We’ve look at how important it is to record a quality instrument and to really know what that instrument sounds like. Next? Microphones, right?

Hold on there, cowboy. There’s another HUGE variable that comes into play. Before you ever set up the microphone, you need to have a good understanding of what’s happening to the sound BEFORE it hits the mic.

The first step is the instrument itself. The second step is the room.

As Gavin and I talk about in Understanding Your Room, your room is lying to you. That’s right. The way the guitar sounds in your room isn’t exactly what the guitar sounds like. Unfortunately, we can’t take the room out of the equation. But fortunately, we can use the room to our advantage.

Move Around the Room.

When sound waves bounce around a room, a lot of crazy stuff happens. Flutter echo can causes the strumming sounds of the guitar to become wobbly and indistinct. Room modes can causes certain frequencies to be exaggerated, while other frequencies seemingly disappear.

To make it even more confusing, these acoustical anomalies are different from spot to spot within the room. The guitar will have a different sound in the corner of the room than in the middle of the room. Spend time listening to the guitar in different locations, and pick the one that sounds best to you.

Put Up Barriers As Needed

If your room doesn’t have a lot of acoustic treatment, and there’s a lot of natural reverb to it (and you don’t want that in the recording), try putting up barriers. Something as simple as a bookshelf or a mattress can work wonders. They’ll help absorb or disperse the sound, cutting down on the “room sound” in the recording.

Barriers can also help block out unwanted noise from the computer, hard drives, or outside noise coming through the windows.

Also, don’t sweat the noise too much. You’ll spend all your time fretting over a little noise in your recordings, when you won’t actually be able to hear it in the mix. Even if you can hear it, it’s generally not as big of a deal as you think it is.

What do you think? Do you experiment with room placement? Or do you just stick the guitar in the corner and play around with mic placement?