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mic for recording acoustic guitars

Discussion in 'Guitars' started by alesis, Aug 10, 2008.

  1. alesis

    alesis Guest


    Please can someone help me in the selection of an affordable (200- 300 $)
    mic for recording acoustic guitar at home.

    I am looking at

    AT4041 (SDC)
    Rode NT5 (SDC)
    Shure SM81 (SDC)

    I am also looking at some stereo SDC mics or any other affordable stereo mics. Would stereo makes help in the first place?

    Rode NT4 (Stereo SDC)

    Please can you give your thoughts on this. I have an AT4040 but it is a hassle to focus it on the sound hole. Therefore I thought a more focussed mic like SDC would help.

    Appreciate your help

  2. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    A good SDC paired with a nice LDC will always be an asset to your sound capture no matter what instrument it is. I like all of your choices although for the money, the Shure SM81 is THE SDC to have. It is the top of the ladder in SDC's in that price range. It will faithfully record ANY source you put it on including vocals.

    The next step up is Neumann, Shoeps, Earthworks, etc........
  3. jonyoung

    jonyoung Well-Known Member

    Can I suggest you try a different mic placement with your 4040? Trying to mic an acoustic at the soundhole more often than not results in boomy, low end sound. Try micing around the 14th fret (neck/body junction) from about 6-8" and angled toward the soundhole, you'll get much better balance. As for SDC's, I own a pair of AT3031's and love them on stringed instruments, gotta believe the 4041 would be even better. Right now, the AT 30 Series mics are on clearance, AT has discontinued the line, so you could probably find a 3031 dirt cheap. PM me with your email and I can send you a clip of acoustic done with 3031. Cheers.
  4. alesis

    alesis Guest

    Thanks for all your input. I appreciate it.

    I tried micing the AT4040 on the 14th fret towards the sound hole. The sound is definitely better. The problem is that the AT4040 captures the room sound and sometimes the sound of the computer DAW fan.

    That's the reason I thought a SDC would be more focussed.

    Any thoughts on the stereo SDC?
  5. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    No, if you are getting unwanted room sounds (computer fan etc), you need to fix your room, not the microphone. You can get perfectly good acoustic guitar recordings with an AT4040, but, as with any mic, it takes a lot of experimentation to get the best position.

    I VERY occasionally use a Rode NT4 stereo mic on acoustic guitar, generally when I'm on the road and all I have with me is a portable recorder. However, using an X-Y stereo mic in this way usually results in an image that is too wide and over-sensitive to lateral movements of the player.

    In the studio, I have quite often used an M-S configuration on guitar with an LDC as the S-mic (in fig-8) and either another LDC or an SDC as the M-mic. In this way, I can control the image width. A stereo ribbon in MS-Blumlein also can work well.

    For a single SDC, a Shure SM81 (as DaveDog suggested) or Rode NT5 will get great mono sounds.
  6. zemlin

    zemlin Well-Known Member

    Yep - what he said. SDC mics are not going to help. If you want a mic that will be less sensitive to room noises, use an SM57.

    I have a pair of Rode NT5s, and generally don't use them on guitar. I find them too bright for that.

    The best way to silence your computer is to drill a hole in the wall and put the computer in the next room. Run all your cables through the hole in the wall. I don't have that option and don't have room for an equipment cabinet, so I bought a good case, quiet fans, a big, quiet heatsink, and a quiet power supply. My computers run at just a whisper now, and when I'm recording I drape a thick moving pad in front of them to block the sound even more. If the acoustics in your room are crappy, you'll need to do some acoustic treatment there as well.
  7. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    I like the NT5 and the SM81 at their individual price points. I have a pair of NT5s and use them on acoustic guitar regularly. As noted, they are a pretty bright mic, but I like the sound. YMMV. Since I bought a pair of NT55s so I would have omnis available, I've been thinking of selling the NT5s and moving up to a better pair. The SM81s are a sort of obvious choice for me since I do mostly folk, blues, and jazz and I've used the SM81s for that and like them. But I've been thinking about jumping over the 81s and looking at Schoeps, earthworks, etc.

    But I just wrote a jaw dropping check to Duquesne for my daughter's first semester so microphones are going to have to wait.

    I think that it's probably too early in you mic collection to go for a dedicated xy mic. So I would not go for the NT4.
  8. zemlin

    zemlin Well-Known Member

    FWIW, my go-to mics for acoustic guitar are AKG Blue Line C391B XY, or sometimes with a CK94 on one for XY.

    http://www.cheap-tracks.com/mp3/kiser_guitar_sample.mp3 XY
    http://www.cheap-tracks.com/mp3/cheap-tracks_trina-lazy-river_sample.mp3 MS
  9. maneli

    maneli Guest

    mic placement for stereo mics

    can anyone suggest anything for mic placement with the rode nt4 stereo mics. im trying to record the acoustic guitar by itself on a instrumental track so all that counts is the acoustic. there'll be some percussive stuff happening too with the guitar. any ideas for mic placement??
  10. zemlin

    zemlin Well-Known Member

    The most important suggestion is to use your ears. for XY on an acoustic guitar (using very different sounding mics), I start about 12"-18" out from the deck, and often end up pretty much straight out from the sound hole - but it varies a lot depending on the playing style, the instrument, and the sound you're looking for.

    Put on some headphones with good isolation and start moving the mic around until you hear something good.
  11. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    Re: mic placement for stereo mics

    There's good advice from Zemlin in his reply.

    I would position the mic not too close to the instrument, otherwise the guitar will smear itself across the entire width of your L-R sound field. Try starting at about 2ft (600mm) away from the instrument, perpendicular to the point where the fingerboard meets the body. To maximize the on-axis sound, the X-Y plane of the microphone should be aligned to how the player holds the instrument, i.e. if he tilts it up at 25 degrees, then twist the mic by that amount away from the horizontal.

    It's more difficult to find a good position acoustically using your ears alone when you are searching for a position for a stereo mic, so high-isolation headphones being fed with the full stereo image is a good way of working. Experiment by moving the mic around while listening to the captured sound.

    You will need to instruct the player to keep his body and playing position still during the performance - particularly important when using stereo mics on acoustic guitars to avoid the image wandering.

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