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SurfGuitar101 Forums » Recording Corner »

Permalink Micing Guitar Cabs For Surf Recording

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Probably been discussed before. Lets assume its a closed back cab with D120 or D130. Mics I will be working with, SM57, Nady ribbon and AT 3035 condenser. I have plenty of experience and have a good idea what I am going to do but would really like to hear how others have done cab micing in the studio. I have a single D130 cab a single 15 EV cab and a 2 D120 cab that I will probably choose for this project.

Detailed explanations please. Fire away!

The Kahuna Kings

Last edited: Nov 23, 2018 08:11:20

The SM57 is THE go to mike for close miking a guitar speaker.For decades. It just works. Depending on the variables like speaker,cab,room, you may want to experiment with distance and position but starting out at 4 or 5 o'clock and about two inches out, a bit off angle should have good results. Then try moving it in and out etc until you find the sweet spot for that speaker/cab combo. It's also a good idea to try a room mike. You may not want it in every case but it's not a bad idea to record both at the same time. You mix and match or toss one later on. Of course, no two rooms sound the same. Dimensions, furniture, volume can all affect the sound. Try using an omni-directional mike at least five feet away from the cab, maybe start off at standing height. Listen. Then move the mike around the room to find something that sounds the best in general, and then think about what the song needs. I am NOT an expert but this is not a bad starting place. Also remember to check your results on different sets of headphones and speakers, including a cellphone. Like all creative efforts, you work with what you have and make the best of it. Remember, a LOT of very cool recordings were made on two track tape, in mono, one to six mikes,with a lot of sweat and mojo. Cheers.

bent playing for benter results


Thanks. We had one day so far and had to work out some issues with mic cables on the drums and a couple other studio related problems. The studio has not been used for recording in two years. I'm using the Glyn Johns drum micing method and it's producing a good sound. I also did a few tracks with the ribbon on the D120 cab and loved how it produced the same tone and sound as I hear live next to the cab. We set up the drum screen in the middle of the room around the drum kit to basically eliminate any bleeding. Once our drummer gets his first two tracks down I'm going to set up mics and find all the sweet spots for the guitars. I wouldn't mind having three different tracks on each guitar to mix and match and hopefully I don't complicate things. Not sure how I pan all that!

The Kahuna Kings

Last edited: Dec 04, 2018 05:23:04

Personally, I like the SM57 for close micing surf guitar. But one of the main reasons for that is because close micing with a dynamic suits the environment I record in. I record at home in an untreated environment so a dynamic like a 57 is perfect. I mic a 1x12 Celestion Blue closed back cab. I place the mic around the centre at 90 degrees just off the dust cover (I've tried 45 degree angles etc. for other apps and edge of cone etc. but I find straight on works best for me for this application), usually an inch or two off the grill.

I was never much of a 57 fan in the past (a bit too ubiquitous for me usually) but have found it perfect for my surf guitar needs. I also have a ribbon (too smooth and mellow for surf guitar usually) and a number of condensers (great for acoustics and if I need a big full sound for sparser arrangements) but for busy dense mixes with a lot of cymbal action from the drummer 57s keep the guitars present.

I can't really comment on the D120s and D130s because I've never worked with them. But if you are recording in a studio with good seperation I would definately try and get the other two mics into the picture. I like my ribbon about 6 inches back of the centre of the cone (picks up a lot of energy), and as pointed out by montereyjack66, a condenser somewhere in the room is nice to have up your sleeve.

Hope this helps.


Last edited: Dec 04, 2018 05:34:19

Since a picture is worth a thousand words, here's about 4000 for you...
The first pic is from a tracking session. The Deluxe is close mic'd with an Electro Voice RE10. It's a dynamic mic. I'm going to be a contrarian and say I generally avoid SM57's as I think they sound a little nasally and they are so common, They're kind of boring and predictable, plus the current ones don't sound as good as the old ones. They're good mics none the less, and you can get fine results out of them, but they arent my first choice.
I place the mic somewhere between the cone and edge, and I move it around until I like the sound. No real science there. The RE10 has almost no proximity effect which helps finding the sweet spot while retaining the lows.
The Bassman is being mic'd in this instance with an EV635, which is an omnidirectional interviewers mic and you can literally hammer nails with it!


In this next pic is the same Bassman mic'd for an overdub with a condenser, a Neumann tlm 102 (great entry level Neumann, you can find them used for as low as $400!). Same process here, move the mic around till it sounds good. If you use a condenser, use the pad on it if it has one as condensers can easily overload and distort.


Here's another bassman mic'd with a ribbon, in this case an RCA77d. Ribbon mics do distance really well (plus you don't want to blow out the ribbon, so distance is recommended). In this instance it's about 3 feet from the amp. The Nady mic you mentioned is modeled on RCA's and sound amazing for such a low priced mic. I have the Apex branded version and I love it, definitely holds its own, you really can't go wrong there. There are some mods for it to make it sound even better:
Ribbons aren't the best idea for loud close mic'ing though (unless it's a Royer).


Regardless of which mic you use, the main thing is understanding a microphones polar pattern (what it "sees") and the frequency response (what it "hears") and choosing accordingly. I subscribe to the "fix it in the mic" philosophy and don't even touch an eq until all the mic choice and placement possibilities have been exhausted

I also favor the Glyn Johns method for drum mic'ing. In this case, we're using ribbons on top as far away as is reasonable. The kick drum has an AKG D12 which has the perfect 50 - 60hz bump for kick drums. On the snare is a Shure 545, the precursor to 57, and much better sounding. They ve reissued these, although I don't know what they sound like. You can still find the originals for pretty cheap though. The 58 type mic in the foreground is just a talk back mic and not being used for recording


A couple of things about the Glyn Johns Technique to be aware of:
It's essential to get the overheads equidistant from the snare otherwise they will phase cancel.
Cymbals can get a little washy, so the drummer really needs to watch how hard they hit them.
You should also record the drums using this method with the preamps cranked a little bit more than normal.
Hope you find this useful! Here's the man himself demonstrating his method:

Thanks for all comments and suggestions! First I will concur that I have found the 57 to be very fussy when it comes to the nasally aspect of it. Nasal is exactly how I would describe it at times and not eqing is the goal. When I go after recorded tone, I will work hard to get the sound at mic placement.

The drum overheads are AT Pro 37R condenser mics and a little splashy right now with the cymbals. Kick drum is getting a AT Pro 25 which isn't D12 but it will have to suffice.

The Kahuna Kings

This is a GREAT thread! I run a basement practice space that’s set up for Multi-tracking. Here’s what I’ve tried on the 1972 Twin with JBLs.

Schoeps CMC6/MC41 - $2200 condenser mic, sweet and warm but NOT good for a surf guitar. It hears all the noise, as well as every other frequency near it. Great for overheads or room mics, but it made the Twin sound like ass.

A nameless cheaper condenser - better than the Schoeps but still crappy. Cold and noisy. Good for a high hat if you’re into micing those (I’m not!).

SM57 - now we’re getting there. Far less sensitivity than a condenser, great side and rear rejection. I put it right against the grill pointing towards the seam of the cone, slightly off angle. Basically the mic head is perpendicular to the plane of the speaker cone, so the cardioid pickup pattern gets all speaker. This mic sounded good, but a bit “cold.”

SM58 - less crisp than the SM57.

Beta 58 - very very nice. Possibly better than this next one. I may use this Beta58
For the 15” tone ring and compare. I just may get two or three more of these.

Audio-Technica PR99 - a $30 mic that is no longer in production. This mic sounds the best to me. The absolute cheapest of the bunch. I tried other dynamic cardioid mics and that AT sounds the best. I’m on a constant quest to find more, but in the meantime AT has a newer model that I forget, but it sounds pretty similar.

The AT somehow captures that sparkle without too much harshness (depends of your tone), and some pretty fat bass and mids. I don’t really get why that mic sounds so good on that amp.

UPDATE: So I had a few hours last weekend and I did some testing. I tested seven dynamic mics, four at a time.

2x AT PR99s
1x ATR 1500
2x Shure SM58s
1x Shure Beta58
1x ATM650

The ATM650 wins! Great bass with good highs, but not piercing. The next best was quite a ways away. The “magical” PR99s both sounded completely different from each other (as did the two SM58s). One had no bass and the other was good, but not a “natural” as the ATM650.

The Beta58 was painfully clear, the highs were piercing and the bass was a little lost. Which makes that mic perfect for micing the organ’s Twin.

I also noticed how much better it sounded with the mics pointed at the RIM of the speaker cone, right next to the aluminum cap. I changed the positions of the mics to point slightly outward.

And - I’m not posting samples because my playing sux.

I also did this with the 6G14A ‘62 Twin and the ‘64 Showman - and that ATM650 still won.


Last edited: Mar 08, 2019 14:48:02

That is a beautiful amp! Wink

aka WoodyJ
The Mariners (1964-present)
HulaHounds (1996-2004)
The Surge! (2004, 2011-2012)
X-Rays (1997-2004)
Various non-surf bands that actually made money (1977-1990)

WoodyJ wrote:

That is a beautiful amp! Wink


Friend of yours, Dan? I am speechless.

aka WoodyJ
The Mariners (1964-present)
HulaHounds (1996-2004)
The Surge! (2004, 2011-2012)
X-Rays (1997-2004)
Various non-surf bands that actually made money (1977-1990)

It’s true! I thank you every day, and again in spades when I hear that thing! The D130fs are beautifully and faithfully reconed and on their way back to me now!

I’m kind of agonizing over finding a backup, since I truly can’t imagine life without that sound! So I’m looking for at least another 6G14, and yes with that tweed twin OT... There’s actually a 6G14 ‘61 Showman in Boston that has a 16ohm Twin Tweed OT. I have a friend in Boston who would pick it up and ship it for me too, since the item is local pickup... If someone else jumps on it, fine. It’s a pretty good price in my opinion...

The tone of that 6G14 takes my breath away. The ‘62 Twin is a 6G14A and it sounds brilliant and super pretty, but I don’t get that same “soul satisfaction” that comes with that 6G14...

... And that ATM650 captured all the tones well!

Last edited: Mar 08, 2019 21:28:18

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