Help mic-ing an acoustic guitar.

Discussion in 'Guitars' started by balentaw, May 24, 2011.

  1. balentaw

    balentaw Active Member

    I have an acoustic guitar, and I'm playing a riff which consists of chords with hammer-ons and pull-offs. I have a perception 420 mic, it's not the greatest, but I can get a decent sound out of it. I also use my Presonus channel mixer as a pre-amp, since it has a tube overdrive function. My question is, how can I get the hammer-ons and pull-offs to stand out from the the rest of the riff? Right now it sounds muffled and sort of "muddy". Any replies would be greatly appreciated.
  2. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    Home Page:
    I'm puzzled. You want more finger technique detail from the guitar but then you talk about the pre-amp having a "tube overdrive function". Why would you want to use that on an acoustic guitar mic channel?

    You are right that the Perception range from AKG are not great mics, but you should be able to get a reasonable account of an acoustic guitar from the 420. Let's check one thing right away: the 420 is a side-address mic, so it has to be positioned at right angles to the sound source. For this job, you also need to set it to cardioid pattern, and check that you are certain which side of the mic is the front of the pattern and which is the rear.

    Next, there is the question of where do you position it. For the sort of sound you are trying to capture, you need to start with the mic about 12 - 18 inches from the guitar, roughly level with and parallel to the 12th fret and turned slightly towards the body of the guitar or the sound hole. You can move it around from that position to see if the sound becomes any better, but you should not need to go very far from there.

    After that, look at where you are recording, particularly what is on the floor immediately in front of the guitar and also how close the nearest walls are. If you are picking up reflections from the floor, walls or even the ceiling, this could be contributing to the muddy sounds.

    If the recording does not seem to get any better, post a short extract on a streaming site (e.g. Soundcloud) that you can listen to without having to download, and we can make further suggestions.
  3. balentaw

    balentaw Active Member

    You have to understand, I'm new to all of this. I've been playing and singing for a long time, but never recording. So if my terminology is off, please don't be afraid to correct me (that's why I'm here lol).

    I was told by the guy who sold me the pre-amp that using that "tube overdrive" would give me a "warmer" sound, both on the vocals and on the acoustic guitar. The pre-amp also has settings for compression, and it has a parametric EQ, so if those settings could be tweaked at all I'm open to suggestions.

    You may have already solved one of my problems as I was recording somewhere between 6-8 inches from the guitar, with the mic directly over the sound hole.

    Thanks for the quick reply!

    Here is the link to what I already have recorded:
  4. bouldersound

    bouldersound Real guitars are for old people. Well-Known Member

    Boulder, Colorado
    I agree with Boswell. Try different mic positions until you find the best one for your particular situation. Put headphones on and listen while you try different spots, then listen back on speakers.
  5. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    Home Page:
    The vocal line on your clip is good; now you need to get the guitar up to a similar standard. Part of the problem is in the playing, and part in the recording.

    The heavy, thumping plectrum style is common among guitarists, and certainly has its place on stage or possibly in a group sing-along. Where it does not fit well is in the studio as a backing to an intimate song. My feeling is, at least with the particular song for which you provided the clip, that you should modify your style for recording in order for some expression and subtlety to come through. The recording technique then has to reflect this and use it to effect.

    Allow the recording technique to give its share of the power and the balance against the vocal. Even the Perception 420 will show it up well if you work with it and not in spite of it. Try the microphone position I suggested earlier, but with a more subtle strumming technique, and you could well end up with a track that, despite being lighter and less aggressive, has more impact.
  6. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Pacific NW
    Sounds like you have the Eureka mic pre as well as the Perception mic. This is not a bad set-up and from what I heard on your sample, nothing sounds 'bad'. Its going to take experimentation and positioning to get it somewhat better, but the gear isnt going to hamper this. BTW.....Leave the 'tube' saturation knob on this unit OUT of the equation. They are good units but this isnt the best feature of them, it is the worst. I own a couple and I NEVER use this feature. Concentrate instead on getting the right placement for the mic in relation to the guitars' sweet spot and getting the level up for your recording. If it is the Presonus Eureka you have, then play with the impedance control and discover what 'loading' the mic is all about. Theres a huge amount of different colors you can get from this feature. Try to NOT use the EQ when you track. The compressor is a nice one so use it sparingly. The whole point is to get as much signal into the recording as you can without clipping anything. Do this by balancing between the input on your recording medium and the output and input on the mic pre. This is called 'gain staging'. Its the most important thing you teach yourself. It will give you the ability to make quality recordings.
  7. balentaw

    balentaw Active Member

    I really appreciate all of your responses. I'm a complete noob, so I'll take all the help I can get.

    I've been busy this week and haven't had time to put any of your advice into action, but we have a three day weekend this week so I'll try this out and post a recording when I do.

    Thanks again guys.

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