Miking acoustic guitar

Discussion in 'Guitars' started by TheAngryFedora, Oct 1, 2005.

  1. I've been told that, with the mics I have (two knockoff Oktava MK012's), a good way to mic an acoustic guitar is to put one mic about 5 inches away perpendicular to the 12th fret and one about 5-6 inches away pointing just to the left of the hole. This sound effective? If not, any advice? And, if so, should the levels be as high as I can get them before they peak? I'm looking for a very clear, crisp, bright sound. If I'm not going to achieve this sort of a sound with these mics, any suggestions as to what I might pick up (about $100 max, maybe $150)

    I'm 16, not extremely experienced at the moment... Any advice whatsoever is very helpful, but the guitarist that I'm recording is going to be here in the next hour or so, and I need to get to work with him composing/recording music for the play at school. Hooray for sound design. Boo for being overly ambitious... 2 weeks to do the whole thing, limited recording time.

    Thanks very much!
  2. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Dec 10, 2001
    Pacific NW
    Start with the setup you originally suggested.

    Experiment. Move the mics while the guitar is being played. Monitor the moves on phones.

    Stand in front of the guitar and listen closely without the phones.

    Place the mics where it sounds the best.

    this is why its fun to record.
  3. CoyoteTrax

    CoyoteTrax Well-Known Member

    May 25, 2005
    Home Page:
    Clear, crisp and bright is definitely what the MK-012 is all about so no worries there.

    You'll capture a nice range at the 12th fret about 6 inches out, yes.

    I get good results with a second mic behind the saddle aimed toward the soundhole. That's a nice percussive area so about 6-8 inches out is usually good.

    Like Dave said, experiment a little until you find the sweet spot by monitoring your changes in mic placement in your headphones.

    I don't believe you can loose with 2 (or even 1) MK-012.

    Hopefully your guitarist has a decent guitar to work with.
  4. GregP

    GregP Guest

    (first 'real' post here, so forgive me if I'm skipping any sort of etiquette rules and stepping on senior members' toes! I'm Greg... I'm an amateur not a pro... Hello all! Here's my tip :) : )

    Keep it simple to begin with. Set up your microphone so that it is higher than your soundhole, and then point downward and a bit toward the area where the fretboard meets the soundhole. The "downward" point is debatable-- you want the mic "off axis" so that it's not being pummelled by the waves coming out of the soundhole, and downward is the most 'neutral' direction you can pick because:

    up --> you might more easily pick up the sound of yourself (or the guitarist-- I'll keep saying 'yourself' since that's who I record!) breathing, sniffling, or whatnot-- not to mention other ambient sounds.

    toward the neck--> you will pick up more fret noise. Sometimes this is desirable, though, so if you want more fret noise, go for it!

    toward the bridge--> you will pick up more sound of the pick hitting the strings. Again, sometimes this is VERY desirable, so go for it if you think you need it!

    I choose 'down' for the most part. Once you decide to add complexity to the sound with your second microphone, this is where positioning it and angling it differently will bring in additional elements to the sound, with the two different sounds being 'blendable' now!


    Moving along:

    You may not find that you have the perfect sound right away. It doesn't make sense to keep re-positioning the mic and try again from scratch. Better to do it dynamically! Strap on a set of headphones to isolate the sound a bit more, and then if YOU'RE the guitarist, physically move yourself and the guitar around, experimenting with different positions! Maybe you'll have it pointed at the 14th fret or so and say, "AHA, this is it!" or maybe the magic moment will happen when it's pointed more toward the bridge. Shift your position and angles until you find something that works.

    Even easier if you're not the guitarist, because instead of moving body+guitar, you can just move the mic.


    Once you find the right spot or a reasonable hand-drawn facsimile ( ;) ), make sure that your mic and body remain consistent. Too much moving around, and the character of the sound will fluctuate a lot. It could be a useful effect for that "off the cuff" sound, but most people try to avoid it. A consistent signal is easier to work with later.


    If you're going to err, err on the side of capturing a full range of sounds. It's far easier to attenuate (cut) frequencies out of your sound than it is to try to create them. Don't expect your guitar sound to always be perfect right off the top in terms of frequency response (though it would be nice!) so if it's not quite working for you and you can't quite seem to get it and are ready to just give it a whirl anyhow, concentrate more on:

    - full range of frequencies
    - getting the right blend of 'pick hitting strings' sound and 'string noise'
    - consistent sound (ie. don't move around a bunch, and play with controlled dynamics)

    If you have those 3 things, it'll be easier to 'dial in' a better sound for yourself after the fact.


    Again, strictly my amateur experience. No pro here. ;)
  5. feggymango

    feggymango Guest

    Just for fun, try putting a mic over the guitar players shoulders, facing down at the guitar. Sometimes you get some interesting sounds this way. Gives you more of what the player is hearing
  6. GregP

    GregP Guest

    Hey, I'm going to try that one out. :D
  7. zemlin

    zemlin Well-Known Member

    Sep 4, 2004
    Indianapolis, IN
    Home Page:
    I like to XY guitars with SDs. I usually end up about 16" from the guitar, pretty much straight out from the sound hole. I hunt for the best spot based on what I hear.

    Here's a sample that was recorded that way. I think this was with a pair of AKG 391Bs and a Sebatron preamp.

  8. Brian S

    Brian S Active Member

    Oct 26, 2001
    Home Page:
    One over the shoulder pointed down twords the body (right shoulder of a right handed player) and one in the front also works well.

    Small moves of the mics make for big changes in the sound. Experiment. Don't only listen to the 2 mics panned hard left and right. Check to hear they still sound good panned center. This will let you know if there is any wierd phasing. I ususally start with both panned center to get the mic placement/phase right and then blend and pan to taste.

    Brian S
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