Recording Acoustic Guitar

suthol

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Knowing that we all have perfect voices means we don't need to consider pitch correction which is problematic when you have a voice and instrument recorded at the same time.

You can correct the vox track but can't do anything with vocal bleed into the instrument mic and if it ain't close it ain't good.
 

loudboy

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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.
This can be very tricky if you haven't done it before, or aren't used to it - you need to do it however gets you the best take of the song.

Especially with solo Vox/A Gtr, the performer is really locked into playing/singing and the feel of the song can suffer tremendously, if it's not done together.

Try it both ways and you should be able to immediately tell if it's not working. The song is king - don't compromise for the sake of making production easier. A great take with somewhat substandard sonics will trump something that sounds a little better but doesn't feel right.

As for miking, here's a few samples of some stuff I've done in the past few year, all recorded live in untreated Living Rooms, with various gear and mic techniques.

This is a Soundelux U195 on Vox, and a Neumann KM-184/Royer R-121 in M/S on A Gtr:



This is a Warm Audio WA-67 in Figure-8 on Vox, and an Ear Trumpet Labs Myrtle on A Gtr. I absolutely LOVE the ETL stuff - truly captures the sound of the instrument, in this case a Martin D-35. He was super free with the time, but no way could he do that separately.



This is the U-195 on Vox, and a pair of KM-184s, spaced pair, on the A Gtr.



This is an Audio-Technica ATM-25 on Vox, and a KM-184 on A Gtr. This was a quickie songwriting demo, and the ATM-25 is a large diaphragm dynamic mic, primarily used for kick drum, but worked very well on his voice.

 

kbold

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Knowing that we all have perfect voices means we don't need to consider pitch correction which is problematic when you have a voice and instrument recorded at the same time.

You can correct the vox track but can't do anything with vocal bleed into the instrument mic and if it ain't close it ain't good.
Recording the vocal and instrument tracks separately works better for me. No bleed, and if I'm not happy with one, I only have to re-record that one.

My preferred method for recording acoustic is to record both direct and mic'd: then I can mix and match.
 

Mjea80

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Knowing that we all have perfect voices means we don't need to consider pitch correction which is problematic when you have a voice and instrument recorded at the same time.

You can correct the vox track but can't do anything with vocal bleed into the instrument mic and if it ain't close it ain't good.
Yes this is one of the main reasons I will be recording my tracks separately. Thanks for the reminder :)
 

hemingway

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A good condenser mic - I use a Rode NT1, which I think is pretty good - and then just experiment.

With my guitar it sounds best with the mic about 6 inches away from where the neck joins the body. But as I say, play around.

If I'm singing at the same time, well, then it's 2 mics, otherwise the positioning gets tricky.
 

Mjea80

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This can be very tricky if you haven't done it before, or aren't used to it - you need to do it however gets you the best take of the song.

Especially with solo Vox/A Gtr, the performer is really locked into playing/singing and the feel of the song can suffer tremendously, if it's not done together.

Try it both ways and you should be able to immediately tell if it's not working. The song is king - don't compromise for the sake of making production easier. A great take with somewhat substandard sonics will trump something that sounds a little better but doesn't feel right.

As for miking, here's a few samples of some stuff I've done in the past few year, all recorded live in untreated Living Rooms, with various gear and mic techniques.

This is a Soundelux U195 on Vox, and a Neumann KM-184/Royer R-121 in M/S on A Gtr:



This is a Warm Audio WA-67 in Figure-8 on Vox, and an Ear Trumpet Labs Myrtle on A Gtr. I absolutely LOVE the ETL stuff - truly captures the sound of the instrument, in this case a Martin D-35. He was super free with the time, but no way could he do that separately.



This is the U-195 on Vox, and a pair of KM-184s, spaced pair, on the A Gtr.



This is an Audio-Technica ATM-25 on Vox, and a KM-184 on A Gtr. This was a quickie songwriting demo, and the ATM-25 is a large diaphragm dynamic mic, primarily used for kick drum, but worked very well on his voice.


I will def check these out and report back!
 

thesamhill

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I suppose there are lots of ways to play acoustic and sing. I think most of the above advice would not work for me so YMMV but here's my take.

I think you're trying to do too much at one time if you're looking to sing and play, at the same time, at home (vs studio), and emphasize the tone of your guitar.

If you really want to emphasize the guitar tone, track it and then record the vocal later. You can play guitar while you track the vocals, just don't record it.

But honestly, FWIW- I've heard quite a few home recordings of acoustic performances where the performer is like "doesn't the guitar tone sound great?" And I'm thinking, not particularly. It's completely standard acoustic guitar tone. They sell it by the case at the grocery store. What I CAN hear is the fact that you sound wooden and sort of stressed and gave a mostly flat and joyless performance, probably because you thought your guitar tone would be relevant and your performance affect would not and so you emphasized all the wrong things when you recorded this.

IMO acoustics sound fine plugged in. There are plenty of ways to make that work.
 

Esquire Jones

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I suppose there are lots of ways to play acoustic and sing. I think most of the above advice would not work for me so YMMV but here's my take.

I think you're trying to do too much at one time if you're looking to sing and play, at the same time, at home (vs studio), and emphasize the tone of your guitar.

If you really want to emphasize the guitar tone, track it and then record the vocal later. You can play guitar while you track the vocals, just don't record it.

But honestly, FWIW- I've heard quite a few home recordings of acoustic performances where the performer is like "doesn't the guitar tone sound great?" And I'm thinking, not particularly. It's completely standard acoustic guitar tone. They sell it by the case at the grocery store. What I CAN hear is the fact that you sound wooden and sort of stressed and gave a mostly flat and joyless performance, probably because you thought your guitar tone would be relevant and your performance affect would not and so you emphasized all the wrong things when you recorded this.

IMO acoustics sound fine plugged in. There are plenty of ways to make that work.
While I generally don’t like plugged in acoustic guitar tone, your point is right on.

Tons of great guitar recordings have been made with rudimentary tools. Yes, even the oft ridiculed Sm57. They’re not the best tool for every situation but so what?

Use what you got.

Get creative.

Be inspired.

Play with abandon.

Make music.
 

Tmcqtele65

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I have recorded myself a little playing acoustic. My best results so far have been with a large diaphragm condenser about 8" away from the guitar, and between the sound hole and the point where the neck joins the body.

As far as capturing a good performance and optimizing the ability to focus on both the vocal and the guitar, my preference is to record a scratch track with both together, then record just the guitar (listening to the scratch - good isolating headphones), and finally recording the vocal (listening to the good guitar track).
 

bottlenecker

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I suppose there are lots of ways to play acoustic and sing. I think most of the above advice would not work for me so YMMV but here's my take.

I think you're trying to do too much at one time if you're looking to sing and play, at the same time, at home (vs studio), and emphasize the tone of your guitar.

If you really want to emphasize the guitar tone, track it and then record the vocal later. You can play guitar while you track the vocals, just don't record it.

But honestly, FWIW- I've heard quite a few home recordings of acoustic performances where the performer is like "doesn't the guitar tone sound great?" And I'm thinking, not particularly. It's completely standard acoustic guitar tone. They sell it by the case at the grocery store. What I CAN hear is the fact that you sound wooden and sort of stressed and gave a mostly flat and joyless performance, probably because you thought your guitar tone would be relevant and your performance affect would not and so you emphasized all the wrong things when you recorded this.

IMO acoustics sound fine plugged in. There are plenty of ways to make that work.

I agree with all of this except the sound of plugged in acoustic guitars. Performance is more important, but I don't see any reason not to mic guitar and voice and live with some mixing limitations. There are ways to get surprisingly good separation with a pair of horizontally oriented figure 8 mics, or using a mini condenser inside the guitar.
 

thesamhill

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I generally don’t like plugged in acoustic guitar tone,

I agree with all of this except the sound of plugged in acoustic guitars.

Cheers, and I recognize this is not a popular opinion :)

For the record, I don't enjoy the sound of DI acoustic tone from a pickup. But I don't think I've heard anyone use that tone in a recording since Disappear Fear's live album. There are plenty of options for acoustic tone- for example the TC acoustic preset in the Voice Live units and in some of the DAWs work good enough.

I make that point because...

For me, I can't do mic technique stuff on both vocals and guitar. And I like to bop around while I'm performing. So I use an acoustic pickup that is basically a really microphonic HB into a Voicelive 3 with the acoustic preset. That way I can move as much as I want.

It would be different in a studio that could effectively mic a guitar from a few feet away without picking up a pile of room nose, etc. But even then I'd still have it plugged in, even if I miced it because why not. But that's pretty hypothetical as my studio usage time is low low low, lol.

I think I tried micing an acoustic at a gig once like 20 years ago and the whole experience -sssuuuucked- so I just went with trying to dial in the acoustic pickup solution and I've never bothered micing since, even when I'm recording.

Anyways that approach works for me so I thought I'd throw that in as counter point. I also realize most players aren't dancing all over the place while playing an acoustic gig, so it's def possible I'm the odd man out here...
 

Esquire Jones

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Cheers, and I recognize this is not a popular opinion :)

For the record, I don't enjoy the sound of DI acoustic tone from a pickup. But I don't think I've heard anyone use that tone in a recording since Disappear Fear's live album. There are plenty of options for acoustic tone- for example the TC acoustic preset in the Voice Live units and in some of the DAWs work good enough.

I make that point because...

For me, I can't do mic technique stuff on both vocals and guitar. And I like to bop around while I'm performing. So I use an acoustic pickup that is basically a really microphonic HB into a Voicelive 3 with the acoustic preset. That way I can move as much as I want.

It would be different in a studio that could effectively mic a guitar from a few feet away without picking up a pile of room nose, etc. But even then I'd still have it plugged in, even if I miced it because why not. But that's pretty hypothetical as my studio usage time is low low low, lol.

I think I tried micing an acoustic at a gig once like 20 years ago and the whole experience -sssuuuucked- so I just went with trying to dial in the acoustic pickup solution and I've never bothered micing since, even when I'm recording.

Anyways that approach works for me so I thought I'd throw that in as counter point. I also realize most players aren't dancing all over the place while playing an acoustic gig, so it's def possible I'm the odd man out here...
Hey, I own a bunch of CD’s that I love with direct recorded guitars.

Many live recordings are done that way and they’re great fun!

I’m with you my man! Keep dancing!
 

billy logan

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Seems like the room is perceived as an enemy to be defeated ...
... Nobody just happened to have a room that helped acoustic guitar sound good?

e.g., "Listen to this take; this one's with the door to the tiled kitchen open." Or whatever, wherever :)
Like singing in the shower, but less extreme?

edit2add: maybe unplug the fridge - but! put your car keys in it to chill so you remember to plug it back in :)
 
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Boreas

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I don't follow any rules, but have had decent results in a tiny room with one condenser mic pointed at the sound hole about 3 feet away, and another pointed at the back wall. Sometimes, both pointing toward the sound hole from about 3 feet, but about 3 feet apart. If I get much closer, I pick up more pick noise and squeaks than I like. I am not a very good guitarist.

To me, two mics make for a more interesting tone and less sterile. I record in stereo on two separate tracks, then decide what I want to do with each track - then usually mix the result into a single stereo track. I sometimes will add a touch of on-board reverb to make the room sound less like a closet.
 

Ben Harmless

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I know what I'm doing with this stuff, and made a living for a little while. Not like some around here, but enough to learn some things. I followed that by years of lusting after gear and secret techniques that turned out not to be the difference between me and say, John Prine or something. Random example. I never met John Prine. That would have been cool.

I'm down to using one mic - about 18 inches out from the 14th fret and slightly cheated toward my chest. Playing and singing at the same time. It's a good mic, plugged into some good, clean stuff, in a moderately dead room. Every single thing beyond that is down to my ability to play and sing. No tweaking the XY angle, no re-aligning the M/S positioning, no extensive mic shootouts, no "color pieces," no phase correction, no tubes, no overdubs. Most of my time is spent basically practicing in front of that mic while monitoring through headphones so that I can hear everything about my performance that is interfering with the best recording I can make of the song. Beyond that, a dash of fairly transparent compression and maybe a sprinkle of subtle reverb because my room isn't very interesting.

I'm sure I'll use other techniques in the future, but this is what I'm doing right now because of how it's forcing me to pursue my art. It's my little philosophical contribution. Take it for what it's worth to ya.
 

Masmus

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The reason I don’t generally give mic recommendations unless someone is asking about a specific mic is that I use typically Nueman U87 or 67 and Royer 121 and 122v as well as my cascade for the figure 8 pattern and KM184, AKG 414 or C12 for the room mics and most people don’t have access to those. I mentioned the Cascade since it’s the most affordable out of the bunch and I have had good performance with it. Btw I do still use SM 57s they are essential and I couldn’t work without one or two.
 

loudboy

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I'm down to using one mic - about 18 inches out from the 14th fret and slightly cheated toward my chest. Playing and singing at the same time. It's a good mic, plugged into some good, clean stuff, in a moderately dead room. Every single thing beyond that is down to my ability to play and sing. No tweaking the XY angle, no re-aligning the M/S positioning, no extensive mic shootouts, no "color pieces," no phase correction, no tubes, no overdubs. Most of my time is spent basically practicing in front of that mic while monitoring through headphones so that I can hear everything about my performance that is interfering with the best recording I can make of the song. Beyond that, a dash of fairly transparent compression and maybe a sprinkle of subtle reverb because my room isn't very interesting.

I'm sure I'll use other techniques in the future, but this is what I'm doing right now because of how it's forcing me to pursue my art. It's my little philosophical contribution. Take it for what it's worth to ya.
This is the Ear Trumpet Labs philosophy, and they've engineered their mics to work well this way. Not much room for any fudge factor, so you've got to have your act together. This is one heck of a recording, for a relatively inexpensive mic.

 

Mjea80

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A ton of good advice here. I appreciate all for chiming in. I tweaked my back on the weekend so until it feels better I cant do much for recording.

But once it does I will do some experiementing and post up my results for some more advice if you don’t mind. :)
 

ahiddentableau

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One big thing that nobody has mentioned yet is room sound. When you're recording an acoustic that is going to matter even if you're using dynamic mics like the ones you mentioned. So unless you have a great sounding room where the live sound is going to work for your mix you should probably try to form a plan for how you're going to deal with the overtones/ringing at the very least or it's going to be hard to get a nice clean sound from your guitar.
 




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