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need help with classical guitar recording

Discussion in 'Guitars' started by reza_gan, Jun 9, 2004.

  1. reza_gan

    reza_gan Guest

    Hi, my name is Reza. I have been recently helping my father’s interest to make a solo classical-guitar album. Unlike the common solo classical-guitar recording which contains only classical songs, this album will contains many kinds of music style. Still they are included but just a few. There are many kinds of genre here, including Jazz, Pop, Flamenco, Country, R&B, and more. But still in solo classical-guitar playing. I just want to get a recording that would be good enough to be a commercial CDs, because it will to be sold in his live concert.

    My recording application will be exclusively applied to a single acoustic instrument, that is a classical nylon-string guitar. And I don't need any special effects like a new-age music. What I only need is just a smooth and clear sound of a guitar.

    Here is a list of my current equipments. They are really far away of high-class recording equipment, but for a moment I use them to save money because I don't have a great amount budget for this project.
    1. PC with Cakewalk Sonar 3 Producer Edition installed.
    2. M-Audio Firewire 410.
    3. Presonus TubePre single-channel PreAmp.
    4. Belden cables with Amphenol connectors.
    5. Shure SM-57 microphone (and lookin' for SM81 or KSM32).

    When made a few records without using the TubePre, it was before I bought it. The sound captured is very thin and weak. From the record meter in Sonar track, I saw it could only reach -30dB (in -90dB level scale) although I'm using almost 80% of the M-Audio FW410 gain. FYI, the microphone is placed about 8-10 inches from the guitar aiming to the soundhole. So, I bought the TubePre to strive for increased gain. But the TubePre isn't just give me more gain but it also give me more noise and hum. And I saw the record meter level in Sonar shows -42dB (in -90dB level scale). And the result is like an old-age cassette recording.
    I've called the tech support of Presonus and M-Audio by e-mail and they both give me the almost the same answer that the gain is too much so it makes the noise floor appear. This answer is very confusing. How can I increase the gain without increasing the noise ?

    And I read a thread from "ghellquist" Gunner in this forum (http://recording.org/postt19379.html) that he succeeded to make a classical music recording on the stage. He gave some samples of it and I think those are very nice.

    I just keep wondering how could John Williams or Paul Galbraith or David Leisner make a super-clean and warm sound of their guitars.

    Hopefully someone can give some advice about this, it will be greatly appreciated. Thank you very much.

  2. tomtom

    tomtom Guest


    First of all, I think it is your microphone that is inadequate.
    Sticking a dynamic mic (like a sm57) in front of an amp is fine because there's plenty of level to use. An acoustic guitar is something different. It has much more dynamics, especially if you play classical music. You definately need a condenser microphone with a higher sensitivity. It will improve you signal to noise ratio and capture the sound you're looking for. Higher sensitivity means less gain on the preamp. It will give you a sound with a larger spectrum (from low to high frequencies) that will get you much closer to what you are looking for. I have a Neuman KM184 that does the job nicely but there are soo many microphones available out there that you should try at least a few ones to pick what's best for you.

    For the John William sound, all I can tell you is what other people have said hundreds of times here. A good room, a good instrument, a good player a good recording chain with a talented sound engineer...

    It does not mean you can't try. Get a better microphone or borrow or rent one to find out.

    I hope this helped you a bit.

  3. tripnek

    tripnek Active Member

    Jun 9, 2003
    1. Get a better mic preamp and a compressor. a combo unit would work fine.
    API 7600
    Focusrite Red 7
    Universal Audio 6176
    Pendulum Quartet
    The list goes on

    Or if you are getting it professionally mixed, skip the compressor. If you record stereo, there are many multiple mic pre units that would work great.
    Focusrite Red

    2. Get a good condenser microphone or two. This very much depends on the sound your after. Small diaphram condensers (AKG 451 or Shure SM81) work well in a mix, but if the guitar is by it's self, large diaphram condensers (Neumann U87, U67, AKG C12, ect)tend to creat a more full bodied sound. I usually prefer recording the acoustic in stereo but some times not depending on how much other stuff is going to be in the mix.

    3. You may also want to get better AD/DA converters or a good analog tape deck.

  4. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    Jul 2, 2002
    77 Sunset Lane.
    First, I had to delete several other "mirror" threads that you posted. One thread will do please.... multi posts on the same site are what is known as "flooding" and is considered bad "netiqute" ...

    All of the above posts offer great advice.

    My take on the subject is, a good LD condenser 3 or 4 feet away from the guitar should do the trick..

    Classical guitar can be very dynamic, even at low levels things can hit a sharp transient peak before you know it ... some light compression will help..
  5. reza_gan

    reza_gan Guest

    First of all, I want to say that I'm truly sorry for those multile posting. That was happened because I didn't know in which forum should I locate this topic.

    Thanx for all advices. I'm so glad to hear those suggestions from you all, I think that would be a priceless lesson for me.

    I've read many people discuss about how to record acoustic guitar in many websites and articles. But there are many different concept between each other. Some people said that it will be nice using a pair of SD condenser mics. And the other said that using a single LD condenser will sounds great. And I've heard another people said that using the combination of those SD and LD will do the best.

    I don't really understand about the difference between them.....
    So it's hard for me to choose which microphone to be suited for me.
  6. huub

    huub Guest

    for a really great, inexpensive clasical guitar sound: rode nt-1, mackie 1202vlz pro mixer...mic pointed between the hole and the neck..fairly close if you have a bad sounding room..add reverb in mix...works really fine..
    this in addition to

    'For the John William sound, all I can tell you is what other people have said hundreds of times here. A good room, a good instrument, a good player a good recording chain with a talented sound engineer... '

    but thats not really a practical solution for this guy..
  7. tripnek

    tripnek Active Member

    Jun 9, 2003
    You will learn that there are just as many different approaches to recording an instrument as there are people doing it. The best way to deal with it is to learn the theories and experiment on your own to figure out what's best for your situation. If you don't have the resourses to experiment with different mics before you buy, then you'll just have to learn as much as you can, make your best guess as to what will work best for you, then live with the purchase. Or as sometimes I do, buy the mic used on eBay and sell it back if I don't like it and bu a different one. If you wait for a good price before you buy, you can often make a little profit when you sell it back.

    I really suggest that you check out the link I posted above, and read the articles on recording an acoustic. There are also articles on microphones and their characteristics, stereo micing techniques, and much more. Knowledge is power.

    Just for quick reference: To my ears, SD condensers tend to produce a more "Focused" sound than the LD condenser. The LD condenser tends to produce a more "open" sound with a more "full bodied/warm" bottom end. Your milage may vary.
  8. tripnek

    tripnek Active Member

    Jun 9, 2003
    Try this one:
  9. Ollie1

    Ollie1 Guest

    Classical guitar will require a good condensor mic and a good preamp.
    If you are looking for a small pair of reasonably priced mics I would suggest giving the Geffel M300 mics a listen. Not the cheapest, not the most expensive, but certainly sound nice and warm.

    Pre's - API is always a good choice as well as many others.

    What kind of budget do you have?
    Will you need to use the mic for other applications? Which applications or instruments?

    Good luck.
  10. reza_gan

    reza_gan Guest

    I just bought a new Rode NT3 for the SD condenser.
    According to those advices I've got, I think to use the combination of SD and LD condenser mics.
    I have some options between AKG C3000B, AT3035, CAD M177 / M179 Shure KSM32 and Rode NT1 for the LD, but still hard for me to choose which one to buy.

    I'm still have a question about the "noise floor".
    When I connect the Rode NT3 directly to the M-Audio FW410 and turn on the gain, I read the record meter level in Sonar shows -60 dB. It will increased if I add more gain and vice versa.
    Does it mean that I have some 30 dB noise floor and I have <60 dB of headroom before it reach the peak ? Because the lowest level of the record meter is in 90 dB.
    Is it a normal condition or there's something wrong ?
    Is there is anything I can do to make the noise floor lower than this ? Because in this level, the noise is still audible for me to hear. And if I compare the result with another CDs, mine will be heard quiter.

    Thank's a lot.

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