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Share Your Acoustic Guitar Recording Tips

Discussion in 'Guitars' started by Kricun, Dec 20, 2003.

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  1. Kricun

    Kricun Guest

    What's your opinions on size of room, room surfaces, getting that crystal hi end country sound, or just the details of the best acoustic guitar sound you've ever gotten.
    Anybody heard Kevin Gilbert's "Shaming of the True"? The ultimate in Ac Gtr sounds IMO. Anybody have a clue on how he did it?
  2. AudioGaff

    AudioGaff Well-Known Member

    Feb 23, 2001
    Silicon Valley
    Search through the archives, as this subject has been talked about recently.

    Room size and surface types are very much related along with the sound of the specific instrument, where it is placed in the room, which mics are used and how the mics are used. Two rooms the same exact size and surface texture are still likely to give you two different results. Just trying to repeat what was done one day to another in the same room with everything phisical being the exact same can give you different results enough to cause frustration and make you scratch your head.

    For what your talking about, I'd be willing to bet that most of the time the guitar and mic used is most of the sound with the rest being done in mixing using the highest calibur of processing to finish it off.

    One trick I learned to help get that shimmery sparkle sound was to dedicate a smaller acoustic guitar just for strumming using only the thinner strings from a 12-string set. Layer that in along with whatever else your doing. You might also get acceptable results blending in an accoustic electric using it's pickup sound and then over processing that as one layer.
  3. Davedog

    Davedog Well-Known Member

    Dec 10, 2001
    Pacific NW
    One of my favorite tricks for layering acoustic guitars is to use a capo and several different guitars.Its amazing what it does harmonically to capo up and play the same lines with different chordal positions and fingerings.I find that just a couple of passes with this technique increases the apparent size of any track its associated with.I also like to use different micing positions and of course the old stand-by, different preamps.My favorite,though, and the most dramatic is the capo.
  4. Skeetch

    Skeetch Guest

    Kricun -

    I've got SOTT and it's a great album on a number of levels. I've no clue how they got the acoustic tone they did - Kevin's dead and I don't know if Rich Mouser was involved with the recording. Rich is currently heading up the engineering duties at Lawn and Garden Supply Recording - that's the studio Kevin built. One of these days I'd like to ask Rich if he knows how Kevin got that tone.

    Anyway, Gaff's right about all the variation of things that go into acoustic tone when recording. Type of mics, mic placement, pre's, types and gauges of strings, pick thickness, any compression or EQ'ing used, and probably a hundred other factors will all have an impact of course. I try not to limit myself to any particular method and just focus on using what gear and methods yield the tone I'm after for a particular tune. One guitarist I frequently work with really likes the tone we get with the following setup:

    - SD cardioid condenser aimed at the 12th fret at about a 45 degree angle, approximately 8 to 10 inches away.

    - Another SD (this one with an omni capsule) mic placed approximately 4 to 5 inches over the guitarist's right shoulder and about 4 to 5 inches out from it. The mic can either be angled towards the soundhole or aimed straight at the floor.

    These are just starting points and we usually wind up spending a fair amount of time up front on placement. Both mics are Studio Projects C4's run through either an ISA28 or a Peavey/AMR VMP-2 depending on what particular tone we're after for the song. I prefer not use compression when tracking acoustic guitars if I can get away with it. The guitar is an older Guild nylon acoustic so we're not really trying for a shimmery steel string tone.

    There's lots of different ways to skin this cat so alot of experimentation is usually warranted.
  5. Kricun

    Kricun Guest

    Yeah that's a good point regarding rooms. I thought it was just me. Good stuff guys thanks. As far as the highest caliber of processing, I'm using some pretty high end stuff. I just want to know how they're "finishing it off"! And don't get me wrong, I've recorded some great sounding acoustic guitars in my day. I was just thinking that there are alot of really interesting ac gtr sounds that are very different from what I do. I'm more of a picture taker when it comes to recording. But some of these interesting sounds that I'm referring to, don't sound like any ac gtr's that I know of. So I figger it must be a trick that I don't know about. One of my biggest problems is that my guitars sound real nice and big by themselves, but that doesn't always work in every arrangement. I'm amazed sometimes at how small the acoustic gtr's are on some great sounding records. But it works! My full sounding acoustic tracks usually work nice in a sparse arrangement, but not so nice in a dense one. So I end up rolling off a lot of low end to thin it up a little. I have the same problem with drums. I tend to record everything big, but of course, if everything is big than nothing is big. I need to work on my dicipline.
    I think the Dixie Chicks have great sounding acoustic gtr sounds. So shimmery. Badly Drawn Boy - very nice as well. And Kevin Gilbert is the ultimate. That record changed my life. But I digress,
    I have a really nice Gibson J100, Neve, Buzz, and Avalon Pre's, Distressors, Allan Smart C2
    Lawson L251, AKG 451, MGeffel M930. I can humbly capture what's going on in the room.
    I'm just looking for some new ideas. Keep 'em coming, and thanks again.
  6. sdevino

    sdevino Active Member

    Mar 31, 2002
    A big problem with a lot of guitars is mud in thelower mid range. Or lack of high end definition.

    I mic each track on each song using whatever works. I use my ears and probably don't repeat a particular mic setup ever.

    My general toolbox is a matched pair ofvery very very accurate omni SD earthworks mics through an Earthworks mic pre. The rest is all mic placement, the player and the guitar. Almost all my tracks are stereo.

  7. fetzir

    fetzir Active Member

    Nov 25, 2003
    I'll always place at least (1), maybe (2) additional large diaphram condensor mics 10-15 feet away from the performer and burn those to separate tracks. They come in handy in lieu of using a digital reverb at mixtime.

    And of cource, put on the CUE phones yourself as you move that mic around. I've found great magic in very slight adjustments.
  8. RecorderMan

    RecorderMan Well-Known Member

    Mar 28, 2001
    Along with the above, a Neve 1073 and an 1176 can help towards that goal.

    I'm not familliar w/ the above mentioned Kevin Gilbert album....but I'm sure he picked up a lot wotking with Bill Botrell on Toy Matinee (Bill's up there with Clearmountain...an engineer's engineer).

    Gaff's sugestion of using a gtr srtung with just the high set of a set for 12string is known as "nashville". They usually use this a double of the regualr 6 string part.
  9. If nothing works try the trusty Shure SM57, great on busy mixes. :eek:
  10. moles

    moles Active Member

    Jan 5, 2004
    Winnipeg, MB
    Hey, I got this one from Paul Northfield - he came and did a little production class last year.
    Point an SM57 straight into the soundhole, and move it back until the proximity effect lessens enough so things aren't too boomy. It sounds "like jamming on the front porch". Works great in a big loud rock mix, but still has enough character to be soloed.

    Great site by the way. I am extremely new to this engineering thing, and it's nice to be able to pick stuff up from everyone including veterans and not-so-experienced recordists.
  11. TanTan

    TanTan Active Member

    Nov 30, 2003
    I have lots of different techniques for recording acoustic guitars,
    recently i'm doing a a/b stereo microphone technique with two c451's i'm getting them as close as i can to the guitar just before they sound "boomy" , one is a bit left from the hole to avoid getting too much of the sustain because you can never hear it afterwards in the mix (if the song has just guitar and vox then it's a different story...) and the other mic on the neck , where i feel i get the most of the information , (i'm looking for the crispy high frequency there) but i'll move the mic till' i get to the perfect balance where the mic does'nt sound too thin, then i'm listening to both of the mics in the headphones in the recording room when the mic's are panned hard left and right , to get them completly in phase (even if a certain compromizes involved), then i'm telling the guitar player not to move even 1 inch (onl very professional players can do that...).
    i'm passing the signal through a neve1081 i usualy try to avoid compression but for some players it's just impossible, so i'm usin a 1176 or a drawmer 1960 (depends on the style of music) and then i'm passing it through pultec eqp1a's (that are doin' wonders with acoustic guitars) to the da converters
  12. ShellTones

    ShellTones Guest

    No expert here, but I've learned from experience that each song (even in the same genre) might require something different. How do yo get those sounds? My best advice is to spend time experimenting with the gear you have and take notes on what combinations, placements, and techniques (that you learn from places like this) produce what type of sound.

    Now, I need to go take my own advice. :D
  13. HiString

    HiString Guest

    Some great advice here..............probably the most important being to use your ears. Whenever I'm going to record acoustic, I have the guitarist play as I move around listening and trying to keep at least one ear in positions where a mic may pick up that "special" sound. Once I have found it, I position mics and see if my ears have lied.

    Re the 12 string.......take off the lower four standard strings, so you have the high E, A, D and G, then the double B's and top E's. Also known as HiStringing.........hence my user name :w:
  14. RickyB

    RickyB Guest

    Not that I'm in the realm of engineering that you all seem to be, but, I remember a guy who recorded semi & hollow body elec. gtrs. with a mic. Got that real swishy sound in the mix going. Very simple in the right situation.

  15. jonyoung

    jonyoung Well-Known Member

    Dec 31, 2003
    The "Nashville" tuning can serve as a poor man's mandolin in a pinch as well. Re: RickyB's observation on micing a semi-hollow electric, I've heard of (but haven't tried yet myself) micing a solid body to blend in with amplified track....anyone tried this? I'm real fond of the acoustic guitar sounds on Jonatha Brooke's releases (Clearmountain at the helm on the most recent one), I'll have to go find Kevin Gilbert now, always looking for a new highbar to try to jump over!
  • AT5047

    The New AT5047 Premier Studio Microphone Purity Transformed

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