Basic Acoustic Guitar Mic Setup????

Discussion in 'Guitars' started by peteekstam, Mar 6, 2005.

  1. peteekstam

    peteekstam Guest

    Hello everyone,

    This is my first time posting on this forum, it seems like a really extensive and helpful community!

    Okay... so I am at the very very very beginning stages of home recording. I'm at the point where my next step is to buy some better-than-crappy mics. The only thing I care about is getting good sounding mics for acoustic guitar and vocals (obviously easier said than done). More specifically, I will have scenarios where I want to record the vocals and guitar at the same time or where I record them separately.

    A friend recommended looking at the AT 40xx series and mics by Blue. Financially, my situation is not bottomless, I'm looking to get probably 3 mics in the $500-$600 range (total for all 3).

    Any suggestions?


  2. J-3

    J-3 Active Member

    What kind of sound do you want. Bright, crisp? Natural, woody? Stereo gtr, mono gtr.? You could do 2 mics like the C4 or MK012 for gtr then a 4033 or KSM 27 or 32 for vox. I think I'd save a bit more and get a Royer R-121. It's very natural and woody on acoustic gtr. Turn it around and flip the polarity and it's real nice on most vocals too. Or perhaps save more and get 1 nice LD condensor. You need a great pre too. Remember keep it simple. 1 great mic, 1 great pre, use your ears and your gonna sound great.

    My 2 cents
  3. ghellquist

    ghellquist Member

    Hi Pete,
    mics is one of the areas where quality comes at a price. Well, can´t really think of any area where it is not true, but anyway...

    I have very little experience of the really low-price mics. One of the decent ones there is a mic called Studio Projects B1. It is better than the price in my ears. My best recommendation is if it possible for you to lend a few different mics, either from a shop or a friend and try one or more of them out. Then select the one that fits you best. Expect your tastes to mature and change over time, so don´t take the choice too seriously.

    My personal experience is that the "mid-priced" stuff generally can make me unhappy. The very low-price stuff is not a problem really, I just throw them away if they annoy me and don´t cry a bit. The really top-level stuff generally does not disappoint me. The problem is the stuff in between -- too much money to shrug your shoulders at and not quite good enough to be satisfied with.

    Sorry, got carried away a bit.

    I guess some other people may chime in here.

  4. Midlandmorgan

    Midlandmorgan Active Member

    FWIW (never much)

    The 4033, 4040, and 4041 are common staples in Nashville acoustic recordings... I have all these here and really choose only by the nature of the guitar (dreadnaught, jumbo, Orchestral, whatever) and the playing style...

    Another FWIW: Don't overlook some nontraditional acoustic sources...great results have been gotten with a well aimed SM57. Placing the player in the middle of a room instead of 2 feet from the wall can also give very noticable changes.

    Last FWIW: Sometimes, the simplest things can dramatically alter the tone (regardless of mic/pre) combinations...for example, having the player switch from a hard pick to a soft one makes a HUGE difference in guitar tone...changing string brands helps a lot...(try Elixer)...

    I don't know the SP mics...but in my reality, if it says Audio Technica 40XX on it, you may not get the exact sound you are searching for, but you'll get something completely usable and appropriate.
  5. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Fredericksburg, VA
    Yet one more FWIW --
    The AT 4040 is a fantastic mic. I'm not saying it's the one specifically for your application, but for $299, I don't think there's a better LDC to be had.

  6. Costy

    Costy Guest

    Cucco & Midlandmorgan,
    I'm very curios, guys, what do you think of Shure KSMxx versus
    AT 40xx LDC series comparison ? Appreciate your opinion.
  7. JoeH

    JoeH Well-Known Member

    Philadelphia, PA/ Greenville, DE
    Home Page:
    I'll chime in on the 40xx series for acoustic guitar and other acoustic setups. Jeremy, myself and others have raved about the 4050s quite a bit here. I've got a pair of these that sound great on just about everything. I use them at least once a week on various things (including piano), as recently as this afternoon on a Baroque quintet. (Great as ORTF mics, as well).

    The 4040's are almost as nice, ditto for the 4033's; but don't have the pattern selector switches. They are variations on a theme, if you will... (4033 is an FET type mic, btw.) If you're on a really tight budget, the 3033's aren't bad at all either, at least as a starter mic - see if you like the overall sound & use of the AT LDC series.

    I haven't had the pleasure of the Shure KSM series mics, mostly because I only have so much to spend, and only so much time to try out new stuff. I have nothing against them, just haven't been able to indulge myself. (SOMEDAY, indeed!)

    I was getting ready to buy the 40xx series originally, and seeing/hearing them on so many of the acoustic acts I liked pushed me over the edge. Quite a few Grand Ol Opry and other country acoustic acts were starting to use these at the time, and the sound just blew me away. I like the way acoustic folk/bluegrass artists "Work" the mics - soloists step up to play, back off when done, etc., in a semi-circle around the mic. The warm natural sound of these mics - in so many different folk & classical environments just clinched the deal for me.

    Frankly, I haven't had a bad recording yet with the 4050s' and others in the 40xx line. (And I don't even work for AT! :cool: )
  8. Midlandmorgan

    Midlandmorgan Active Member

    Ditto Joe's post...My only exposure with the KSMs were in a live setting, and I was not impressed...they sounded fine, but there wasn't anything there that made me set up and take notice... would naturally think the higher the model number, the more costly the mic...with the AT 40s, this is not the case...

    4033 are somewhat costlier than than 4040s...

    Pretty healthy jump to 4050s, and 4060s are around a grand a pop (but worth it to many...George Massenburg reportedly loves 4060s on vocals...)

    Yet another FWIW: I've got a 3035 around here as well...$ axix, sounds like a monster on heavier guitars...a bit grainy (I thought) for detailed acoustic work, but for "chunka-chunka" rythyms, works pretty good...Been used for vocals some, a lot of "doo-wop" backup vox, floor toms, even an occassional kick drum...

    That's a lot of miles outta a $200 mic...
  9. Costy

    Costy Guest

    JoeH and Midlandmorgan,

    Thanks a bunch. I have a pair of KSM27s. I don't have any
    particular complains. I think, they are pretty discent for instrument
    recording, but something is not there for recording vocals. I was
    thinking about AT mics, I guess now , I'm gonna get myself one of
    BTW, for acoustic guitars and Irish bouzouki I often use a pair of
    ATM33a (fixed charge SDC). I like them.
    Thanks again,
  10. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Fredericksburg, VA
    Not to simply echo the guys above, but I agree. I've used the Shure KSMxx series and rarely been impressed enough that I felt the need to blow the dough on them.

    Whereas, the KSMs seem to get more refined sounding the higher in number you go, you truly do get a different flavor with each of the ATs. The 4033's and 4047s are much more of a vintage sound and the 4040 and 4050 are just as clean as a transformerless mic should be. The 4060 is, in my opinion, the best tube mic to have been introduced in the last 50 years.

    I would draw an analogy to automobiles:

    Shure is like GM. Made in America, a decent workhorse, but by no means the prettiest or most efficient product. Many people use them and get great mileage out of them, while others just can't stand them.

    AT is kinda like a Honda. Made in Japan, everyone who owns one simply loves it and buys more. Everyone gets a great amount of mileage out of them and even their cheap stuff seems to exceed expectations.

    I guess that sums it up?!?! :?

  11. Costy

    Costy Guest

    Thanks Jeremy,
    Yea, you summed it up very well. I'd just like to point out that Ben
    was positive about KSM27s (my piano post).
  12. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Fredericksburg, VA
    I recall...

    That's not a big surprise. Ben and I differ in opinion over many a things, mics included. I would say his tastes are different than mine significantly, but he obviously gets great results. (Check out his web-page for some of his samples.) Of course, on that note, my web-page will be updated soon with fresh new samples as well. I think you'll see that, despite our differences in taste and methods, we can both produce good results. :cool:
  13. Costy

    Costy Guest

    That's cool (I checked your web sites). Maybe KSMs work better
    in LA and the AT-40xx in North Virginia ? Just kidding...
  14. Well from what I've heard i Cannot WAIT to get ahold of a pair of Studio Projects C4's very natural sounding

    Here is a song recorded with one C4 no EQ and a little bit of reverb added

    I found it at the Pro Tools forum and was amazed, this is a live recording BTW
  15. I don't have time to read all the advice everyone has given you so far but I do hope someone mentioned ADK A51. It's a nice all round LD-condenser and very good value. (Here's a link to a random store carrying it. Go google!) It's a little over your budget but perhaps you can find a good deal somewhere?
  16. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Fredericksburg, VA
    I really hate to "poo-poo" anyone's recommendation, and please understand that I'm not trying to be difficult, but I owned a pair of A51s for a while - bought them right after they came out several years ago. (Only paid $199 a piece...)

    I disliked them so much that, after a years worth of use, I sold the pair for $75 and let the guy that bought them know that I thought I was ripping him off.

    Again, sorry to be contrary, but I just didn't like these mics. Who knows, maybe they've changed in the past few years.

  17. JoeH

    JoeH Well-Known Member

    Philadelphia, PA/ Greenville, DE
    Home Page:
    You wont get any argument from me on the Studio Projects C4's. I own a pair, and love them for what they are: A great sounding pair of mics with switchable capsules (Omni & Cardioid). PERFECT for some things, albiet not QUITE as good as my KMi-84s, SM-81s, etc.

    For the cost you really cannot get a better deal. They're a great starter mic for someone looking to get into recording, or to have as a backup pair. (I have several piano playing clients who like to record at home now - they get a pair of these and a preamp/interface box like the MAudio F410 with a laptop or home computer and they're off to the races for a minimal investment.)

    They're good on a lot of instruments - including guitar.
  18. peteekstam

    peteekstam Guest

    Thanks everyone for your helpful comments. You have given me much more direction and clarity in my quest to find some good sounding mics in my budget....

    I think I'm leaning towards getting one AT-4050 and maybe a pair of the Studio Projects C4's. We'll see... slightly over my budget but I think doable.

    I'm going to try and test some of these out before I buy though...

    Thanks again everyone for being so helpful and responsive!!

  19. freelight

    freelight Guest

    Okay... so I am at the very very very beginning stages of home recording. I'm at the point where my next step is to buy some better-than-crappy mics.

    how many more "very's" do you guys need? this guy doesnt want to know what $800 ribbon mic you like...

    look, just grab a simple 2 mic kit from CAD or ADK or the likes. Personally, i think the A-51 and CS-1 kit from ADK would facilitate you perfectly. It has a large diaphragm condenser along with a great sounding small diagphragm (lipstick) mic. If you're miking an acoustic you can set these 2 up for a great stereo recording. Point the smaller mic at the 12th fret and the larger one at the sound-hole, keep them the same distance away to keep them in phase with power condenser mics you'll need a preamp with phantom power (48v supply to the microphone)...grab a relatively cheap preamp, maybe by DBX or Art or the likes...with some mic positioning and experimenting you'll sound great in no time... regards to the other posts: it's all about lamens...keep it simple guys 8)

    good luck with the recording...
  20. DavidSpearritt

    DavidSpearritt Well-Known Member

    Brisbane, Australia
    Home Page:
    Endless debating of cheap mic use in ordinary acoustic conditions doesn't have much appeal, I must say. I hope this forum does not get weighed down by this.

    Its seems the inevitable destiny for many discussion groups on the net. <> is now completely and utterly useless.

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