If you’ve been meaning to learn how to record electric guitar and vocals at the same time, today’s your lucky day! It’s not as complicated as it sounds and it’ll only require some pretty basic tools that most musicians have access.
If you want to learn how to record electric guitar and vocals at the same time, you’ll need an audio interface (2 channels) and your favourite vocal microphone. Instead of using a microphone for the electric guitar, we’ll actually be recording straight into the audio interface. However, I’ll be talking about the alternative because I know some of you may want to get that “in the same room” sound. Just keep in mind that it’ll be more difficult to achieve professional results this way, so choose wisely!
- Recording electric guitar and vocals at the same time using an audio interface
- Recording electric guitar and vocals at the same time using the best microphone for home recording
- Recording electric guitar and vocals at the same time using zero-latency monitoring
- Recording electric guitar and vocals at the same time using your DAW’s multi-tracking ability
- Different ways to record electric guitar and vocals at the same time
Recording electric guitar and vocals at the same time using an audio interface
The most important tool you’ll need for this project is an audio interface. We’ll be using 2 channels (2 inputs) for the time being because we’ll be working with one guitar track and one vocal track.
If you’ve already got yourself an audio interface, you can most likely move onto the next section.
If you’re just getting started, I’ll be recommending what I personally believe to be the best.
Universal Audio makes what I believe to be the best audio interfaces. It’s even more relevant to this project because of the integration between hardware/software. We’ll be recording the guitar track directly into the interface, so what about amps?
If you’ve never heard of amp modelling software, you’ll want to get onboard.
It’s made recording electric guitar at home so much easier. If you’re using GarageBand/Logic Pro X, you already have access to hundreds of amps/effects. However, I’m going one step further and that’s why I highly recommend working with Universal Audio.
It’s beyond the scope of this article, so you can read more about it here.
Universal Audio is also highly beneficial for vocals because of Antares Auto-Tune.
That’s right! One of the many plugins available on the UAD roster is this essential pitch correction software. However, it’s not the same as the non-UAD version so I highly recommend reading that article to find out why!
So, we’ve got one instrument track (guitar) and one microphone track (vocals).
If you’re using an actual amplifier, you can always substitute the instrument track with another microphone track. If that’s the case, you won’t be needing amp modelling software.
At this point, you simply need to ask yourself… Would it be more expensive to go with an amplifier/microphone setup or with the amp modelling setup. Just so you know, it’s more than possible to achieve professional results with both of these.
I personally work with the Universal Audio Arrow because it’s much more affordable than an amplifier/microphone (of which I own) and the results are much easier to control.
Recording electric guitar and vocals at the same time using the best microphone for home recording
Another thing you’ll want to consider is the type of microphone you’ll be using to record. Since you’ll most likely be recording electric guitar and vocals in the same room, you may want to eliminate microphone bleed (or at least reduce it).
What I mean is that your microphone shouldn’t be picking up your guitar playing.
If you were using an amplifier, it’d be even more difficult to manage that.
However, microphone bleed isn’t always a bad thing and/or you may actually want that sound. If anything, it makes it sound like both instruments were recorded in the same room, but it’ll obviously make things more difficult during mixing.
If you don’t like the result, there’s also no going back.
That’s why I recommend starting out with isolated tracks.
The best way to achieve the cleanest possible sound is to use the best microphone for home recording (in my opinion). We’re talking about a DYNAMIC microphone with a super-cardioid polar pattern.
My microphone of choice would be the AKG Perception P5 S (read about it here).
Since your electric guitar will be right under your chin, it’ll be difficult to tame any of that noise using more sensitive microphones like condensers.
It’s totally up to you, but after years of trial and error, this is what I’ve come up with.
You can also use the same microphone to record your guitar’s amplifier with maximum isolation and at relatively low volumes (because the microphone will be in close-proximity).
Regardless of the actual microphone you decide to work with though, just make sure it’s dynamic (moving-coil, not ribbon) and that the polar pattern is some derivative of cardioid. In other words, we’re looking for unidirectional microphones.
Recording electric guitar and vocals at the same time using zero-latency monitoring
The only way to get your tracks to synchronize while you record is to use zero-latency monitoring. Basically, you’re monitoring exactly what’s going into your audio interface and nothing (that means no effects).
That wouldn’t be the case if you were working with Universal Audio though (read this).
That being said, the reason we’re learning how to record electric guitar and vocals at the same time using zero-latency monitoring is to avoid audio latency. In retrospect, monitoring using your DAW would most likely cause audio latency issues especially if you were using effects.
By effects, I’m talking about amp modelling software and possibly Antares Auto-Tune.
I’m also talking about other essential effects such as reverb, compression, etc…
If your computer is powerful enough, you may be capable of monitoring through all these effects with minimal audio latency, but I wouldn’t count on that. That’s why Universal Audio is different (hint: it’s because of the onboard DSP).
Either way, you shouldn’t have any issues recording without these effects.
You can simply insert them afterwards. It’s just difficult to predict the outcome.
That’s why I recommend working with Universal Audio (or at least an actual guitar amp). To make things more musical, you actually want to hear what the product sounds like while you’re recording it. That’s how we’ve always done things.
Just to clarify, zero-latency monitoring works with effects with UAD.
All other audio interfaces won’t have this ability (trust me, I’ve checked).
Working with vocals isn’t much of an issue since they won’t require any effects. Your guitar won’t sound very interesting unless it’s got some sort of amp modelling plugin.
Recording electric guitar and vocals at the same time using your DAW’s multi-tracking ability
Now that we’ve got our recording system prepared, the last thing we’ll need to do is set everything up inside our DAW. The first thing you’ll be doing is creating two MONO audio tracks.
Once that’s done, you’ll simply need to route them to input 1/input 2 respectively.
You’ll rename the track with electric guitar “E. GTR” or something similar. You’ll also rename the track with vocals “VOX” or anything else. If you’re using zero-latency monitoring, make sure you’ve got monitoring turned off on each track.
The last thing you’ll need to do is arm each track for recording.
And there you have it!
It’s actually not that complicated once you’ve got everything organized. However, we needed to discuss the setup process beforehand in order to get to this point. Depending on the exact method you’ve chosen, you may want to run some tests beforehand.
Listen closely to your tracks soled out and listen for any unwanted noise.
In most cases, re-positioning the vocal microphone can work wonders.
It’s also possible to insert plugins such as noise gates to eliminate any sound below any given threshold (for example, guitar strumming). I think you’re starting to understand why recording guitar straight into the interface is easier. Right?
It’d be even easier if you were working with Universal Audio (just saying).
Different ways to record electric guitar and vocals at the same time
We’ve essentially gone over what I believe to be the easiest/most-effective way to record electric guitar and vocals at the same time. It’s especially true if you’re recording music at home with less than optimal conditions.
If you have the luxury though, I’ll be leaving you with some bonus techniques!
One of the most barebones ways of recording electric guitar and vocals at the same time is to use a room microphone. Basically, you sit down in your recording space with a microphone stand and your guitar/amplifier and perform your part as if you were live.
The sound isn’t as direct, but it can be attractive depending on the sound you’re going for.
You can also take this method even further by adding a dedicated vocal microphone and a dedicated guitar amp microphone. You can even experiment with different types of microphones and combine them together for interesting results.
The possibilities are endless, but you’ll likely need to consider more inputs for anything that steps outside of what we’ve covered today.
Either way, my objective today was to show you how easily you could record electric guitar and vocals at the same time. Once you’ve got the basics down, the sky’s the limit! I highly recommend reading my guides on how to record electric guitar at home and how to record vocals at home for more inspiration.
On that note, I’ll be leaving you with some products to check out if you’re still new to this. Feel free to ask me any question in the comments and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible!
Universal Audio Arrow
AKG Perception P5 S
Now that you know how easy and affordable it is to record electric guitar and vocals at the same time, I encourage you to start considering the equipment you’ll be needing. I’ve spent years experimenting with different equipment and I believe to have finally found what works best. If you’re interested in learning more about my methods, I suggest looking into my articles posted in “Home Recording for the Minimalist Musician”. It has everything you need to start recording professional tracks at home with minimal investment on your part. I also encourage you to grab a FREE copy of my ebook. Thanks for stopping by, go out and make some music!