Problems with Solo Classical Guitar Recording need help...

Discussion in 'Guitars' started by reza_gan, Jun 9, 2004.

  1. reza_gan

    reza_gan Guest

    Hi, my name is Reza. I have been recently helping my father’s interest to make a solo classical-guitar album. Unlike the common solo classical-guitar recording which contains only classical songs, this album will contains many kinds of music style. Still they are included but just a few. There are many kinds of genre here, including Jazz, Pop, Flamenco, Country, R&B, and more. But still in solo classical-guitar playing. I just want to get a recording that would be good enough to be a commercial CDs, because it will to be sold in his live concert.

    My recording application will be exclusively applied to a single acoustic instrument, that is a classical nylon-string guitar. And I don't need any special effects like a new-age music. What I only need is just a smooth and clear sound of a guitar.

    Here is a list of my current equipments. They are really far away of high-class recording equipment, but for a moment I use them to save money because I don't have a great amount budget for this project.
    1. PC with Cakewalk Sonar 3 Producer Edition installed.
    2. M-Audio Firewire 410.
    3. Presonus TubePre single-channel PreAmp.
    4. Belden cables with Amphenol connectors.
    5. Shure SM-57 microphone (and lookin' for SM81 or KSM32).

    When made a few records without using the TubePre, it was before I bought it. The sound captured is very thin and weak. From the record meter in Sonar track, I saw it could only reach -30dB (in -90dB level scale) although I'm using almost 80% of the M-Audio FW410 gain. FYI, the microphone is placed about 8-10 inches from the guitar aiming to the soundhole. So, I bought the TubePre to strive for increased gain. But the TubePre isn't just give me more gain but it also give me more noise and hum. And I saw the record meter level in Sonar shows -42dB (in -90dB level scale). And the result is like an old-age cassette recording.
    I've called the tech support of Presonus and M-Audio by e-mail and they both give me the almost the same answer that the gain is too much so it makes the noise floor appear. This answer is very confusing. How can I increase the gain without increasing the noise ?

    And I read a thread from "ghellquist" Gunner in this forum ( that he succeeded to make a classical music recording on the stage. He gave some samples of it and I think those are very nice.

    I just keep wondering how could John Williams or Paul Galbraith or David Leisner make a super-clean and warm sound of their guitars.

    Hopefully someone can give some advice about this, it will be greatly appreciated. Thank you very much.

  2. sdelsolray

    sdelsolray Active Member

    Jul 5, 2003
    Portland, OR
    In order to improve the recording, there are four parts of the recording signal chain that may need to be "upgraded".


    Well, the monitors are not part of the recording chain, but they are needed to hear what has been recorded.

    Anyway, no offense intended, but the mic, preamp and converters you have are low quality for recording solo nylon string guitar. If you are considering getting better equipment, perhaps you could respond back with what your budget is. That way, you should get some help with what new equipment might be purchased.
  3. mistals

    mistals Guest

    You might want to check to see if your preamp and maudio are set to correct settings if they're -10 or +4. Maudio's interface software, or console, whatever they call it, might have those choices.
    For mics, I'd definately rent or borrow a small dia condenser and/or large dia, unless you are able to purchase. Using both types will give you 2 options to blend in mixdown, where large dia closer to soundhole region, or out farther away, even as "room mic"and use small farther up on neck. Make sure you know what you are hearing when monitoring the mic's placement. Too close to soundhole can over-power your whole source with muddy lows, where as slightly away can help yield better higher frequencies, without being blasted with louder low mids. Totally depends on the room you record in, if not a friendly or treated room.
    Your preamps will make or break your sound if using good mic and good placement in good room. There are many many choices of low, medium, high, very high quality pres and you get what you pay for! (or rent)
    Your converters can make or break your sound too.
    I second the importance of good monitors, as they have to reveal as close to the truth as possible. Taking mixes into other places will let you know how they are translating, and you can adjust accordingly if you find out you are over/under-doing something.
    Sensitive mic(s) & great pres will pick up background noises, room effects, and personal movements/noises of guitar player, so be aware of these while tracking.
    Have fun and dont be afraid of experiementing with trying something new.
  4. djui5

    djui5 Guest

    For something this sierous I'd either recommend using a studio with professional equipment and a great engineer....or buying some new gear.

    I'd say a EW sr77, a Royer R-122, and a GT Vipre....
  5. ShellTones

    ShellTones Guest

    I think you can make very good recordings with that equipment (Firewire 410). It won't be commercial CD quality, but it can be very good. I suggest you get a pair of small condensers like the Marshall MXL603s or Studio Projects C4s and record in stereo only. If you can afford better mics like the Shure SM81s or KSM 32s that would be great, but I think the Marshalls are excellent for the price.

    The Shure SM57 is not a good mic for this application IMO.

    IMO the instrument, playing, the room, and mic placement are the key elements of a good recording. You do need two small condensers IMO and should probably forget about using the Presonus toob unit. I expect (without ever having heard it) that the Firewire 410 is a pretty decent unit for the $400 price.

    If you have a decent reverb plug-in and don't over do it, it can help a solo guitar recording a lot.
  6. realdynamix

    realdynamix Well-Known Member

    Feb 23, 2001
    :) Ya, there must be a mismatch. You should have more than enough gain, especially when using an external pre. Somethings wrong, double check the pin connections on the cables too. There may be a cancellation happening if your monitor sound is somehow being mixed back with input sound, some latency interference.


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