Mic’ing Your Amp
This must seriously be the most devious necessary evil in the history of universe.
You have to push your amp to get it to sound good. This is a gross generalization, but most of us like it just on the verge of breakup…right on that cliff…dig in and get some smooth breakup, back off and it cleans up. But that means your amp has to be loud. You can drop from 30 or 50 watts to a little 5 watt, 3 tube amp…but then it gets hard to push the speaker efficiently, that harmonics suffer (in my opinion) a bit, and just generally not as much air moves; hence not as much feel and dynamics.
Therefore, we use our big amps, but turn them backwards, behind curtains, shield them, or, in my case (as our church has horrendous acoustics…no, seriously…one time I dropped my pick and it echoed for the next two services) running your amp head on stage with a 50 foot speaker cable to your cabinet in a closet. Now, your unbred stallions of tone can be tamed into the microphone receiver, sent to the back, and mixed politely into the house speakers.
Which I’m cool with……..in theory. The fact of the matter is, though, that no matter how good of a sound system I;ve played through, it never sounds as good as my amp. And even when I’ve heard other guitarists say that they have found the magical way of mic’ing so that their tone sounds exactly the same in the house as from their amp, when I actually traverse on stage to hear their amp, it sounds better from their amp.
So…short of mic’ing two center cones with ’57′s, two outer cones with condensors, having a condensor mic three feet away for ambient sound, and therefore taking up soundboard channels and ticking off your sound tech so badly that he eq’s all the bass out of your channel just to get back at you, what are some of your guys’ magical secrets?
Right now, with my cab in the closet, I’m mic’ing a Celestion Blue with a vocal ’58 mic to pick up more voice range dynamics (or something like that) towards the outer part of the cone but still fairly central and just a few millimeters from the grill cloth. EQ is almost straight on the board, with some lows rolled off, and some highs added. I’m experimenting with whether it sounds better to have a hot gain signal on the board with the fader lower, or vice versa. And I’m also thinking if there is a way to get away with my amp on stage because in my limited experience, having some stage volume usually helps the sound through the house. Perhaps I need to bite the bullet and get a 5 watter.
Anyone else resisting the urge to take up 5 channels on the soundboard and spend thousands of dollars on mics to get the tone right?
(Please note…this is unfortunately not a picture of my actual mic’ing technique… this is some jerk… er… awesome person from a studio)