Recording Acoustic Guitar

Mjea80

Tele-Meister
Joined
Oct 3, 2020
Posts
415
Location
North
Hi there,

Lately I’ve had a goal to put together an acoustic EP. So, I got to work writing. Im just putting the finishing touches on the 5th tune.

Wondering if you all can give me some advice on how to best record my acoustic. Ive got this old 65 Gibson LG that has a pretty nice tone to it. In the past when I wanted to record acoustic I would just plug it straight into the box and record it that way.

I have also used a 2 mic system where I put a 57 around the 12th fret and a 58 on the sound hole. This came out alright. I also have an Sm7b.

What have you all done that works well?

Also how to mix it is my next step. I find my acoustic / singer recordings have come out very quiet in the passed, so I think Ive come to the conclusion that since its only 2 instruments you can really bump up the volumes to get to around -6db which is where I want to be before mastering. Anyways I guess I will have to do some experimenting.

Any help will be much appreciated! :)
 

nickmm

Tele-Holic
Joined
Dec 22, 2010
Posts
965
Location
Austrailia
Record an Acoustic into the box via an internal pickups.... no no no.

An SM57 is a horrible microphone. It is designed to be a speech microphone on a lectern. Nothing but honk, good for AM radio. Or loud electric
SM7 is a broadcast Microphone for radio. Nothing special unless you want to make a podcast that sounds like your car radio.


Get a Good Ribbon Microphone.
Get a Good condenser.
Plenty of cheap knock offs that will sound 1000 times better than the Shure muck.
 

63telemaster

Tele-Holic
Joined
Jul 29, 2013
Posts
526
Location
UK
I think it depends on lots of variables. Just a couple of things to consider off the top of my head....

What is the goal for your recordings? Is it personal pleasure or commercial release?

What genre of music?

What space are you recording in? If it's an untreated small room (for instance) a well placed single Sm7b or sm57 may well pick up more of the direct sound and less of the room than a quality condenser = good.
 

StoneH

Friend of Leo's
Gold Supporter
Joined
Sep 20, 2021
Posts
2,578
Age
66
Location
Florida Gulf Coast
I started recording acoustic 10 months ago. I found Joe Guilder (Home Studio Corner) on YT . . . I think he is a great instructor (recording, mixing, mastering, and even song writing). <Edit> He also works for PreSonus and is an expert on "Studio One" (he does tutorials for them). Also a song writer, excellent vocalist, guitarist, and a producer in Nashville.

I use matched PreSonus mics and record in stereo. As he explains, the bigger the mix, the less you need stereo, but for acoustic music, it sounds wonderful. He also has videos on fixing quiet mixes using a limiter, EQing acoustic, and more importantly, mic placement. A saying of his is, "Get it right at the source". I can post an acoustic recording of mine if you want to hear examples.
 
Last edited:

StoneH

Friend of Leo's
Gold Supporter
Joined
Sep 20, 2021
Posts
2,578
Age
66
Location
Florida Gulf Coast
Record an Acoustic into the box via an internal pickups.... no no no.

An SM57 is a horrible microphone. It is designed to be a speech microphone on a lectern. Nothing but honk, good for AM radio. Or loud electric
SM7 is a broadcast Microphone for radio. Nothing special unless you want to make a podcast that sounds like your car radio.


Get a Good Ribbon Microphone.
Get a Good condenser.
Plenty of cheap knock offs that will sound 1000 times better than the Shure muck.

+1

I like the small diameter condensers for fingerstyle. Large diameter works well for 12 string and strumming. The SM-2s are only $130 for a matched pair (with stereo bar).
 

kiwi blue

Friend of Leo's
Joined
Nov 14, 2005
Posts
2,032
Location
Wellington, New Zealand
Are you planning on recording the voice and guitar together in a single live performance, or recording just the guitar and perhaps overdubbing the vocal?

If recording them together, you will have to manage the bleed of vocal into guitar mic and vice versa. It's a much trickier proposition than getting a decent recording of a solo guitar (something you'll start to understand when you try to mix your recording). Microphone type and positioning become even more important and you have to have a good grasp of pickup patterns and how to get the best out of them.

In your position I would look for a half decent cardioid condenser mic then play around with mic positioning. A good starting point is around the 12th fret and a foot or two out from the guitar. For all acoustic recording, you'll get even better results with a pair of matched condenser mics.

I love the SM57 and SM7b for certain things, but dynamic mics aren't the best for acoustic guitar if you want to capture a natural sound with plenty of airiness, richness and detail. They'll come out sounding honky and more like something off an old 78rpm record.

I'd keep the SM7b for vocals and invest in condenser mics for the guitar. It's not hard to find cheap condensers these days. Unfortunately a lot of them also sound cheap with way too much brittle, sizzling top end rather than a smooth sparkle.
 

Masmus

Tele-Afflicted
Joined
Feb 21, 2018
Posts
1,161
Age
54
Location
San Jose
Proper Accoustic Mic.jpg

I use something closer to this and get excellent results. I use a Cascade ribbon mic in the center positioned sideways more in front of the sound hole, any mic with a figure 8 pattern will work. and two condensers about 4 to 6 feet away. Don't forget the most important thing is to use a good compressor for your master guitar and vocal tracks. Also EQ both, don't try to eq to make the individual tracks sound great eq them together. You need to make sure that the frequencies on the vocal and guitar tracks don't interfere with each other.

btw I have not used Mojave mics so don't take this as an endorsement.
 

archtop_fjk

Tele-Afflicted
Joined
Aug 4, 2009
Posts
1,051
Location
New Hampshire
Great advice above. For me, the main things that work are:
1) Always record with microphones, never use a pickup direct into a DI box unless that’s a sound you’re going for.
2) Two or more mics recorded for each take give you a lot of options for mixing.
3) I’ve used condenser mics but sometimes just a few good dynamic mics sound fine to me. Experiment!
4) I record vocals and guitar(s) separately but that can be a challenge trying to keep your place in the song without singing it. Need a bit of focus to make it all the way through without making a flub. Of course, strategic editing can fix flubs ;)
5) This is the most important tip - make your recording space as comfortable and easy to use as possible. Tripping over cables or using a chair that squeaks can ruin a nearly perfect performance. And also - isolate all those stray noises like computer fans, AC ducts, animals, etc. Yes - you will hear all of those when you play back that perfect take of your song on your DAW!
 

StoneH

Friend of Leo's
Gold Supporter
Joined
Sep 20, 2021
Posts
2,578
Age
66
Location
Florida Gulf Coast
5) This is the most important tip - make your recording space as comfortable and easy to use as possible. Tripping over cables or using a chair that squeaks can ruin a nearly perfect performance. And also - isolate all those stray noises like computer fans, AC ducts, animals, etc. Yes - you will hear all of those when you play back that perfect take of your song on your DAW!

Thumb2.png


Buttons on shirt . . . rivets on blue jeans. I once heard what sounded like clipping, but I finally figured I sat too close to my Midi keyboard and my headstock was just barely tapping it occasionally as I played.
 

eclecticsynergy

Friend of Leo's
Joined
Nov 16, 2014
Posts
3,185
Location
Albany NY
Use the best mics you can afford. I agree condensers are preferable. But when necessary I've had good results with high quality dynamics like the trusty old Beyer M88.

If your LG is like mine, it has fairly prominent mids; you don't want to compound that using a mike that also emphasizes them.

Soundspace makes a difference. In a good sounding room - or a very dead one - a pair of distance mics - as Masmus suggested - can add depth and give a nice natural stereo spread. If the room sound is odd or questionable, I'd stick with two mics fairly near in. 12th fret & soundhole as you've been doing are usually good locations for that.

Take the time and get your mic placement just right. Sometimes small adjustments can yield significant results. Phase alignment becomes a factor anytime you're using multiple mics. The more mics you're using, the more it matters.

A touch of compression can make a lot of difference. Don't overindulge while tracking because it can't be undone.

Also, you want nice fresh strings on the guitar. Especially using an LG.
 

StoneH

Friend of Leo's
Gold Supporter
Joined
Sep 20, 2021
Posts
2,578
Age
66
Location
Florida Gulf Coast
Take the time and get your mic placement just right. Sometimes small adjustments can yield significant results. Phase alignment becomes a factor anytime you're using multiple mics. The more mics you're using, the more it matters.
I'm still new at this, but I am really sure about two things ^^^.

1) X-Y eliminates phase issues
2) I can adjust my guitar in front of the mics by an inch and go from a track needing no EQ, to a boomy sound because one mic got aimed too close to the sound hole. Just rotating the guitar in relation to the mics changes everything.

Also, X-Y lets you adjust 2 mics like it's only one mic (I'm lazy).
 

Mjea80

Tele-Meister
Joined
Oct 3, 2020
Posts
415
Location
North
Record an Acoustic into the box via an internal pickups.... no no no.

An SM57 is a horrible microphone. It is designed to be a speech microphone on a lectern. Nothing but honk, good for AM radio. Or loud electric
SM7 is a broadcast Microphone for radio. Nothing special unless you want to make a podcast that sounds like your car radio.


Get a Good Ribbon Microphone.
Get a Good condenser.
Plenty of cheap knock offs that will sound 1000 times better than the Shure muck.
I agree on going into the box. Sounds very lack luster.

Ok I will look into the microphones you suggest, thanks!
 

Mjea80

Tele-Meister
Joined
Oct 3, 2020
Posts
415
Location
North
I think it depends on lots of variables. Just a couple of things to consider off the top of my head....

What is the goal for your recordings? Is it personal pleasure or commercial release?

What genre of music?

What space are you recording in? If it's an untreated small room (for instance) a well placed single Sm7b or sm57 may well pick up more of the direct sound and less of the room than a quality condenser = good.
I will record the song in my own studio and then release via all the major platforms. So whatever youd call that.. I dont plan to make a penny of them.

The genre will be acoustic singer somgwriter and I plan to add lead to some or all of the songs.

My studio is lightly treated. Carpet on the floor, drop ceiling panels, and a good amount of acoustic sound dampening will bass traps in all the corners. Its decently flat.

Ive never recorded acoustic with my sm7b. I may just try it, good thinking :)
 

Mjea80

Tele-Meister
Joined
Oct 3, 2020
Posts
415
Location
North
Are you planning on recording the voice and guitar together in a single live performance, or recording just the guitar and perhaps overdubbing the vocal?

If recording them together, you will have to manage the bleed of vocal into guitar mic and vice versa. It's a much trickier proposition than getting a decent recording of a solo guitar (something you'll start to understand when you try to mix your recording). Microphone type and positioning become even more important and you have to have a good grasp of pickup patterns and how to get the best out of them.

In your position I would look for a half decent cardioid condenser mic then play around with mic positioning. A good starting point is around the 12th fret and a foot or two out from the guitar. For all acoustic recording, you'll get even better results with a pair of matched condenser mics.

I love the SM57 and SM7b for certain things, but dynamic mics aren't the best for acoustic guitar if you want to capture a natural sound with plenty of airiness, richness and detail. They'll come out sounding honky and more like something off an old 78rpm record.

I'd keep the SM7b for vocals and invest in condenser mics for the guitar. It's not hard to find cheap condensers these days. Unfortunately a lot of them also sound cheap with way too much brittle, sizzling top end rather than a smooth sparkle.
On previous acoustic works Ive done I always do both parts at once, but on this one I want to do everything separately. Get it nicely in time. On a few of the tracks I may want to add drums so good timing will be a must.

Maybe once I am ready to go I will rent a couple condenser mics at the music store here in town 👍🏻
 

Mjea80

Tele-Meister
Joined
Oct 3, 2020
Posts
415
Location
North
Great advice above. For me, the main things that work are:
1) Always record with microphones, never use a pickup direct into a DI box unless that’s a sound you’re going for.
2) Two or more mics recorded for each take give you a lot of options for mixing.
3) I’ve used condenser mics but sometimes just a few good dynamic mics sound fine to me. Experiment!
4) I record vocals and guitar(s) separately but that can be a challenge trying to keep your place in the song without singing it. Need a bit of focus to make it all the way through without making a flub. Of course, strategic editing can fix flubs ;)
5) This is the most important tip - make your recording space as comfortable and easy to use as possible. Tripping over cables or using a chair that squeaks can ruin a nearly perfect performance. And also - isolate all those stray noises like computer fans, AC ducts, animals, etc. Yes - you will hear all of those when you play back that perfect take of your song on your DAW!
A lot of good advice here. I also do like singing and playing at the same time, so it will feel weird for the first little bit, but Im sure I will get used to it.
 

Mjea80

Tele-Meister
Joined
Oct 3, 2020
Posts
415
Location
North
Use the best mics you can afford. I agree condensers are preferable. But when necessary I've had good results with high quality dynamics like the trusty old Beyer M88.

If your LG is like mine, it has fairly prominent mids; you don't want to compound that using a mike that also emphasizes them.

Soundspace makes a difference. In a good sounding room - or a very dead one - a pair of distance mics - as Masmus suggested - can add depth and give a nice natural stereo spread. If the room sound is odd or questionable, I'd stick with two mics fairly near in. 12th fret & soundhole as you've been doing are usually good locations for that.

Take the time and get your mic placement just right. Sometimes small adjustments can yield significant results. Phase alignment becomes a factor anytime you're using multiple mics. The more mics you're using, the more it matters.

A touch of compression can make a lot of difference. Don't overindulge while tracking because it can't be undone.

Also, you want nice fresh strings on the guitar. Especially using an LG.
The LG got some new strings quite recently. For such a small guitar it pacis a punch!

I will definitely have to do some experimenting and record a few parts so you all can hear it and give me dome advice on some different options ! :)
 

telestratosonic

Friend of Leo's
Silver Supporter
Joined
Mar 5, 2011
Posts
3,489
Location
Alberta, Canada
I will record the song in my own studio and then release via all the major platforms. So whatever youd call that.. I dont plan to make a penny of them.

The genre will be acoustic singer somgwriter and I plan to add lead to some or all of the songs.

My studio is lightly treated. Carpet on the floor, drop ceiling panels, and a good amount of acoustic sound dampening will bass traps in all the corners. Its decently flat.

Ive never recorded acoustic with my sm7b. I may just try it, good thinking :)
Streaming platforms: DistroKid is cheaper than CD Baby. The one song I have with CD Baby (https://jimclayton.bandcamp.com) cost me around $55 USD.
'A Good Day's When I Don't Think About Her' by Jim Clayton is on all of the platforms and I've made a whopping $2 USD in going on two years.
DistroKid is waaay cheaper but they did ding me extra $ for options as I was loading it.
'I'm Not Gonna Be The One' by Jimzie Goulding
You can hear it the whole song at https://jimziegoulding.bandcamp.com

Havn't had any sales yet. Sighs.

I'm planning to load up 'You're The Best Thing That Ever Happened To Me' by Jimzie Goulding this week. You can hear it at https://jimziegoulding.bandcamp.com.

In Canada, there's !earshot-Distro (https://earshot-distro.ca). $5-$7 per song and it gets you out to college/university and community radio stations. They may be in the US of A at this point. I read that they were working on it.

I have two songs with them. I've had 17 plays and two downloads.
 

archtop_fjk

Tele-Afflicted
Joined
Aug 4, 2009
Posts
1,051
Location
New Hampshire
I was just thinking about one more aspect of recording that can be frustrating. That is how to record a good song take by yourself. Since we don’t have engineers to start and stop the recording for us we must do it ourselves and hope to at least get one or two good bits.

For me it goes something like this. Start the recording…clear my throat…ok begin the acoustic guitar track…oops muffed up the opening riff…ok take two…get halfway through before flubbing…darn!…start again…

Somehow after 20 minutes of imperfect tracks I get a keeper! So now I snip that out and start track two to overdub another guitar part. However now if I flub up I have to rewind back to the beginning! Aargh!! But…if you’re crafty you can play bits of the song as separate tracks and combine them later.

Anyways, eventually enough material is recorded to make a finished song!
 

telestratosonic

Friend of Leo's
Silver Supporter
Joined
Mar 5, 2011
Posts
3,489
Location
Alberta, Canada
I was just thinking about one more aspect of recording that can be frustrating. That is how to record a good song take by yourself. Since we don’t have engineers to start and stop the recording for us we must do it ourselves and hope to at least get one or two good bits.

For me it goes something like this. Start the recording…clear my throat…ok begin the acoustic guitar track…oops muffed up the opening riff…ok take two…get halfway through before flubbing…darn!…start again…

Somehow after 20 minutes of imperfect tracks I get a keeper! So now I snip that out and start track two to overdub another guitar part. However now if I flub up I have to rewind back to the beginning! Aargh!! But…if you’re crafty you can play bits of the song as separate tracks and combine them later.

Anyways, eventually enough material is recorded to make a finished song!
Too funny! I use GarageBand and that's pretty much exactly how I record as well.
 

bottlenecker

Poster Extraordinaire
Joined
Dec 6, 2015
Posts
6,262
Location
Wisconsin
I agree on going into the box. Sounds very lack luster.

Ok I will look into the microphones you suggest, thanks!

They didn't suggest any mics, they made broad generalizations about types of microphones, and it was terrible advice. If you're recording yourself, the ribbon mics and preamps you can probably afford are a bad choice for quiet acoustic recordings, because ribbons need a lot of gain, and gain is often noisy. And, they probably will not deliver the high frequency detail most acoustic guitarists will want to hear.

A good go-to standard for a lot of people, and myself, is a small diaphragm condenser mic pointed at the neck/body joint at least a foot away.

If you are recording guitar separately, I'd use every mic you have, assuming you have the inputs, and listen to them all later. Maybe one you don't expect will sound best, maybe a couple will even blend well if you get lucky with phasing.

If you are singing while playing, that's a different deal. Then you want to learn how to use the null on figure 8 mics.
 




New Posts

Top