During the past month or so, I’ve taken to recording my guitar practice sessions. I’m finding it a great way to figure out what sounds good, what recording techniques might work best, and whether or not there might be a good song idea in my electric noodling.
When practicing, I record everything to minidisc. I have computer recording gear and a DAT deck, but minidisc is my preferred method for laying down ideas. Minidiscs are cheap, I have a ton of them, they can be recorded on over and over, and I just happen to have a really nice minidisc four-track recorder — a Sony MDM-X4 MkII (for more on the capabilities of this deck, watch for future issues…)
Using the Sony and a regular minidisc, I can record up to 74 or 80 minutes onto a single disc — enough for three or four good sessions. I can then play it back in my home deck through my stereo, or on one of my portable minidisc recorder/players through headphones.
Hooked to the Sony are a Line 6 POD 2.0 (on inputs 1 and 2) and a small Behringer mixer (on inputs 3 and 4). These are each bussed to the L & R busses and recorded in stereo. I pan the two channels hard to either side (one to left, one to right). However, I only record from either the POD or the mixer — never both.
WIth the POD, I can try a bunch of different amp and cabinet simulations, effects, etc. with the turn of a couple of knobs. Very cool (and again, a subject for an upcoming article here).
I use the Behringer to power my Blue Ball dynamic microphone. Yep, it’s a dynamic mic that requires phantom power. It’s shaped like a ball…a unique looking thing that I love to record my amp through. During the past few months, I’ve been using the Blue Ball on my Epiphone Valve Junior combo (V3) amp. I’ve been recording with the amp at relatively low levels to keep things clean.
The Blue/Epiphone combination is giving me some sweet sounds. In fact, at this point, I like the recorded tone from this set than through the POD (although in all fairness, I’m still trying to figure the best way to get the tones I want through the POD — I know they’re in there, I just have to get them out!
I highly recommend recording your sessions, even if you’re just plunking around. It helps me see where I’m going wrong, what I can do to fix things, and every once in a while, it helps me see there are glimmers of some decent playing going on…
Again, in future posts, I’ll discuss a lot of the equipment listed here in more detail. Until the, keep playing…and recording!