Home Guitar Studio Setup: A Noob Friendly Guide
Are you a guitar player interested in recording yourself play?
Well, there has never been a better time to be a guitar player.
Whether you want to make a full professional EP or album or just want to make guitar cover videos and post them on YouTube, you’re in luck.
Nowadays, you can have a professional guitar studio from the comfort of your home. That’s not all, you can even do all of these without breaking the bank.
You can record all your songs and demos, and have clean, high-quality music. It’s really nice when even your demos sound almost as good as a finished job; it adds some class to your music.
This article walks you through the major things you need when you want to set up your home guitar studio.
Of course, there are different kinds of guitars, and this will influence your choice of the best setup that will work for you.
With most guitar players, you either have an acoustic guitar, an electric guitar, or a semi-acoustic. Because of these differences, I will be writing this article to suit the different setups.
A semi-acoustic guitar can use the same setup as an electric guitar since they have similar outputs.
The Most Important Gear You Need
To have a good quality recording, there is certain equipment you must have. I call these the minimum requirement if you want the quality recordings and enjoy yourself while making them.
To make your guitar recordings good you should have a computer. In terms of specifications, 2GB of RAM would do a decent recording job. You may need a better system if you’re mixing and mastering.
The computer serves as the focal point of all connections in the recording chain. Every other gear would be hooked up to it.
This serves as a third-party device that helps to connect your guitar to the computer. If you’re using an electric guitar, some effect pedals can do this job. However, bear in mind that it’s not their primary duty. So you must be very familiar with the rack before you do this.
An audio interface or external soundcard is a straightforward way of doing it. You can connect your microphone as well as your guitar at the same time, provided you purchase an audio interface with at least two input ports.
A digital audio workstation is a software that you install on your computer. It serves as a platform for all your recording and editing tasks.
The most popular DAWs that you can use are Logic, Ableton Live, FL Studio, Cubase and a host of others. There are DAWs that allow you to add other elements to your music like drums and pianos, while others are better for recording and editing only.
If you’re using an acoustic guitar, you may need two mics, unless you don’t mind recording your vocals and guitar at different times.
It’s better to have a cardioid condenser microphone. At a good price, you’ll get a mic that will capture your voice quite well. Also, if you have an electric guitar, you may choose to mic your guitar cabinet and record it.
For your playback, you can either use headphones, studio monitors or both. It’s best to have both options available for a better listening experience.
However, if you were to choose only one of them, then use headphones. This would enable you to monitor the sound while recording and have good playback.
If you’re using an acoustic guitar, you can’t monitor with speakers while playing. This is because the microphone will pick whatever is being played out.
At some volumes, even pickups would pick some playback material. Hence, if you want very clean recordings, use headphones for monitoring.
Which Gear Combination IS Best?
Now you know the equipment that you need. You should also know the setup that will be most effective for you.
Here, I’ll show you the best combo for different groups of guitar players.
Best Setup for Acoustic Guitar Players
There are two groups of acoustic guitar players; those that also record vocals and those that do not record any vocals.
Ordinarily, you’ll need a mic to record sound from an acoustic guitar. If you also sing, you may need another mic for your vocals. To cut costs, you could stick to one mic and record the guitar and voice separately.
Alternatively, you could also use a pickup, which you can connect to your audio interface.
The advantage of using a pickup for your acoustic guitar is that it allows you more freedom of movement. Also, it would not pick up room reflections and background noise while recording. For me, this is the best option for a guitar home studio.
For Electric Guitar Players
Of course, the first thing to consider here is whether you are recording vocals or not.
If you won’t record voice, then you can stick with the regular one input audio interface. You could even use your effect pedal instead; simply connect your guitar to the pedal, then hook the pedal up to your computer’s audio input port.
You would need a converter to allow the ¼” jack to connect to your computer’s 3.5mm port.
Your computer should read the connection as a “line in” or microphone connection. With the right DAW setting, you’re good to go.
Keep in mind that if you plan to record vocals too, you would need an audio interface. I wouldn’t advise that you use your effect pedal to connect your mic.
For your vocal recording, I would recommend a mic shield to reduce the effect of room reflections.
If you’re on a very tight budget and you really want to start recording your guitar and voice, I suggest that you combine your direct electric guitar connection with a USB mic.
Here’s how: you can connect your guitar to your computer via an effect pedal as I explained earlier. The USB mic will connect easily when you plug it into your computer’s USB port.
To use this setup, you must be careful while selecting the input and output devices on your DAW to reflect these devices. Also, remember that this setup is for beginner stuff at best. Get more suitable equipment as soon as you can.
If you feel that you need a bigger or more elaborate setup than the ones I have described here, then you probably need a general-purpose home recording studio, not just a guitar studio.
For All-Round Guitarists
If you have different types of guitars that you record, then you probably record voice also.
In this case, you may sometimes need to mic your guitar cabinet and have multiple connections recording at once.
In this case, get a larger audio interface that can take the number of recording channels that you need. Obviously, by the time you need such a level of production, you can’t expect to have many low budget options.
Recording your guitar at home can be fun, efficient and budget-friendly at the same time.
I hope I’ve been able to help aspiring home studio guitarists to set their stuff up.
No need to wait until everything is perfect. You can start with the examples mentioned here and work your way up.