How to Record DI Guitar

Recording   |   July 26, 2023

posted by: Tone Tailors

When it comes to recording guitar there are nearly endless options as to the gear used, the tones you get, and the methodology behind it all! While placing a mic in front of a loud, live amp is always an option for studio environments, it may not be available to players at home. In the world of amp modeling and home recording, going with a DI or direct injection / direct input is king. Want to learn how that’s done? Today we’ll detail how to record DI guitar for all your songwriting and home production needs!

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Why would I go DI?

Say you want to start writing songs with your electric guitar, but you don’t have the venue to constantly crank up and record your amp at a toneful volume… Taking the signal of your guitar directly into an audio interface is the answer! However, this isn’t without some technical guidelines to follow for the best results.  For one, you need to ensure that your audio interface has an instrument level or “Hi-Z” input. This provides the right impedance for an electric guitar being plugged directly into a digitally converted preamp. In most cases, your interface already has this type of input, however if not you’ll need to find a transformer that will give you the right signal such as the Walrus Canvas.

Get a Healthy Input Signal!

Once you have your instrument level signal, you need to gain stage it properly so the rest of your signal chain will agree with you. Simply put, you’ll want to make sure that your incoming signal averages around -18 RMS for the best results when reamping (which we’ll address a little later). Although, as long as your signal is not clipping your interface’s input or hitting the red you’ll be fine. Once a digital signal clips and is recorded clipping, there’s no going back!

Learn more about Recording In our Previous Blog Post

What are my Tonal Options?

Now that you have a healthy input signal, you can start exploring tonal options. There are endless amp modelers out there from great companies like Line 6 or IK Multimedia that work within your DAW. Even better, you can bring your recorded tones to the stage with the Helix products or ToneX pedals.

Reamping You Say?

However, say you want to record your tube amp once you’ve got the house to yourself… You’ll need to embark on what’s called reamping! This is the process of taking your instrument signal and sending it to a real amp that will be mic’d up while the previously recorded guitar track plays and is recorded back into your DAW. This allows the perfect takes to be recorded through the perfect gear as if it happened that way the first time!  With all of that in mind, it’s clear to see how going DI is a non-destructive means of getting the best guitar takes without avoiding real amps in a room. Additionally, the flexibility of having a DI signal for amp modeling and doubling your guitar tracks makes it a must for all players recording themselves!

Have any questions on getting a DI signal or what gear to get? Reach out to us!

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