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Recording acoustic Guitar

Discussion in 'Guitars' started by Robin.bjerke, Apr 20, 2010.

  1. Robin.bjerke

    Robin.bjerke Active Member

    Jan 31, 2010
    This is a post from my blog about recording the acoustic guitar. I hope people may find it useful and it would be wonderful if you feel you have anything to add! Enjoy.


    Good day to you all!

    First off I would like to apologise for not posting anything for so long! I have been busy with work and sound and all that Jazz. On a lighter, more optimistic note, I received a question to the youtube vid I released a while back about a microphone for acoustic guitar and vocals being performed simultaneously Watch the video here: YouTube - Recording Acoustic Gutar and vocals simoultaneously - Urban Sound Studios

    He was wondering about recording and getting a good acoustic guitar sound. So I thought I would oblige and write this short piece.

    Even though I might be stating the obvious I feel it is important to point out that everything starts at the source. Make sure you have a quality guitar, with new and played in strings and a good guitarist. There is no shame in borrowing a guitar if it will better the result of the recording.

    When recording acoustic sources like a guitar the choice of microphone is quite important. The sound of an acoustic guitar is very rich and complex and each guitar has their own unique configuration of harmonics that make the sound. You should choose a microphone that accentuates the range of frequencies you wish to focus on in the recording. Most people will use a Condenser microphone due to their transient and high frequency response, but this is not necessarily a must. Dynamic microphones can produce fantastic results, and if you are as fortunate as to own or have access to a good quality ribbon microphone you can't go wrong.

    The most visable and tangible part of getting a good quality recording is the microphone placement itself. Alot of people will tell you that "this is where it sounds best" etc. etc. Well... I don't want to tell you where to place your microphone because there is no real "sweet spot" that is universally shared. Everything comes into play, from the strings used, the style of playing, calibre of pick, quality and material of the guitar and not to mention the room that you are recording on.

    The best piece of advice I can give in this aspect is to tell the guitarist to play, or have someone help you out if you are playing, and take a listen. Literally stick a finger in one of your ears and move your other ear around until you find roughly the sound you are looking for. You will notice how the guitars tonality changes according to where you are and how far away you are from the guitar. A common rule of thumb is that the further up the neck you go the more crispy and attacky the sound will become. Closerto the soundhole produces warmer and eventually muddy and boomy qualities. The sounding board (On the other side of the sound hole from the neck) produces some very nice, rounded tones that can be very good for a mellow sound.

    Experiment also with varying the distance to the guitar ad you will notice that the sound develops as the sound from different parts of the guitar meld and create their own feel. Setting up a microphone at a distance however does put some very stringent requirements to the room, and may therefore not be a viable option for a home studio.

    Another thing to try out is over the shoulder, producing results very close to what the player hears. From the ground up pointing at the sounding board. Setting up a microphone behind the guitar. The possibilities are literally endless, and nohing is right unless it sounds right. The most important thing is to play around and find the sound you want.

    Now that you've listened to the guitar and set up a microphone in various places but still not found the exact sound you're looking for, you might want to try finding another microphone and combining the best of many worlds.

    Allow me to make a suggestion based on my experience, though it may not apply to you it serves as an example of the above.

    I usually go for a large membrane condenser at around the 13th fret of the neck. About a foot or two out from the guitar and pointing straight down. I then set up another microphone, usually a small diaphragm condenser (A cigar mic) pointing towards the soundning board while being angled a tad toward the center of the guitar. You want the microphone to point towards the largest area of the soundning board at an angle of oh, say 30 degrees to the plane. When panned a little here and there in the mix this setup provides some very nice results, and gives a slight quasi stereo effect as well.

    I hope this article has been helpful Let me know if you have any questions!

    And remember, if it sounds right, it is right.


    For more articles on recording check out my blog Lydhj

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