by Stephanie Powell
You’ve mastered a bevy of chords and you can fingerpick like no other—and now you’re ready to create guitar videos for YouTube. Crafting YouTube content can lead to major breakthroughs for artists, but to gain traction, you’ll need to ensure that your videos are of the highest caliber. This will require a few more things beyond your guitar and a camera phone. Here are a few tips for creating your YouTube channel as a guitarist and how to make the most of your guitar videos online.
6 Things You Need to Record Guitar Videos for YouTube
If you’ve been recording your videos with your iPhone, think again. There is an endless world of gear out there that can take your guitar content from 0 to 100, all with just a few simple investments.
- Instrument: This one goes without saying, but you’ll need your guitar! Recording videos on a guitar that you’re comfortable and familiar with will only increase the quality of your content.
- Camera: Sure, the iPhone has come a long way, but investing in a professional camera and tripod can make your videos look incredibly professional. DSLRs are very popular, and if you have the means, investing in more than one camera is ideal. If you can set up two or more cameras while you film, you’ll be able to include different camera angles in your video: one angle zoomed out on your entire set up and another close up on the guitar’s fretboard. The Canon EOS M50 or the Sony ZV-1 are popular cameras these days and are reasonably priced. On the higher end, Sony’s Alpha series, Panasonic Lumix GH5 and, of course, the Nikon Z7 are all wonderful cameras.
- Microphone: Depending on how you want to record your sound, it’s important to invest in either a microphone or audio interface, which we’ll get to in a minute. Recording your sound old-school style with a set of mics against your amp is a classic way to pick up quality audio. Some affordable options are the MXL Revelation Mini-FET and the Blue Ember. Realistically, any mic that’s good for recording, like the Neumann KM184, would work, too.
- Audio Interface and Recording Software: An audio interface captures your guitar’s analog signal, either via a microphone or pickup, and converts it to a digital waveform, while professional software like Pro Tools or Logic (Apple only) allows users to record, edit, mix, and export audio files. The Focus Scarlett 2i2 is a popular budget-friendly option. Presonus Revelator is another great pick. Moving up a bit, the Apogee Duet, Universal Audio Solo or Twin, Focusrite Clarett,MOTU Ultralite are of higher quality. There are a ton of these from $100 to $5,000, and a lot depends on how many channels you need. The ones listed here are two channels, and it’s also impotant to consider the type of computer connection, USB, thunderbolt, etc.
- Lighting: Natural lighting is always a blessing, but not guaranteed. Investing in professional and portable lighting will really set the stage. Oftentimes you can purchase a lighting kit that includes more than one light so you can utilize back light, as well.
- Video Editing Software: There are many free options available online, or if you’re a Mac user, you’ll have access to iMovie. As you begin to become more serious on your path to YouTube fame, you might consider investing in Adobe Premiere Pro or Final Cut Pro. Apple’s GarageBand, Steinberg Cubase, and PreSonus Studio One are great tools. Reaper is popular shareware and you can try for free. Cakewalk is back again, on PCs only and free. Audacity is another popular totally free one.
How to Optimize Your Guitar Videos on YouTube
So, you’ve created the content, but now what? Even if you are the songbird of your generation that doesn’t guarantee that your guitar video will go viral on YouTube. Here are some tips, tricks, and ways to optimize your video so you get the most out of your digital endeavors.
- Content is key. What type of guitar videos are you planning on making? If you’re planning on offering lessons and tutorials, make sure your YouTube channel focuses on that in the beginning and has plenty of content offer. The way you brand yourself matters. That doesn’t mean you can’t branch out and include covers or original music, but consistency does matter. Your subscribers need to know why they are subscribing. Other types of content that do well: gear reviews or demos, unboxing videos, and industry news and trending topics.
- SEO optimization makes all the difference. Use keywords! SEO isn’t a as mysterious as it seems. Starting with keywords will take you far. How would you summarize your video? How would you search for a similar video on the internet? See if you can distill that down into a few keywords like “acoustic guitar blues lesson.” Once you have your keywords, make sure they appear in the video title, description, and tags on YouTube.
- Customize your channel. It’s not enough to just start uploading your videos to YouTube. When a possible subscriber lands on your content, having a professional YouTube page set up can make all the difference. Consider filling out your About section—what can subscribers expect from your page and tell them a bit about your background with guitar. Add a background photo that has branding or is compelling. Create playlists that make subscribers want to come back from more.
- Detailed video description. Make sure to include keywords and relevant information from your lesson, gear review, or unboxing video that lets the subscriber know what your video is about. Using keywords from the title of the video and words that you actually use in the video sends a signal to Google that can help you rank higher for specific search queries.
- Add a card. YouTube has the option to add “Cards” to your videos. Cards appear in the corner of the video screen with a CTA, or call to action, that users can click on. Once clicked on, the card will expand and show an image and headline. This is a great way to generate traffic back to your website or link to another one of your guitar video lessons on YouTube, increasing your engagement and keeping users on your channel and interacting with your content longer.
- Consistency is the secret. It’s not enough to post one video and wait for it to go viral. Don’t lose hope if your first five videos are only gaining single-digit views in the beginning. It takes time to build up an audience and it also takes time for Google and other search engines to index your new content. Staying consistent with your content creation will show prospective subscribers that you are serious and that there’s a reason to subscribe.
- Create a unique thumbnail for your video. You don’t need to select the plain Jane thumbnail options that YouTube displays during the uploading process. YouTube also gives an option for creators to upload custom thumbnail graphics. If you’re teaching a lesson on fingerpicking, perhaps create an image with a still of yourself with the guitar and the lesson title. There are many free apps you can use to create graphics, but one that works well is Adobe Spark.
- Your background matters. That’s right—don’t film yourself playing guitar in front of your laundry basket and unmade bed. Think of your background as your set. You’re creating high-quality content and the background you chose to film matters. So, treat it as such.
- Give a performance! This is your time to sell yourself—wear your personality on your sleeve and perform! It’s easy to tell if someone is having fun, so make sure you have an enthusiastic tone, avoid speaking in monotone, and use hand/arm gestures to liven up your content.
3 Things to Avoid When Recording Guitar Videos
- Avoid using the video’s audio file. If you film your YouTube video from your phone or a camera, do not use the sound from the video. The sound quality will likely be poor. Use one of the above suggested methods for recording.
- Don’t connect your guitar to your computer’s internal audio. It may sound like a quick fix, but using an adapter is a surefire way to have a crappy audio recording.
- Preamps are not the answer. Oftentimes preamps have latency problems and the signal-to-audio level is poor quality.