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Make acoustic guitar “warm”
Old 4 weeks ago
  #1
Gear Head
 

Make acoustic guitar “warm”

Hi,
How can I make a warm guitar like here.
I think the “warm” come from hardware effect like reverb and compressor.
Can I get this warm guitar without hardware effect?
I recording my guitar with SM81 (small diaphragm)

https://youtu.be/FY3Pfxz9DkQ
Old 4 weeks ago
  #2
I don't think it sounds that warm, I would say this is an example of a warm acoustic sound,
It is recorded by pointing the mic directly in the soundhole, not the top of the fretboard like is normally done.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #3
Lives for gear
 

An SM81 is a bright sounding condenser mic. If you want to make the sound more "intimate" Vs "distant/ambiant" sounding then its a matter of the distance of the mic from the source of sound. As you move the mic farther away it does have an impact on the Frequency response. You typically loose bass frequency (warmth) as you back the mic off and it becomes more midrange as the room reflection captured by the mic increases (depending on the room type)

After the recording is completed you typically want to use studio monitors (not headphones) to balance the frequencies using an EQ. Typically broad boosts to increase what is weal and narrow cuts carefully targeting what is bad are used to make something like an acoustic guitar sound "Natural" (not warm)

Natural is a matter of matching the instruments body side to the speakers so you avoid the over emphasis of certain frequencies that can cause the speakers to boom or resonate badly. Certain notes on the neck can wind up being too bassy while others completely dead when the mic placement or mic type is wrong. You can wind up with nothing but top end because you find one low frequency annoying as all get out so you dials all bass frequencies down and wound up with a cheesy sounding box tone.

When mixing you have to identify the loudest bass frequencies and create small dips in the EQ frequencies, like digging the dirt out from under the notes so they don't get any higher in volume compared to any other notes. You Level The pitch volume using the EQ to target the loud notes to attenuate them down, while boosting the other notes they wind up sounding a bit anemic.

Acoustic guitar can be a bit more difficult because you can have things like string buzz, or zipper noise and squeaks of fingers sliding on the strings.
When you add vocals its even more difficult because guitar is pretty much full frequency and you have to carve out a hole in the frequency spectrum for the voice to fit.

I took a quick listen to what you had going on. Unfortunately the speaker on my work computer isn't very good. I cant hear the acoustic very strong in the upper mids with the bulk of the main voice below it in tone. The acoustic seems to be missing some carefully sculpted lows and has a lack of presence. I suspect the instrument was recorded at a distance or the track is loaded with plugins sucking the life out of it. I also suspect you may be using the same mic for the vocals which makes the task of getting the vocals and guitar separated in the mix even more difficult.

For what I heard there you may be better off using two mics and recording vocals and guitar simultaneously, but condensers aren't always the best option for that because of bleed over and phase cancellation. recording the guitar and vocals separately takes care of the phase problem but the initial blend of vocals and guitar can suffer big time if you aren't used to recording that way. I started off playing acoustic guitar back in the day and recording often consisted of using a single mic placed to capture vocals and guitar at the same time. You had to wear headphones, move the mic around in a room to capture the best vocal and guitar tone at the same time. You learn allot doing that too. Using two mics you have to minimize phase cancellation by properly position both so the mics are additive instead of subtractive.

I used nothing but an acoustic guitar to record for a few years and invented a few techniques of my own. One was to use a card table with a desk tom mic that set on top for the vocals. Then below the card table I had a second mic which I used to capture the guitar. I must have recorded 200 songs that way and many sounded pretty darn good. I recorded straight to a reel to reel each hard panned left and right then I mixed the tracks through hardware effects to cassette.

As far as using Compression and reverb, I suggest you get the tracks sounding as good as possible in Mono before you start complicating the situation burying it under a load of crap that may not be needed. Compression can be useful when your musical performance has weak spots. Compression cant fix the weak notes but it can make them less noticeable. Just remember compression = volume automation. Many times you can fid a mix but simply riding the volume or creating volume envelopes where its needed. Compression is used when the volume needs to be adjusted faster than a person can do it manually, but it comes at a cost and that cost is usually at the expense of sacrificing the emotional impact of music. You must always remember the silence between notes is just as important as the notes themselves. You crank that compression up the silence disappears and the music becomes dynamically one volume.

(also if you plan on mastering you add a buttload of compression when you master so its typically not needed when mixing if the musical performance is at all worth listening to and up to par.

Reverb? That's a matter of taste for space. With acoustic and vocals I've heard excellent recordings with and without reverb. It simply comes down to how intimate you want the sound to be. If its a song you want whispered in someone's ear then I'd likely keep it tight, dry, and well rehearsed and performed. If I was trying to create a recording that mimicked a live event, coffee house something with maybe 25 people I'd likely stick with warmer medium length reverbs. In concert stuff, big audience, hundreds of people I'd use longer plates or hall verbs carefully dialed in so you have at least 50~75% dry (25% wet) Once you go above 50% it sounds like you're under water. You can use a bright hall and increase the pre delay. This leaves a time delay before the dry sound hits the first wall and things begin to reverberate. This gives the vocals and instrument an initial attack which is clear and defined. it also prevents the reverb timing from messing with the rhythm of the music.

These are super generic ideas which you'll need to try out and see what works for you. There is no right or wrong answers here, only suggestions and opinions which can hopefully kick start some of your own ideas on how to handle things. That's something only you can decide.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #4
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by wrgkmc View Post
An SM81 is a bright sounding condenser mic. If you want to make the sound more "intimate" Vs "distant/ambiant" sounding then its a matter of the distance of the mic from the source of sound. As you move the mic farther away it does have an impact on the Frequency response. You typically loose bass frequency (warmth) as you back the mic off and it becomes more midrange as the room reflection captured by the mic increases (depending on the room type)

After the recording is completed you typically want to use studio monitors (not headphones) to balance the frequencies using an EQ. Typically broad boosts to increase what is weal and narrow cuts carefully targeting what is bad are used to make something like an acoustic guitar sound "Natural" (not warm)

Natural is a matter of matching the instruments body side to the speakers so you avoid the over emphasis of certain frequencies that can cause the speakers to boom or resonate badly. Certain notes on the neck can wind up being too bassy while others completely dead when the mic placement or mic type is wrong. You can wind up with nothing but top end because you find one low frequency annoying as all get out so you dials all bass frequencies down and wound up with a cheesy sounding box tone.

When mixing you have to identify the loudest bass frequencies and create small dips in the EQ frequencies, like digging the dirt out from under the notes so they don't get any higher in volume compared to any other notes. You Level The pitch volume using the EQ to target the loud notes to attenuate them down, while boosting the other notes they wind up sounding a bit anemic.

Acoustic guitar can be a bit more difficult because you can have things like string buzz, or zipper noise and squeaks of fingers sliding on the strings.
When you add vocals its even more difficult because guitar is pretty much full frequency and you have to carve out a hole in the frequency spectrum for the voice to fit.

I took a quick listen to what you had going on. Unfortunately the speaker on my work computer isn't very good. I cant hear the acoustic very strong in the upper mids with the bulk of the main voice below it in tone. The acoustic seems to be missing some carefully sculpted lows and has a lack of presence. I suspect the instrument was recorded at a distance or the track is loaded with plugins sucking the life out of it. I also suspect you may be using the same mic for the vocals which makes the task of getting the vocals and guitar separated in the mix even more difficult.

For what I heard there you may be better off using two mics and recording vocals and guitar simultaneously, but condensers aren't always the best option for that because of bleed over and phase cancellation. recording the guitar and vocals separately takes care of the phase problem but the initial blend of vocals and guitar can suffer big time if you aren't used to recording that way. I started off playing acoustic guitar back in the day and recording often consisted of using a single mic placed to capture vocals and guitar at the same time. You had to wear headphones, move the mic around in a room to capture the best vocal and guitar tone at the same time. You learn allot doing that too. Using two mics you have to minimize phase cancellation by properly position both so the mics are additive instead of subtractive.

I used nothing but an acoustic guitar to record for a few years and invented a few techniques of my own. One was to use a card table with a desk tom mic that set on top for the vocals. Then below the card table I had a second mic which I used to capture the guitar. I must have recorded 200 songs that way and many sounded pretty darn good. I recorded straight to a reel to reel each hard panned left and right then I mixed the tracks through hardware effects to cassette.

As far as using Compression and reverb, I suggest you get the tracks sounding as good as possible in Mono before you start complicating the situation burying it under a load of crap that may not be needed. Compression can be useful when your musical performance has weak spots. Compression cant fix the weak notes but it can make them less noticeable. Just remember compression = volume automation. Many times you can fid a mix but simply riding the volume or creating volume envelopes where its needed. Compression is used when the volume needs to be adjusted faster than a person can do it manually, but it comes at a cost and that cost is usually at the expense of sacrificing the emotional impact of music. You must always remember the silence between notes is just as important as the notes themselves. You crank that compression up the silence disappears and the music becomes dynamically one volume.

(also if you plan on mastering you add a buttload of compression when you master so its typically not needed when mixing if the musical performance is at all worth listening to and up to par.

Reverb? That's a matter of taste for space. With acoustic and vocals I've heard excellent recordings with and without reverb. It simply comes down to how intimate you want the sound to be. If its a song you want whispered in someone's ear then I'd likely keep it tight, dry, and well rehearsed and performed. If I was trying to create a recording that mimicked a live event, coffee house something with maybe 25 people I'd likely stick with warmer medium length reverbs. In concert stuff, big audience, hundreds of people I'd use longer plates or hall verbs carefully dialed in so you have at least 50~75% dry (25% wet) Once you go above 50% it sounds like you're under water. You can use a bright hall and increase the pre delay. This leaves a time delay before the dry sound hits the first wall and things begin to reverberate. This gives the vocals and instrument an initial attack which is clear and defined. it also prevents the reverb timing from messing with the rhythm of the music.

These are super generic ideas which you'll need to try out and see what works for you. There is no right or wrong answers here, only suggestions and opinions which can hopefully kick start some of your own ideas on how to handle things. That's something only you can decide.
WOW that’s a full answer

Big thanks!
Old 4 weeks ago
  #5
Lives for gear
 
RedBaaron's Avatar
try some tap saturation plugins
Old 4 weeks ago
  #6
Quote:
How can I make a warm guitar like here.
I think the “warm” come from hardware effect like reverb and compressor.
Most of the sound of the acoustics guitar, comes from the acoustic guitar itself and the room its recorded in. So if it doesn't sound close to what you want in the room you are in, then a compressor and especially a reverb.

If you want to emulate a specific acoustic guitar sound, start with getting the source sound as close as possible by playing the same guitar.

All acoustic guitars have different sound characteristics and the same acoustic guitar will sound different in every room its played in
Old 4 weeks ago
  #7
Gear Addict
 

There's a nylon string guitar buried in that mix. It's really warming things up. In general, CJ Mastering is correct. It's really all about the guitars you are using. The mics also help. You should try using ribbons or dynamics.

Check out this video of Marcus Mumford from "The New Basement Tapes." It starts around :20. The guitar is very warm and they are using a Shure 57.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-X3hdFWmerQ
Old 4 weeks ago
  #8
Lives for gear
 
Owen L T's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by aviorrok View Post
Hi,
How can I make a warm guitar like here.
I think the “warm” come from hardware effect like reverb and compressor.
Can I get this warm guitar without hardware effect?
I recording my guitar with SM81 (small diaphragm)
To reassert what others have said: no, the "warmth" emphatically does *not* come from a "hardware effect". That's a mindset that leads so many newcomers to believe that the thing preventing them them from achieving the sound they want is ... some piece of hardware. It's not!

"Warm" is an incredibly subjective adjective. But in the broadest terms, its about the balance of frequencies. This is determined by the guitar, the playing, the mic, and the position of that mic. AND, after that, by EQ decisions - such as, a gentle hi-shelf if there is too much sparkle up top.

Sure, some engineers talk about loving this or that classic hardware comp for it's "warmth", or something else. But that, sadly, has been understood on forums as meaning that this one piece of gear is the key to that engineer's sound - rather than fully embracing the fact that 99% (maybe more) comes down to the sound that was captured (before any compression or reverb), and the engineer's skill.

For a fantastic example of the huge difference you can get from simply things like mic placement, check out this Recording Revolution video. Moving the mic 6" one way or the other can have as big - and more natural - an impact on the sound as any processing you might do.

Old 4 weeks ago
  #9
Gear Maniac
 

Do we really believe he is getting that guitar sound from a 57 pointed at the floor?
Old 4 weeks ago
  #10
Lives for gear
Sorry.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #11
Lives for gear
 
Owen L T's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by 1960strat View Post
Do we really believe he is getting that guitar sound from a 57 pointed at the floor?
Agreed, that most of the shots make it look like this. But there one or two from a different angle, where it's clear that the SM57 is only 3" or 4" off the neck, angled down at it. So, basically, it's getting string but not sound-hole, and maybe a tiny bit off-axis, but great for maximum rejection of the rest of the band.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #12
Here for the gear
I do not consider this specific recording warm. but in anycase after a desirable mic placement especially with SM 81 I would use 1084 for smooth midrange .IMO to achieve the sonic characteristic of the guitar in this recording I would personaly utilize SSL E series Black or API 550 EQs after compression. A lot of plugin emulations are available if you can't have the hardware.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #13
Gear Maniac
 

Sorry, i think this is one of those video record the pre-pro and record the audio later with the real gear
Old 4 weeks ago
  #14
Gear Guru
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Owen L T View Post
"Warm" is an incredibly subjective adjective. But in the broadest terms, its about the balance of frequencies.
this is how I think of "warm" as well
the video the OP posted does not strike me as particularly warm, but maybe it is in comparison to his SM 81, which, as many have said, is a fairly bright mic.

Quote:
Originally Posted by aviorrok
I think the “warm” come from hardware effect like reverb and compressor.
no
a reverb will make is sound like it is in a large (or small) space. A hall or an auditorium.

a compressor will level out volume differences between loud and soft playing. Some compressors will saturate and roll off some highs, but that is not what a compressor is "for".

In any case, you can experiment with these effects via plug-ins. If you think any of them are getting you closer to you want, then you can look into whether you think the hardware version is worth the money and hassle. Many people still express a preference for hardware, but plug-ins are good enough today that many top engineers use them exclusively. And certainly they are good enough for you to try these effects, and learn what they can (and cannot) do to your sound.


Quote:
Originally Posted by aviorrok
Can I get this warm guitar without hardware effect?
You can use EQ to take down some of the highs. But that's probably my last choice for achieving my desired frequency balance. My first choices would be the performance, the guitar, the strings, the microphones the placement of those microphones. If I really want "warm" acoustic guitar, I usually reach for a ribbon mic. However, the recording you posted does not sound like a ribbon mic to me. A ribbon mic may be more "warm" than you bargained for!

The video may be warm in comparison to the SM 81 - which I would consider a pretty bright microphone.

The playing on the video sounds very nice, but as a recordist, you need to be careful to distinguish musical things you like from sound things you like.

See my signature for more.
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