Studio Acoustic Guitars?

Discussion in 'Guitars' started by Mike Simmons, Mar 18, 2002.

  1. Mike Simmons

    Mike Simmons Active Member

    Nov 5, 2001
    Home Page:
    I'm tired of recording crappy acoustics and have decided to take the plunge and get a decent guitar for the studio. I've been impressed with Collings C10 deluxe and Dreadnoughts (thanks Ted!) Santa Cruz D/PW, and Huss and Dalton MJC.

    What do you own? What do I have to hear before I buy? What specific characteristics should I be looking for? Be model specific please!
    Thanks in advance.
  2. chrisgraff

    chrisgraff Guest

    The reality is every acoustic guitar will sound different than another, regardless of brand/model. For that reason, i would NEVER buy an acoustic guitar without having listened to/played it.

    Just play a lot of them, decide what you like.

    I personally like spruce tops, as opposed to cedar.
  3. Mike Simmons

    Mike Simmons Active Member

    Nov 5, 2001
    Home Page:
    Thanks for the reply Chris. Don't worry, I won't buy something I haven't played and loved. Guitar to guitar differences within a make and model are part of the fun in the search for the "perfect" guitar. I'm a patient sort and have plenty of time to find the right one. That said, lot's of folks have opinions on this and that's all I'm asking for. So if you have a favorite Martin or Taylor or Collings or Walker... whatever, let me hear it! And let me know why you think it is a good choice for a studio-resident guitar, you know, what makes it a good recording guitar.
  4. OTRjkl

    OTRjkl Guest

    While you're shopping, don't forget that the brand/type/gauge of strings will make a difference in the sound also. You may have to get someone else to go on the hunt with you so they can play and you can listen from the front (where you will most likely be placing the mics - THAT'S the sound you're looking for!).

    Have fun!
  5. Sir Bob

    Sir Bob Member

    Jan 30, 2002
    Boy what a can of worms! Darn right you gotta know about the player. But let me generalize a bit. I recently bought an acoustic after months of playing them in various guitar stores. Here's my scoop:

    There are two types of acoustic guitars in my opinion. Those best for strumming/flatpicking and those best for fingerpicking. There are a few that cross over but let me explain.

    As a strummer, I was drawn to the Martin D-28, the classic big and punchy sounding dreadnought with beefy mids which require rolling off of the bottom when recording. The D-28 has a rosewood body and the Martin D-18 is made of mahogany which is a little brighter and was very popular in Nashville. The D-35 is also rosewood but has three pieces on the back so the body vibrates more. The other's such as D-42's are just more expensive versions of the rosewood D-28. I actually got an HD-28, the "H" standing for the herring bone trim around the body. The main feature, however, is the scalloped bracing under the top of the guitar making it project louder.

    The Martin dreadnought is the classic bluegrass pickin guitar for playing open chords and runs down by the nut a la bluegrass. It also works well with a capo but sucks for playing runs up the neck.

    The smaller body Martin's such as the 000's are much better for finger-style pickin and runs up the neck.

    The Gibsons are also stummers for the most part. Their sound is like what you hear on the Beatle's records (both John and George owned J160E's). It is a percussive sound that does not ring out like a Martin. The Gibson J200 is the jumbo sized and is usually made with a maple body. The classic Gibson is the J45, a sort of salt of the earth/Woody Gutherie sound. The are also Hummmingbird's and Dove's and others basically suited for flatpickin.

    Tayor is a big up and commer. They make all kinds of sizes and body woods so they cover lots of different bases. Their main feature is a bolt on neck which makes for a brighter sound with less bottom. They seem to record well.

    There are lots of boutique guitars. The Collings is great without a doubt.

    Many guitars come with electrics in the bridge or body. I think this is only of value for live playing but I am sure that many of you will post here saying you do a great job with plug-in acoustics.

    The best way to recording an acoustic guitar is to put expensive mics up in front of it.
  6. SlideMan

    SlideMan Guest

    Assuming it's not an Ovation.
  7. spp

    spp Guest

    I've had great success with a Larivee, although it leans a little toward the "mellow" side as compared to the Martins and Gibsons. Found it preferable to the Taylors, however.
  8. Bear's Gone Fission

    Bear's Gone Fission Active Member

    Jan 4, 2001
    Most of the standard acoustic micing techniques you'll see in the magazines are there to compensate for the boomy sound of dreadnaughts and jumbos. If you need the dreadnaught response, the D-18 is a good compromise, but you still need to be mindful of the thump. The old 12 fret dreadnaughts are an interesting case, since they have a slightly different body shape and don't really boom like a 14 fret dreadnaught. Don't know how they record, though.

    I do like the Larrivee dreadnaughts I've tried in stores, but they are a different animal. Can't quite describe the sound from memory, but the boom is history.

  9. ghoost

    ghoost Guest

    At the risk of going against the grain here ... aw what the hell :)
  10. B3Nut

    B3Nut Guest

    I've played the Santa Cruz D/PW. A bit pricey for a studio-use guitar methinks, but it's an amazing guitar. It's patterned after prewar Martin 14-fret dreadnoughts, and has a powerful flatpicked sound. However, it is also quite responsive to fingerstyle playing, making it a very versatile guitar. Such a sweet box.

    It's not cheap, though. Have a look at Taylor x14-size guitars (Grand Auditorium) - they do the dual-purpose flatpick/fingerstyle thing rather well. I have a 314ce I enjoy.

    Happy pickin',

  11. MadGuitrst

    MadGuitrst Active Member

    Aug 15, 2001
    Philadelphia....home of brotherly shove
    I basically agree with Ghoost's opinion's........

    But, you asked for opinions and so here's mine.

    I like guitars with very little finish on them. I think the sound is more lively and blooms more.

    I happen to like the lower end Martins like the DM series. Of course, you have to wade through a few to find one that is setup right, etc., etc., etc. I think these guitars are very well balanced and sound very alive. Of course, you might like a guitar that sounds dead, I don't know.

    What I do know is that you don't have to spend $2000 to get a great sounding guitar. You can if it makes you feel better and inspires you (or clients) to perform better, but it's not a prerequisite for good guitar sounds.

    Getting a good sound recorded really comes down to ability, work ethic, and instinct. A good sound coming from your hands/brain/guitar is first (of course), working hard with the guitar's placement in the room and the mic placement is next, being instinctive may come with practice....then again, it may not.

    Don't be affraid to try different things. Listen to where the guitar sounds best in the room and place a mic there (like over your head, etc). Put one in front of your guitar and move around a little bit and listen to the differences ....sometimes an inch here or there makes all the difference in the world. Just keep trying different things. You never know, you may make the most creative mistake and come up with the perfect or most unique sound that inspires a great performance - which is what it really is all about.
  12. Taylor 814-CE

    I love it! I tryed Martin and thought it was too boomy and not bright enough. I was looking for a guitar great for live (good electronics) and great for recording (great acoustic sound). I have been thrilled with my Taylor. It plays very consistent. I have used it live but mostly for recording in the studio. It is the easiest acoustic guitar, that I have recorded, to get a good sound with the least effort.

  13. Ted Nightshade

    Ted Nightshade Member

    Dec 9, 2001
    I hear that the smaller bodied guitars record better. That boom thing.
    But I have a big old Collings dreadnought, because I need it to be full bore and project like nuts. Not necessary in the studio.
  14. Mike Simmons

    Mike Simmons Active Member

    Nov 5, 2001
    Home Page:
    Thanks to everyone here who's chiming in. It's really appreciated. Keep the comments coming! Tomorrow I'm going out to hear some Taylors/Martins/Seagulls/Larrivees and Gibsons.

  15. anonymous

    anonymous Guests

    Feb 10, 2001
    My 1953 Gibson SJ
    A rental - Gibson Hummingbird

    Those are the 2 I like and use

  16. Sir Bob

    Sir Bob Member

    Jan 30, 2002
    Once you zero in on the type of guitar you want, then you should play a few of that brand/model.

    No two guitars are the same. While the Martin Dreadnoughts can be boomy, I have had recording success with a large diaphram condensor pulled back a touch and also rolling off the bottom.

    If strumming is your acoustic guitar goal, then consider the Martins, Gibson's J200 and Hummingbirds, and Taylor makes a wonderful maple jumbo body, I think its a 515. I would not get the electronics/pickups because you will do better with your mics.

    Have some fun trying out all the guitars. Unlike buying some equipment, you can actually get an idea of what your purchase will sound like before laying down your money.
  17. joe bregande

    joe bregande Guest

    Save yourself some money and time and go out and get yourself a Taylor Big Baby. It is the best $350 guitar you will ever buy, and it records like an instrument in the thousand range. I know, I own both, and more than half the time I choose the Taylor. It's small body size gives it a bright present character that sits incredibly well in a mix. Bottom line though, you can record a $5,000 instrument, but if your mic, placement, font end, converters, and ultimately room are not right, the sound will suffer. It's a tough instrument. Part of the reason for this is that we are most often making it do unnatural things. An acoustic guitar is not meant to be heard over a drum set, but in a mix, it has to be. If recording is your main concern, I reccommend buying the Taylor and investing the money you save on the other variables.
  18. bradz

    bradz Guest

    I've recently scored a "68 Gibson Hummingbird. Man I love that thing. I haven't put any mics up in front of it yet, as the project I'm on now is mixing, but man, the thing plays so smoothly, and the tone is so even across the neck. I have found that the comfort of playing it, and the smooth tones (not as bright on top, and not too boomy on the bottom)make me play several clicks better, everytime. I'm sure this will lead to a better recrded tone and track in the end, as the overall level of inspiration is higher.
  19. Dean Lewis

    Dean Lewis Guest

    I LOVE my 1991 Martin 000C-16 [with the oval soundhole] They made this oval hole 000C-16 for a couple of years before they went back to the regular shaped soundhole. That was a huge mistake for Martin in my own opinion.

    My own example weighs next to nothing [say around 1 kilo] and it is a totally feisty little brute! When I first placed a good condenser in front of it--that was IT! You wouldn't believe how great this particular instrument records! Both for strumming or fingerpicking passages it does it all very well.
  20. Masternfool

    Masternfool Active Member

    Dec 3, 2001
    I really like the DM series Martins also...They record very well..But I had to play about 8 of em to find one that was balanced, tone wise..Of course You'll always have to do your own setup for playing preference..I believe they come 9 guage strings, I bumped mine up to 10s'. Best

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