You probably already know that the Blue Yeti USB microphone is the undisputed mic of choice for streaming, podcasting, singing and lots of other voice-related activities. But if you’re a guitarist or singer-songwriter looking to jump into the wonderful (and at times very loud) world of home recording, the Yeti is also the best guitar microphone for beginners!
In this blog, you’ll learn how to use your Yeti as a simple but solid microphone for recording guitar. Thanks to its many built-in features, the Yeti is hassle-free when it comes to home recording—but there are still some things you should do in order to get the most out of your mic and have a solid guitar recording experience.
While the methods here will help you get great sound, remember that there’s no “right” or “wrong” way to record music. To quote the great Duke Ellington: “If it sounds good and feels good, then it is good.” Mess around, make mistakes and have fun!
FINDING THE RIGHT SPACE FOR RECORDING GUITAR
The first thing you need to do is find an appropriate space to record. So many factors can impact your sound in ways big and small—from the walls to the floors and even the kitchen sink (pro tip: sinks are great for reverb!).
But if you’re new to recording guitar or just want to keep things simple, remember these basics:
- Find a quiet room
- Grab a comfortable set of headphones
- Place yourself off-center in the room (e.g. you’re not parallel to the walls)
- Throw down some carpets if you have hardwood floors
- Put up a blanket on the wall for noise dampening
Whether you go acoustic or electric, the Yeti is up for the task.
ACOUSTIC GUITAR OR ELECTRIC GUITAR?
Acoustic and electric guitars obviously produce very different sounds, and as such, your guitar microphone setup will also vary depending on your choice of axe. Luckily, the Yeti is the best microphone for both acoustic guitar and electric guitar recording.
Acoustic Guitar Microphone Setup
One thing that stands true in both electric and acoustic guitar recording is that your placement of the microphone plays a big role in the overall sound of the audio track.
- With an acoustic guitar, your impulse might be to place the guitar microphone right in front of the soundhole. While you’ll indeed get sound from the soundhole, the resulting recording will be really bass-heavy and muddy.
- Instead, place the Yeti about 6 to 12 inches in front of your guitar’s twelfth fret (note: having a mic stand can be helpful, but if you have a shelf or a desk, you can just use the Yeti’s included desktop stand). You should have enough room to comfortably play without touching the mic. This placement should get you a brighter, more focused sound.
- You can also try placing the mic in front of the bridge to capture more of the detail and pick attack of your strumming hand.
These are all great starting points, but experimenting outside of the box can be a fun way to find the right sound. Moving the mic up and down the length of the guitar, placing it closer or further away or even angling it slightly can capture different nuances of your particular guitar and playing style.
Just remember that the closer the acoustic guitar microphone is to the soundhole, the bassier the recording. You can plug your headphones straight into the Yeti to hear the sound it’s picking up.
Also, if you’re singing and playing acoustic guitar at the same time, raise the mic so that it’s sitting in between your mouth and the guitar, push it back to a foot away from you, and if you have one, add a pop filter to reduce those pesky plosives.
Electric Guitar Microphone Setup
The Yeti is also one of the best microphones for recording electric guitar amps. Closets are a great place for guitar amp recording since the small space and clothing provide plenty of noise isolation, but if you prefer to record in an open room, just remember to place the amp off-center from the walls and on a carpeted floor or rug.
Similar to acoustic mic placement, the positioning of the guitar amp microphone in relation to the amp’s speaker will have a significant effect on the sound you’re able to capture. Once you find the right volume and settings for your amp, shine a flashlight into the amp’s cabinet to find the center of the speaker cone and start experimenting with mic placement.
Just like with acoustic guitar recording, mic placement will have a big effect on the sound. Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Placing the microphone toward the outer edge of the speaker will generally give warmer, darker tones.
- As you move inward toward the center of the speaker, the sounds will get brighter and more detailed.
- Keeping the mic within an inch or so of the grill cloth will give you the most focused sounds.
Once you’ve found a mic placement you like, it can be helpful to mark the location on your amp with some gaffer tape so you remember it the next time you want to record. If you want to capture some of the ambiance of the room, you can experiment with moving the mic further away from the amplifier.
Remember that if you also want to record vocals, your best options are to set up a second mic for your voice or record your vocals after recording the guitar.
SELECT YOUR DAW
If you intend to create a full-fledged song with tons of tracks, multiple takes, plug-ins and effects like reverb, using a digital audio workstation––aka a DAW––is a must. While there are many different apps to use, GarageBand on Mac and Audacity on PC are both free and designed for beginners. When you have your DAW opened, plug your Yeti straight into your laptop via USB, add a new track for your guitar, select the Yeti as your input if it isn’t automatically selected and hit create.
With the Yeti, recording a great guitar track is only a couple of steps away.
ADJUST YOUR YETI MICROPHONE
Before you start recording, there are two things you need to check. Thanks to Yeti’s ergonomic and user-friendly design, they can be adjusted with literally just the turn of a knob.
The gain knob provides a boost for your audio signal––the more you turn it up, the louder your microphone audio will be, which is ideal if you want to capture more volume without actually playing louder. You can adjust the gain according to what you hear in your headphones, but be careful not to go gain-crazy. If the gain is too high, it will cause your audio signal to clip and create digital distortion, which isn’t the good kind.
Use your DAW to hone in on the right volume. Bring the gain up just enough so that the output of your audio track is firmly in the green and just peaking into the yellow when you play at your loudest volume.
The other knob on the back of the Yeti will change your guitar microphone’s directional pattern, or which area the mic will actually capture.
- Cardioid mode will only pick up what is directly in front of the mic.
- Stereo will capture anything to the front, left and right.
- Omni will pick up sounds from all directions.
- Bidirectional captures the front and back of the mic.
Keep in mind that cardioid or stereo will get you the cleanest and most direct sound for acoustic guitar or an amp, but the onmi and bidirectional modes are good if you want to capture some room ambiance.
RECORD YOUR GUITAR!
Now that everything is good to go, it’s time to lay down some tracks! In GarageBand, Audacity, or really any DAW out there, all you have to do is arm your track, hit the big red “record” button on top of the screen, rock out and hit the big square button to stop recording.
Yeti is one of the best microphones for recording guitar because it makes the recording process simple from start to finish. Starting with a single guitar track can help you get the hang of the process. From there you can experiment with different mic placement techniques or layer multiple tracks of acoustic and electric guitar to enhance your guitar composition. Whether it’s recording a backing rhythm track to play over or capturing your very own song, the Yeti is there to help you easily record guitar at home.