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Which mic pre's for nylon string guitar?

Discussion in 'Preamps & Processing' started by GeorgeKarr, Jun 6, 2005.

  1. GeorgeKarr

    GeorgeKarr Guest

    Hi forum,

    First time posting here... read a lot of posts on mic pres and I can't decide what would be a good choice to track my nylon string guitar thru.
    I have a matched pair RODE NT5s, MOTU 828mkII (2mic pres) and Art DUAL MP, and a LRBaggs PARA DI for the pickup. I am not sure if I want to waiste my time tracking thru the Art unit or should I invest in better pres. My initial tests with the NT5s and ART DP gave OK results. I have to work on nailing the sweet spot everytime I am ready to record. Recording the pickup thru PARA DI=>MOTU pres seems to keep the guitar "in focus".

    I was advised to simply "go ahead" and get Brent Averills 1272 without too much thinking. While I realize this idea is great it seems way out of my league (for now at least) since I am not a recording engineer. Then I came here and I found only one thread on recording classical guitar and million different opinions.

    Buying mic pres in this price range is a studio investment, right? However, I'd like to track myself home since I play four nights a week and maintain a daytime job (health insurance, ya know!) and don't have time to go to any studios.

    I guess I can afford to spend around $1300 on a dual mic pre unit like Vintech1272. Another cheaper alternative is (are) two GT bricks. The Sabatron stuff seems very promising as well.

    In your experience which pres gave you good results tracking acoustic insturments? I play fingerstyle jazz/latin jazz/nuvo flamenco/bossa etc. I also have SM57 and Senheiser 609e for micing my amps whenever I play electric.
    I will be using Digital Performer 4.52 with a G5.

  2. Midlandmorgan

    Midlandmorgan Active Member

    Jul 21, 2002

    I've done some classical guitar recordings using OSA pres with Josephson C42 mics...the guitarist insisting on hooking up his internal preamp as well - I did, but it was no where in the mix (except for a small boost at the one part of the song...

    http://www.wirelinestudio.com/images/sedonus_1.MP3 is an example (note this was a live take...no overdubs, live drummer in the room, live acoustic bass, mic'd Rhodes, etc)
  3. JBsound

    JBsound Guest

    I love the Vintech 1272 but it would not be my first choice on classical guitar. My favorite preamp so far on that source is the Avalon AD-2022. I've used API on it before but it was a little agressive for true classical guitar in most cases. On the lower priced end the Brick would be good but on the high end something like the Avalon or the Pendulum MDP-1 would probably work well.
  4. Big_D

    Big_D Well-Known Member

    Aug 21, 2004
    Quakertown PA
    I'd say go for a 2 channel Seb. It's more versatile than the any of the others you mentioned and it's right in your price range. It can do it all from almost transparent to very colored. A very good fit for what your doing.
  5. JBsound

    JBsound Guest

    I never tried the Seb before. How transparent and open can it get?
  6. missilanious

    missilanious Guest

    Grace 201 or up, not the 101 (diff pre design). Also if you can get your hands on Earthworks SR-77's you'll be very happy with the results. I've been using this setup for awile with a QTC30 there instead sometimes with great results. the SR's are very punchy.
  7. ShellTones

    ShellTones Guest

    John Hardy M1 would be nice. I know that's what I want to compliment my Seb.
  8. AudioGaff

    AudioGaff Distinguished Member

    Feb 23, 2001
    Silicon Valley
    1272 well worth owning but not for classical guitar. Avalon, John Hardy, Millennia, Manley, Grace, Martech, dbx 786 and many more.
  9. CoyoteTrax

    CoyoteTrax Well-Known Member

    May 25, 2005
    Home Page:
    Hi George,

    It seems to me that you already have some decent gear to do a fine job tracking nylon strings.

    Sure it would be nice to have a $1,000 pre like a Hamptone or something frome DaviSound or Massenburg, etc. but you don't. If you want to go out and buy something new, that's great too.

    But I've personally found that if you pop the coin for a set of excellent strings, and the guitar intonnated correctly and you're getting some nice ambient reflections in the room you're tracking in, a simple stereo pair like your NT5's or even a mixed pair will do just fine.

    It doesn't matter if your using $500 worth of gear or $5,000 worth of gear you will still have to work hard to find proper mic placement and find that "sweet spot". High end gear does nothing to guarantee you a sweet spot, nor will it compensate for ambient reflections.

    Actually, if you don't have a nice Live Room to track in just drop a chunk of plyboard on the floor under you, try to get some reflections from the walls close-by and work with mic placement until you hear the mics working a little magic. You've got a decent setup already and with some creative mixing techniques you can enhance your tracks in some very natural sounding ways.

    Performance is everything too. If you're happy with the magic you're working on the fingerboard then keep in mind that's where the real magic is coming from.
  10. GeorgeKarr

    GeorgeKarr Guest

    Thanks everyone,

    I knew I'd get some great ideas here!

    I admit, I tend to go nuts about buying gear everytime I need something. Most of the time I research in detail and end up going in a different direction - like getting the best of what I already have!
    I was told that good preamps are considered a "lifetime purchase"! That statement intrigued me, beacuse once I buy a piece of gear or an instrument I am looking forward to keeping it for a very long time...

    Midland - very nice samba recording! I can hear your room - that was your goal right?

    I'd like to achieve sound similar to Earl Klugh's in mid eighties -"creamy" and "silky" in a way! I realize I am not going to accomplish that at home, but it's worth trying.

    What is the major difference between high end tube preamp and high end solid state preamp, besides "tube saturated" sound? Are the solids more versatile or the tubes are?

    To comment on Coyote's post: my recording room has laminate floors, it's about 12'x13'. I did some tests facing one of the walls about 4-5' away. I will attempt to post some .mp3s for you guys to comment on.
    You are right about the search of the sweet spot! The guitar has a brand new tusq saddle and I usually play best strings possible! I am researching on getting better electronics for the guitar, but that doesn't concern the recording. I'd like to try XY configuration next.

    Appreciate your time and comments!
  11. CoyoteTrax

    CoyoteTrax Well-Known Member

    May 25, 2005
    Home Page:
    George, have you tried one mic behind the bridge saddle at about a 90 degree angle 3 to 4 inches away and one mic at the neck joint angled toward the soundhole about 3 to 4 inches away?

    For me with nylon strings that seems to be a good place to start when working with a stereo pair. XY config is nice but especially with Nuveau Flamenco, if you listen to Ottmar Liebert's most recent recordings he uses a wider stereo image than you usually get from even the widest angled XY config and I like that effect. The wider stereo config seems to allow the instrument to breathe more allowing the dynamic of the style to be more exciting.

    Yeah, I love the Tusq bridge saddles too. It's the best composite material availabe IMO.

    If you want "creamy and silky", sometimes you can acheive that cheaply by inserting a Tascam Porta 01 or 02 in your signal path between your mic pre's and the DAW. There's something about the analog circuitry Tascam uses (which I think is actualy TEAC technology) that creates a creamy analog envelope around the signal so it takes up less space on your sound canvass. I know it sounds weird but it works for me.
  12. Midlandmorgan

    Midlandmorgan Active Member

    Jul 21, 2002
    Thanks,,,we were going for a live room sound, but I thought the guitar just sounded so good in that situation...I always try and get some of the room in the track (what's the point of having a good sounding room if you aren;t gonna use it as a tool, right?)

    Mic- Josephson C42
    Pre - OSA MP1C
    nothing else....no eq, nada...a bit of reverb on drum tracks to fill in a gap or two.

    I had the guitarist situated so he had as much horizontal room as gobos would allow....with absorption sides of the gobos on the guitarist's side...mic set out about 10-12" from sound hole, aimed at neck joint...
  13. GeorgeKarr

    GeorgeKarr Guest

    Thanks Coyote and Midland,

    I haven't tried the technique you Coyote described exactly - I tried to keep with the 3:1 ratio and had one mic pointing to 12 fret at about 90 degrees, 6-8 inches away and the other at 45 degree pointing towards the back of my saddle. I got louder signal from that mic. I thought 3-4 inches was too close, but I will definitely try it.

    Please, describe how do I connect the porta studio in the recording chain? Do I need to record to tape first or I am guessing:

    mics=>mic pres(Art in my case)=>porta XLR in(414 has them) or porta 1/4" instrument ins =>porta LineOut=>to MOTU 1/4" balanced? Correct me if I am wrong, please! Is it possible to hard pan the Line Outs of the porta?

    This sounds like a great idea if I can get it to work! I don't mind trying at all. Keep in mind that all guitar parts will be mixed with other instruments later. The strong presence of the guitar will have to be tamed somehow to fit in the mix.

    Do you think porta 01 or 02 would give me good results or should I try with 414mkII instead? It seems like it offers better sound quality. Interesting!

    Thanks for the ideas! This topic gets copied to a word doc and archived - excellent!
  14. CoyoteTrax

    CoyoteTrax Well-Known Member

    May 25, 2005
    Home Page:
    George, it sounds like you have a 414 which would be ideal for this. You're not actually recording to tape or recording to the 414 at all. You're just using it as a filter or line amp or signal conditioner. Whatever you want to call it. You're just simply passing your signal through the 414. You've got the signal path spot on. And yes you can pan hard left and right on the 414. If you have a porta 2 that will work for you also since it has L/R inputs. I've used the porta I with it's single input with just one mic and gotten great results too, taking advantage of the stereo outputs. The signal actually becomes more intimate IMO. More focused.

    I've just found that sometimes with acoustic guitar, inserting Tascam electronics from the porta series (414mkII in your case) adds a creamy analog warmth to the signal that's desirable and actually enhances the signal. I'd suggest turning off the dolby NR (unless it sounds good to you) and see how it all sounds on a test track. Just track a little 1 or 2 minute piece and compare it to the sound you get without the 414 in the signal path.

    I don't always track acoustic guitar like that but once in a while it just really works for a tune. Variety is good sometimes.
  15. GeorgeKarr

    GeorgeKarr Guest

    Hi Coyote,

    I did not have a Porta but now I do - I picked one off of eBay for $100. Just for variety sakes... You don't need much to get me started! :D

    First test I did was connecting the outputs of the ART preamp to the inputs 1 and 2 of the Porta MKII. I had all the EQ to 5 (flat) and the faders - 1, 2, and Master to between 7 and 8. Porta LineOut L&R I connected to MOTUs Analog 5-6. The result was not good! I had a guitar very muffled track lacking highs. With some EQ it might be fixable, but not sure about that.

    Second test was to connect the outs of the ART to 5-6 and 7-8 ins of the Porta. Each one 5-6 or 7-8, are single 1/4" stereo in. this signal doesn't go through the Porta's preamp section, but through a couple of potentiometers - its channel level and Master level. I did get much nicer sound though. With some quick EQ and Compression I am quite pleased so far.

    A few questions: Coyote, which type of connection did you use with the Porta? Is it a good idea to go from one pre to another? Also on my ART device I get better (overall), hotter, and more detailed signal, when I turn on +20dB switch. However the downside is that my guitar begins to sound very nasal, especially G string from G to D. I was having a hard time sweeping that frequency, because it seemed related to its quality and timbre more! May it's just me! :(

    I have made some improvements, but there's a whole lot more to be desired. I reduced the "nasal" effect (or defect) by pulling back from the mics a bit. The guitar picked more room which is not a bad thing - right Midland?

    Can you guys suggest anything else I might be able to do with the current setup!


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