Acoustic Guitar Micing

Discussion in 'Guitars' started by steve_burke, Jan 2, 2004.

  1. steve_burke

    steve_burke Guest

    When I listen to the acoustic guitar as I play, the highs stand out the most to me and they sound crisp. Everything sounds like it’s in its proper place. When I record it the mids and lows take over and the highs sound dull. Can this problem be overcome or helped by mic placement? I’ve tried many different arrangements using an SM57 and a Shure Prologue. Nothing sounds nearly as good as it does to my ear. Any suggestions would be appreciated.
  2. AudioGaff

    AudioGaff Well-Known Member

    Feb 23, 2001
    Silicon Valley
    I could tell you exactly how I would do it, but that would be the lazy way. You will learn more and get more out of the experince if you take the time to experiment and try as many things as you can think of, and then either write down or remember which of them sound better than another.

    I will give you a few hints.

    Facing the mic towards the body and/or sound hole gives you one type of sound and facing the mic away from the body and soundhole gives you another very different sound. Often times the half way point where the body meets the neck is a real sweet spot to start with.

    Moving the mic as little as 1-inch from one posistion to another can have a drastic affect on what the mic picks up.

    Keep in mind that you have many angles to work with while in any starting posistion. left, right, up and down as well as how close or far the mic is from the guitar.

    Don't be shy in trying to use eq to help get what your want after you have come as close as you can by using mic placment. As with any time you use eq, it is usually always better to cut what you don't like before you add what you do like.

    A dynamic mic like the SM57 has certain specific tone characteristics. One of those is that it picks up more in the mid freq range and is not known for being able to capture the real high end you may be wanting to hear which is usually more accociated with a condensor mic. Just about all the acoustic guitars you hear that get recorded by the pros are done with condensor mics. Don't fret that the SM57 is not likely the best mic for this application. You should still be able to get good results with the SM57, but you will need to work much harder to get it. Nothing wrong with that. This is how you learn and gain real experience that will last you forever.

    If your lazy or want to cheat and use the shortcuts, search the archives here at R.O. and you will find many people who have talked about this and given advice.
  3. Jimi

    Jimi Guest

    There are so many ways to do it.
    The most important thing to search and read about is phase cancelation.

    Here is technique that will always work as all guitars are a little different.

    Have someone play (hopefully you can do this)
    get on you knees plug on ear and move around and listen foe the sweet spot.
    Better yet listen for two sweet spots.
    Good luck
  4. steve_burke

    steve_burke Guest

    Thanks for the advice. It's much appreciated.
  5. tripnek

    tripnek Active Member

    Jun 9, 2003
    try this

  6. Malpasoman

    Malpasoman Member

    Oct 11, 2001
    Here's a link that gives you some tips plus visuals.
  7. rolandk

    rolandk Guest

    Maybe try and pick up 1 or 2 Oktava MK012's, they are dirt cheap and work great on acoustic guitars and drum oh's.
  8. ShellTones

    ShellTones Guest

    I just don't like the 57 on acoustic guitar. It almost always sounds just the way you describe it. Dull, regardless of placement. However, if you double mic with the 57 on the bout and almost any condenser on the neck, you can get a pretty good, balanced tone.
  9. tommypiper

    tommypiper Guest

    Use a condenser mic and experiment with placement. You'll solve your problem.

    t :)
  10. Mr Kebab

    Mr Kebab Guest

    57's sound OK when mixed in with another mic. They're quite good to give some bottom end to the guitar. Try a Rode NT1a, very cheap, about £130 (sorry not sure of US price). Really good multipurpose condenser. I prefer this mic to the Neumann M147 on acoustic guitars, and that's nearly 10 times the price!

  11. robchittum

    robchittum Guest

    I agree with the previous comments and add a couple of more. I don't know anything about the rest of your equipment, but a good mic pre makes a huge difference on acoustic guitar. I also agree that a 57 is not typically a "go to" mic for acoustic guitar, and that you have to work harder to get a sound you like. I will take the "easy" route and tell you how I get a good acoustic guitar sound. I use two oktava mc-012's with one positioned about 8"-12" from the 12th fret angled in toward the sound hole at a 45 degree angle. The second one I put about 3 feet above the saddle angled down. The tone of your guitar will dictate where the "sweet spots" are located, but this generally works for me with minor tweaking. I like to use the cardiod capsules, but if you have a nice sounding room you can use omni's. I'm not telling you that you have to buy different mics from what you currently have, but just wanted to share what works well for me. Good luck.
  12. cruisemates

    cruisemates Active Member

    Jan 28, 2004
    Home Page:
    One thing is having a great acoustic guitar. For clarity and especially evenness in tone you can't beat a Martin... but I digress.

    Back in my day . . .

    I always used a small capsule condensor on acoustic guitars. AKG C451 comes to mind. And nearly always placed it right above the 12th fret (which on most acoustics is where the neck meets the body). Often, I would point it straight down at the neck or away from the soundhole, but never towards it.
  13. godotzilla

    godotzilla Guest

    That's a bit misleading. Most steel-strung acoustic have a 14th fret neck-body juncture--especially the Martins you reference in your first para; Martins with a 12 fret juncture are a special feature and not the factory default for most of their models. Nylon-strung classical guitars more typically have a 12th-fret neck body joint. Semantics aside, the 12th fret is a good micing point as it is the harmonic octave point, the center between nut and bridge, on the guitar. Lots of people assume the soundhole is the central sound source on an acoustic; it actually serves more as a bass port, which is why a mic pointed directed at the soundhole will yield woofiness.
  14. sdelsolray

    sdelsolray Active Member

    Jul 5, 2003
    Portland, OR
    Yes you can. It is now the golden age of luthery, has been for over a decade. There are numerous instruments out there today which, quite candidly, blow Martins (or Gibsons, Guilds or Taylors) right out of the water in terms of balance, sustain, build quality, intonation, and price. This is not to say that Martins are not great instruments. Many of them are. There's just much more out there now.
  15. Bill Park

    Bill Park Guest

    Yeah, I have a custom made Santa Cruz based on the Model F that I love. I'm fond of a Myrtle Breedlove that I saw, and my buddy has his eye on a Goodall Grand Hawiian he played at NAMM. No shortage of wonderful guitars these days.

    Martin really earned their reputation in the 1960s, when most guitar companies were putting out acoustic guitars so quickly to try to cash in on the new guitar craze/fad that they were putting out real crap. Martin really excelled at that time, though there was an emerging group of boutique guitar makers.... one in particular that I'm thinking of left Harptone and started making guitars for George Harrison and Eric Clapton (I could not get a stolen Harptone replaced, because he was gone from Harptone, and as a luthier he was way out of my price range at that point...) But that was the real begining of the current boutique market... guys responding to the poor quality acoustic guitars of the late 1960s. Probably the same is true with drums, since the drum makers made some really crummy drums with terrible shells, also to try to capitalise on the pop music trend.

    Lately I've been using a Neumann 84 or 83 and an AKG C-28 as my guitar mics, one out from the bosy and one up by the neck joint, aimed a little toward the bosy.


Share This Page