Here’s a great distorted guitar recording tip that I got from Richard Chycki, engineer for Rush, Dream Theater, Aerosmith and many more. I liked it so much I’ve used it on every session since, and included it in the latest version of my Recording Engineer’s Handbook as well.
Distorted electric guitar is notoriously difficult to edit, since it’s difficult to see the attacks and releases of notes and phrases. A great way to make it easier is to always record a direct track along with the amplifier mic or amp emulator track. This track may never be used in the final mix, but will more easily show the natural edit points of the track.
On the graphic on the left, for instance, you’ll some some of the points between the clean and distorted guitar track that would be pretty hard to pick out normally since the waveforms don’t conform to the attacks of the individual notes because of the distortion. The clean direct track makes each attack pretty easy to see, so editing can be a breeze.
After editing, be sure to hide and disable the direct edit track to unclutter the mix window and free up system resources.
That said, these day’s, it’s always a good idea to have a direct track along with the distorted or amp track anyway, since reamping and guitar simulators make it so easy to change the sound as needed during mixing. Thanks, Richard. This is one that I’ll be using for a long time!