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help with acoustic guitars

Discussion in 'Guitars' started by Sidhu, Apr 6, 2005.

  1. Sidhu

    Sidhu Active Member

    Ive been trying to record good acoustic guitars for some time now. I use the MC012 stereo pair mostly. With one mic over the guitarists right shoulder, and another at the same height, placed bout the 8 frety, looking down.

    My main objective was to try and record good guitars direct from source. which would then require me to do minimum EQ, and other processing. I have been spending a lot of time trying various micing positions. The above mentioned is what usually works.

    Mono i record with one 012 bout 6-8 inches from the 10th fret, angled a little inwards.

    So far, i have been doged by a bad room. below average guitar, ok players and lack of experiene. I also use a cheap pre (behringer UB) being driven into a cheap AD (Audiotrak Maya). Record at 44.1/24.
    So far I have only met with very limited success.

    these short samples were recorded using a Samick LW 015G guitar.

    Link removed (stereo)

    Link removed (mono)

    I have used a little compresson (Blockfish) and a little EQ (mostly sccalping the high mids)

    I would be obliged if you could please help me further.


  2. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    Aim the mic at the 12th fret and slightly towards the hole ... the other mic could be placed at the lower bout of the guitar ... just below the bridge. I usually place the mics less than 12' from the guitar ... sometimes closer if the player doesn't move around too much. This will elminate the room problems and add a lot of nice low end fullness due to proximity effect.

    LD and SDs are both applicable ... however the best thing you can do IMO is sell those Uchktava mics and replace them with some KEL HM-1s ... :oops:
  3. Sidhu

    Sidhu Active Member

    I know.. ive been cussing myself for having not been aware of the KM's... But at the time i was shopping, my priority was OV's and the 012's seemed to be the general consensus. Selling mics is not much of an option here... but im not too distressed about purchasing them either. Recently tracked vocals, very nice. I guess im just not being able to put them to good use yet. Like the Beta57 and SM57 that i purchased too.. but time will come...

    Ive been reading about your KM opinions and am gonna throw these mics right up my list of purchases (as soon as a I figure ways to pay my rent and eat my food, then make a litle money to get off the bank collateral. I just quit my job :lol: )


    I have tried pretty much covered every inch of the room, to place the mics. I'll try your suggestion with detail. But i think i usually end up with a very boomy and clangy tone there.

    I also have a NT1A and the mentioned dynamics, along with the Beta58A.

    did you give the samples a listen ?

    thanks for the time...

  4. ShellTones

    ShellTones Guest

    The links didn't work for me. I think you already described what the problem is: below average players, guitar, preamp.

    Kurt's positioning suggestion is a good one.

    I often like to close mic XY or ORTF about 6 inches out from the neck joint.

    I do disagree with Kurt on the Oktavas. They have always sounded great on my Larrivee and Webber.
  5. Sidhu

    Sidhu Active Member

    Im sorry!! edited the links!!! please try again...

  6. Sidhu

    Sidhu Active Member

    another thing i wanted to know... when recording stereo, do we take a mic at a time. Adjust the first mic to get a good sound, then proceed to the next... chenk em together and make adjustments ??? whats the best way ?

  7. Sidhu

    Sidhu Active Member

    so i tried to work Kurt's suggestion out today. Surprise! Excellent results. A very natural sounding guitar, just like id like it Though this took me asking the guitarist to change his playing technique a little. Emphasize the higher strings a little more. He was competent. Also that his playing style complemented the music they were recording (heavy, so the guitar was not nice and subttle, but energised). This sound however, was achieved after a little EQ (removing a bit of the boxiness and a little of the high mids, a bit of a high shelf boost, three bands in use).

    MC012 stereo pair into a Behringer UB mixer.

    Initially i found the bridge mic to be very clangy, his modifying his playing style, and the EQ got me there. Also, the played with his fingers, no pick. I try again monday with a band whose guitarist plas with a pik. (i make him use a soft one)

    thanks again

  8. Costy

    Costy Guest

    I use often the same mic placement Kurt discribed above. The
    distance can vary depending on the guitar size (shallow-body,
    jumbo ecc). I use a couple of A-T SD mics, but for low end (bridge)
    I use SM58 sometimes (it give more "closed" low end). And,
    ALWAYS fresh strings !
  9. Sidhu

    Sidhu Active Member

    About strings... while i did insist on fresh strings initially, i usually found i ended up getting a clangier sound... now im at a point where i almost prefer the duller sound of a slghtly used set... but this not go to say that new strings are not the best. It's mostly my current recording senario which drives my preference.

    also, which strings would you recomend for acoustic guitar. ones that are well balanced. Not very bright. And not too muddy either (this i think is more of a body function) Also, i think a thinner gauge would make more sence ?? We are kind of restricted in our purchase of Ernies, gallis, gibsons, rotosound and a few other big popular brands.

  10. Costy

    Costy Guest

    For most of recording I use fresh strings, but not new-out-of-pack.
    I put them on and practice/play till strings stay solidly in tune and
    sound just right. I'd say 1/2 hour of playing maybe. BTW, when I
    record acoustic though an amp - I prefer somewhat old strings.
    The choise of strings is very personal. Probably your playing habits
    and needs are more important. I use Extra-Light Martin Marquese
    and Earthwood sets. But you may not like them...
  11. Sidhu

    Sidhu Active Member

    thaks for the help costy. I dont record acoustic through an amp. Will keep a lok out for strings though.

  12. dkelley

    dkelley Active Member

    This topic might be dead, but in case you're reading still...

    Guitar strings generally speaking sound better the thicker they are, but the thicker they are the harder they are to play. So it depends on what the guitarist is able to handle. Also depends on the guitar. Some guitars are so harsh and loud sounding that a thinner string is a good idea to soften it up a bit and thin it out.

    Also, thin picks can sometimes add more of a nasty sounding "flipping" sound to the strum of the strings, I generally recommend that guitar students of mine use at least medium picks, but heavy can be the best. Again, harder to play though, so it depends if your guitarist is able to get a good sound with heavy strings and a heavy pick. If he sounds bad on it, then obviously go back to lights...

    The guitar itself makes the biggest difference, and there are many times when the guitarist won't be able to (or willing to) change their playing style for a session, so you just have to eq the track to death sometimes. I remember a time when I was playing drums for an artist's recording session and the engineer hated how hard I played the high hat. He kept telling me to play it softer. Well it's damn hard to change your style you know? I come from the ACDC school of drumming LoL, but I gave it a shot and it sounds just great. But now that I'm an experience engineer I believe he must have been doing something wrong to have this requirement. Maybe needed a limiter on the mic line, maybe a better mic, maybe both. But it shouldn't have required a change to my playing style as since then I've had no problem recording myself playing drums (or anybody else playing for that matter).

    Blah blah, sorry, thought I'd lend a thought and I ran on and on...

  13. sdelsolray

    sdelsolray Active Member

    I would also disagree on the Oktavas. They cn do just fine for acoustic guitar, strummed, fingerstyle or lead. While there are certainly much better mics out there, the best thing the OP could do is lose that Samick guitar, Berry pre and those converters. Junk to junk to junk doesn't help the signal much.
  14. sdelsolray

    sdelsolray Active Member

    I would also disagree on the Oktavas. They cn do just fine for acoustic guitar, strummed, fingerstyle or lead. While there are certainly much better mics out there, the best thing the OP could do is lose that Samick guitar, Berry pre and those converters. Junk to junk to junk doesn't help the signal much.
  15. perfectwave

    perfectwave Guest

    I get a really good sound on acoustic using the mic'ing technique kurt outlined but also using a direct channel from the acoustic, and blending the channels accordingly. Seems the channels sound best panned hard left and hard right, but you can play with the blending to taste. The acoustic i use has a pickup inside it, but you could also use one of those dean markley ones that fit inside the sound hole.
  16. ShellTones

    ShellTones Guest

    I have to take issue with the "Guitar strings generally speaking sound better the thicker they are," statement. Although this statement is often repeated, it's too often not true to be considered a generality IMO.

    For big dreadnaughts and jumbos (with stiff bracing and thick tops) that stress the fundamental of a note, and where a lot of volume desired, it may be generally true that "bigger is better," but I haven't found thicker strings effective on smaller bodied guitars used for fingerstyle. These guits have more delicate bracing than their larger brothers and, when combined with their smaller tops, these guits are very responsive to a softer touch and the use of finger dynamics. They also produce more complex and prominent overtones--as opposed to strong fundamentals. IMO these small-body guit attributes (responsiveness and complex overtones), which give them their beautiful tone, are diminished by thicker strings.

    Also, many of the smaller bodied guits use cedar tops, and it's been my experience that thicker strings when played even a little to strong, over vibrate the top, causing distortion. As a matter of fact, I would be surprised if any manufacturer who produced high-quality smaller bodied guits recommended anything but lights for their guits.
  17. I agree with ShellTones. "Thicker generally sounds better" (or something of the like) is not true. I've played classical guitar (or, more technically speaking, Spanish flamenco - 1500's to 1800's) for over 12 years now and have found that it really depends on the guitar's bracing. On two of my nylon-stringed guitars, I use .013 -.56 and on the third I use .009 - .056 (obviously I buy individuals rather than packages). The third guitar was handmade and purchased with a (student) loan from a luthier in Spain.

    However, my electric guitars don't vary as much. I get away with Ernie Ball Super Slinky's on my Stratocaster 7-string and Ernie Ball Power Slinky's on my early 50's Harmony (doesn't have a model name, and its also a 3/4 but has the ballsy-blues tone I was looking for at the moment and only cost $10 at the auction and hadn't been touched since Vietnam).

    My steel-string acoustic is simple: Elixer Extra-Light Polyweb.

    I generally have to play my nylon's for about two weeks (READ: real gut strings, not nylon), steel-string about 2 hours, and electrics about 15 minutes. Also, I find that taking two fingers (index and traffic for me, basically, whatever gets you about 2 inches) and stacking them on their side at the 12th fret while stringing until it gets too tight to bear does an awesome job of getting most of the play out of the strings so they stay in tune faster.

    In the studio, have enough guitar strings to be changed every 4-6 hours of studio time. I know, the guitar isn't being played the whole time, but those extras are to account for broken strings.

    Also, the reason a lot of people aim at the 12th fret or mic at the 12th fret and aim towards the soundhole is because those places where natural harmonics are so easy to play - 12th (one octave), 5 (two octaves), 7 (fifth above one octave) - is where many harmonics can be found occuring on open (or low fret) strings.
  18. Sidhu

    Sidhu Active Member

    ill get there... slowly... suggest a good guitar please.. not very expensive.. veratile and (hopefully)easily availble...

  19. I really like the sound of Seagull Etudes. I think they run about $450 US. They sound better than Taylor (IMHO) when strung with .010's. Buy some Fingerease (string, fretboard, neck lubricant) and lube her up real good. They tend to feel a little rough on the fretboard and finger oils tend to make the neck a little sticky. However, its the SOUND that counts!
  20. Sidhu

    Sidhu Active Member

    thanks Brian. The seagulls look very nice. I dont play guitar. But i want to perhaps buy one for my small setup. So that when ppl come into record guitars (they will not have any nice ones) i can atleast make myself a decent recording.

    Seagull, of course does not have distributors in india.. anything decent that i can buy of samash online ? once i know i can start saving.

    and thanks again for the time.


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