Producing a whisper like acoustic guitar chord sound

Discussion in 'Guitars' started by sina, Aug 21, 2010.

  1. sina

    sina Guest

    Hello Everybody,

    I'm seeking info and advice on how to record the chords on a steel string guitar
    so that it has a very mellow sound kind of in the background (not as the main harmonic source) you can listen to what I'm trying to achieve here

    YouTube - Anathema-Parisienne Moonlight

    The guitar comes in around 1:12 onwards (with clear presence around 1:44 onwards), but just very mildly. I cannot achieve this effect by simply lowering the guitar track volume, I'm guessing one method might be to adjust the equalizer for that track and decrease bass and mids, but not really sure.

    Here is Another example but on this song the chords have a bit more presence than the previous song:

    Any suggestion is most appreciated :)

  2. hueseph

    hueseph Well-Known Member

    Oct 31, 2005
    Vancouver, BC, Canada
    A couple of things you can try. I dump everything under 80Hz. Use a low shelf eq or low cut filter and just drop everything under 80Hz. You're not going to hear any of that anyway.

    You could also eq out the low mid range between 300-600Hz. You don't want to get rid of that area completely but you could really drop it significantly by -3dB.

    When you record the guitar use a really light pick and strum near the bridge of the guitar. I used a small piece of paper folded once or twice. It's a balance between too flimsy and just stiff enough to strum with. Mic the neck of the guitar rather than the body.

    You could also use a twelve string with only the lighter set of strings. You could just string a second guitar with the lighter set.

    You could also double the acoustic track with a mic'd electric guitar like a Strat. Something that has a good sound even when not plugged in. Strats generally works best for this.
  3. soapfloats

    soapfloats Well-Known Member

    Aug 28, 2008
    Cincinnati, OH
    Home Page:
    This is a great idea.
    I want to try it for other styles/purposes as well.

    The only additional option I can add would be to use a close mic (or DI) of the guitar, compress it, and make it sit real low in the mix.
    Add to this a room mic of the guitar, anywhere from 2'-10', depending on the ambience you want.
    Between the two, you might be able to find both the presence and space desired.
  4. You don't mention what type of mic you are capturing your guitar sound with. The biggest revelation I had as a guitarist was doing an acoustic session years ago, in a pro studio with an experienced engineer. My own attempts to get a good acoustic guitar sound were always disappointing and tbh I was very nervous when beginning the session. When I heard the monitoring of my playing I was totally amazed at the quality of the acoustic sound. I assumed the engineer most have cooked the sound with eq, compression and the like - but not a thing. He just used a narrow condenser mic pointing between sound hole and neck joint and for some supporting ambience used a wide condenser mic just of to the side looking up from the floor. This info may seem basic to a lot of the tech heads on here (no offense mind!), but I sought for a long time to capture the 'zing' of which you speak. This is my goto approach now, and has been for many years. The position of the narrow can be subtly altered (towards sound hole for more bass/boom, further up the neck for less - but be subtle with the movement! A centimeter is a long way. Obviously the cost of mics is a prohibitive factor, but good results can be got with Rodes or AKGs. The advice on pick materials is also very valid, as too would be where you choose to pick (over sound hole or further towards the bridge) - again a short distance is a long way. Most of my 'background, slightly percussive strumming' is achieved with a pick made of cow horn. The whole eq shelving and gentle compression can enhance the whole thing, but getting a great sound at the point of entry as it were is worth striving for. Getting someone to help you by moving mics subtly for you as you listen and play is a luxury worth forking out for. You initially have to do quite a bit of experimenting in the recording area, but once you know your room you'll have a bunch of standard goto setups - real world presets if you like. Welcome to the world of realy geting to know your instrument!
    1 person likes this.
  5. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Staff

    Mar 20, 2000
    BC, Canada
    Home Page:

    Welcome to RO, excellent advise, thank you!
    What people often do, including myself early on is rotate your sitting position until it sounds best, however, I think one thing not clarified is to first find the sweet spot in the room for that instrument "acoustically" and then place the mics where you are, not the other way around?

    I love that "Real World Presets" .
  6. Whoops

    Your absolutely right. In a bid to be as succinct as possible I missed that point out (Room position). But the points show how subtle all the nuances of recording acoustic instruments can be, especially when you also consider the role of the instrument within the context of the composition. The role of the acoustic guitar in the piece under discussion, I file away under 'Acoustic Pad' (my terminology), as it is mainly providing a layer of texture but with the added slightly percussive element of a strummed instrument. I would likely use more of the small condenser recording in this case, possibly ditching the large condenser altogether, although I always make a point of initially recording using both. Finger picking or soloing would require a different blend.
  7. sina

    sina Guest

    Thank you very much everybody for your informative replies,

    Well I'm a newbie to the world of recording, I have just recently started to record
    and compose music (after a few years of playing guitar), Now I just have a boss br600
    recorder to begin with. I have recorded a song which you can listen here. I would also
    appreciate if you could tell me your opinions about the recording and anything that could be improved:

    thank you!

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