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acoustic guitar choices for recording

Discussion in 'Guitars' started by keepinthatempo, May 8, 2012.

  1. keepinthatempo

    keepinthatempo Active Member

    i'm in the market for a new acoustic. i want something that sounds nice on a recording as well as plays well live. anyone have experience recording different acoustics? which did you like best to mix and which did you like the sound of best? my price range ultimately is around 5-600$
     
  2. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    A Taylor or a Martin. The Taylor probably better for recording and maybe the Martin for live use. I have recorded many examples of both these two as well as other top makes, and Taylors tend to give the least problems in getting them to sit in a mix.

    It's a good time to be bargaining for a guitar. For your $600 figure, you could get a reasonable Taylor or a Martin from Ebay that had a new list price in the $2000 range. These would not be the very top-notch instruments, but they are good, and if you choose carefully will hold their value, even in these times.
     
  3. Toothgrinder

    Toothgrinder Active Member

    Look at Takamine. To me that's the best sounding instrument in your price range.

    With used you are taking a risk. An acoustic guitar is almost a living thing. That wood has a history, and you can't guarantee it has been cared for properly. Might be worth the risk, though, for the right price.

    Hope you find an instrument you love to play!
     
  4. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    Here is something else to think about. It really has nothing to do with what you spend. We all like the could good stuff. We all can't afford the good stuff all the time. For instance, recordings made by famous people have proved to be inconclusive when listening back to recordings made by them. A perfect example would be Jascha Heifetz, One of the greatest violin virtuoso's. With an over $1 million Stradivarius, $200 school instrument, plastic toy violin. Upon playback, no one could really distinguish one from the other. His playing technique was extremely superb which still translated well regardless of the instrument utilized. My father who is also a great violinist and concertmaster for some of the finest US symphony orchestras had an instrument that wasn't quite as esoteric as a Stradivarius but was still from the same era by another lovely violin maker also from Italy. His instrument was worth more than $50,000. He sold it off as a down payment for a new house and ended up utilizing an inexpensive school instrument which, in fact, he liked the feel and sound better than his previous 200+ year old violin.

    In your situation then, it simply comes down to an instrument that you like the sound of without looking at the price tag. What will make the largest difference is what kind of acoustic pickup you may want to purchase for said instrument. And also, what kind of microphones you may want to supplement that with. Again, price has little to do with how you get a superior sound. I have gotten lovely recordings with $200 worth of SHURE SM57/58, general-purpose, dynamic microphones along with the acoustic guitar electronic pickup. As indicated by everyone's other opinions, they have a preference for what brand of guitars they like and enjoy playing on. But even an instrument made in Taiwan can yield professional sounding results. I've talked to guys who have expensive American made Fender Stratocaster's but have told me that they actually like some of their cheaper Taiwan made Fender Stratocaster's where they don't want to risk damage to their more expensive collectors items.

    Bottom line is, we would all love to have Maseratis, Lamborghinis, Aston Martins but we generally settle for Toyotas, Chevys, Fords which still gets us from point A to point B.

    I utilize expensive API & Neve into virtually entry-level analog to digital converters none of which costing more than $100. I still get the tonality of sound I'm looking for albeit perhaps with less than stellar analog to digital conversion. To me, going with lesser expensive preamps/consoles into more costly & esoteric converters is not an option. So you have to understand what works best for you without breaking the bank for you. Some things are realistic others not.

    Radio Shaft Realistic stuff is anything butt
    Mx. Remy Ann David
     
  5. Eraserfish

    Eraserfish Active Member

    The one sentence answer is any guitar you like that doesn't go out of tune or change intonation as you play (meaning a cheap instrument that isn't in tune with itself). For 500-600 bucks you can pick up something decent (think takamine, yamaha, Godin, or used and luck trying to get your hands on a martin, taylor, or gibson). Keep in mind though that how you record is probably more important than what guitar you record. Example, I have a nice old Takamine and a nicer older Gibson, both steel strings. The takamine sounds bright and full and needs very little eq later; The Gibson sounds dull and flat, sometimes even a little hollow and needs help in mixdown to bring out it's sound. I use the Gibson more for recording...Why? Because it's worth more...No, because my fingers like it more. Simply that. It's funner to play and easier on my fingers so it gets more time on recording even though it's tougher to mix. The point is get something that you love to play, and learn how to record it for your style. Not every guitar track you will record will be worth this hassle, but for solo stuff I use three tracks for one guitar. I use the pickup under the bridge that I had installed on both guitars and mix that with an sm57 I point at the 12th fret as well as a condensor a couple feet away that excells at picking up ambience, air, whatever you want to call it. Sometimes I will not use one of those tracks if it doesn't fit in the mix, but it's nice to record that way so I have options later. A little more transducer and a little less mic on a piece where you are really working up and down the neck will take away some extraneous string noise. Some will disagree with me, but I am a huge fan of onboard electronics on acoustic guitars. I have both passive and active and I like both. For active fishman makes some great stuff even if you want to have something installed later on. Sound hole pickups are more for live stuff and usually have some type of humbucking to prevent feedback. Most guitar makers who make electro-acoustics put a decent system in their guitars. You can spend a million dollars on this stuff if you really want, but a good guitar, a mic (the 57 is good and under 100$), and some practice in setting up your room/ recording setup will yield good results. It would be nice if you could add a good pre-amp in your chain as well to add some warmth, but there are many ways to skin a cat, especially one that wanders into your studio. Good luck. Ovations are cool and fun guitars as well (very distinct sounding), but I wouldn't choose one for use on a desert island. Make sure you play whatever you choose or have return rights; people often choose guitars that aren't as expensive by the way they sound and feel. Let your hands and ears be your guide.
     
  6. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    Over the years, I've had guys come into the studio with IBANEZ guitars and basses. Most of them would apologize for having a cheap instrument. Nevertheless, I've always enjoyed recording them, always got good sound from them, actually preferred them at times over some Fenders. Because they just sound good and play well.

    I'm never embarrassed by any goofy thing I pull out of the hat. Because if it sounds good... it just sounds good. I mean if you are using a $.98 electret condenser element from Radio Shaft, it's the same element you find in any $375 Crown condenser microphone. So what's that tell you? Of course the Crown looks a little more professional but who really cares? As long as you get the sound down right. Nothing else much matters. It's not about the technical accuracy. It's about the public's enjoyment. Which really takes the equation of technical nonsense out of the picture altogether. The public doesn't care if it's a $.98 capsule or a $375 microphone. It won't impress them if it doesn't sound good. And that's your only criteria.

    The guys at Criteria were a bunch of jerks when I walked in 1979. Not impressed.
    Mx. Remy Ann David
     
  7. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    I'm with Bos as usual.
    Taylor is what I use. Love them to death. Get the guitar first and then a DPA 4099G. What a combo.
     
  8. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Well-Known Member

    In that price range, Martins are not a very appealing option - they are made from man-made materials overseas. I see a lot of those on my local CL being sold by disgruntled players. A Taylor 114ce , made from laminated woods in Mexico, may suit your application in that price range.
    I have had good results recording an old Yamaha (made in Japan back in the late 70s) and these can be found in your price range at times. Add a Fishman and you're good to go live.
     
  9. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    I have several quality guitars. My Taylor has the best recording sound for most things but its around 2K for one of them. Honestly, the very best inexpensive acoustic I have seen in a long time is by a company called Recording King. I think they might be Asian built but they have solid tops and lots of body styles which is the real secret to recording an acoustic. Check em out. And then order one online from Guitar Crazy in Portland. (Yeah shameless but so what...hes my friend)
     
  10. Eraserfish

    Eraserfish Active Member

    @ Davedog. Checked out your buds site, wish I could try out one of his record kings. About a minute or less is all it takes for me to fall in love or say it's okay. Last year at a best buy I was the only dude in the music area and I tried out about 30 acoustics (all of the Taylors). I was really surprised to find that regardless of the price there was some that I loved and others that I wouldn't pay a grand for even though they were much more expensive than that. Sound is really important and I think you get that with most higher end solid tops, but if it doesn't put a smile on your face when you pick it up, it's just another guitar. What model Taylor do you have? I really need a good nylon and I want to see if the 214 CE-N will do it for it me. Someone recently said that the lower end Taylors are MIM. Any word on that?
     
  11. Eraserfish

    Eraserfish Active Member

    @ Davedog. Checked out your buds site, wish I could try out one of his record kings. About a minute or less is all it takes for me to fall in love or say it's okay. Last year at a best buy I was the only dude in the music area and I tried out about 30 acoustics (all of the Taylors). I was really surprised to find that regardless of the price there was some that I loved and others that I wouldn't pay a grand for even though they were much more expensive than that. Sound is really important and I think you get that with most higher end solid tops, but if it doesn't put a smile on your face when you pick it up, it's just another guitar. What model Taylor do you have? I'm in the market for a good nylon and I want to see if the 214 CE-N will do it for it me. Someone recently said that the lower end Taylors are MIM. Any word on that?
     
  12. CoyoteTrax

    CoyoteTrax Well-Known Member

    In that price range Seagull guitars are a definite contender. Another is Epiphone's Masterbuilt series, but the Seagull's are so wonderful to record and they're not so expensive that you worry about dragging them onstage or to a coffee house.

    I have a Martin that I love and it records so well (OM-16GT), but the 1st Seagull guitar I ever bought (Coastline 12 string) impressed the daylights out of me.

    Anyway, they're worth a look. Quality control is exceptionally tight as well.
     
  13. CoyoteTrax

    CoyoteTrax Well-Known Member

    In that price range Seagull guitars are a definite contender. Another is Epiphone's Masterbuilt series, but the Seagull's are so wonderful to record and they're not so expensive that you worry about dragging them onstage or to a coffee house.

    I have a Martin that I love and it records so well (OM-16GT), but the 1st Seagull guitar I ever bought (Coastline 12 string) impressed the daylights out of me.

    Anyway, they're worth a look. Quality control is exceptionally tight as well.
     
  14. Audiofreek

    Audiofreek Active Member

    A used a Martin D1 with mahogany back and sides can be had for that price,nice bright balanced tone,classic Martin midrange,not too bass heavy(you will end up rolling it off anyway).
    I love my early 200* ,and it's light enough on the bass that I can mic fairly close to the sound hole for acoustic solos without sounding too bassy,it just sounds really full and punchy.
     
  15. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    I'm gonna have to side with Remy on this one... any guitar, but most certainly an acoustic guitar, is a very personal thing. Lots of do it yourself changes can be made to tweak an electric to your liking, from changing pick ups to setting intonation through saddle adjustments, etc. But an acoustic is much tougher to get to feel right unless you really know what you are doing.

    You need to scan the local want ads, c r a i g s list, etc. or even visit a local store and actually sit down and play it. Forget about whether it's a Martin or a Taylor... it could be a Washburn... but if it plays well, sounds good and feels right to you, that's what matters.

    IMHO of course.
     

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