Should You Record An Electric Guitar In Mono or Stereo?

Should You Record An Electric Guitar In Mono or Stereo

Although the bulk of music you hear now is recorded in stereo, not most instruments are mixed in stereo.

Relying on contexts, genres, and desired aesthetics – you could record an electric guitar by using either solution.

In this article, you will dive into the basic knowledge of recording an electric guitar in mono or stereo.

What is a mono and stereo recording?

#1. Mono recording

A monophonic (or mono) recording has to do with music tracks that are recorded and also played back by using one single audio channel.

An illustration is recording an electric guitar by using only one microphone. It will create mono audio. You would record one track of one microphone through one channel to yield a mono guitar track recording.

With mono recordings, you will have the same sound from the right and left speakers while playback. It is called centered audio.

#2. Stereo recording

A stereophonic (or stereo) audio makes mention of tracks recorded and replayed by using two or more channels. It normally involves many microphones and speakers.

For stereo recordings, you could pan the track, leading to changing audio signals throughout both speakers. The stereo recording sounds quite similar to the way listeners perceive music in live concerts.

#3. Mono vs stereo

Stereo sounds need at least two audio channels in order to record an electric guitar and then playback the audio.

In contrast, a mono recording only needs one channel to record as well as playback. Yet, the resulting sound is extremely different for listeners.

The comparison of mono and stereo audio

#1. Mono and stereo width

If you are recording an electric guitar, for example, that doesn’t have many instruments at all, mono tracking is fine. In that case, your electric guitar may be the main instrument.

On the other hand, stereo trackings are better if you need to combine a depth or yield a wider landscape sound.

#2. Mono vs stereo volume

Generally speaking, loudness meters would demonstrate stereo and mono audios at the same “numerical” volume.

Yet, you should consider the term “perceived loudness”. Our brain possibly perceives an electric guitar recorded in mono to be stronger than stereo.

Recording electric guitar mono or stereo

#1. Mono recording

Almost all recording artists go for recording electric guitars in mono tracks. Normally, it is quite difficult for you to capture sensible stereo sounds when you want to record a single electric guitar.

In music genres such as rock and metal, the basic technique is tracking rhythm guitar parts in mono audio, and then “double track” them.

The term “double-track” makes mention of capturing the exact same guitar part twice, and panning one part to the left speaker and one part to the right speaker. It works better compared to recording electric guitars in stereo trackings because of two following reasons:

  • It boosts depth and yields a wider stereo spread
  • Every track has nature – the uniqueness owing to short variations in terms of timing and dynamics.

#2. Stereo recording

It is possible to adopt an electric guitar with stereo recording. You can use a stereo audio source such as stereo amplifiers as well as vocal effects units such as reverb, chorus, etc.

Yet, stereo amplifier options are narrow and costly. The other popular solution is using two different amplifiers accompanied by a line splitter pedal, or only one amplifier along with two mics.

While recording an electric guitar in stereo form, particularly distorted tones of guitars, they will overcrowd your sonic spectrum.

In other words, these tones will compete with vocals (or maybe some other instruments) to get the audience’s attention, and will make it relatively hard to mix tracks.

Especially, when you record an electric guitar with double-tracked rather than stereo tracking, you could pan it and leave it out of the mids (or some other frequencies) to make room or area for vocalists and other devices.

The most popular reason to record electric guitars in stereo audio is when you need to record guitars solo.

Frequently, you will put yourself in some particular musical contexts – such as ambient and post-rock music.

In that case, these genres and stylists may need to record electric guitar in stereos. Still, for most of the material, an electric guitar is recorded in mono style.

The bottom line

Hopefully the article would be a great help for you to make a good choice on recording an electric guitar in mono or stereo.

Whichever you pick up, make sure to have much fun! And ultimately, you would create some unique music songs!

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