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Advice on recording a solo acoustic piece

Discussion in 'Recording' started by RichardBurrellMusic, Apr 25, 2012.

  1. I have recently got into the percussive style of acoustic guitar playing.

    I have never been truly happy with the acoustic guitar sound that I get. I think I get a passable sound but i've always been troubled when recording the dynamic shifts in my music.

    Here is an example:

    Musical Box - YouTube

    When it shifts to the percussive part of the piece obviously there is a lot more signal produced. If I set the levels so that it doesnt peak when doing the percussive part, I feel the quieter bits don't get enough signal. I don't really want to record in sections as the piece needs to flow and It may only work well using the metronome (With this type of music time can be slightly freer)

    I also don't like an over compressed sound and thats the only way I have managed to sort the levels in the past. Do any of you guys have any suggestions??

    I had 2 channels in Logic Pro 9, one for my LR Baggs m1 active pickup and I think I was using the se Electronics SE2200A microphone (it is my housemates so I'm not sure).

    Im pretty sure I did add a small amount of compression.

    Thanks a lot

    Richard Burrell

    P.S. This is my first post so please say if im doing anything wrong forum-wise
  2. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Staff Resource Member

    Mar 20, 2000
    Prince George, BC
    Home Page:
    Very nice piece.

    Turn your levels down a lot more! Keep your levels no hotter than -18 at the hottest parts. Don't even think about being close the red, EVER! Your recording level sounds too hot.
    It also sounds like you have a cable from your pickup or electronics inside the guitar that is vibrating from the low strings. Fix that ( tape it or tie it somehow) and re record this with my recommendations and post back.

    Register too. And become a member.
  3. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    Sep 26, 2005
    A music box? You mean those little things we used to wind up? If that's the sound you are going for, I think you need to do this is a two-stage recording? A music box is rather small and has a very small and intimate sound. That would require some heavy filtering and most likely some serious compression. Whereas the rest of your song, it opens up and turns into something much bigger. That's where you wouldn't want all of that equalization. I also think that audiokid might be right about his observations?You might be pushing the level of little too hard?

    It's close but no cigar.
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  4. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Resource Member

    Jul 21, 2009
    Boston, Massachusetts
    Home Page:
    Nice guitar pickup. I'm hearing a bunch of compression at home, almost undoubtably from youtube itself. the encoding too. Try some ambient mics. The fingerpicking parts have quite a bit of note sustain as well as attack, i'd maybe turn the release down a bit on the compressor.
  5. CoyoteTrax

    CoyoteTrax Well-Known Member

    May 25, 2005
    Home Page:
    Beautiful piece. I feel (harmonically) you project the feeling of a music box very effectively - for using a guitar to do it with, of course.

    Dynamic pieces like this are often sort of a white whale and strategic use of a compressor can certainly help. In the past I've used a simple Pro VLA with the ratio set to infinity and the makeup gain at like +3dB. Purely for effect. You can easily reamp the piece through an outboard compressor for this effect and bring the effected track up using automated volume during the quiet sections of the piece. Or, of course use a plugin.

    The piece obviously means a lot to you emotionally so don't give up. To be honest with you, I enjoyed it just the way it is.

    I forgot to add that while I understand the above recommendation to not track at levels above -18dB, this is usually a rule of thumb (in a 24 bit environment) when your song will be comprised of multiple tracks and instruments. But this is a solo acoustic guitar piece which gives you the opportunity to track at higher levels. Even as hot as -6db or -3dB peak you'll be just fine.

    You're not recording a project for Warner records or anything like that, right? (y)
  6. Thanks a lot for the responses guys, i really appreciate your kind words and advice. (especially taking the time to do it)

    I will certainly be trying out these things on future pieces and will post back the results to see if there could be any more improvements :)

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