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mics for acoustic guitar and vocals/harmonica?

Discussion in 'Vocals' started by wfitz, Apr 24, 2008.

  1. wfitz

    wfitz Guest

    Hello everyone,

    I am new to recording. I recently bought a used Rolland VS-2480 (it has phantom-powered mic inputs), but don’t have any microphones yet. I write folky stuff and play acoustic guitar and harmonica and sing (the guitar playing ranges from loud and energetic strumming to more detailed finger picking). My voice is not loud (its more that talkative folky style like Dylan or Prine) but I like to play with the harmonica around my neck which is quite loud. I have about $1000 to spend on mics (and other things I haven’t thought much about like cables, boom, headphones etc.).

    What would be the best mic or mics for the guitar (one or two mics is part of the question here). A friend recommended starting with just one mic for the guitar; the Shure SM81 or the Audio Technica 40/50. For voice/harmonica he recommended the AT40/50. The SM7 has also been recommended to me…any thoughts on these? Both times I’ve been to a real studio they recorded the voice/harmonica with a U87 and it sounded great, but of course I can’t afford one of those. Is there anything with a similar sound quality that is cheaper and that will also give me the sensitivity to pick up finer vocal nuances and still be able to handle a blazing harmonica?

    Any input (especially that comes from experience with acoustic guitar or harmonica recording) would be really welcome.
  2. stealthy

    stealthy Guest

    i would personally get a shure ksm44 and sm81. you can use them both on guitar, and the ksm44 on vocals and harmonica as well. ive used this combo with great success, but as always, theres a thousand options. just my 2 cents.
  3. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    The SM81 for guitar is a great choice. Of course, there are other small diaphragm condensers out there at various price points - if at all possible try a bunch out.

    I think staying with the dynamic mics is probably the best choice for your voice/harmonica. Whatever you end up with, you should have an SM58 in your mic collection. (You may already have one.) It's cheap, works well with harmonica and sounds great on a lot of voices. You can really take advantage of the proximity effect live and in recorded situations. With that said, I'd look at the Shure SM7 and the EV RE-20. I've seen both work well on harmonica. Of course, you have to shop for the mic that is right for your voice.
  4. zemlin

    zemlin Well-Known Member

    I like tools that are versatile and flexible. I did a live recording a while back - an acoustic/unplugged performance with guitar, harmonica, and a strong female vocalist. My Rode NT2000 worked great on vocals/harp. I also had an NT2000 on guitar, but that was not a great match. The other guitar mic setup I used was my AKG blue lines - MS in this recording, but again, flexible with different capsules available.

    I like the blue-lines on guitar because they aren't too bright.

    A multi/adjustable pattern mic like the NT2000 gives you many options when recording - figure-8 often works great for limiting guitar bleed, or tweak it toward omni and open up the sound and use the bleed to your advantage.

    New the AKG blue-line mics are a bit pricey, but I've picked up two pair on eBay for just about $350 for the pair.
  5. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    I remember the recordings Zemlin did a while back. I thought they came out very well. As I indicated above, I lean toward dynamics for harmonica since I think that condensers can come off sort of harsh with that instrument. But Zemlins recordings and your experience with the U87 show there are no hard and fast rules here. And of course in this situation there is a compromise between best mic for vocal and best mic for harmonica. Good luck.
  6. zemlin

    zemlin Well-Known Member

    That was certainly a concern for me when I was doing that recording, but it worked out well.

    [edit] dug through the archives and turned this up.
    Trina Hamlin - this isn't the final mix, but close. Mics were about 2' away from her. This track (and the rest of the concert) ended up as Trina's "One Nightstand" album.
    Doing a live show (not recording) with Trina tonight. :) :cool: :) :cool: 8)
  7. wfitz

    wfitz Guest

    Sennheiser 441 for harp/vocal?

    Have any of you guys ever tried the Sennheiser 441 for harp/vocal? I was nearly sold on the SM7 or EV RE20 until I read that they are really not for "singing" but better for spoken word (rap, hip hop); I don't sing opra or anything, but my vocals are definately "sung". Also I read that they both require lots of gain for a good signal which probably means lots of noise for me since the pre amps on my Roland are not great. Its a huge jump in price, but...I really do want something that is going to give me the best of both worlds (something that will sound great on vocals and harmonica).
  8. quadrivium

    quadrivium Guest

    try a Samson C01 for vocals and harp, Samson C02 for guitar
  9. hueseph

    hueseph Well-Known Member

    The 441 is a hyper(super?)-cardioid mic yes? I think so IIRC. I'm a fan of Sennheisers dynamics. Particularly the 421 but the 441 is also a great mic. Whether it would be right for this application is a matter of trial and error though I think.

    With the suggestion of the SM7 and RE20, I can't help but think you have a rather deep voice, in which case I think the 441 would be a poor choice for your vocals.
  10. monetmelly

    monetmelly Guest

    sm81 or even an akg 414 would sound cool

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