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Flamenco recording & production
Old 20th January 2007
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The Listener's Avatar
Flamenco recording & production

I haven't found any info on that topic on this forum yet.

I am asking if there are any experienced flamenco mixers, producers around here.

The standards in this music are set pretty high - Vicente Amigo, Tomatito, Paco de Lucia and quite some others have really polished sound with a certain specific typical for those productions that other styles don't have. It sounds almost pop produced, but with a certain edge and larger than life soundstage and a lot of details going on without smearing the picture or taking the leading role of guitar away.

I am asking about some insider infos to trade - if you can. Which microphones for the guitar, do you record it stereo or prefer mono, which preamps mostly..

What are the preferable reverbs for the guitar..

Approach to recording palmas, which microphones for the cajon - do you mic it back and front, or back only?

Maybe some useful tips for mixing - achieiving the particular smooth yet agressive sound of the guitar - I know a lot depends on a guitarist himself - but apart from that...

Any first-hand info will be really appreciated.

We have achieved some good results already - I would only like to hear some info from the more experienced flamenco recordists, mixers and producers.
Old 20th January 2007
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Sinewave's Avatar

Hey while I'm not an experienced engineer in recording flamenco, i love the sound of the music, if i were you i would try to record this music in a live sounding room, using natural ambience and in stereo, even if your close miking the guitar.
I never thought that Paco was well recorded and Vincente sounds like they used a lot of modern POP recoding techniques to get his sound IMHO, i don't like it to much though i like his playing.
I love Paco, another that i love is Carlos heredia recorded by Bob Katz for Chesky, you can find him in the Mastering forum , he should be able to give you some good tips on the cajon ( i believe you mike it from behind ).
So who are you recording ? is it digital or tape ? sorry i could not help more.

Old 20th January 2007
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The Listener's Avatar
Hi, thanks for the reply..

I am recording a local band, but a guitarist is into flamenco for more than 15 years and the sound is becoming just "right". Now I have to record it. Unfortunately no tape here... Digital.

I also like more puristic, stereo recording approach - but it is a style of flamenco nuevo, which tends to pop production-wise... It is a challenge for me to achieve something similar as let's say Vicente Amigo level of sound, but not a copy of their sound - just a smoothness and space... Paco's later albums are very well recorded, but the older ones are magic

Yes - cajon is miced from the behind - I wonder if they use some additional tricks to achieve the depth & the crispiness of that instrument... You know - like that trick in r'n'b covering the drums with a blanket and than processing them and similar...
Old 20th January 2007
Gear Maniac

I'm not an expert, but can give you my opinion.

I love the Vicente's "Ciudad de las Ideas" CD. Everybody should have this. I've recorded spanish and flamenco guitar and cajon and can give you my points:

- The guitarrist playing is everything
- Mic: Try a DPA 4011 if you can. The best Spanish guitar sound I've recorded.
- I DO put a second mic (use to be SDC) in the front of the cajón for the hands details.
- For "Palmas" they use to stay (several) around a mic in an ambience way.
- The natural ambience is very important, but you need reverb machines too.

It keeps being an acoustical recording so, in general, treat it like that.
Old 20th January 2007
Gear Guru
FFTT's Avatar

A friend of mine turned me onto an excellent group named

Nova Menco

1997 Baja/TSR records.

No clue what they're using, but quite impressed.

One of those must hear groups.
Old 21st January 2007
Gear Addict
Emi's Avatar
cajon: depends on what u look for. for a full bass sound the best sound I get is mike it a few inches from the hole of the cajon (behind it) , u can experiment with defferent mics (condensers or dynamic). As for a very "light" sound i prefer ti mic it in front of it just to get the peak of it (I ussualy do this when I have to mix it with the kick and the cajon does not have to compete with the kick but only has to be there.

the guitar: ussually 2 neumann KM 184 in stereo tehnique (experiment with the position of the mics). Doesn´t have to be km 184 u can use other mics u only have to go for the sound u look for along with the guitar player.

as for the pre-amps...depends on the song...if it has a lot of elements then I´d go for thinner pres...but if u look for a larger then life sound...then try with good pre-amps (can be SS or Valve)

Reverbs: to all flamencos they like plate rev. and with a long tail and lots of it in the mix....let´s say the Camaron style reverb

hope that helped you
Old 21st January 2007
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The Listener's Avatar
Thank you all for your kind replys.

Emi - can you maybe name some of the mics that worked well with the back of cajon placement? Some dynamics? Or small diafragm condensers?

And what kind of stereo for the guitar? XY, ORTF, MS? Close or more ambient? I know I should experiment, but maybe what seems to work the most, to try that first... Do you overdub the guitar parts - record more agressive and subtle parts separately? Or does the guitarist "work" the microphone? Getting closer for more full sound when playing soft passages and distancing himself, when he plays aggressive picados & rajeos or does the compressor take care of that?

Maybe you have some useful settings for the compressor on guitar and cajon - do you compress it much?

thank you, again...
Old 21st January 2007
Gear Addict
Emi's Avatar
for the back of the cajon I ussually stick a akg-414

for the guitarr..normally a AB tehnique or an MS...but mostly AB (another tehbnique that I use...well it´s my own "trick" to say it so is to put a mic right in front of the guitar but not pointing directly to the hole and another one at the ear of the player...for this I normally use small diafragm mics like KM 184)
in "AB" mode...u usually put a 414 for the body of the guitarr and a small diafragm for the threats

i never compress at recording...if the player has high parts to play than I just pull down the gain of the pre-amp than in mixdown I prefer more to automate than to compress

as for compression for the cajon...depends on the sound u look u have to experiment for the sound YOU look for..there are no rules
Old 21st January 2007
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The Listener's Avatar
Thanx again. What do you mean at the ear of the player - in the hight of his ear, but in front of him pointing down at the guitar or really near his ear - pointing where?

Old 22nd January 2007
Gear Addict
Emi's Avatar
at the ear...I put the mic stand in the back of the player and the mic actully coming from behind and faced downward in a 45º angle...I would have to drow it for you...I don´t have a picture to show it to you...sorry...( u can imagine it like a lamp coming from behind when you´re in your favorite chair readinga book)

don´t know if this explication helped´s kinda strange but for me it works every time I want a larger than life sound of acoustic or spanish guitar.

than in mixdown i pan the tracks hard left and hard right and it has mono compatibility too.
Old 22nd January 2007
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insomnio's Avatar

Make sure to mic the arm of the guitar. In modern fussion recordings (Pastori, Rosario, etc) the sound of the flamenco guitar tend to be very thin.
For cajón, you can mic the front with a SDC, like the KM184 Emi is sugesting, and the back with a MD421. You can chose how much bottom you want later.
You could have an open track of an omni in all sessions to rec the room, decide later how much ambience.
The claps need ambience like no other source.
And don't forget to track some people with an omni shouting to the bailaor.
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