Need to record classical guitar cd, have $300. What to buy?

Discussion in 'Guitars' started by guit86, Mar 1, 2005.

  • AT5047

    The New AT5047 Premier Studio Microphone Purity Transformed

  1. guit86

    guit86 Guest

    Advanced player here with a newly purchased guitar from

    I need to make a cd by the end of the year, mostly classical recordings.

    My sound card is $*^t, my $20 labtec mic just broke, and all I have is a MZ-R90 Sony MiniDisc player.

    I have about $300 to spend.

    I have researched mics and decided on either the HM-1 or the SP B1. Which do you recommend as far as mics go?

    I am a noob as far as preamps and recorders, I don't even know what a preamp is. I planned to just record to minidisc then somehow, maybe at a store or friends house, burn the minidisc to CD.

    Any other suggestions/ideas for the $200 I am going to have left over after the mic purchase? :?
  2. David French

    David French Well-Known Member

    Jun 19, 2002
    Definitely, definitely take the money and go to a pro studio. You will get an infinitely better product this way with a lot less trouble.
  3. guit86

    guit86 Guest

    Arg, wanted to avoid that, have something to record with for the future without any pressure.

    Can't $300 worth of equipment plus some sound editing in Sound Forge or Goldwave make a decent album? Or not... :-?

    If a pro studio is the only option, anyone recommend any located in Maryland?
  4. jdsdj98

    jdsdj98 Active Member

    Jun 8, 2002
    Denver, CO
    Umm, NO.

    Classical recording is a very specialized art typically utilizing boutique gear, any one piece of which costs far more than $300. Others here can tell you more about that if you're interested. Minidisc is FAR from a professional format, yielding far less than professional results.

    Do you have a good sounding room to record this in?

    Have you ever been recorded before?

    Are you experienced in engineering a recording "on the other side of the glass?"

    Is this CD for your personal enjoyment, or for resale? If for resale, have you budgeted for the cost of artwork layout and duplication of the final product?

    I believe that this is demonstrative of what is wrong with the recording industry at the project studio level these days. Stores and dealers like Guitar Center would have you believe that for a couple hundred dollars, you can buy some gear and get great results almost comparable to a studio stocked with hundreds of thousands of dollars in gear, years of experience and history, and a beautifully constructed, great sounding room, all in the comfort of your own basement. Nothing could be further from the truth, and don't let anyone attempt to convince you otherwise.

    Do as you have been advised and put that $300 toward paying someone else to handle the recording so that you can focus on the playing. Spending $100 (the mic budget you specified) on a not-so-good mic and trying to do this yourself will only serve to frustrate you to the point of realizing that you wasted $300.

    I say all this in light of your expectations. Can you buy a mic and record yourself for $300? Yes. Will the results yield a "decent album" by classical standards (you said these would be "mostly classical recordings")? Absolutely not.
  5. Rod Gervais

    Rod Gervais Distinguished Member

    Jun 8, 2003
    Central Village, CT
    Home Page:

    You just got the best advice you could ask for.

    There really isn't any way that (with a $300 investment) you can get from A to B without going to a studio.

    I know that isn't what you want to hear - but then again -it's still the truth.

    I await some replies from our friends as to reccomended studios in your area.

  6. sdelsolray

    sdelsolray Active Member

    Jul 5, 2003
    Portland, OR
    For $300 you can't do it. But for, say $2,000 to $3,000, you should be able to setup a home studio capable of acceptable recordings. Then there's all the tme it will take you to learn how to do it.

    I set up one, just to record solo fingerstyle acoustic and classical guitar. I spent about $20,000. I've spent hundreds of hours experimenting, testing, etc. to learn how to use it.
  7. zemlin

    zemlin Well-Known Member

    Sep 4, 2004
    Indianapolis, IN
    Home Page:
    One more to say the same thing. Even if would be satisfied with the sound from a $100 mic, a $100 mixer (still need a mic stand, cables, headphones, etc) you likely don't have the right acoustics for recording, you don't have monitors for mixing, you don't have the experience that will give you the results you want.

    Find someone who does recording - I'll back down from the "Pro Studio" because I don't consider my operation to be a Pro Studio - but I can certainly give results you'd like and stay within your budget.
  8. guit86

    guit86 Guest

    thanks for the replies
  9. Crane

    Crane Guest

    I hate to be the one to disagree with everyone but it can be done. Minidisc (Hi-MD) has allowed me to record myself playing classical organ and the results are better than some recorded by the "Pros". Go to and you will find a wealth of info.
  10. jdsdj98

    jdsdj98 Active Member

    Jun 8, 2002
    Denver, CO

    How much did your MiniDisc recorder cost?

    How much did your mic(s) cost?

    How much did your pres and/or mixer cost?

    How much did you pay for your monitors?

    Total up the cost of your cables, headphones, CD burner (guit said he'll have to go elsewhere to burn the CD), etc. What's the number?

    Did you utilize any mixing, editing, and processing software or hardware in post production (that stuff costs $$, too)?

    How much did you pay for any duplication of the final product?

    These are all BARE MINIMUM considerations in making a "decent album" by classical standards.

    More so than MiniDisc as a recording format, the real issue here is $300 as a soup-to-nuts budget in the hands of a completely inexperienced recordist. That's completely unrealistic. And we're not bashing anyone or any ideas; we're just trying to keep his expectations in check.
  11. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    Jul 2, 2002
    77 Sunset Lane.
    Anyone who believes that Mini Disc is acceptable in terms of audio quality, is someone I would't be taking advice from. Those things sound terrible. Worse than CD which in itself is bad enough.
  12. pr0gr4m

    pr0gr4m Well-Known Member

    Feb 9, 2005
    South Florida
    Home Page:
    Here this guy gives us lemons and all you guys can give back is sour grapes. Well, here is some lemonade!

    Whereas I agree with the others in that that I would want much more than what you have to do this, I think it can be done. Will it be of amazing quality? Probably not, but it can be good quality. I've done some pretty darn good stuff with just a cassette 4 track.

    This is like that scene in Apollo 13 where the NASA engineers had to find a way to make some carbon dioxide scrubbers out of whatever stuff the astronauts had laying around in the capsule.

    The goal:
    to make a CD by the end of this year.
    The tools:
    an advanced guitar player
    a new guitar
    a minidisc recorder
    a computer with some audio editing software
    a budget of $300

    I would first recommend that you record directly into the computer and skip the minidisc altogether. A wave file will sound better than Minidisc Atrac compressed audio.

    Whichever mic you pic, they are both priced around $99. So that leaves you with $200. I think you should spend as much of that as you can on an audio interface for the computer.

    M-audio makes a unit that interfaces with the computer via USB called the MobilPre. It goes for about $180 and they say that it comes with some sort of recording software. That would give you a preamp for your mic and some software to record with.

    All you need now is a mic stand and cable and you are ready to record.

    For the CD part of this, find a friend who can burn one. But I figure by the end of the year, you'll be able to save up a bit more cash and get yourself a burner.

    It's not the greatest setup, but for what your limits are, it's not a bad setup. I'm sure if you looked around you could probably get a different mic or preamp for the same or possibly even cheaper. Also there are lots of free or demo recording programs out there that you could use.

    Good Luck!
  13. jdsdj98

    jdsdj98 Active Member

    Jun 8, 2002
    Denver, CO
    No one here gave him sour grapes. Not one of us. We suggested that he pay a professional for this project. THAT will yield far greater ROI than any gear he could buy for $300.

    This is ALL ABOUT EXPECTATIONS. This thread could easily become more philosophical than pertinent to guit's dilemna.

    A "decent" classical album has never, is not, and never will be possible on a $300 budget for gear, and that's before we even start talking about a budget for the space it's recorded in. If it were, there'd be a lot of po'd classical recordists out there for having wasted their time, effort, and money throughout the years.

    Again, PAY A PROFESSIONAL to do this for you. The results will be far above anything you can accomplish by year's end. Classical guitar is difficult enough to master. I know. I majored in it. Let someone else worry with the gear.

    Again, this is demonstrative of what is wrong with the recording industry now. The manufacturers, dealers, and marketers of cheap gear are winning the battle and misleading the masses, and that's unfortunate. I know that's not a popular stance in the "Budget Gear" forum, but it is just my opinion.

    Best of luck, guit, whatever route you take.
  14. pr0gr4m

    pr0gr4m Well-Known Member

    Feb 9, 2005
    South Florida
    Home Page:
    By the sour grapes comment, I just meant that this guys layed out what he had and what he had to accomplish with that and everyone said it flat out couldn't or shouldn't be done. That's sort of sour grapes.

    However you all did give him the best alternative to his plan which I would agree with. But without knowing what he is looking for, it's very hard to make suggestions.

    This is exactly right. We don't know if you want a professional quality recording of you playing classical music or just a disc of classical songs recorded for you pop in for a listen every now and then. I assumed the latter because of your comments. We don't know if this is a precursor to you beginning to set up your own little home studio or if this is a one time thing just to produce this CD.
  15. guit86

    guit86 Guest

    You all keep saying classical album...yes...the songs are classical, but it's not a bunch of organs and string instruments in a grand music hall. It is one guitar with one mic. I've listened to many guitar cd's and all of the songs have a slight echo and that is it, there is no special mixing or eq'ing being done to edit the sound. I've heard live performances on a local classical radio show with people playing guitar solo pieces inside the radio room, with just the studio mic, and it sounded as good as any cd.

    Truthfully I was thinking of getting something like this:

    + $100 mic

    + use some software which I already have

    Has anyone tried recording with a decent mic and sub $200 sound card which was made for recording purposes?

    Anyway, I will research how much it would cost in order to get a cd done by a pro...I don't even know the price ranges for something like that. If anyone else has any specific ideas, please feel free.

    Thanks in advance :)
  16. Crane

    Crane Guest

    Hey Kurt you must not keep up with things. The new Hi-MD sounds great. No compression at all. Maybe you wouldn't take advice but others have. I was just trying to offer some advice and you go and blast off your big mouth. This just might be my last visit here as you guys seem to have one opinion and the others be damned.
  17. Rod Gervais">
    Freudian slip?
  18. Reggie

    Reggie Well-Known Member

    Dec 20, 2004
    If you're looking to experience the joys of home recording and are willing to learn a lot, by all means get some cheap gear that will do the job. If you are wanting to focus on your playing and have it recorded to sound the best possible, go to a studio and put your money there. DO NOT buy recording gear because you think you will be saving yourself some money to end up with a similar product. Your choice.
  19. I think you should get a SP B1, I have heard good things about it for recording guitar.

    I don't think you need to goto a studio at all, if you want to start your own home studio, do it, you always have to start somewhere, and your 300 dollar investment will get you started, you won't have top of the line stuff, but the B1 is a good mic, and I have used on board sound and recorded with okay results

    go for it
  20. Jdcaird

    Jdcaird Guest

    Budget Gear

    I, like Quit86, want to record classical guitar on a budget. My ambitions are rather modest. I am an intermediate level guitarist seeking to record at home, using my PC, for fun and as a tool for skill improvement. In fact, I already do. The catch is I want it to sound good.
    For that, I am told, I need a "professional" mic, which in turn requires a pre-amp. Add in decent cables, mic stand ...
    $300. 00 was my budget too.

    Below is my current wish list:
    Oktava MC012 condenser with cardioid capsule $193
    M-Audio Audio Buddy pre-amp $89
    Cables (12 ft+/_) $30 -$50
    Shock mount (optional) $49
    Phones (optional) $ 69

    Thoughts, comments, suggestions?

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