Recording acoustic, electric guitar into your Mac

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I am constantly confronted with choices as I continue on my journey of recording my first music album. For a guitar player one of those choices is the tone you want for a song, or even a particular part of a song.

I mentioned early on in this process that the music I write is blues-based hard rock, but that doesn’t mean all of the songs have to be fast. In fact, I’ve written a couple of acoustic songs, one of which, “You Only Get What You Give” will definitely be on the finished album.

With so many options available to me to shape the tone of my Taylor GS acoustic, I actually stopped recording for a while so I could play with all of the effects at my disposal. This meant running the guitar through all of my software applications to see if there was anything I wanted to add to the acoustic tone.

Ultimately after dismissing almost every combination of effects I tried, I realized what I liked the most about the acoustic is the Taylor sound. I decided that my acoustic recordings would be straight into the M-Audio Octane and the Digidesign 003 Factory—no effects added.

That may seem like a waste of time, but finding the right tone is a long process. As it turns out, this time I decided to let the craftsmanship and wood of the guitar speak for itself, but that is a choice too.

The majority of the new song is played with the Taylor acoustic, with some drums and vocals, but toward the end it ramps up with an electric guitar solo. Again I tried a variety of guitars for the solo and electric rhythm parts. (I demonstrate how to record an acoustic guitar into your Mac in the embedded video to the right.)

This may sound a bit strange, but I was looking for an overdrive sound that was clean. What I mean by that is a sound that you can hear every note ring through the mix. Often times when you put overdrive on a guitar it gets a bit too metal-sounding—while that tone certainly has its place, that’s not what I wanted here.

I decided on a Taylor guitar for this part too. I actually hadn’t played a Taylor electric until a few months ago, but I was very impressed with the tone. I’ve played all kinds of different genres with it and it’s held up really well. For the ballad I wrote, the Taylor SolidBody fit perfectly.

Don’t think that choice came easily though. I have 11 guitars to choose from, but when it came right down to the thing that matters most—tone—the Taylor was the right choice for the job. (Again, the video to the right shows me recording the electric guitar solo.)

That’s it for this week. I hope you enjoyed the videos—it’s something new that I’m trying for this project to hopefully give you a better view of the gear I’m using and how it all sounds.

Interested in following my progress as I try to record my own album? We have an RSS feed that you can add to your favorite newsreader to keep up to date with the album project, or you can go to the Creative Notes Blog section to see past articles. I also set up a Facebook group that you can join to chart our progress.

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