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Need a hand getting the acoustic guitars to sound like want to

Discussion in 'Guitars' started by iemand33, Jan 11, 2011.

  1. iemand33

    iemand33 Active Member

    Hi everyone!
    First post to this forum, but thanks for the wealth of information here!

    I hope I'm not bothering you with my amateurish question, but I'm having trouble getting my acoustic guitars to sound like I want to and maybe someone could point me in the right direction.
    I'm making a cover of, brace yourselves, Back for Good by Take That (don't ask me why) and I'm having trouble getting the sound I want for the intro bit.

    This is what I've done so far.
    Three tracks (recorded mono with a Shure SM81, L'Arrivee OM-05) are stereo'd by Waves Maserati ACG. On all of them I've got a quite deep cut of EQ (UAD Cambridge) at around 5k to get rid of some of the harshness.
    One of the tracks goes trough a stereo enhancer to widen the stage a bit (since it's only these three guitars doing to intro.
    The quick strumming is send to a pitch shifter, for a bit of stereo widening and the pitch is increased by one octave.
    All three are send to the Acoustic Guitar bus, where the Neve 88RS plug adds some air with a high shelve, starting around 10k.

    This is the closest I've gotten to the sound of the original, but I'm not close I'm affraid, and I've run out of tricks up my sleve.

    Things I tried which failed,
    - Trying to sweeten it up with some reverb
    - Compression
    - Matching the spectrum of the original
    - Heavy EQing, I did get rid of the harshness, but the remainder sounded boring

    My best effort is here:
    (Expired Link Removed)

    The dry tracks are here:
    (Expired Link Removed)

    Original:
    (Expired Link Removed)

    And if anyone wants to have a go at it, the recordings are here:
    (Expired Link Removed)

    Thanks for taking the time to read my post
     
  2. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Well-Known Member

    Welcome to RO!
    Haven't tried to listen to the tracks yet (I'm at work), but you mention something that concerns me. You say that the mic'ing of a (very nice) Larivee OM-5 with a Shure SM81 results in "harshness" of sound. Sorry, I think that there's something else going on here. What is the room like, acoustically speaking? The SM-81 is a pretty smooth mic ( no DPA, but still...) and is great on most any acoustic guitar. Is the room "live" with a lot of reflections? Just curious...
     
  3. iemand33

    iemand33 Active Member

    I tried to make that room as dead as possible with anything I had at hand and as far as I can tell it's a pretty decent recording.

    Maybe the fact that I'm trying to blend 3 tracks, recorded with the same guitar is the problem?

    I'd like more tone and less metal, if it makes any sense
     
  4. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    It sounds like you could have tried a different mic technique. One reason acoustic guitar is difficult to record is that it has both sharp articulation and sustained body of tone when done well. You could try the SM81 at the 12th fret and a larger diaphragm mic over the shoulder by the ear pointed down. That will give you more of what you want I think.
     
  5. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    Well, I'm not going to be much help. I liked the dry tracks better than your mixed track or the original. The good news is that you have reasonable raw material to work with. The bad news is that you are piling a whole bunch of effects - all of which mess with the phase of each track - on top of each other. You have three guitar tracks (and if you insist of pitch shifting one an octave of them you really have four). You can get all the stereo field you need just by panning them.

    The pitch shift could sound good, but here is another suggestion. Buy a set of strings for a twelve string guitar. Use the high strings for the E-A-D-G to restring those strings on one of your acoustics and tune those strings to a higher octave. This sounds particularly good on a Baby Taylor if you can borrow one. You are getting descent acoustically recorded tracks and you are overdoing electronics. If you want to use the octave pitch shift just apply it to the raw track and print it.

    So anyway, take your three or four guitar tracks, turn all the plugs off, and pan them to get the best sound possible. That's a real stereo field (IMHO) not some electronic crap that's going to work against the effects you want to put on. Then eq the basic tracks, but nothing drastic, 1-2 dB cuts and bumps at most. The flatter the better. Just listening to your dry tracks I can tell you that it would sound good to me at this point. Add a touch of the right reverb or delay to the acoustic bus, and I'd be fine. But the point is to find the effect that works best for you. Now a big thing here is to forget the original, at least for a while. Your goal is to find the resource that you own that sounds best to your ears. You have the UAD card. Do you have any of the chorus or delay plugs? The thing is, whatever you choose to listen to first, it won't be fighting with any stereo enhances that shift the phase all over the place.
     
  6. Link555

    Link555 Well-Known Member

    Yep I agree the SM81 is great on acoustic guitar. It sounds like you are trying to fix the mic position with a zillion plugs. Get the source recording right first. You should need that many plugs to get a decent acoustic sound.
     
  7. iemand33

    iemand33 Active Member

    Thanks for the reply! Sure is an interesting point.
    Since there are three guitar parts, I figured recording 2 channels per part would give me too much sound to nicely fit in a mix.
    How would you go about mixing those 6 tracks? Just merge the two recordings per track together and use it as a mono source?
     
  8. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    I haven't actually listened to the tracks since I'm on my Droid. I trust Bob though in his estimation of audio. You definitely are doing a whole lot of fx manipulation and at any stage of it you could easily add harshness. I'd have to agree to start with bare tracks and mix them to sound good first and then make reasoned decisions about what FX to utilize.
     
  9. jmm22

    jmm22 Guest

    Bob, I trust you have a Baby Taylor. Coincidentally, I just bought a Big Baby, with some issues to be resolved, but it sounds great regardless. I also liked the dry track best. Nice sound.

    Although entirely unrelated to solving any of the things you asked about iemand, I will share a curious thing I recently discovered, just for the heck of it. Mind you, from your comment of wanting "less metal", it's not impossible that the following could help in some small way, now or in the future.

    I was picking up unpleasing enharmonic content in tracking acoustic guitar, and then I realized it was the string afterlength from the machine posts to the nut. I wove a piece of leather in between the strings to damp away this sound. It worked like a charm. I would be curious to know if this is a common problem, and a known solution. The phenomenon is also quite noticable when using a capo, as there is a new afterlength created behind it.

    String afterlength resonance seems to manifest to a much greater degree when the guitar is strummed rhythmically and very hard, combined with heavy rapid palm muting. This kind of playing seems to amply excite the afterlengths, and the palm muting lets it bleed through due to the momentary lack of masking. My playing style is hard with a liberal amount of palm muting, so maybe I create and notice it more than others. I think just about any soft material could work, felt, leather, or even carboard.

    Being new to recording, I can't offer much other than this one little thing :smile: Good luck with the recordings. I think your raw sound is better than you estimate.
     
  10. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    This is called the duplex area on pianos and in all modern pianos it has a length of felt or heavy cloth muting that area of the tenor and bass. There are some pianos that attempt to tune that area in the upper octaves but the general consensus is to leave it untuned. Of course these aren't guitars so I'll return you to your regular scheduled debate.
     
  11. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    I have to admit that I'm just listening to them on a pair of inexpensive headphones. But that's enough to know that there's no big problem with the dry tracks. If he was going for a pure acoustic sound we could throw out suggestions to tweak his technique all day. (Who among us wouldn't benefit from that?) But he's going for a fairly spacey effects driven sound and the raw tracks are (again in my opinion) the best thing he's got going for him. I don't know which of the UAD plugs you own, but if you have the Roland Dimension D chorus plug, give that a try. Just four buttons. All of them sound good.

    Again, you don't have the same equipment as the track you are trying to emulate. Try to capture the spirit with the equipment you have. Trying to imitate a sound can teach you a lot, but given all of the different types of equipment out there it's not worth a lot of effort. Keep it simple.
     
  12. jmm22

    jmm22 Guest

    Well, I'm certainly glad to learn that I cannot be accused of imagining this sound. :tongue: What is just as interesting is this resonance also manifests through the body of the guitar, and not just at the afterlengths, like we might imagine.
     
  13. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    I would suspect this to be more true of guitar necks having struts. The nut then functions as a bridge transferring the energy into the strut and into the body of the guitar. I have never noticed it on my Takamine.
     
  14. jmm22

    jmm22 Guest

    By strut I trust you mean truss (try and say that five times fast!) I am postive your guitar has it too, even if to a lesser extent. The phenomenon can be better detected by the following. Liberally dampen the speaking lengths with the left hand fingers splayed. Chop at the strings with an aggressive pick motion followed by very rapid full palm mute. Now dampen the the afterlengths with material, and repeat. The A/B comparison will better reveal its presence.

    Another way to reveal it is to perform the same right hand chopping/palm muting motion, and instead dampen the strings at the nut with the middle, ring and pinky, while alternately muting and not muting the afterlength with the index finger.
     
  15. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    Mine is a classical guitar and the neck is certainly not adjustable without massive steam and clamps. But, I'm not a guitar expert so I bow to others greater knowledge. Several of my tenor banjos on the other hand do have the adjustable truss. The 5 string does not but it was made circa 1880's. Because I'm a gentleman and no relation to Bela Fleck, I of course don't play the 5 string.
     
  16. AToE

    AToE Active Member

    Another important reason to deaden that part of the string(s) is for sustain - you'll get more. Sustain is about keeping physical energy in the string rather than transmitting to somewhere else (part of why electric guitars have more sustain vs attack than an accoustic is that an electric is simply less resonant, thus stealing less energy from the strings) - this includes sound. The faster the energy becomes sound and the louder that sound is the less sustain you have (same example of electric vs accoustic guitar illustrates this). In this case, if that lenth of string is vibrating sympathetically with the part of the string you actually want to hear, it's stealing energy from it - so you want to stop that!

    I've seen some decent tests done on electric guitars with and without string trees, and the ones with string trees win for sustain every time (but some cloth or leather, etc would work even better).
     
  17. jmm22

    jmm22 Guest

    Very good points.
     
  18. iemand33

    iemand33 Active Member

    Thanks everyone for all the replies!
    I guess by trying to emulate the original sound I was completely deafened to how it was actually sounding. Thanks everyone for the critique.

    Latest version is here:
    (Expired Link Removed)

    I think that it sounds more natural then before.
    I've added some reverb and just a little bit of chorus demoing the Roland Dimension D of UAD (thanks BobRogers for the tip).

    Now although I am happy with the result, can anyone give me some tips on how to lush up the sound?
    Since it's an intended pop song I'd like it to sound a bit more friendly.

    Thanks again everyone
     

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