Before you start recording, probably the most basic thing you need to do is to decide on the right song to record. This might sound obvious, but it's so much harder and time consuming when you choose a song that you can barely play, as this leads to a lot of editing and mistakes. Pick something you know inside out, and can play perfectly without a tab - be in your own or a cover.
So you picked the song. Fantastic. Course you'll need a recording program. Do not even bother with sound recorder. There is no hope of multitracking and it only records 60 seconds at a time so it's a no no. Instead I recommend one of the following.
01. Cool Edit Pro/Adobe Audition
03. Cakwalk Home Studio
These are probably the best multitrack recording programs out there. UG cannot help you on where to obtain these programs, try their respective sites or ask a board member for details.
So, you have your software, your song in mind and of course, your necessary instruments. The last thing you need is a microphone. I really do not recommend 4 quid pc mics for this, and forking out as little as 15 pounds ($22) isn't all that bad. I use a Philips mic from Argos for this price and it works fine!
So now you've got the three key things down, you have the software and equipment and a fantastic knowledge of what you want to record.
I won't dwell on the how tos of recording now because it differs greatly from one program to the next, and is also documented in numerous different threads around the site. I will skip straight to setting the tone, assuming you know the basics of recording.
Firstly, insert the mic into the mic in socket at the back of your computer. Well done! Now placement of the mic is crucial. I usually place it about a foot away from the amp at an angle pointing towards the centre. This will differ greatly from amp to amp so just decide whats best through testing.
See I know what you're thinking: "Man I love my amp, it sounds so good with my new guitar and if it records at this standard I'll be so happy!."
Sorry to break this to you, but that fantastic tone you have with your amp probably won't sound anywhere near as good when recorded. High distortion tends to come out incredibly muddy and bassy. However, adjusting the settings, mic placement and volume should give you many different tones for recording. Simply do little tests until you have a good sounding tone.
Now you're ready to record. Now most recorders have built in metronomes. Switch it on and use headphones to listen to the beat whilst recording. This keeps you in time, and also prevents the mic from picking up the metronome clicks and recording them. Also, using the metronome allows for more precise editing as the beats are often labelled at the bottom on a timeline, allowing you to click exactly where you want a track to stop anc delete any waste. I also recommend use of the metronome regardless of how good your timekeeping is, as it doesn't hurt to use it and you'll kick yourself if you go slightly out in one track and you have tor edo the whole thing again just to make up for it.
Drums of course can be used in place of a metronome and this is fine, however this is a guitar site so I shan't dwell on the recording of drums, but I will recommend Fruity Loops for a simulated drum machine.
Tips And Tricks
Record everything in 2 tracks at a time, panning one to left about 75%, and one to the right about 75%. This gives everything a much thicker sound and overall sounds much clearer. If you want something to be panned to one side only, usually it should still be in both channels, just at a larger ratio such as 10 - 80. Play around tog et some nice sounds, especcially on harmonies.
'Steer clear of most built-in effects of the recorders' is the general rule. However, delay and reverb can be very useful, and reverb especcially should probably be put on almost every track to some degree, it makes it sound better produced. The least you should do is but a slight reverb on vocals.
Personally, I prefer to have my reverb on my amp at about a fifth, and add any reverb I need later on using these effects. Built-in distortion and wah wah is generally a waste of time however.
Try to find a perfect volume, one that isn't too loud, but isn't so quiet that it must be turned up ten decibels later as this will give you lots of fuzz.
Like Being In Control?
Finally, if you really want a good quality sound recording set up at home, then you may think of investing some money in some of the better computer recording equipment out there. (Thanks to Bill43 for the following information).
Arguably, the top of the line sound card for PC recording would be a Lynx 2-C with a street price of about $1,050.00 and is one of the best out there.
Our very own Bill43 uses an Ego Systems' Waveterminal 192X. You can check out his work here and hear the quality this soundcard can give you.
Both soundcards are reasonably expensive and unless you and your band prefer to home record over the expense and inconvinence of studio recording than a basic Sound Blaster soundcard would probably be acceptable.
That's all, and good luck!