recording ac gtr & vox at the same time?

Discussion in 'Vocals' started by jahtao, Aug 30, 2005.

  1. jahtao

    jahtao Guest

    Hello am soon to embark on recording a singer song writer, a dude and his gtr. In the past i have recorded vox a lot and accoustic gtr a fair bit but never at the same time, well not seriously anyway. I wanna get a good pro result not too ambient sounding, something like Nick Drake or etc etc.

    I fancied using stereo pair on the gtr, not too close, with maybe a close mono to reinforce / for safety. And a mic on the vox. And a room mic or two. I have a variety of rooms availiable from smallish and sound proofed to larger and more reverberant but with more ambient noise pollution potentially.

    Will i get too much vox in the stereo mics and vica versa? Do people get a upfront vocal with this technique? Or is it all about separate takes for gtr and vox.

    What has worked for you?
  2. Midlandmorgan

    Midlandmorgan Active Member

    Jul 21, 2002
    One well documented technique is with a pair of ribbons...making sure the null points are being used properly...

    Position the null point of the gtr mic directly at the vocalist's mouth...and the null point for the vocalist directly at the guitar. If you like, an omni, cardiod, whatever, can be placed further back in the room to capture ambience.

    This really does work well...I've wondered if one of the Royer stereo ribbons would be the ideal single mic for this type of application.

  3. Costy

    Costy Guest

    IMO, you'll get a fair amount of vox the guitar mics and quite a bit
    of guitar in vox mic. How much of course depends on details - mics,
    positioning, songwriter's singing and playing style. But, if the client
    is after "life" kind of recording it'll be alright. Sometimes it's ok to
    dub the vocals later. Otherwise record click track, then quitar, then
    vocals. Frankly, it depends a lot on your client...
  4. route909

    route909 Guest


    I once read a article about using figure-8 mics for this particular purpose -mono micing the guitar and the mouth with one mic, placing the other sound source in the null point -but since I´ve only got one figure-8 mic (Røde NT2000), I´ve combined it with a cardioid vocal mic with decent results.

    My main problem with this technique is that I get too much guitar in the vocal mic (which usually is the cardioid mic). To get around this I use the vocal mic as the "main" mic and add more or less of the guitar mic. When I time (phase) align the guitar mic to the vocal mic I get pretty good results.

    If you have a mic with good off-axis response it might not be a problem for you. I´ve used the Studio Projects C1 mic or a MXL V69 ME as the vocal mic and they do the job.

    Make sure you get really close to the sources with your mics and that the voice is in the null point of the guitar mic and the guitar should of course as much as possible be in the null point of the vocal mic.

    I usually add a stereo ORTF pair of mics or a side (m/s minus the m mic) mic to get some ambience when I don´t want to add reverb.

    You could also try stereo micing the guitar, but you might get a whole lot of voice in the guitar mics and problems with stereo imaging.


    Just be creative and have try having fun experimenting :)

  5. FifthCircle

    FifthCircle Well-Known Member

    Feb 12, 2001
    Los Angeles, CA
    Home Page:
    Well great minds think alike- Ken suggested exactly what I was going to recommend...

    I've done this kind of recording a lot and you don't need to have a lot of leakage between the mics. Even if you don't have ribbons, think about the nulls and pickup patterns. With your guitar mics, aim them down at the instrument so that even with a cardiod mic, you have a minimal amount of voice in the guitar mics. Then mic the vocal with the mic aiming up towards the mouth so that you don't get as many pops but also you have the null of that mic facing the guitar.

    If you want, a room pair positioned a few feet out may help the "ensemble" aspects of the recording come in to focus.

  6. JoeH

    JoeH Well-Known Member

    Jun 22, 2004
    Philadelphia, PA/ Greenville, DE
    Home Page:
    I've just done two sessions over the summer with this sort of thing,and have a third planned as soon as the artist is back from a long summer vacation.

    We have had great success with doing exactly what you want to do: the classic "Folkie" approach. (My client knows exactly what he wants, and he's researched his heroes enough to know how to go about it as well.)

    First of all; don't go crazy trying to get separation between the vox and instrument mics. You'll always get SOME bleed. Use it to your advantage.

    Couple of tricks/techniques. While many prefer cardioids for instrument pickup, (and there's nothing wrong with that!), don't discount omni's for in-close work. I had a pair of DPA 4006 TLs for review during the sessions, and we found setting them up as a spaced pair with the trapezoidal (Nearfield) grids worked the best. (I realize a $5k pair of matched omni's may be out of your reach, but it's a good example of what also works.) Positioning of the mics is of course important, and if you have time with the artist, take a few moments and experiment. Bring the artist back out of the performance space to listen away from the influence of the performance space. In our case, his flat-picking tunes were hugely detailed and raised the hair on our arms, it was that thrilling.

    I also put an AT 4050 smack dab in the middle for finger picking and warmth, and brought it up in the mix (during post) when needed. The softer, gentle finger picking material just sounded too harsh and bright with the omni's alone.

    And of course, your space is key. Our sessions were done in an all wood room, with high wood ceilings and carpeted floor over stone. (Although I prefer hardwood floors, this space worked well, and I think the carpeting helped keep reflections down, and less crosstalk/bleed in the mics.)

    For the voice, I like to come in from the TOP, over the artist's head, with a LDC and a popper stopper looking slightly down at the nose/jaw, but just above and out of the way of air blasts and plosives. In this case we used an experimental MXL B3-M. (A very warm and vintage-sounding new mic I also got for evaluation.)

    One subtle change can really help when separating vox and instrument: Have the artist STAND, if they're comfortable with it. Think about this: Any choral instructor will tell you that people sing better when standing (not to mention the mental and physical changes that occur when standing and projecting.) The added bonus is that the guitar is that much further from the floor, reducing reflections just a small enough amount to make a difference. Our first session was with the artist sitting, and the second was with the artist standing. HUGE difference in bleed. (He will NOT be sitting for session #3.)

    I'll try to get pics of the session to post, but I think you get the idea regardless.

    FWIW: My client does NOT want to edit anything at all; we're taking a purist approach and do not plan to edit between takes. (What the heck, they're 3 minute folk tunes, in most cases anyway.) I will, however be gently tweaking the vox mics vs. the instrument mics, depending on when he's singing or just picking. Within reason, and done carefully, I can bring up/down the vox mics as needed, without it sounding like someone's riding the faders. Ditto for guitar accomp vs. solo levels. In any good DAW, you can really polish up an already good recording this way.

    Last but not least, you MUST have a good instrument to start with. (Ok, maybe that should be FIRST!). And of course, the artist had better be up to the task, otherwise you're just doing mic checks. :twisted: If you find that's the case; enjoy the session and chalk it up to experience.

    This ain't brain surgery, and as long as your artist, instrument, mics & Pre's are of high caliber, you really can't mess it up too much at all.
  7. jahtao

    jahtao Guest

    Awesom replies peeps! I'm replying now but dont let that stop anyone else throwing in their experiences.

    I'll be looking up what exactly a spaced pair (of omin's) in trapezoidal nearfield grids is... unless ayone wants to tell me :)
  8. JoeH

    JoeH Well-Known Member

    Jun 22, 2004
    Philadelphia, PA/ Greenville, DE
    Home Page:
    You can try here:

    Follow the links to microhpone university, as well as the info on the 4006 microphones. The diffusers are add-ons, and sold as part of the package with the 4006's and 4006 TL's.
  9. jahtao

    jahtao Guest

    hey joe you've been super helpful, thanks for the link. pics of the sesson wud be kinda helpful, tho' you've given me a great image of how you you did it already so dont worry if you can't be arsed... it'd be cool to see tho' too!
    cheers again

  10. JoeH

    JoeH Well-Known Member

    Jun 22, 2004
    Philadelphia, PA/ Greenville, DE
    Home Page:
    email me privately, Matt (Don't bother with Private messages), at: Joe at WestonSound dot com

    And if anyone knows how the heck ya put pictures in these posts, I'm all ears. I've tried it a few times, and I have NO CLUE how it work. I click on the "IMG" tag, but it makes no sense, at least to me........ ?????[/img]

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