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Tips on Acoustic Guitar Recording

Discussion in 'Guitars' started by atbauman, Dec 31, 2012.

  1. atbauman

    atbauman Active Member

    I would like some tips for recording my acoustic. Here is one of my latest recordings and I would like to know where I can improve. I recorded using an AT2020 microphone and Pro Tools.

  2. sdelsolray

    sdelsolray Active Member

    Your playing is outstanding - technically proficient and musically appealing.

    The recording is so-so.


    1) Upgrade your guitar - you deserve it. Goodall, Santa Cruz, Larrivee, etc., etc. etc. There are several things a high end guitar will provide, e.g., better dynamic behavior, consistent tonal, sustain and amplitude balance.

    2) Record with two mics. The AT 2020 is a surprisingly good mic. Add a second one and work on the various stereo recording mic placements. Of course, you could upgrade the mics and remainder of your front end, but perhaps later. Mix to enhance the aesthetics of your music. Try recording without video. Music is an aural art and a visual layer can distract from the aural magic.
  3. thatjeffguy

    thatjeffguy Active Member

    Agree with sdelsolray, use two matched microphones and record in stereo. Close mic about 4" with one mic at the twelfth fret, the other aimed at the body of the guitar about 1" below the bridge. Yes, a higher quality guitar will make a difference. Your playing is brilliant, please keep it up!
  4. atbauman

    atbauman Active Member

    Thanks! I am actually looking into getting a guitar upgrade on a $1000 budget. Do you have any recommendations in that price range? I recently tried a Taylor 214 and was really happy with the sound.
  5. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    i don't necessarily think it needs stero micing. what's missing? there's plenty of body, and attack, to me. more mics is gonna introduce more room, which could be for better or worse. intimate,dynamic recordings of guitar don't need a huge stereo spread.

    theres a taylor 414 acoustic down at the studio, and it records very well. it's not as full bodied sounding as your current guitar, but it's solid, down low, and just has this amazing presence, and definition. it's more of a pop, or jack johnson guitar sound. my cousin has a +1000 martin and it sounds more similar to your current axe. it's fuller, with less pick attack. yamaha makes some nice acoutsics in the 800-1000 range. the one i played (rx series?) felt just like an electric, and sounded more on the taylor side than martin.

    my main things i'd change on your recording are the reverb, and the compression. maybe it's jut the you tube but it's a bit up front sounding. maybe your mic has an omni switch. try that. the compression is kinda like to punchy for me, like for instance in the room those harmonics your playing just wouldn't be as loud as the rest of the stuff w/out a lot of emphasis, and light playing on everything else. i want to hear the performance and real space a bit more. the natural dynamics of what you play will actually emphasize the melody, more than the heavy compressed version. it'll help engage the listener, and create a push/pull, where your really 'tuning in' on the sublte touches, and pushed back a bit more when it's full out.

    that verb is just too clean. Is it the 'digi-verb', or waves true-verb? it's a nice size, it sounds like a medium room which is cool, but it doesn't sound real, ya know? it's a very bright reverb, and w/ the compression, the highs are accented quite a bit, room that size (of the verb setting) just wouldn't be that defined in the highs, the mids would smear w/ the lows and highs, and create more of a foggy sound. if you want hi-fi you already got it. if your want natural, it needs more dynamics, and either more room (omni on the mic/room mic), or more limited frequency response on the verb.

    why not use some delays/pitch shifters to create the ambiance, and stereo image? overall i thought it was good, just a little unnatural for the style.
  6. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    All y'all are wrong. This is a lovely sound. The microphone does not need upgrading. The guitar does not need upgrading. All ya need is to stick a couple of 57's/58's on the left and right side of the body. Of course in the left and right channels and keep that lovely condenser microphone right where it is in the center of the stereo image. And that will make for the biggest difference. You'll get this lovely warm round low-end coming off of that guitar and of those 57 or 58's one of each if you want.

    Now this will mean a couple of other things have to happen. If this is currently a USB microphone you are recording with, that's perfectly fine. You'll need a couple more inputs to accommodate those 57/58's. Just don't use any more condenser microphones. That one is enough on that guitar. It's already articulate but not warm enough. I mean come on now, we had stereo recording starting way back in the 1930s with Fantasia. So let's hear some beautiful stereo that has a left, a right and a middle. And I think you can count to three, since you have to keep six strings in tune? Nice stuff. It only gets more listenable than make its stereo with some warmth.

    Hey, screw the 57/58's. Keep the microphone you have and get a couple of cheap Chinese ribbon microphones that don't cost much more than those 57/58's. Your choices have a Cascading effect.

    Plucked stringed instruments are magical sounding on ribbon microphones. And you may then never be the same again?
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  7. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    I already responded to this on another duplicate thread. It's the 21st century and you are allowed to use three or more microphones to record your guitar in this newfangled thing they invented called stereo which I think came out last week for Christmas? I mean how can you possibly listen to a single acoustic guitar in stereo? There is only one of them! You'd need to record your guitar twice. But really, you'd want to record your guitar three times because you've got to stick something in the center. And then you'd have tritereo. And that to me sounds like a hit already amongst Latino music lovers? They like that kind of bravado to have one more thing a little bigger than anyone else has. So ya need three microphones and you need to play more Spanish guitar. Mexican is OK but ya have to be careful of the drug cartels.

    And then your recordings will sell like tacos!
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  8. sdelsolray

    sdelsolray Active Member

    There's quite a difference between recording solo fingerstyle acoustic guitar and recording an acoustic guitar which will be a part of a larger ensemble mix. For the former, two mics rule.
  9. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    eh ok i can hear the merits of stereo micing on solo gtr, i've done it. it's cool. i like it alot. but it already sounds nice. is it about creating a stereo spread, or ambience? both? i just imagine the worst case where these new mic introductions create this washy, phasey, bad room sounding version. i dunno, but i'd definitely try the mic in omni to set it in the room slightly more. altho i can hear how a wide spread would sound great too. my concern was more front to back tha left to right. even just watching the vid, you hear it way before you see it. to me it sounds like were the mic is, not the listener.

    i still think it's a good recording, and as a fan of the 3035 (discontinued) it's a testament to how good things can sound for a couple hundred bucks and some talent. the guitar sounds fine. perhaps i was scued by watching, as far as ambience/dynamics, cuz it sure does sound good. maybe some ribbons would do the trick for me on that. i dunno, i'be be delicate w/ changes. ain't nothing wrong w/ the guitar. i think i'm picturing some sort of like very low in the mix concert halls type trail, like some swooshing movement left and right. it's all taste at this point. that's a fine recording, i only have ideas as how to mess it up.!
  10. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    Found this little tid bit on James Taylor, who in my own humble opinion, gets one of the finest acoustic guitar sounds I've ever heard.... although Taylor himself is a big part of that sound too, and, having some of the finest handmade guitars available aren't hurting his sound , either. ;)

    Accordingly, this might be of some interest:

    I'm assuming that what he's describing as "the heads together and the barrels going off at right angles" is in fact an X-Y.

    Now, as to what mics are used, it didn't say, although one could assume that he has access to the finest models available.

    source: Olson Artist: James Taylor
  11. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    For stage work, I have always believed that James Taylor uses a DPA4099G clipped to the guitar, and the sound from this is blended with the pickup (LR Baggs). In the studio, I don't think he has a universal mic set, as it depends on who he is working with and the sound he wants. Have a look at 01:29 in this video, and see if anyone can identify the mics being used.

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