Recording acoustic guitars

archtop_fjk

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I leave something like this set up attached to the computer desk all the time. Swing it one way to record the amp (in conjunction with a dynamic mic that's always against the amp), swing another way for vocals, swing again for acoustic.

That can be tough with a temporary set up but if you can get there, I find I record much more when I don't have to set up mics each time.

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Perhaps a variation on this design would be to have one or mics suspended from a retractable arm mounted to the ceiling. Then all you have to do is set up your recording chair and pull down the mics to their desired positions. I do like this approach though...:)
 

LoveHz

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For home recording I'll use one of these super-lightweight clamps with a small, light condenser mic (I use an SE). If you move then the mic has no option but to move with you.

Could also work live if you're not too much of a groover on stage -- no Elvis acts. Probably best if you play from a stool.

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klasaine

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very very good sound klasaine. Nice playing too! I actually recorded a song of me singing and my acoustic in my garage the other day. Just on my phone to get the idea down and saved and I was kind of pleasantly surprised at the sound. It was definitely different than the living room but almost in a good way. Seemed clearer and less room noise. Which you think would be the opposite. Maybe the higher ceilings with no drywall. Mine is exposed rafters.

Thank you!
Believe me, my garage is the antithesis of what you'd assume would be a decent recording space but surprisingly, it's ok. I think there's enough stuff in it to effectively cancel/kill any standing wave interference and garbage.

Getting a decent mic'd acoustic sound for me was all experimentation/trial and error. I tried all the mic placement techniques I'd observed engineers using to mic me in "real" recording studios until I found the one that sounded the best. I put it in a fair amount of time moving the mic around. I also had a handful of mics to try. The reality is - it takes hours. Everybody touches their guitar differently and no two guitars are exactly alike. There are of course 'starting points' but there's no singular ending point.
 
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Martin R

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We usually record acoustics with both onboard pups and mics, (usually a LDC and ribbon). It's nice to be able to blend everything.
This was mostly LDC with a touch of pickup. This one is mostly the pickup with an LDC for a little air.
It also helps to have a really good player.
 

swervinbob

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I have to laugh at myself sometimes. I’m playing with amp sims and cab sims with programmed bass and drums and I’m mad that I can’t get a realistic acoustic guitar direct tone. We're so spoiled these days.
 

FortyEight

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I tried recording in my garage yesterday. I didn't really like the results. The vocals lacked clarity and low end and the guitar was kind of way reverby. Although I may stick with the guitar track for this song. The vocals I'm gonna redo.

But it was an interesting experiment... LOL. I did put a towel over the amp.... I took a pic of my set up but for some reason my stupid phone wont send to my email right now. It's so unreliable.
 

tweeet

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Condenser mics eg. akg c-1000...414...c-3000...Rode NT2...anything like this... sm58 or sm57 mics are for micing up amps and will never give a true acoustic sound.
 

still_fiddlin

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As good as all of the direct recording gear for electric guitars is getting, I wish someone could come up with something for acoustics. Setting up mics and trying to record in my very dead music room by myself can be a pain. But no direct source comes even close to my ears. Maybe I’m just being too picky since mostly I just strum or pick chords to add to a song, but it just doesn’t sound right direct, even doctored with an ir or UAD Woodworks.

Or maybe I’m just being lazy about setting up mics.
I've never heard anyone say that recording a guitar direct sounds like a mic'd guitar, if that's what you're after. But, the digitally-enhanced preamps/DIs that use IRs can do a good job, with the right IR.

The Fishman Aura (built in to my GPCPA3) does a pretty credible job with something like 7 different mic "images" (in their language) that were (according to Martin/Fishman) based on the exact model of guitar the system is installed in. Most "canned" IRs are going to fail because they're not based on the guitar you're playing, and, honestly, even one based on the same model (like mine) has a fair chance of missing by a wide margin if the particular guitar you have sounds nothing like the one used to create the images.

Enter Tone Dexter and the LR Baggs Soundscape, and probably a dozen clones from a mainland "factory" as I type this. They use the actual output (via a mic) of your own guitar to create the IR. Pretty popular. Do they sound like a mic'd acoustic? No, but, particularly for [flat] picked guitars, they do a much better job from what I've heard. Now, I don't have one and don't ever expect to, and I've heard the process depends a great deal on your being able to capture the sound of your guitar well enough, i.e., so the software can create an accurate IR that will map your pickup/direct signal to something that mimics the acoustic sound of the guitar. Patience, trial and error probably help.

But, if you've got a good, dead room, close micing *should* work. That takes patience, trial and error, too, IMO/IME, and sometimes dumb luck.
 

woodman

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I put it in a fair amount of time moving the mic around.
That right there is the key. Of course there's the small matter of maintaining your distance and attack from take to take, but that's a matter of learning good habits.

If there was an acoustic pickup that got a natural sound, I'd pay almost any price, but the physics just aren't there, at least at this point in time.
 

Lynxtrap

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As good as all of the direct recording gear for electric guitars is getting, I wish someone could come up with something for acoustics. Setting up mics and trying to record in my very dead music room by myself can be a pain. But no direct source comes even close to my ears. Maybe I’m just being too picky since mostly I just strum or pick chords to add to a song, but it just doesn’t sound right direct, even doctored with an ir or UAD Woodworks.

Or maybe I’m just being lazy about setting up mics.

Check out iRig Acoustic by IK Multimedia! It beats any kind of piezo system IMO.
 

Ben Harmless

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I've been recording a lot of acoustic lately. I think this is as much as philosophy question as a gear/technique one.

Philosophy solution: Change your expectations. Get as good a sound as you can with your pickup and EQ. Embrace it. Call it a demo if you want, and resolve to re-record with a mic or two when you really like what you've done. I came up with an arrangement the other day with just this approach, and now I'm realizing that I kind of don't mind the direct tone, 'cause it works for what I'm doing, and I like what I played.

Gear/technique solution: I like that desk arm idea. Also a short little boom stand (the kind with a rectangle-ish weighted base) can usually get a mic just high enough for acoustic if you're seated. Just leave the mic on it and tuck it away when you're not using it. Use whatever mics you like. I recently found myself buying a 2nd SM57 to run in XY because I like it. I have "nicer" mics. I like messy/dirty/lofi tones. I've also used Sennheiser e609s and e906s to good effect. Hell, I also bust out some dynamic omnis (EV RE-55s/RE-50) when I get ambitious. Placement is everything, but don't fall into the trap of thinking that there's one perfect place for the mic. Don't let placement paranoia keep you from pressing record and playing the guitar.

Also, if your room is really dead and you don't have a ton of noise in there, then you've got the perfect setup for one of my favorite things: crank up a mic pre and slam a few tubes for saturation on the way to the computer. Then add some reverb to taste. If you want to really get crazy (and I do) then run the line level signal into a reverb stomp box on the way in and just commit to the tone.
 

Ed Driscoll

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Condenser mics eg. akg c-1000...414...c-3000...Rode NT2...anything like this... sm58 or sm57 mics are for micing up amps and will never give a true acoustic sound.

I agree. The C-414 a foot or two away aimed at the 12th fret is a great acoustic guitar sound, provided your room acoustics are dry.
 

swervinbob

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I found a boom mic stand that I was able to put right next to the table all of my recording gear is on that I put my condenser mic on. I have it kind of suspended above me now off to the side a little and I can pull it down into place to record quickly. Not sure why I didn’t think of something like this before. Now I don’t have to move things around and set up anymore. I have trouble staying motivated to finish anything. That’s why I was hoping for a direct solution. I didn’t even think of just a faster mic into place solution.

Thanks everyone.
 

swervinbob

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Plus the mic is in a place that all I have to do is stand up if I want to stir up the dogs in the neighborhood and put vocals down.
 

Old Deaf Roadie

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Maybe I'm missing something, but if one is unwilling to take the time to set mics to record an acoustic instrument, then one should not gripe about the results. Seems to me that mic placement is a basic tenet of recording.
 

swervinbob

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Maybe I'm missing something, but if one is unwilling to take the time to set mics to record an acoustic instrument, then one should not gripe about the results. Seems to me that mic placement is a basic tenet of recording.

I do understand what you are saying. I kind of regretted starting this thread with the OP the way I worded it. I was trying to layer some guitars and wanted a simple acoustic strumming track added in. I didn't feel like moving stuff around the way I usually do to mic an acoustic to do a simple track. So instead of thinking of a solution to have a mic close, I tried to find a DI solution and wasn't getting what I wanted. Couldn't get rid of the piezo zing. So instead, I did the usual internet thing of openly complaining, instead of researching and finding a solution. Or even asking how to set up a mic for quick access.
 

Guitardvark

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no matter how you put it, its not easy playing and being engineer at the same time. by the time you hit a note and move to make an adjustment its gone already and this goes on and on.. got to have a 2nd for an acoustic IMO.. Its so much easier to have someone else to move a knob while you thump and let them dial it in.. Move the mic around to experiment with. Otherwise get a snickers bar cus you got some time to spend. Each day can be different with an acoustic also depending on the details of the environmental stability too, So what you did yesterday doesnt count for today or tomorrow. got to start each session fresh from scratch.. its a pain
 

Old Deaf Roadie

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I do understand what you are saying. I kind of regretted starting this thread with the OP the way I worded it. I was trying to layer some guitars and wanted a simple acoustic strumming track added in. I didn't feel like moving stuff around the way I usually do to mic an acoustic to do a simple track. So instead of thinking of a solution to have a mic close, I tried to find a DI solution and wasn't getting what I wanted. Couldn't get rid of the piezo zing. So instead, I did the usual internet thing of openly complaining, instead of researching and finding a solution. Or even asking how to set up a mic for quick access.
Ah, yes, the "I learned from that" moment. Now you are richer for knowing the "why" as it relates to the "how". Best of luck to you as you move forward!
 




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