There are now many different ways to record electric guitars, from miked-up valve amps to physical modelling preamps. So how do you decide which to use
The theory of evolution says that the longer something has been evolving the more complex it tends to get, and this is certainly true of the electric guitar, which has been evolving for over half a century.
Best Electric Guitars sounds rely on the instrument itself, the amplifier through which it is played and also on the loudspeaker system used. Further variables are introduced when miking techniques are taken into consideration, though these days miking is only one of the ways of recording an electric guitar — we also have a number of effective DI techniques from which to choose.
Guitar amps tend to use 10-inch or 12-inch speakers without tweeters or crossovers, so they have a very limited upper-frequency response. These speakers may be used singly or in multiples, in either sealed or open-backed cabinets. The familiar overdrive sound was almost certainly discovered by accident when early amplifiers were driven beyond their design limits in an attempt to obtain more volume, but because of the restricted top end of the speaker systems employed at the time, the distortion was stripped of its more abrasive upper harmonics and actually sounded quite musical. So, what started out as a side effect of limited technology soon became adopted by blues players and turned into a distinctive style, which later evolved into rock, and then into heavy metal with all its spin-off genres.
As a rule, open-backed cabinets tend to have a different low-frequency characteristic to closed ones, partly because no air is trapped inside the box to act as a pneumatic spring. One characteristic is that low-frequency sounds, such as damped lower strings, cause the speaker cone to move a considerable distance, producing what is affectionately known as cabinet thump. In addition, there is interaction between the sound coming from the front and the back of the cabinet, which may cause some frequencies to cancel and others to be reinforced.
How to play guitar? Or, more specifically, ‘how to play acoustic guitar’?
People ask this question quite a bit and, surprisingly!, think there’s a short answer. And maybe there is: Play a lot, for a long time. : ) But, seriously, playing guitar (whether acoustic or electric or other) is a long-term process. Really talented people pursue being an excellent guitarist for a lifetime. Sure, there are basic techniques and insights that will get you up and running in a month. But the possibilities are so wide open that you’ll still be discovering new stuff decades later.
If you asked this question, but were really wondering, “How do I get started playing guitar?”, then I would recommend a) get an inexpensive guitar (don’t go expensive at first), and b) getting lessons. Lessons can be from a local teacher – this is really helpful for the psychological effect of being forced to show up and look someone in the eye every week and admit whether you practiced. Or video lessons, like the ones at JamPlay, are another great source.
What is fingerstyle guitar?
Fingerstyle guitar is a broad term for a style of playing characterized by using the flesh of the finger to pluck the strings (instead of a pick or plectrum). In the past, this term has referred to folks like Chet Atkins or Doc Watson.
This term is typically used right now to refer to a number of players like Tommy Emmanuel, Andy McKee, or even Ed Sheeran, who mix Country Travis picking, Flamenco percussion, Jazz tonality, Folk-ish alternate tunings, and Classical melodicism to create a very “modern” sort of fingerstyle guitar.
What is an acoustic guitar?
“An acoustic guitar is a guitar that produces sound acoustically—by transmitting the vibration of the strings to the air—as opposed to relying on electronic amplification (see electric guitar). The sound waves from the strings of an acoustic guitar resonate through the guitar’s body, creating sound. This typically involves the use of a sound board and a sound box to strengthen the vibrations of the strings.”
What is classical guitar vs a steel-string guitar?
This is the major divide in the types of acoustic guitars. The divide looks (roughly) like this:
Classical guitars are: nylon-stringed, played sitting with a raised leg, have wider string distance, and prize “projection” as a key quality. Classical guitarists, Flamenco, Bossa Nova, and sometimes Folk players prefer these.
Steel-string guitars are: strung with “wound” steel strings, played standing or sitting, have a tighter neck, and a have a wide variety of selling points (recording sound, playability, as well as projection). Pop, Rock, Country, and many other styles prefer these.