Micing Acoustic Guitar - some questions

Discussion in 'Guitars' started by Northeastmusic, Dec 9, 2003.

  1. Hello everyone. This is my first post to this forum, and I'm hoping that many opinions will flow from this post.

    Here's the situation. I'm micing an acoustic guitar for a session - I have 2 decent mics (condenser - cardiod/hyper cardiod patterns only) and mic preamps to do the job with. The room itself will be a small room (approx 10 X 12 X 10)and will be pretty dead with some foam and bass traps. The guitar will be a steel string, and the songs are "Danny Boy" and "The Green Fields of France" (2 traditional Irish tunes). Looking for a nice, full sound, and wondering if anyone has any ideas on the mic placement. The mics (2 AKG C3000) and preamps (either Aphex 107's, Digi 002r, or Yamaha 01v96) are, due to budget concerns, fixed at this point, so I'm not really looking for mic selection tips, just placement tips etc. I know these mics and preamps aren't the best that have ever been invented, but they're not the worst either - so any tips specific to these babies would be greatly appreciated.

    If anyone has any ideas, please let me know what you think.

    Thanks - steve
  2. AudioGaff

    AudioGaff Well-Known Member

    Feb 23, 2001
    Silicon Valley
    I think it would serve you well to take some time to search through the past postings archives as this is a common question.

    I also think that you should take some time to explore and experiment with mic placement as this is how you really learn and gain practicle experience. It will take you some time, but it is not hard. Point the mic at the guitar where the neck meets the body, turn it towards the left, turn it towards the right. Now from doing that and listening or recording the results from the mic posistion of extreme far left through the middle to extreme far right, where did it sound best? Keep in mind that moving the mic as little as 1/4 of an inch left or right as well as up or down can have a subtle to drastic differnce in the sound that the mic captures. Also notice how moving the mic also is like using an eq to change the sound. Once you've done all that, you'll have now learned something of real value using your own ears, and now having your own personal experience, rather than me telling you how I would do it which may or very well may not even work for you.

    Now take that a step further, change the starting point of where you first place the mic. Start directly from the top or the bottom, behind or from more than 2-feet away. Once you have tried dozens of possible combinations and done this a few hundred times, you'll always have that experience to draw from and it becomes easier and quicker to get the exact results you want within the first few trys of placing the mic. Oh but that takes a whole lot time? Ya, that's right it does. It is all part of paying your dues if you want be a professional and/or get professional results. It can even take years if ever before your real good at it. That is only one of the reasons why they call it engineering...
  3. Steve,
    You may find some useful information in this Sound On Sound article.

    It is worth bearing in mind that in the same room with the same mics and pre amps, different guitars and different players will sound different and what sounds right for one song may not sound right for another. Add to that the fact that every room, mic and pre amp sounds different and you can see why there is no real answer to your question. I could come round and position the mics for you, but you might find that the sound I capture is different from what you would want to hear. That's why it's best to use your ears to decide where to place the mics.

    Watch out for guitarists who move about on their chair/stool. A small movement of the guitar by them can have a big effect on the sound getting to the mics.

  4. AudioGaff and Peter - thanks so much for your replies. I completely understand where you are both coming from in terms of trying different placements, etc. I wish I had that time, but unfortunately this particular session will not allow much of that. Still, I will try out as many different mic scenerios as I can.

    I do sincerely appreciate both of your opinions, and completely understand where you're both coming from. Part of the question was, and perhaps more important than the mic placement part, how to deal with this small and not very nice sounding room with the particular gear I have to work with for the day. If either of you have thoughts on this particular, very specific scenerio, please do tell. This is one of those situations that I have little control over.

    Again, I do appreciate and respect both of your pinions.

  5. -=alk3=-

    -=alk3=- Active Member

    Mar 18, 2003
    Franklin, TN
    Whats up buddy,

    Please don't disregard me because this is my second post, but:

    I have had good luck with the common "over the shoulder" technique. Place one mic in front of the guitar, the same height as the neck, pointing at anywhere from the 5th to 12th fret (its up to you which exact fret you point it at, depending on the sound you like best).
    The second mic should be placed over the player's right shoulder, pointing down towards the bridge of the guitar. At this point, most guys reading this are laughing at me for pointing out something so basic, however, I'm just trying to help out. ;)

    A couple things to keep in mind:

    1) Angle yourself in the room at an angle (not directly facing a wall). Not sure if a simple acoustic guitar will make a difference in this situation, but try it out anyway.

    2) Remember the 3:1 rule. Take the distance from the guitar to the mics, and make sure that the mics are three times as far away from each other (mics are 1 foot from the guitar each, then they need to be 3 feet from each other).

    Please don't flame me, I'm only trying to help here. ;)
  6. Perikoresis

    Perikoresis Guest

    Please don't disregard this because this is my first post ~

    I think one of the overlooked features of acoustic guitars (and why we like them) is how they interact with the room. I think you would do very well NOT to cover everything with absorbant material ~ and find a great spot in the room to place one of the mics . . . walk around singing until you find one spot in the room where you really like the sound coming into your ear, and place one of the mics there. Then use the other mic to close-mic the guitar . . . the room mic may be over the shoulder, or in front of the guitarist . . . I think if you exclusively close mic the guitar you'll find (in an acoustic duet) that it sounds too thin; although that's a great technique to have it sit well in a thicker mix. Especially if you like finger squeaks (a tasteful level, not distracting) or slides (as in dobro) the room mic makes 'sense' of everything, even if you only mix it in at a low level.

  7. Van_Hunter

    Van_Hunter Guest

    I have experimented a lot with trying to get the sound I want out of my acoustic guitar and tonight I ran across something that worked for me at least for tonight. My equipment is a Collings Clarence White dreadnought with Brazilian Rosewood. This guitar is a hammer. I have yet to capture what I hear when I play it just to myself. But tonight I came a step closer. The mics are an AKG Solid Tube and a Neuman KM-184. These are going into an MBox and then into ProTools. But for this test I am just listening to the MBox with headphones attached. As I set up to record a tune I thought I needed to maybe think outside the box. So I put the AKG where I would normally place the KM-184 which is about 8 inches out and pointed at about the 16th fret. That by itself sounded nice, but nothing really new. Then for some reason I took the KM-184 and turned it parallel to the guitar top, a little less than 3 inches out from the top with the front end of the mic pointed at the top neck joint and the body. The front end of the mic is above the sound hole and just an RCH aft of center. When I tried it by itself, it really sounded great. Then I tried them together. This sounded very nice. Then I switched to mono. Well as you might expect it wasn't as nice but it was acceptable. So that's what worked for me tonight with this guitar in this room at a relative humidity of........etc. Tomorrow will be a different day.

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