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12-string guitar recording

Discussion in 'Guitars' started by dayn72283, Feb 12, 2007.

  1. dayn72283

    dayn72283 Active Member

    I'm currently working on recording myself doing some solo instrumentals on a Fender 12-string guitar. Most of the songs are in open C or G tunings, and I'm finding that I get way too much proximity effect when close miking, but when I pull the mikes back, I lose a lot of the "sparkle" that the octave stings add to the music and the bass line goes out the window. I need to have these strings reall "pop", as i use them independently of their counterparts for many parts of my songs. I'm also getting a lot of string scratch when I move positions.

    I've spent hours trying to eq the problems away, but I find it really detracts from the warmth of the music. I'm using the following setup:
    2 M-S'd SM-57s to one stereo track placed about 6 inches from the soundhole, and 1 MXL 990 condenser about 1 foot away, also aimed at the soundhole.
    I barely use the condenser track, as it is a POS mic. It's mostly there for reinforcing the Shures and as a little added room effect.

    Anybody have some suggestions or maybe let me know how you set up when recording a twelve string. How do you eq and compress. I'm ultimately going for that classic Leo Kottke sound, as that is the style I'm playing. Thanks in advance.
  2. dayn72283

    dayn72283 Active Member

    This is all fingerstyle with fingernails instead of thumb and fingerpicks, btw.
  3. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    My reaction is that you are trying to do too much before you really have the basic position and playing technique down for each mic. Try cutting back to just one 57. Work on position - try the bridge, try the 14th fret - and work on your playing technique. Try some fingerease to cut down on squeak. Hold still and keep the guitar in position. Do the same thing with the MXL 990. I have not tried it, but there are some pretty experienced people on the board who have liked it. You already own it - might as well see what it can do.

    Maybe this is off base. Have you been having good success with recording 6-strig? vocals?
  4. dayn72283

    dayn72283 Active Member

    Thanks for the quick input. I have tried just one 57, it worked alright, I actually liked the sound from the 990 better when single miking, it just didn't have enough "body" for my liking. Plus, the 990 is soooooo sensitive, especially right around the frequencies the finger sqeuak comes in.
    As far as technique goes, I've been doing this since I was about 8 (15+ years), my technique has its flaws, but nothing that really messes up the sound (other than the string squeak, think 15 year old calluses on a rather high strung acoustic. I'll go get some fingerease after work...).
    I've had some great recordings with all kinds of guitars, and had a few pros record performances in auditoriums and cafes that sounded absolutely amazing, I'm just wanting to do it on my own this time.
    I've had great success with recording both my acoustic and electric work. Both with and without a full band. I just can't seem to get that Kottke sound, I know that the lack of a $5k Gibson circa 1956 has the most to do with it.
  5. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    Exactly how are you using a pair of SM57s in M-S configuration? The S mic has to be a figure-8 pattern (not cardioid), or else the matrix summation won't work. I think you may get better results aiming a single SM57 about 12 inches away from the junction of the neck and body, aimed slightly towards the soundhole. Use the condenser further back, as before, and delay the signals from the nearer mic by about 1 millisec per foot of distance between the mics.
    It could be that the sound you put down to proximity effect is actually boom from the soundhole. Quite often a nice-sounding guitar can sound like a bag of jangling bones really close up, and you have to compromise between getting the intimate close zing of the strings and the overall sound as perceived a little distance away.
    I wouldn't worry too much about the EQ and compression at this stage until you have pretty much the sound you want from the raw microphone tracks.
  6. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    Boswell's suggestions are good - more detailed than mine. Is the room you are recording in part of the problem? Have you recorded vocals in the room?
  7. dayn72283

    dayn72283 Active Member

    Sorry, I meant XY'd (90 degree...). I've also done the 990 into a stereo track with Waves ssl4000 comp & eq and Truverb, but that leads to hours of tweaking w/ no satisfaction. I'm entirely "in the box" right now, hoping to get a firewire board soon... still can't get it right.

    Secondly, I have taken the room into consideration. I did the first few takes in front of the computer. I have since noticed that the desk (rather, the leg space underneath...durrrr) was where the major "boom" problem was. I've moved the mikes into the livingroom, which has helped tremendously. However, I can't seem to find that right sound.

    Anybody (you old school folk...) with any suggestions on how to emulate that warm, slightly distorted (but only on the lows), beautiful sound that Kottke had back in the time of "6 & 12-string", please speak up!
  8. JoeH

    JoeH Well-Known Member

    Anybody (you old school folk...) with any suggestions on how to emulate that warm, slightly distorted (but only on the lows), beautiful sound that Kottke had back in the time of "6 & 12-string", please speak up!

    I'm willing to bet that 75% of it was the instrument itself, 20% his actual talent, and 5% the mics used. I'm sure the info is out there if you poke around a bit. I know a few Kotke fans, and I'll try to find out what he played back then, along with various bridge settings, string sizes, etc.

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