement and fabric dividers. If it’s a very tiny space, you will find it difficult to capture drums & guitar parts clearly.
Using an Amp Simulator
Rather than record both instruments totally live by setting up a drum kit, an electric guitar plugged into an amplifier, and a system of microphones capturing all the noise, some people decide to replace the amplifiers with amp simulators instead. Amp simulators are computer software that will imitate the sound of an electric guitar amplifier when a guitar is plugged in.
The amp simulators cut out the possibility of interference between the guitar and drums, creating a clean guitar part. Your guitarist will be able to keep time to the drums, but keep in mind that your drummer won’t be able to hear your guitarist.
However, an amp simulator is only a viable option for recording. Some bands prefer to keep their recording as close to “live” as possible, meaning an amp simulator won’t work for them. It all depends on what you want the record to sound like.
Still, you won’t want it to sound so muffled you can’t make out the music. If you still want to record the drums and guitar in the same space at the same time, read on to determine the best way to do it!
Get Quality Recording Equipment
One of the most critical elements of making any sound recording is quality recording equipment. Although you might not want the most expensive microphones, you’ll want to invest in them.
You’ll need to get cardioid microphones for both drums and guitars. Cardioid microphones are good at avoiding feedback from directions that the mic isn’t pointed in because of its “heart-shaped” sensitivity pattern.
Not all cardioid mics are created equal, however, so you’ll want to make sure you invest in ones that are widely trusted.
Best Drum Mics
You’ll want to work with a minimum of four cardioid microphones on your drumset, with one that goes next to the kick drum.
- The Shure DMK57-52 Drum Microphone Kit comes with three SM57 mics and one super-cardioid Beta 52A mic for the kick drum. It’s pricey at nearly $400 on Amazon but is one of the most popular drum microphone sets by far.
- The PreSonus DM-7 Drum Microphone Set actually comes with seven different mics to capture a complete sound. Despite this extra mic, the Presonus is more affordable than the Shure set. It’s a great option if you want more bang for your buck.
- (1) BD-1 cardioid dynamic microphone for kick drums and bass amps
- (4) ST-4 cardioid dynamic microphones with an adjustable rim-mounts for toms, snare, guitar amps, and more
- (2) OH-2 cardioid small-diaphragm condenser microphone with clips and foam windscreens for drum overheads, high hats, and more.
- Bundle includes four 20' XLR cables, 3 Shure SM-57 Dynamic microphones, a Shure Beta 52A bass drum microphone, and 3 A56D drum mounting clips.
- The industry standard for snare drum, and a reliable and high-performing choice for toms, Shure's cardioid dynamic SM57 microphone features a contoured frequency response that cuts through the mix with exceptional impact, while reproducing sound accurately.
- Perfect for the kick drum, the supercardioid Beta 52A derives its low-end punch and sonic presence from a carefully tailored frequency response. Equipped with its own pneumatic shock mount, the Beta 52A is designed with an integral locking stand mount for quick-and-easy set up.
Best Guitar Mics
Just like with recording microphones for drum sets, you’ll want to get a cardioid mic to capture your guitar playing.
- The Shure SM58-LC Cardioid Dynamic Vocal Microphone is popular with vocals and guitarists for its clarity and brightness. To use a Shure with an electric amplifier, place it approximately 1cm (0.39in) away from the amp’s face and about a third of the way from the end.
- The Sennheiser e906 Supercardioid Dynamic Mic is specifically designed for guitar amps, with a flat shape that will capture more sound. It records in the “sound characters” of bright, moderate, and dark.
- Includes Stand Adapter and Zippered Pouch
- Designed for professional vocal use in live performance, sound reinforcement, and studio recording
- Frequency response (50 to 15,000 Hz) tailored for vocals, with brightened midrange and bass rolloff
- Specially Priced Package includes (1) Sennheiser e 906 Microphone as packaged by Sennheiser, PLUS:
- (1) Short Microphone Boom Stand
- (1) 20 ft XLR Cable
For more information, check out how many mics you need to record drums.
Set Up in Your Recording Space
As noted above, if you have a home recording setup, you’ll want to have a big enough space to accommodate both instruments. If you’re recording in someone’s bedroom, there probably isn’t going to be enough space to make a decent simultaneous track.
If you find yourself stuck in a small recording space, however, you can do several things to improve the quality of the recordings.
Record in Different Rooms
Put your drum kit and your electric guitarist in completely separate rooms of your house. This might seem counterintuitive, but you want your drums as far away from other instruments as possible. Besides, they’re so loud that the other musicians should hear them no problem.
Put Artificial Walls Between Drums & Guitar
If you’re extra industrious (and don’t have extra room to put your drums in), you can set up an artificial wall between your drummer and the rest of your instrumentalists. You can do this with fabric like towels hung on a clothesline or even clothes closets. A little separation goes a long way!
Record & Mix the Track
Now that you’re all set up, it’s time to record the track! Keep in mind that the most critical element of a quality recording is the skill of the musicians. Seasoned drummers and guitarists will usually know the best way to capture their instrument’s sound.
It’s also helpful to get a talented sound mixer involved. Sound mixers will be able to do things like cut out certain frequencies to help clarify different instruments, cutting some of the muddiness from the song.
Recording drums and guitar simultaneously can be frustrating if you don’t know what you’re doing. Even groups with recording experience often find themselves with recordings ruined by booming drums and muddy guitar tracks. As long as you get a decent set of microphones and set up your space so that the two instruments don’t interfere with each other, you should be okay.
With these tips, you can streamline your recording process to make great-sounding musical tracks consistently.
- EHome Recording Studio: A Beginner’s Guide to Recording Guitar/Bass/Keyboards/Drums
- Wikipedia: Microphones
- Wikipedia: Amplifier modeling
Last update on 2021-07-28 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API