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Recording classical guitar in my studio room

Discussion in 'Guitars' started by Ivo, Oct 11, 2007.

  1. Ivo

    Ivo Guest

    I started preparing for Saturday, when the famous classical guitar virtuoso Stepan Rak (Štìpán Rak - Homepage) will come here and record (something for my upcoming Mystical Violin CD and also his own solo pieces). I know that it would be much better to record it in some some small church, nice auditorium etc. , but it is simply not possible now. So I am trying to figure out the best setup for recording a classical guitar within my studio room.

    I basically found that combining a pair of Schoeps (MK2 or MK21) with AEA R88 may probably bring the best result - either one used solo seems to miss something: R88 the clarity and space, Schoeps the warmth and velvet touch.

    Here are few initial samples from my own "sound check". Of course, a beautiful reverb will be added (Bricasti) and my guitar sounds miles below the incredible Greg Smallman masterpiece, Mr. Rak will be playing. So the samples are just naked/dry and contain only my spontaneous plunking.

    1) R88 close, Schoeps MK2 wide spread (about 60cm) just slightly behind it (this is the position as David Spearitt once suggested) - Schoeps have more sound share here:

    Cakewalk also explains the use of multiple MIDI input, via USB into Sonar 3.

    2) R88 close, Schoeps MK2 far behind (about 40 cm apart -as "room mics") - R88 dominates here:

    Cakewalk also explains the use of multiple MIDI input, via USB into Sonar 3.

    3) Similar as 1) but slightly further away

    Cakewalk also explains the use of multiple MIDI input, via USB into Sonar 3.

    I also tried Schoeps close and AEA as "room mic" but it did not sound that well to me ...

    What do you think ? Would you have any other suggestions ? The idea of the final sound is not a guitar placed in a big space and listened to from a distance as if, but it should be rather intimate approach capturing all the subtle details ("big" guitar and sound).

    Of course, using more than one pair (as I did now) may cause some unwanted effects (which I slightly hear in Guitar 2 sample).

    So I would be grateful for your suggestions and advice ... (and of course, I can keep posting these new options as well ...)

    Thank you


  2. DavidSpearritt

    DavidSpearritt Well-Known Member

    Hello Ivo, nice to see you posting here as well as GS. I think I alerted you to the fact that your omni outriggers could be in fact closer than the "main" blumlein pair, not further away as you suggest and as most people think intuitively.

    Blumlein is my all time favourite technique for the classical guitar. I am a lapsed classical guitarist and met Stephan Rak years ago on one of his trips to Australia, and when I was still learning seriously and playing. Its good to see he has a great Aussie icon guitar as well in the Smallman.

    The thing Blumlein does for the guitar is dimension (size), accurately place and spread the image of the whole guitar top superbly in the stereo image. The entire guitar top radiates frequencies from different sections of it and thus a microphone needs to be given distance to allow the sound to mix and develop. Blumlein helps to "zoom in" on that image, but without needing the close placement.

    So, I suggest the R88 about 1.5 m from the top of the guitar, maybe even a bit further away, slightly elevated above the instrument looking slightly down but perpendicular to the guitar top, and the outriggers perhaps a little closer but wider, some 1.5-2m apart.

    I envy you being able to record Mr Rak, I have some fond memories of his concerts and masterclass where he showed how light a touch in the left hand was required to still allow solid tone. His point was that a lot of guitarists really grip the fingerboard too fiercely and thus limit freedom and movement facility of the left hand.
  3. Ivo

    Ivo Guest

    Hi David,

    thank you very much for your kind advice. I am going to try it right away and will post the result ...
  4. Ivo

    Ivo Guest

    So here is the quick result with R88 placed about 1 m in front of the guitar (if placed further away, I feel that it becomes a bit thin plus the volume comes down) with MK2 outriggers placed slightly closer, about 1,5m apart.

    Cakewalk also explains the use of multiple MIDI input, via USB into Sonar 3.

    (oh yes, there are some "human noises", but it was just a soundcheck :wink: )

    This position seems to appeal to me the most so far ... I played a bit more and added some reverb (just a plugin):

    Cakewalk also explains the use of multiple MIDI input, via USB into Sonar 3.
  5. DavidSpearritt

    DavidSpearritt Well-Known Member

    Ivo, sounding really good. I would just move back a tiny bit with the R88, say 20cm further back. Also perhaps add a tiny amount of high EQ boost to the R88 as well to give it a little definition. What amounts of R88 vs outriggers do you have in the mix?

    Also, watch your aim with the R88, the image is decidedly right at the moment, you want to try to centre it a bit more.
  6. Ivo

    Ivo Guest

    David, thank you, I will try ... Here are the original separate dry files of guit5 sample in the amount they were mixed (R88 dominating).

    Cakewalk also explains the use of multiple MIDI input, via USB into Sonar 3.
    Cakewalk also explains the use of multiple MIDI input, via USB into Sonar 3.

    (I am actually still not sure what would the optimal mix be ... If R88 is too dominant, or solo, the danger of extended noise comes out)

    As for the centering AEA - it probably means not to have it really (physically) centered, since the guitar as such sounds slightly louder to the right ... I will try
  7. DavidSpearritt

    DavidSpearritt Well-Known Member

    Its the Schoeps that are very right heavy, although the R88 is a little to the right. I think you have the balance between the pairs about right. With Stepan Rak playing, you may need to go back a bit as he will be playing much stronger than in these samples.
  8. Ivo

    Ivo Guest

    Yes, because Schoeps are placed extreme L/R, while the guitar sounds naturally softer towards the left. So it seems I should place the Schoeps a bit non/centered to get centered sound - or to just to adjust LR balance later ?

    I am sure Stepan Rak will play MUCH stronger (in every sense) :D
  9. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Welcome Ivo!

    I don't know that I can offer any advice - you obviously have a clear understanding of pretty much every aspect of what you're doing.

    But...from my experience, every classical guitarist has a very clear idea as to the sound that they want on the recording from their instruments and every single person's idea is completely different! I've had some that want a VERY dry sound (crisp/clean as they put it) and others who want a more wet sound and some who want almost completely wet sound!

    Of course, a lot of it depends upon how you need it to fit in your mix, but it probably wouldn't be a bad idea to listen to a few of his recordings and see/hear if he has a clear preference.

    Cheers -

  10. Ivo

    Ivo Guest

    Actually, this session will be mostly done for my own album :D
    The idea is to record few interesting and inspiring guitar tracks for adding some violins/violas later for the Mystical Violin CD. Of course, it is very likely that some solo guitar pieces will be recorded too ...

    As for the sound of his previous CDs, although I love his music and guitar playing very much, I always wished it sounded a bit better :wink:

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