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Nylon string guitar recording ideas please!

Discussion in 'Guitars' started by GeorgeKarr, Aug 18, 2006.

  1. GeorgeKarr

    GeorgeKarr Guest

    Hi all,

    What a great forum! So much useful information - unbelievable! I read almost all threads regarding classical guitar but still was not able to get a clear idea of how should I approach my current project.

    I am recording home in a 12x14 room(with spot treatment) using a pair of Rode NT5s, to a Vintech 1272 into Cubase SX and MOTU 828 mkII. I used only nylon string guitars - a mellow sounding Takamine and a powerful Alvarez Yairi CY140. The record I am working on is a bossa/samba/bolero/jazz amalgam with all instruments played and sequenced by me.

    I am Ok with the guitar sound so far - nothing spectacular and I know I can achieve more. The Rodes are about 2ft apart. The left one is pointing towards the area of the 12th fret and the soundhole with a slight angle. The right one is pointing at my bridge. I try to position myself about 8-12" away from the mics.
    I like the sound that comes out of the left mic, but the right one is more powerful and often nasally.

    Can you guys give some advice on how to position the mics? Is the choice of mics appropriate in a first place? I read good things about AT4033 on acoustic and nylon string. Do you think I should pickup one?
    Do you think I am too close to the mics? Perhaps I should step away a bit.

    Consider the fact that this not a solo guitar recording and the guitar will have to sit well in the mix.

    Other mics I have are Shure SM57 and Sehnheizer 609.
    I hope I gave you enough info for starters and thank you for input in advance!

  2. IainDearg

    IainDearg Guest

    I'm afraid I've given up entirely on spaced mic techniques for guitar recording. I only use X/Y with SDCs. (I would try mid-side, but I don't have a figure-8 mic.)

    My reasons for this are three-fold:

    1. When I listen back through a hi-fi system at normal listening distance, a guitar recorded with a spaced technique sounds unrealistically big. In fact it sounds about 12ft wide. This might sound impressive to some, but it makes me nauseous.
    2. Phase cancellation. No matter how big it sounds in stereo, if I hit the mono button, the middle of the guitar disappears, leaving the sides hovering disembodied in space. More nausea. \Maybe that has more to do with my skill at setting up a spaced pair, but for the other two reasons, It's now academic.
    3. To a listener in an audience any further than 6 feet away, the guitar is a mono source. Any stereo information is by virtue of room reflections.

    These are just my 2 Euros. I don't know if it will help much, but it's topic I can never resist engaging in.

  3. rfreez

    rfreez Active Member

    Jun 17, 2006
    Chennai, India
    Home Page:
    sorry to go OT... but Dave Keir... i just wanted to say that i visited your site and enjoyed the guitar playing very much. On the track Red John... were there any overdubs? Didi you sing and play at the same time?

  4. Boswell

    Boswell Distinguished Moderator Resource Member

    Apr 19, 2006
    Home Page:
    This thread goes through some of the issues in setting up microphones for acoustic guitar recording:
    (Dead Link Removed)

    My experience is that spaced microphones give a poor stereo image and odd phasing effects, particularly if the performer does not keep completely still. X-Y mics are better, but the best technique I have found is the M-S pair, where the M microphone (cardioid) is placed about a foot in front of the fingerboard/body join and tilted towards the soundhole. It carries most of the aural information and is automatically mono compatible. The S microphone (figure-8) should be directly above or below the M and at right angles to it. It supplies the stereo width information, but in guitar recordings should be brought down in level by 3 - 4 dB relative to the M microphone before the L-R decoding. This is in contrast to choral or ensemble recording, where I find that equal levels for M and S inputs never give quite enough width.
  5. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Moderator

    Feb 23, 2005
    I agree with Iain.You didn't say, but I am hoping that you've checked your mono compatability and tried reversing the polarity of one of the mics at the Vintech. Very nice unit, BTW. I have a pair of Rode NT5's and have found them fairly "edgie" on nylon string guitars. I gave up using them as a stereo pair on guitars (nylon or steel string) and have gone with the Shure SM81 and the A-T 4041 ( IMHO, a "sleeper" of an SDC ), depending on the talent and the guitar. I, too, steer clear of LDCs on that instrument. And when I get the chance (a couple of times a year), I get to record classical guitarists in a really nice room at the local university with their pair of DPA 4041 SDC's.....MMmmmmm good!
  6. DavidSpearritt

    DavidSpearritt Well-Known Member

    Jan 9, 2005
    Brisbane, Australia
    Home Page:
    Dave has written excellent conclusions about this thorny topic. Spaced techniques sound really daft on classical guitar IMHO. Blumlein, approx 1m or more from the instrument is numero uno for this application. Some outrigger omnis may be necessary in a small room to increase the reverb, but their gain should be low.
  7. GeorgeKarr

    GeorgeKarr Guest

    Thanks for you replies,

    I experimented with a few settings over the weekend and ended up liking this technique:

    Left mic - pointing at 12-14 fret at 45 degree angle, 8-10" away.
    Right mic -pointing under the bridge 6-8" away, straight at the soundboard.

    I read about it somewhere here on the forum. I am very pleased with the result. The takes are missing the room and they sound much focused, "in-your-face" kind of in a good way. I played a few takes with fingers (nails) and a few with Golden Gate mandolin pick. I really like both, but especially the pick takes. The Vintech really shows its nice character when attacked with the pick. I might have to experiment more with I/O levels of the preamp to get it to be more sensitive to the finger-style parts. Also my finger-style parts are not thin anymore - very nice!

    Ultimately, the guitar will need to sit in a mix so stereo image is not my goal for this project. I'd like capture the entire instrument, mix the two mics, and export to one mono track for mixing. Correct me if I am wrong! Perhaps that's not the right way to do this...

    Oh man, I know about the DPA 4011 mics! I haven't recorded though the 4041 yet, but those 4011 are super! I am working on another recording project where I played a vintage Martin metal string guitar through, DPA 4011, Neumann KM 84, and Millennia - awesome! I can't afford neither of those mics at the moment though.

    I am not sure I understand the M-S technique very well - where can I read about it more? Is the NT5 pair appropriate for it?
    Also how do I setup the Blumlein configuration? Should I add a large condenser to the equation at all or it's not worth it?

    Thanks again!
  8. IainDearg

    IainDearg Guest

    Thank you for the compliment! :D

    There are no overdubs. I usually do three takes and edit the best performance for (hopefully) the odd fluff from one of the other takes. The notated score and tab can be downloaded from the "Songs" page if you're interested.

    [Edit: just re-read your post to bask in the compliment :roll: The vocal was tracked separately - for separation? :wink: ]

  9. JoeH

    JoeH Distinguished Member

    Jun 22, 2004
    Philadelphia, PA/ Greenville, DE
    Home Page:
    Just to hijack the thread once more... I too have just visited Dave's website and played a few tunes. Kudo's and bravo to you, Dave!

    Wonderful stuff there, and it's comforting to read someone with similar results. I've done a couple of acoustic guitar projects (actually, one might be better called an "Experiment") and am finding similar things with microphone choices and placement. (ORTF just doesn't seem to work here, either, and the MS approach has yielded some good results as well.) I still have played with spaced omni's - more for room sound than anything else, and dial them in very sparingly, only for a little extra "air" when needed.

    I'm impressed with the results you got with the gear you used, as well: KM184's and stock pre's right on the console. (Take THAT, to all those pre snobs. Hehe) I like the AT 4033 for a lot of things, obviously it suits your vocal sound perfectly.

    I'll be interested in hearing the finished CD when it's released Dave, and plan to visit your forum again from time to time. Great stuff, indeed. :cool:
  10. IainDearg

    IainDearg Guest


    An apology from me too, for continuing the hi-jack, but I had to respond to your kind words.

    It was a thrill to read your post! It's very rewarding after all my work towards achieving something, while obviously to professional ears has been "home" recorded, can nevertheless "hold its head up" when done and dusted.

    As well as my own steep learning curve slowly climbed in my project studio, I have been grateful to be able to come here and absorb the experiences of others and the great advice provided so freely and apply some of the techniques myself. I'm still lurking and learning. I'm fortunate enough to enjoy the journey, in and of itself, despite it's frustrations. I came to realize that given a "budget", there would always be sonic limitations to what I could expect to achieve - but I was convinced that with reasonable resources and a considerable amount of study and experience, I should be able to do service to the songs. It was the songs people have said they wanted to hear - not the colour of a particular pre-amp. Nervertheless, as and when finances permit, I will aspire to greater things - I do like gear for it's own sake a wee bit too!
    There are things with these recordings that I know could be improved upon, but there's a time to move on. It's the law of diminishing returns. Anyway, I'm not sure my ears weren't shot in terms of objectivity. (Objectivity - another hard skill to develop for one's own stuff. Well-nigh impossible. Perhaps a contradiction.)

    Thanks again for your kind words - they mean a great deal to me. I'll drop a line in the Audio Projects section when it's available (I got an email yesterday promising it will be despatched on the 30th.) And thanks for visiting the forum. It's kinda quiet but no matter - I've re-established some old friendships through it. (I'm looking for something that displays tumbleweed rolling along the bottom. Ha!)

  11. skyy38

    skyy38 Active Member

    Aug 31, 2006
    I'll totally go along with the above just because HE obviously knows more about recording guitars than I ever will!

    One of the few times that I ever had guests to help me with filling out my tracks,I was faced with the "guitar recording conundrum" EEK! How do we do this?Do we have the "proper" mics etc.,?What to do????

    Well I just used what equipment that Pierre(the guitarist) and I happened to have in conjunction with all of the recording knowledge that I had acquired up to that point in time.No rocket science here,I just placed the mic (one of those no-name"silver jobs" with a mesh globe) at a reasonable distance from the sound hole,got a good solid signal,did a test run,played it back-it sounded like a guitar should and awaaay we went! When it came time for the electric guitar parts,I just did the same thing.Looking back,I should have documented the session more accurately but,the point remains the same:No matter the method,just make sure you're happy with the results!

    And guitars,in comparison to some things,are *easy* to record.You do NOT want to hear about my far LESS successful attempts at trying to mic drums(Which is when I dropped my "bias" against drum machines and sprung for an Alesis SR-16). Now THAT was *horrible*!

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