Record guitars with amp reverb and effects… or add them later!

Do you really want to record your effect pedals and the amplifier’s reverb along with your electric guitar sound? Why would you want to print effects, when you can add them later in the mix? Well, because you can! And most of the time it’ll sound more believable that way. Other times, you might end up liking it the other way, especially when the song has a very unnatural, processed sound anyway.

Dare to record your guitar effects

Dirty springs in a reverb tankLet’s take guitars for example. If you want the “porn vibrato into stereo chorus into dizzy-scmizzy flanger” sound with a harmonizer and an envelope filter taking turns on it, then you better do this whole complex shit afterwards, during mixing. But if all you are going to use is a spring reverb, a delay pedal or an overdrive, then by all means, use those (“that’s my sound, man”).

Spring reverb – nothing sounds quite like one

Check out this Barbara Mandrell song. You can hear that the lead guitar (Grady Martin) playing the intro, the fill-ins and the solo obviously has a spring reverb on it. Of course they could have added that to the dry track later on, but it sounds like a natural amp sound with just a little bit of breakup and with the reverb on – most probably a Fender Deluxe or a Twin.

Barbara Mandrell – “Baby Come Home”

Delay the reverb

Now listen to the Peter Green song, “The Supernatural” off the Bluesbreakers album “A Hard Road”. Does this reverb sound like the above example? Of course it doesn’t. It even has some delay involved, acting as a predelay for the plate reverb they used. If you focus on the (pretty much reverb drenched, pushed-in-the-background) lead guitar, you can hear the actual room sound of the turned up amp.

Bluesbreakers – “The Supernatural”

When the dry sound is not enough

Now let’s take this rather tight Rolling Stones tune, “Start Me Up”. Listen to the fukken hip intro, played by Keith Richards. It would have worked pretty well in the original dry way, right? But it was a lonely dry guitar, so mixing engineer Bob Clearmountain just added that beautiful reverb to it and voilá – instant awesomeness. Also note Charlie Watts’ screwed up drum groove in the intro. Way to have something interesting in your track. Hey it was the 80s, man. Anyway, embrace your mistakes, sometimes they make your best music.

The Rolling Stones – “Start Me Up”

That sums it up, bro.

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