Mastering the Fredman Technique: Revolutionizing Guitar Recording in Music Production

Introduction to the Fredman Technique

In the world of music production, the Fredman Technique stands as a cornerstone in guitar recording. Originated by Fredrik Nordström, a key figure in shaping the modern metal sound with bands like At the Gates and In Flames, this method revolutionized microphone placement techniques for guitar amplifiers. Known for producing a powerful and aggressive tone, it has become a hallmark of the heavy metal and hard rock genres.

The essence of the Fredman Technique is in its detailed approach to capturing electric guitar sound. More than just equipment configuration, it represents an innovative approach in the recording process, blending traditional methods with creative applications for remarkable results. This technique highlights the importance of microphone angle, distance, and the interplay between different mic types to create a dense, multi-layered guitar sound.

An Engl 2x12 guitar cabinet loaded with Celestion Vintage 30 recorded with 2 Shure SM57 in a Fredman recording technique position

An Engl 2×12 guitar cabinet loaded with Celestion Vintage 30 recorded with 2 Shure SM57 in a Fredman recording technique position

We delve into the Fredman Technique’s evolution from its analog origins to its integration with digital technologies like Impulse Responses (IRs), illustrating how it adapts to modern recording environments. This methodology, a blend of old and new, continues to influence guitar recording techniques and trends significantly.

Essentials of the Fredman Technique

Developed by Fredrik Nordström, the Fredman Technique transcends conventional microphone placement techniques, embodying a philosophy that has significantly influenced music production, particularly in metal and hard rock. This method captures the raw energy and precision in recording electric guitar, hallmarking Nordström’s distinct production style.

At its core, the technique involves meticulously positioning two dynamic microphones, typically the renowned Shure SM57, to capture the guitar amp’s sound. One mic is placed directly facing the center of the speaker cone, ensuring a clear, direct tone, while the second mic is set at a 55-degree angle, providing a mix of off-axis sound and room ambiance. This setup is crucial for achieving the rich, multi-dimensional tone characteristic of heavy metal guitar tracks. The juxtaposition of these mics allows for a nuanced sound, blending brightness and depth, crucial for the genre’s dynamic range.

Although many references suggest a 45-degree angle for the second microphone in the Fredman Technique, Fredrik Nordström has clarified that he originally employed a 55-degree angle, showcasing the detailed nuance of his recording method.

The easiest way to set up the Fredman Technique is by using a specialized mic clip that arranges the microphones at the correct angle. The clip shown in the photo above is a 3D-printed version from a small guitar shop in Germany, designed to streamline the setup process and ensure consistent results. For an official option, Fredman Digital offers the Fredman Clip, specifically designed to facilitate this iconic microphone arrangement.

Although originally centered around the Shure SM57, the Fredman Technique’s principles are highly adaptable, applicable across various microphone types and setups. This flexibility makes it an invaluable technique for both professional studios and home recording setups, enabling producers and engineers to experiment with and refine their guitar sounds.

The technique’s versatility extends beyond heavy metal. Its principles can be adapted to different musical styles, making it a foundational technique for capturing the essence and power of electric guitar across various genres.

In this video from URM Academy, Frederik himself shows you how he uses the technique:

Understanding Phase Alignment in the Fredman Technique

The signature sound of the Fredman Technique is achieved not solely through the placement of microphones but critically through their phase interactions. Ensuring proper phase coherence in this dual-microphone configuration is crucial, as it affects how the captured sounds from each microphone integrate with one another.

The Straight SM57: Clarity and Attack

The straight SM57, positioned on-axis to the speaker cone, captures the guitar amp’s direct signal, providing a sound that is characterized by clarity and a pronounced attack. This mic placement accentuates the guitar’s transient response, thus contributing definition and an upfront presence in the mix.

The Angled SM57: Warmth and Body

Conversely, the off-axis angled SM57 picks up sound from a different angle, emphasizing lower frequencies and the natural resonance of the room, which results in a warmer tone. This positioning complements the on-axis microphone by filling in the sonic space with midrange warmth and depth, essential for a full-bodied guitar sound.

The Phase Relationship and Tonal Flexibility

The nuanced phase relationship in the Fredman Technique is a subtle yet powerful tool, akin to the “Bright Mic / Dark Mic” method. The straight microphone, facing directly at the speaker cone, captures the bright and aggressive overtones with a pronounced attack. This ‘Bright Mic’ offers the clarity and articulation necessary for cutting through a mix. On the other hand, the angled microphone, known as the ‘Dark Mic,’ picks up sounds with reduced high-frequency content, resulting in a darker, warmer tone that adds body and fullness.

This technique’s ingenuity lies in its ability to harness the distinct tonal characteristics of each microphone placement. By altering the blend between the ‘Bright’ and ‘Dark’ mics, engineers have the flexibility to adjust the presence and punch in the mix. The phase relationship between the two microphones becomes a creative variable, providing a spectrum of sonic options from sharp, biting leads to rich, rhythmical underpinnings. Proper manipulation of this relationship allows for customized tonal shaping, from aggressive and edgy to smooth and subdued, all while maintaining a cohesive sound.

Using Fredman IRs: Blending Tradition with Digital Convenience

Impulse Responses (IRs) have revolutionized the way we capture and replicate the nuanced sound of guitar amplification. Fredman IRs, in particular, distill the essence of the iconic Fredman Technique into a versatile digital format. This innovation allows for the distinct sound, traditionally achieved through meticulous microphone placement, to be accessed with unprecedented ease.

Recognizing the vital role of mixing in shaping the guitar’s tone, Glenn Fricker has highlighted the importance of blending signals from both the direct and off-axis SM57 microphones. Interestingly, even an entry-level mixing board, such as those from Mackie or Behringer, can be ideal for this purpose. Their modest preamps contribute a desirable coloring that complements the Fredman sound, a characteristic that can be directly captured in Fredman IRs, saving time and preserving the character of the mix.

That is why we included both individual SM57 captures and blends processed through Behringer mixers in our IR packs too, providing both purity of tone and the unique coloration of mixed signals. This versatility ensures that whether you’re after the raw, individual mic sounds or the complex tonality of a mixed signal, you have the tools at your disposal to achieve your desired sound.

The practicality of Fredman IRs lies in their ability to emulate the complex layering of tones that the Fredman Technique is known for, bringing professional studio quality to the home setup and offering a breadth of creative options to the modern producer.

In this video from Spectre Sound Studios, Glenn Frickers shows you how to mix Fredman mics through a Behringer mixing console:

Case Studies: Iconic Fredman Technique Recordings

The Fredman Technique’s impact in the metal genre is profound, with its influence shaping numerous iconic albums and tracks. This section delves into specific examples to illustrate the technique’s role in music production.

One notable example is the work on albums by Swedish metal bands like At the Gates and In Flames. These bands, especially in the 1990s, were pivotal in crafting the melodic death metal sound. The Fredman Technique played a key role here, its nuanced microphone placement enabling the capture of aggressive yet clear guitar tones that defined the genre’s sound.

Similarly, the albums of bands like Dimmu Borgir and Arch Enemy showcase the Fredman Technique’s ability to handle dense, multi-layered guitar arrangements. These recordings exemplify how the technique can enhance the guitar’s presence in a mix, providing both power and clarity in complex musical settings.

Beyond traditional metal, the Fredman Technique’s adaptability is evident in its use by bands with more experimental or progressive styles. These instances demonstrate the technique’s flexibility, capable of delivering a distinct blend of clarity and intensity, adapting to the evolving needs of different musical genres.

Through these case studies, the Fredman Technique’s versatility and its significant contribution to shaping the sound of modern metal music become apparent. It stands as a testament to the lasting influence of a well-crafted recording technique in the world of music production.

Conclusion and Further Resources

For those seeking to delve deeper into the Fredman Technique, here are some highly recommended resources:

Looking ahead, the enduring legacy of the Fredman Technique serves as a reminder that innovation in music production often emerges from a deep-rooted understanding of historical techniques. By embracing and building upon the foundations laid by the Fredman Technique, we continue to push the boundaries of sound and recording, shaping the future of music production in the digital era.

Special Offer: Experience the Fredman Sound on Your Setup

Curious about how the iconic Fredman sound would transform your guitar recordings? We have an exclusive offer for you! Get a special FREE download of our Fredman IR, meticulously captured on a ENGL 2×12 cabinet loaded with UK made Vintage 30s. This unique package includes both individual mic recordings and a professionally mixed version through a Behringer board. Try it yourself and let us know about your results or post them on social media.

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