Most engineers would agree that miking a good-sounding tube amp is the preferred method for recording electric guitar. However, there are plenty of other techniques, some of which are particularly advantageous in personal-studio settings.
One of the most effective alternative strategies is to utilize an amp-modeling software plug-in. Although many would argue that such products don't produce tones that are on par with a well-miked amp, it's hard to quibble with their convenience and versatility. Hardware-based modelers offer many of the same advantages.
But what if you're one of those people who can't stomach the idea of digitally produced guitar tones but have an apartment-based studio in which a blasting amp would be grounds for eviction? Not to worry, there is a range of gear available that will allow you to record quietly without sacrificing much in the way of tone.
To help shed light on these and other guitar-recording subjects, here are several article recommendations from the EM archives.
Recording Electric Guitar
Expand your sonic palette with these not-so-ordinary techniques.
October 01, 1999, Electronic Musician, by Myles Boisen
A must read for anyone interested in recording electric guitars, this article takes you from the basics of single-mic techniques all the way through complex multiple-mic and multiple-room scenarios.
Low Volume, Fat Tone
Record great tube-amp sounds without blowing the walls out.
December 01, 2003, Electronic Musician, by Orren Merton
A selection of low-volume alternatives that don't require that you sacrifice the sound of real tubes. Included are explanations of attenuators, power-tube adapters, Variacs (variable AC transformers), micropower tube amps, and isolation boxes, among others.
Stack in the Box
Five modeling plug-ins that will make your DAW roar like a tube amp.
February 1, 2005, Electronic Musician, by Orren Merton
A roundup of native guitar-amp simulation plug-ins. Included are reviews of IK Multimedia Amplitube 1.2, MDA Combo, Native Instrument Guitar Rig, and Nomad Factory Rock Amp Legends. The article also covers amp modelers for Digidesign Pro Tools TDM such as Line 6 Amp Farm, Digidesign/Bomb Factory SansAmp PSA-1, and McDSP Chrome Tone.