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Recording Acoustic Guitar Problems
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Guitarfinch
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18th October 2012
Old 18th October 2012
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Recording Acoustic Guitar Problems

Oh My

Why is acoustic guitar so hard to capture..?

I realize it can be a combination of room / mic used & position & player

Ive played guitar for 25 years so no problem there although catching that sound is the problem.

I have 2 acoustic guitars a Guild Jumbo which seems to give masses of boom no matter where i place a mic & a Martin D18 which gives much better results..

Also strummed guitar seems the most problematic with a build up of resonance as apposed to picked parts much much better

Any Advice here?
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18th October 2012
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Can't really say what it could be without a sample. There is lots of info on this forum about general tips and tricks however if you do a search, but it would be ideal if you could post a clip.
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18th October 2012
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In common I would say: don't use the jumbo for strumming if there's a D18 around. What also helps is to filter off (on the mic if possible) everything below 80 - 100 Hz and experiment with a larger distance between the jumbo and mic.
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18th October 2012
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Aside from the player, a VERY important part of the puzzle is guitar choice. The acoustic guitars that work great in live situations don't always translate as well in the studio. Use your experience with a jumbo body style as a prime example. Dreadnaught's you can get by with depending on the material... but look for a grand auditorium/concert sized guitar for most of your studio duties and I think you'll realize you've started to figure out your solution. Think of it as trying to get the heaviest, most distorted electric guitar you can. It may sound great and usable by itself but once plugged into the mix - mushy junk. Your acoustic is not going to be much different. The smaller body sizes will give you a much more balanced tone and better single note definition/separation. After you figure out the guitar issue - look at mic choice. Many are fans of SDC's or a combination them with another type of mic. There are many many good choices but they would be a mute point until the guitar is dealt with.

- btw I'm certainly not saying good recordings cannot be made with large bodied acoustics. However, I do feel this is your easiest path to fixing your issue.
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18th October 2012
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What type of mic are you recording with?? What type of mic pre??? I agree with above, try the high pass filter on the mic or mic pre (if there is one) and try moving the mic away a bit farther away. The Jumbo is going to be difficult to get rid of the low end on if that is your problem. The place you record in could be problematic as well and giving you some low end standing waves. If you are using a large diaphram mic maybe you would want to go to something with a smaller diaphram. Good luck.
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18th October 2012
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Definitely mic positioning will help. If the guitar is sounding good in the room when you play it, then you have to listen (monitor) to the mic and move it around to capture the sound you want to record. Can get tricky and all rooms/guitar combo's are different, not to mention players. Forget the "formula" mic positions and use your ears.

Sometimes I will use an LDC with a switchable pattern and put it in omni mode if I want to get close to the guitar and not increase the boominess with proximity effect.
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18th October 2012
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I stumbled into a great acoustic tone the other day with a not so hot player.
sennheiser 441 on the body,and S.E Gemini on the neck.
The two mics blended perfectly with no phase issues and sounded more than the sum of the parts.
Maybe the Dynamic and condenser combo is the key
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18th October 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rockinrob View Post
What type of mic are you recording with?? What type of mic pre???
.
Ive Tried Royer 121 front side & also sure ksm 141

Im using the zedr16 pre but mostly the BAE 1073 mpf external pre out of choice really..

Most of my recordings are Acoustic Guitar & vox hence the dilema & question..

Ideally id like a great acoustc & vox recording Sounds simple when you say it Quick
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18th October 2012
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If you are recording voice and acoustic guitar at the same time, try this:

Just set up the Shure KSM141 at mouth height, but have it back away from the singer/player about 1.5-2 feet. Make sure the mic is in omni mode. That is very important to what I am suggesting. Then just play and sing. The singer/player will need to perform such that neither the guitar nor the voice drowns out the other. Most decent singer/players are OK at that, though, so that should not be a huge problem.

This method eliminates phase problems, it eliminates proximity effect problems, and it just plain sounds good, IF the player/singer sounds good in the room. If the player/singer doesn't sound good in the room, you've got other problems that mic placement will not fix.
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18th October 2012
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I have a few Taylor Jumbos and a Rainsong Jumbo...I get decent sounds but there was always something lacking. A girl came in a few weeks ago with a old small body Martin...not sure of the model, but I set her up the same way I had set up for the Jumbos and got this great acoustic sound. Her old Martin was just a great source. Someone here also recommended using different types of picks. I've always been a Fender heavy guy, but found I could change the sound a lot using thinner picks.
L.
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18th October 2012
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It seems the bottom end on the Guild Jumbo Acoustic has uncontrollable boom on the low end which just sounds horrible..

I can eq some of it out but then im left with a thin sounding acoustic which defeated the object of having a nice solid acoustic guitar sound in the first place..

Like chasing your tail..

Funny when sat playing the Guild from ear level i don't hear the boom anywhere near as much & it sounds nice

Proximity effect / bad mic placement ..who knows
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18th October 2012
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Another thing I started doing with the Jumbos is placing a mic above and to the right of my shoulder as sound I hear at ear level does sound really good. Before I was placing that mic a couple of feet away from the guitar more toward the lower bout. I like the new placement better. A second mic pointing to the 12th fret picks up plenty of the high/mids.
L.
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18th October 2012
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As much as I love the sound of a Jumbo to my ears, I've found it infinitely easier
to record with a Parlor. The mids also cut through a busy mix better.

For strumming parts, try a softer nylon .60 Dunlop pick if you want that rhythm acoustic washboard effect.
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18th October 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lenzo View Post
Another thing I started doing with the Jumbos is placing a mic above and to the right of my shoulder as sound I hear at ear level does sound really good. Before I was placing that mic a couple of feet away from the guitar more toward the lower bout. I like the new placement better. A second mic pointing to the 12th fret picks up plenty of the high/mids.
L.
Good idea so what mic / polar pattern are you using above and to the right of shoulder?
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18th October 2012
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Just wanted to say Thanks to everyone for all the Help Much Appreciated


Keep em coming! & i hope this post Helps others with similar problems of recording the Dreaded Acoustic Guitar
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Similar problem discussed here: Bass always booming recording acoustic guitar

One thing I've noticed is that as a player I never hear how the guitar sounds to the audience - the soundhole is always facing away from me. I'm always interested to hear other people play my guitars...perhaps this would give you a different perspective on how to fix the recording issues.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Guitarfinch View Post
Good idea so what mic / polar pattern are you using above and to the right of shoulder?
If I want a warmer sound I'm using a joly modded NT1-A which is cardoid or a Chameleon Labs TS-2..usually omni with the tube driven a bit. If I want more bite to cut through the mix I use a Peluso CEMC6..which is cardoid and roll the bass off a bit. I was testing a 57 the other day just to see what it would do..it wasn't bad. I have better options I think, but it was definitely usable.
L.
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18th October 2012
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If you have the time, try tuning down a 1/2 step and then capo back up to
standard tuning. The change in timbre of the instrument can be quite dramatic and give
you variable tonal options with the same instrument.
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Pointing towards the 12th fret will give you better results in terms of cutting down boom. Have the mic slightly above the low strings and angled down so they're almost off axis pointing more at the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th strings. You want the best blend of the least amount of boom but still a nice balance of the low and high strings.

The quickest way to get the best sound is to put on some headphones and pick the mic up and start moving it around angling slightly up and down, pulling back further, going closer, have the player play their loudest part when doing this as, the louder the play, the boomier it's going to get. The louder they play the further you'll have to pull the mic back. Somewhere in here you're going to find a nice balance where the low strings are not booming too much, but you'll always get some boom. I generally find myself eq'ing out 120hz maybe 1 to 4 db depending on the guitar with a parametric eq with a medium to small bell. I usually pull out 280 hz too as this is also boom but more mud than boom. 120 hz is the straight up boom. Or close to 120 hz with a 10 hz diff on either side, you'll have to sweep the eq around to find the exact spot.

Another thing I've found in my less than desirable sounding recording space and acoustic boom issues is that hanging a moving blanket anywhere from 3 to 6 feet BEHIND the mic will improve the sound greatly. This can make a huge difference if your room doesn't sound that good.

Your common or garden moving blanket is the best thing I've found for not making it sound too weird. I've tried regular bed blankets, duvets and everything in between but the moving blanket sounds the best to me. I get a mic stand and tilt the boom 90 degrees so it looks like a T shape. Buy some giant binder clips from an office store and you can hang the moving blanket off the top of the T and the clips will keep it from slipping off.

Edit: sorry, not fully caffeinated yet today - now that I think about it, for acoustic, I usually use 2 moving blankets behind the mic on 2 mic stands. The 2 mic stands I angle in a little bit towards each other so when the blankets are hung, they make the shape of the sides of a wide-ish triangle. Changing the distance of the blankets from the back of the mic will also slightly affect your sound. Don't put them too close or it will definitely sound bad, you need the mic to be able to 'breathe' at the back too
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18th October 2012
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I like to use a small condencer mic pointed at the 12th fret and a large condencer mic pointed at the sound hole both set to a cardioid polar pattern and positioned as close as I can get them to the sound source without obstructing the player which is usually somewhere between 2 to 3 feet. I own a Royer 121 and imo find it a little too dark and bassy to use for live tracking an acoustic guitar. I prefer the Royer for adding girth to a double mic'd electric guitar cabinet. Hope this helps.
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19th October 2012
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That's something else to try!! Flip the Royer around and use the back side of the mic, it's not quite as dark sounding as the front. I'm not a Royer owner but I rented them once for drum overheads and thankfully decided to read the documentation that came with them as they were too warm and fuzzy!! So, you can flip them and use the back side and it does sound less dark, worked great for me. Flip the phase if you turn the mic around the other way

http://www.royerlabs.com/2in1.html
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lenzo View Post
Another thing I started doing with the Jumbos is placing a mic above and to the right of my shoulder as sound I hear at ear level does sound really good. Before I was placing that mic a couple of feet away from the guitar more toward the lower bout. I like the new placement better. A second mic pointing to the 12th fret picks up plenty of the high/mids.
L.
I really like the tone I get from my playing prospective and wanted to capture that at least as a starting point. A Takamine in this case- which does not happen to have a big low end problem, but tried some similar advice starting near my left ear pointing down and worked the range left and forward some.
What's interesting though is it seems a little more diffuse, less hard sounding than off the face. But there is also a fair amount of low end control to be found as you approach the sides as well.
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19th October 2012
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Quote from another post here

"Most realistically, though, it's just the room. Most acoustic guitars in most rooms have a ±200Hz boominess. It is my nemesis frequency."

Yep im getting that problem in my room although it is treated..
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It is reall hard. Only way I get results is by testing all my mics in lots of positions

I rarely mic near the sound hole, been getting good results with a condenser about 18" away from the fifth fret but guitar/player/room/pick really make the differenc
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it's all about mic placement and orientation in the room. great mic, great guitar sounds great in one spot, not great in another spot. it's kinda hard to do if you're recording yourself, but keep movin till you like it. pay attention to what's behind the player (as in a wall) or in front of the player (as in a wall) and how close/far he/she is from those walls, and what those walls have on them (hard or soft)...the mic and the guitar are obviously important, but location is more so, me thinks
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I record a Guild F-50R and it doesn't sound boomy. An LDC in cardiod about 10 inches from the 12th fret, and angled slightly towards the guitar body.

HPF at around 120 and that cuts a bit towards 200 anyway.

Don't pound that damn thing. Use a heavy pick but play gently, that's what works for me. Light strings too, not medium.
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Weirdly, acoustic guitar is one of the instruments I've never had a problem with.
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19th October 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vernier View Post
Weirdly, acoustic guitar is one of the instruments I've never had a problem with.
.
.
Good room perhaps going on there i think that does make a huge difference..

Glad you've had no problems!
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19th October 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jono View Post
it's all about mic placement and orientation in the room. great mic, great guitar sounds great in one spot, not great in another spot. it's kinda hard to do if you're recording yourself, but keep movin till you like it. pay attention to what's behind the player (as in a wall) or in front of the player (as in a wall) and how close/far he/she is from those walls, and what those walls have on them (hard or soft)...the mic and the guitar are obviously important, but location is more so, me thinks
Yes i think your spot on there
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jono View Post
it's all about mic placement and orientation in the room. great mic, great guitar sounds great in one spot, not great in another spot. it's kinda hard to do if you're recording yourself...
I've had good luck using quality, closed headphones. Takes some mental adjustment, but you can find the sweet spot.
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