As gigging musicians, there is often one person at each of our shows that has a major influence over our guitar tone other than us– yes, I’m talking about the “Sound Guy”. Some Sound Guys run their sound boards like master helmsmen at wheel of a giant ship and do an incredible job of making sure sound levels are perfect, there’s not too much guitar in the monitor mix, and the mic placement on each cab is absolutely spot on. On the other hand, there are some “Sound Guys” that probably know what a PA is, might or might not know how to adjust the controls and/or mix the band in, and know that – a mic should go in front of the cab, but have absolutely know idea where it should or shouldn’t go.
By incorrectly placing a mic on a cab, your tone can be potentially ruined through the House PA all night. Too muffled or to “ice-picky” can drive a Tone Chaser nuts! No one wants to have to battle with their tone back and forth all night. While we might not be able to control how good the sound guy is, we can have control of where we place a mic on our cabinet. In this article, I’m going to briefly run through where to place a mic on your cab to produce the optimum amount of tone.
So the simplest, biggest rule when deciding on where to place your mic on your cab is: the high frequencies are typically strongest at the center of the speaker and will drop off towards the edge. This means, if you are half way through your set and you can’t stand how muffled your amp sounds through the house – move the mic closer to the center of the speaker. Vis-versa if your tone is too “ice picky high” move the mic closer to the edge/ outside of the speaker.
You can also fine-tune your tone by rotating your mic at an angle; this method is also referred to as miking “Off Axis”. Off Axis mic placement can help take off some more subtle highs and lows from your tone if you don’t need to drastically change your sound; but still want to tweak it a little bit. This method is often used when micing Alnico speakers. Personally, my favorite mic position on my cab is an off axis edge position – for my rig, its a happy medium mic placement – this position allows me to capture both high and low frequencies smoothly.
So how many speakers of the cab should you mic? Through personal experience, I like to put just one mic on the speaker and the EQ it through the house board. Sometimes if you use 2 mics on one cab, it can sometimes create an undesirable phasing issues. So keep it simple – one mic, one speaker, dial in the EQ at the board – great and easy tone through the house all night long!
While mic placement is not necessarily an exact science, these simple rules will help you have a little more control of your live tone on stage. So the next time you find yourself battling with your tone through the house PA remember – you might be able to have a little better tone by simply adjusting the mic… You just might make the sound guy look a little better too.
– Max Jeffrey