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Dealing with acoustic gtr string buzz

Discussion in 'Recording' started by Mike Simmons, Feb 10, 2002.

  1. Mike Simmons

    Mike Simmons Active Member

    Recording an acoustic gtr (Takamine) w/capo that has a healthy string buzz and pick noise. The player wants stereo image and an intimate, close-mic sound. I'm having trouble finding a spot that's not accentuating pick noise or string buzz. I tried every mic set up I could think of. I'm using a pair of MK102 but I tried SR77's and a Brauner Valvet/Dragonfly combo as well with no luck. The guitarist plays pretty hard and I've suggested:

    1 playing softer with a thin pick
    2 distance micing (3-4 ft. back)
    3 taking the guitar in for a set up
    4 getting a different guitar for recording

    I don't want to offend the guitarist, but I think the guitar/playing style is wrong for the sound the player is looking for. However, I'm not ruling out that I'm just missing some technique for getting around this problem. Any suggestions?
  2. at4033

    at4033 Guest

    the pick noise is always a problem when using a mic i have had some decent results locating the mic about one ft from sound hole and about four or five inches toward the bridge ie:from center of sound hole then angle the mic or mics so it points more toward the finger board than the sound hole.have the player do the picking more toward the bridge so that the pick is actualy in between the sound hole and bridge.the hi attack of the pick noise should be lessened do to the fact the mic is aimed more to the finger board sound hole and the pick is more to the bridge sound hole.dont tell anyone but somtimes i use a kick drum mic to solve some of the hi attack problems of the pick noise.make sure to put each mic on a seperate track so that you can blend the best sounds of each mic to beef up the level of the material instead of the pick noise.as far as string buzz goes.
    1.finger pressure when chording must be correct
    2.finger placement must be correct
    3.check actionsetup of gtr
    4.the full body gtr seems to record better than the cuttaway.
    Hope you can get to sound great.
  3. brucelivolsi

    brucelivolsi Guest

    Whenever I have too much of a bad thing (string noise, etc), I try using a good dynamic mic...there's nothing like the simplicity of an SM57. But sometimes you can't do anything more than advise the player that there may be a problem with the instrument. Let's remember the old saying, "Garbage in - garbage out."
  4. anonymous

    anonymous Guests

    In an emergency use a de-esser on string chord change 'squeeks'

  5. Great idea Jules! I'll do my damnedest to avoid getting there, but when I do I'll remember that one.

    Definitely string squeaks and buzzes are a setup issue and a player issue. I wish you luck on this one- Very few players are willing to radically alter what they are doing to sound best. Maybe you're lucky and yours is one!

    Dynamic mic might help a lot. Sometimes condensors just reveal TOO much. :roll:
  6. SlideMan

    SlideMan Guest

    And #2 on my list of acoustic guitars that I don't ever want to see in the studio again, Takamine (Ovation is #1).

    I'm sure that there is a decent sounding Takamine out there somewhere, but I've never heard it.
  7. sign

    sign Guest

    Jeff, I totally agree with you about the Ovation crap. But I recorded a country band and the guitarist had a Takamine which sounded very good, even with a DI it had a very good sound, but I believe it was a very expensive geetar. I remember it had an inlay around the soundhole which was kind of a viper, very good guitar.

    About micing an acoustic guitar, I had some very decent results with micing from over the shoulder lately. Put yer mic beside the players head. :)

    Have fun! :tu:
  8. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    I use Elixir strings on my 314CE Taylor and they are smooth as silk. Best sounding acoustic and most definitely the finest strings ever IMO. GORE
  9. Paul Schubert

    Paul Schubert Active Member

    How old are the strings?
    I've had guitars whose strings were not totally "dead" yet but were relaxed enough to stay in tune AND buzz. Try some new strings if the existing strings are old.
  10. Those Elixir strings are great if you are a gentle player. I kill them in about 2 hours, but I know guys who use a set for 2 months. Just as soon not have my strings wrapped in plastic.
    Could be good for the buzz, though.
  11. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Well, I broke a G shortly after I replace my second set and was forced to replaced it with a brass wound, the tone difference wasn't enough to bother me. I expected the brass wound to be a much brighter and a louder string but this was not the case. The brass replacement most definitely had louder finger noise though. Elixir are really quite and easier to play. If I was doing any recording, that's the set I would choose.

    My Taylor came with them on it, and as a test... they lasted 4 months, and I never broke one, finally replaced them! love em!

    so far so good.
  12. Mike Simmons

    Mike Simmons Active Member

    Thanks for the input! The guitarist like's the sound of dead strings so maybe that's part of the problem. I may look into a flat wound, like Pyramids, and see if that does the trick.

    It's really not finger squeek but pick noise and string buzz. I tried some dynamic mics on it too (57/421/RE20) with no luck.

    Guitarist is borrowing a Martin and a Guild for next session. I'll keep my fingers crossed!
  13. SlideMan

    SlideMan Guest

    Han sez he recorded the decent sounding Takamine that I theorized might exist, but it's in Europe.

    Could there be a decent souncing one in North America?

    Maybe I've just heard too many cheap Takamines to think it's possible.

    Life is too short to drink cheap wine or record lousy instruments.
  14. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    well, I had a fine looking Tak, played nice, had good strings on it, excellent case and all, A real gem... and finally one day I took the little beauty over to a firm chair, pondered for a moment, and broke it into a hundred ^#$%ing pieces. I still have the hard shell case which I would love to sell.

  15. SlideMan

    SlideMan Guest

    Was that an anger management issue or a structural integrity test?

    If that was the last great Takamine in North America I'll stop looking for a good (sounding) one.
  16. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    hehe, surprisingly it held together quite well. The electronics we're interesting and I kept them. Tuning heads too.
    Yes, it was a fit of rage, a good rage, and I am now the very proud owner of a Taylor. When I play it with other acoustics in the room, I can bury them if I feel like it. The box is so sweet! I'm so glad I broke the Tak. Things happen for a reason.
  17. Punchmo

    Punchmo Member

    Ah yes, a Taylor. Just recorded one this weekend. This acoustic with any strings is the $*^t :D Now, when people want to record an acoustic, I have access to 2 people who will give their's up for a day or 2. I love to record 'em and the clients like the sound as well.
  18. I had to find an acoustic that could hold it's own with a loud acoustic piano and a vigorous player. Finally I succeeded with the Collings.
    A Taylor is great if you like the Les Paul style neck, and want the guitar to be comfortable and easy to play. Those could be important factors especially if someone else is playing the guitar for a recording, especially an electric player or someone used to easy playing acoustics. Also Taylors have a ton of filigree and scrimshaw when you get into the really good ones.
    A Collings is designed purely for sound and projection. It is without the question the livest and loudest acoustic probably even possible. Every single note on the neck projects evenly and fully- a very rare characteristic indeed. Most have a few or many sweet spots, the Collings is all one sweet spot. It can be made to sound much like a horn, it's that fat and responsive.
    The price for all this sonic glory is that the neck is a bit unforgiving to play. It feels real good once you have made the adjustment to the more rigorous approach that is necessary.
    To get the fullest known tone it's best to raise the action up a ways above what most players like while they're playing. They like to listen to it well enough! (this is true of most guitars)
    The Collings is very plain and no scrimshaw and that. Every penny goes into the instrument's sonics. They don't have a deluxe color catalog or magazine ads like Taylor- they don't even include any paper at all.
    But I'm glad you're so happy with the Taylor! Fine instruments are one of the truly right things out there in the world.
  19. SlideMan

    SlideMan Guest

    I love to record Taylor guitars. I have not yet had the pleasure of recording a Collings guitar.

    I absolutely agree with Ted on one thing, inlay work may be nice to look at, but it sure doesn't do a damn thing for the sound.

    The all time nastiest sounding guitar I ever had to record was a black custom Ovation that was buried in inlay and sounded like sh*t.

    Here's an old Leo Kottke trick to make acoustic guitars sound better, pry off the pick guard.

    What's the point of selecting exotic tone woods and then gluing a big piece of plastic on it. (Yeah I know it's to guard against pick scratching and gouging, the Willie Nelson effect.)

    Many years ago Leo saw my sister-in-law's Gibson dreadnaught, (her pride and joy), tried it, and said, "I can make this sound a lot better".

    Before she could voice her concern or alarm, he ran into the kitchen, grabbed a butter knife, and pried the pick guard off right before her eyes. I thought she would have a heart attack.

    The Gibson sounded light years better, and the pick guard has stayed off. It doesn't look as good, but it sounds great.

    I assume that really small and thin pick guards don't don't trash the sound as much as big heavy pick guards, and their removal would not cause such a big improvement in sound. YMMV.

  20. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    the collins sounds very interesting! I look forward to playing one some day. My Taylor is plain and simple, no inlay. I'm with you on the inlay, it looks awesome but I'd rather spend the money on wood etc, than looks.

    Very interesting about the guard. One thing that I don't like about my Taylor is the guard. hmm, do I dare :eek:

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