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The Best Acoustic Guitar Mics + Preamp Combo's
Old 20th January 2016
  #1
The Best Acoustic Guitar Mics + Preamp Combo's

What is everybody's favorite acoustic guitar mics / preamp combo's?

Just heard this new shootout at vintage king, I'm liking that AEA r84. It's a ribbon mic, I don't think large diaphragm condensers sound right on acoustic guitars (correct me if i'm wrong), too much highs (imo). The ribbon mic leaves good space for the vocal, I like that a lot.

Check the shootout here:
Acoustic Guitar Microphone Shootout - Vintage King Audio


Brings me to my next question, what are some really good mics that can hang with this kind of quality, on acoustic guitar? I know theres a lot of small diapragm condensers that are popular, and I'm sure there's gotta be some good dynamic mics out there. Please those who are informed, fill me in.

Also whats a good go to preamp to record acoustic guitar with? If you like a mic, please post the chain you use to record it with.

Thanks!
Old 20th January 2016
  #2
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frans's Avatar
I can't answer your question. More often than not, the acoustic guitars that came to my studio didn' sound uniform, but different and within a mix, all rules are out the window. It might be narrowed down if you intend to do a sparse arrangement with a really good guitar and a good player. In that case I'd try a clean pre (for example my SoundSkulptor MP5.99 and maybe start with the JimWilliams modded AKG C414 or my U47 clone by a fellow from Austria named Max Kircher. Or my old AKG C451 but that can't take high peaks too well. Or if it's too spiky and played too abrasive, an old AKG D20 (softens stuff) or a Beyer ribbon or a ShinyBox Ribbon or if it's not spiky enough for a soft ribbon and a bit too chick-chick-kchz for a condenser, a Beyerdynamic M88 or if that has too much lowend for that, a Sennheiser MD441.
Old 20th January 2016
  #3
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Unclenny's Avatar
I go back and forth on this question relative to my own limited collection.

For the tune I am working on now I put up a KSM32 and a Peluso 22 251 for the acoustic guitar track. I recorded a punchy finger picked track through both mics. I really wanted to use the KSM32 as it was indeed a bit softer.

But, once again, I went with the full range capture of the big tube LDC. I'm glad I did...a little gentle top end filtering has me smiling as I track the other instruments.

As far as preamp selection...my Trident strip would not power up after 12 years of flawless service. Instead of panicking I just plugged the Peluso right into the mic pre on my Eleven Rack. That's right.....11R. I was very impressed at the clean capture that I got....very usable.
Old 20th January 2016
  #4
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noah330's Avatar
It really depends on what kind of guitar I'm recording and what style of playing it is.

I normally use an ADL-600 with either a pair of Mojave MA-200s or a Neumann KM-184.

Sometimes if I want a darker sound I'll use a UA-610 (the rack one) with either a MA-200 or MA-201.

For guitars I like 50s/60s Gibson and Martin - that's really what matters to me more than the mic/pre. YMMV
Old 20th January 2016
  #5
Gear Addict
Samar mf 65 ribbon no contest for acoustic the others not even in the same league
Old 20th January 2016
  #6
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kafka's Avatar
Neumann KM84 is kind of a standard, for good reason. I think they're phenomenal, with the exception that they can be just slightly thick sounding. They're the closest mic I've found to how my ear hears things. If I don't want that thickness, an AKG C460B/CK1 is a really, really close second. I'd happily use the C460B for any guitar recording, anywhere, any time. Those in the know claim the C480B is even better. My other favorite is the Gefell MV690/M70, which is nice and true and flat, like a KM84 or C460B, but has an added sparkle in the high end, although oddly enough, equally unhyped.

For LDCs, I don't really collect those. I have a Gefell UM70S that's a magic mic. It's just great sounding on everything. I really need to pick up a second, if I can find one. I also like my Peluso 2247 LE and have had some good luck with the Blackspade UM17R. These are really vocal mics, though, and while beautiful sounding, aren't true like an SDC. As a guitar player, I'm probably over-sensitive to anything that doesn't sound exactly like a live guitar, and can't stand anything that moves away from that, even if it sounds good. As far as ribbons go, while I just love their naturalness, I just don't ever use them on flattop.

For preamps, Daking, Daking, and more Daking. The Dakings are clear and open sounding, and have just the slightest smear in the high end that makes things sound really sweet. It's just barely a hint of sugar up there. Keep the gain down on them a little bit, though. It's not a preamp you want to accidentally clip.
Old 20th January 2016
  #7
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mbvoxx's Avatar
I have gotten great results from these combos on acoustic guitar:

Flea 49 > Fearn VT1
Gefell M300 (single) > BAE 1073 MPF
Paired AT4050 (Blumlein) > Forssell FetCode
M300 (spaced or XY) > Pacifica

In a hurry I've used a TLM49 > BAE1073 MPF and gotten surprisingly good results.

I've also gotten good results from my lowest end set up: Oktava 012 > Apollo pre.

really depends on the player, guitar, room, song, and what your end result goal is.

Last edited by mbvoxx; 21st January 2016 at 07:28 PM..
Old 20th January 2016
  #8
Dot
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Dot's Avatar
Wow, those Vintage King samples sound like ass.

If you wanna ride with the big boys on an acoustic gtr mic/pre combo...

AKG 414 and John Hardy M1 preamp. Or 87/67 through a Neve 80 series console.

And you better have a good acoustic gtr, player, and room acoustics to bring to the table.
Old 20th January 2016
  #9
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KM84 at the neck meets the body position along with a U87ai / TLM-49, or Pearlman TM-47 either at my right ear or near the bridge, going into a BAE 1073 are my favorite.
Old 21st January 2016
  #10
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mbvoxx's Avatar
On my last album project I had a singer/songwriter in the control room laying down scratch tracks of acoustic guitar & vocal for the drums & bass to cue to, which were both in the tracking room, bass going DI. I had a TLM49 > BAE1073MPF already set up in the control room from things done previously that day when they came in at 6pm. So I had the singer sit next to me and positioned the TLM49 approx 12 inches in front of him at face level, aimed slightly down to his Gibson J200. Since his was just a scratch track I just wanted to capture it while providing a cue to the guys in the tracking room, and all were playing to a click track. But as weeks passed and I continued producing the tunes, for one song in particular, I kept coming back to his scratch track after having re-recorded the vocal and guitar separately and clean on different mics more suited to the sources because it was the best vocal performance of all the takes for that tune...Quite by accident, but the best, and maybe because the singer had an audience, of sorts, with the other players at that first session. And even though the track also had his J200 recorded with his vocal, the blend of voice and guitar, level wise, was good and it worked. In the end I used the scratch track on that song for the Ld Voc, centered, and added the add'l, clean acoustic takes wide L & R at approx a 60% level, to help spread out the acoustic guitar. And it worked beautifully. In this case the TLM49 was a good choice, if by accident, for his voice and guitar. But, as everyone knows, sometimes things happen in the studio quite by accident that end up as creative greatness. Of course, when that happens, I always tell the client that it was planned. ;-) It's always good to keep the wizard behind the curtain.
Old 22nd January 2016
  #11
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morphtec's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dot View Post
Wow, those Vintage King samples sound like ass.

If you wanna ride with the big boys on an acoustic gtr mic/pre combo...

AKG 414 and John Hardy M1 preamp. Or 87/67 through a Neve 80 series console.

And you better have a good acoustic gtr, player, and room acoustics to bring to the table.
the samples sound like you would expect a guitar sounding in a quite dead room. There are way to many microphone "shootouts" on the net were the engineers couldn't help diddling with some EQ and compression on the "raw" files. Vintage King has earned some respect for keeping it raw me thinks.

Apart from that: it can't be overstated how great those ugly Shure KSM44s are! Really great sounding mics on everything I ever heard them on.

Last edited by morphtec; 7th April 2016 at 01:26 PM..
Old 22nd January 2016
  #12
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vernier's Avatar
I still like an RE15 or d19, or 77 ribbon.
Old 22nd January 2016
  #13
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dights's Avatar
 

It totally depends on the sound you're going for, and the source (song, player, guitar etc.).

I've actually used an AEA R92 on acoustic guitar extensively on an album, I went through the AEA TRP at the time. Then again I was recording it together with a KM84 up the neck, as well as using a U47 as the main mic on other acoustic guitar parts in the same songs/album.

I personally like to use two mics on acoustic guitar, a large diaphragm on the body and a small diaphragm up the neck. As I said though, the mics and pres I'd choose would depend on the source and the studio I was at.

To be honest, unless the mic and pre are terrible, the mic technique is more important than the specific chain used. Yeah I'd pick mics and pres for tone and character, but you can stick a great mic in front of a guitar and have it sound terrible quite easily.

Now that I think about it though, I've never actually used a dynamic mic to record acoustic guitar
Old 22nd January 2016
  #14
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doncaparker's Avatar
 

Like everybody else said, it depends on what you are looking for.

Having said that, I really like the sound of a single, properly serviced Neumann KM84 through an NPNG preamp on just about any source, but particularly on acoustic guitar. I experimented with lots of different pieces of gear before these found their way to me. I don't feel the need to try out much gear anymore.
Old 22nd January 2016
  #15
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musicalnyc's Avatar
 

Wow. Those Vintage King samples sound absolutely terrible. Wrong wrong wrong. Just goes to show you - online samples are worth their weight. Recording acoustic guitar is about capturing the instrument in the room. The musician's hands create the tone and don't let anyone tell you otherwise. You just capture it. The way to do this is with mic placement. A Neumann will be your trusty friend because it will always work. KM84 or U87 into any pre. If you can't move one of those around in a room to make a great player sound great, listen better or get a new job. Sorry to not be slutty.
Old 23rd January 2016
  #17
Gear Nut
 
Adkins's Avatar
DPA 4011 into QES Labs SMP-2. Immediacy and transparency.
The bottom end warms up, without being too bloomy, and the mid/treble tones get magnified to a much bigger presence, still very musical and detailed.
An ideal combo for single overdubs direct to a multitrack, and for purist straight stereo recordings.
Sonic heaven in a pocket.
Old 24th January 2016
  #18
Quote:
Originally Posted by dights View Post
It totally depends on the sound you're going for, and the source (song, player, guitar etc.).

I've actually used an AEA R92 on acoustic guitar extensively on an album, I went through the AEA TRP at the time. Then again I was recording it together with a KM84 up the neck, as well as using a U47 as the main mic on other acoustic guitar parts in the same songs/album.

I personally like to use two mics on acoustic guitar, a large diaphragm on the body and a small diaphragm up the neck. As I said though, the mics and pres I'd choose would depend on the source and the studio I was at.

To be honest, unless the mic and pre are terrible, the mic technique is more important than the specific chain used. Yeah I'd pick mics and pres for tone and character, but you can stick a great mic in front of a guitar and have it sound terrible quite easily.

Now that I think about it though, I've never actually used a dynamic mic to record acoustic guitar

Quote:
Originally Posted by doncaparker View Post
Like everybody else said, it depends on what you are looking for.

Having said that, I really like the sound of a single, properly serviced Neumann KM84 through an NPNG preamp on just about any source, but particularly on acoustic guitar. I experimented with lots of different pieces of gear before these found their way to me. I don't feel the need to try out much gear anymore.

Quote:
Originally Posted by musicalnyc View Post
Wow. Those Vintage King samples sound absolutely terrible. Wrong wrong wrong. Just goes to show you - online samples are worth their weight. Recording acoustic guitar is about capturing the instrument in the room. The musician's hands create the tone and don't let anyone tell you otherwise. You just capture it. The way to do this is with mic placement. A Neumann will be your trusty friend because it will always work. KM84 or U87 into any pre. If you can't move one of those around in a room to make a great player sound great, listen better or get a new job. Sorry to not be slutty.
so after a bit of research the neumann km84 or 184 seems to be the standard for acoustic guitar. Thanks everybody.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Doc Mixwell View Post
after watching a shootout between the gefell and the neumann. I am surprised at how good the gefell sounds, seems like it beats the neumann km 184 pretty easily. But it makes sense given the price.

I also still like the ribbon AEA r84. Definitely appreciate all the info in these replys. Thanks!
Old 24th January 2016
  #19
Quote:
Originally Posted by kmade View Post
Samar mf 65 ribbon no contest for acoustic the others not even in the same league
ill check this out thanks
Old 24th January 2016
  #20
neumann km84 is the king for me, it's so good that my recordings done without it sound pretty aweful in comparison, and that's just with one mic, imagine what a pair could do.
Old 24th January 2016
  #21
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doncaparker's Avatar
 

You will hear this a bazillion times, but don't equate the km84 with the km184. Same capsule, different circuit. Evaluate each one on its own merits.
Old 24th January 2016
  #22
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doncaparker's Avatar
 

Also, if you buy a km84, get it serviced by either Neumann USA (which is Sennheiser) or Tom Onofrio right after you buy it. These are old mics, and even the most pampered mics need new capacitors and/or switches over time. Hopefully not a new capsule, but sometimes.

The best mic purchases I ever made were my km84s and km83s, all of which were sent for service immediately upon arrival.
Old 6th April 2016
  #23
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Resis's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by pencilextremist View Post
and that's just with one mic, imagine what a pair could do.
Love the km84. What miking technique would you use with a pair?
Old 6th April 2016
  #24
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cjogo's Avatar
We use a Manley DVC with a RODE NT3 on the neck & a Oktava MK-319 / RODE NTK/ or a AT4033 ( really depends on the acoustic ) on the bottom

for a room mic >> we incorporate the AT 2050 in FIG 8 /Omni
Old 6th April 2016
  #25
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SM81
Old 7th April 2016
  #26
For steel string acoustics I would almost always recommend putting a ribbon up along with a pencil and an LDC. We've been getting amazing results recently with a Coles 4038 on the body of the guitar and a KM184 paired with a Neumann U47fet aimed around the 12th fret. We stole that setup of an award winning producer who does tons of the UKs top folk musicians.

When I recorded Pierre Bensusan last year we did it differently as his sound is quite unique. For him we went with an AKG 414 on the body and another up near the 5th fret, a KM184 and an SE Rupert Neve ribbon (an amazing mic!) at the 12th fret, plus a U87 in figure of 8 under the KM184 to give us a mid side option if we wanted it.

The 414s are utterly brilliant sounding mics in this set up. Very very clean, clear and detailed. The KM184 is good but not as full sounding. The ribbon gives you the depth and warmth that the other mics don't give you.

The tracks we mixed for Pierre used the U87 on one track in mid side, but not on the other. The U87 adds some nice mid range which the other mics don't get as well.

As for preamps, 414s into 1081s sounded nice, Coles 4038 into Masalec MMA-4XR, KM184 into Masalec or TubeTech or Focusrite ISA430mkII.

There are so many approaches and combinations , I think it's always best to experiment on your own to find what you like for any given sound without the artist being there. Guitar choice makes the biggest difference, then mic choice, but preamp choice is still very much worth playing with, especially when combining multiple mics. 1081s and Masalec MMA-4XRs are fantastic for clean sounds and acoustic instruments.

Best of luck with your experimenting
Old 8th April 2016
  #27
Gear Maniac
 
OhioGreg's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Adkins View Post
DPA 4011 into QES Labs SMP-2. Immediacy and transparency.
The bottom end warms up, without being too bloomy, and the mid/treble tones get magnified to a much bigger presence, still very musical and detailed.
An ideal combo for single overdubs direct to a multitrack, and for purist straight stereo recordings.
Sonic heaven in a pocket.
Dpa's are hard to beat.
Old 8th April 2016
  #28
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by dights View Post
It totally depends on the sound you're going for, and the source (song, player, guitar etc.).

I've actually used an AEA R92 on acoustic guitar extensively on an album, I went through the AEA TRP at the time. Then again I was recording it together with a KM84 up the neck, as well as using a U47 as the main mic on other acoustic guitar parts in the same songs/album.

I personally like to use two mics on acoustic guitar, a large diaphragm on the body and a small diaphragm up the neck. As I said though, the mics and pres I'd choose would depend on the source and the studio I was at.

To be honest, unless the mic and pre are terrible, the mic technique is more important than the specific chain used. Yeah I'd pick mics and pres for tone and character, but you can stick a great mic in front of a guitar and have it sound terrible quite easily.

Now that I think about it though, I've never actually used a dynamic mic to record acoustic guitar
Yes, you have:
Quote:
I've actually used an AEA R92 on acoustic guitar extensively on an album



But if you mean a moving coil, you could use that on the soundboard; preferably not on the neck.
Old 8th April 2016
  #29
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sdelsolray's Avatar
 

As others have said, much depends on the application and the musical purpose of the acoustic guitar in the particular recording. Strummed rhythm guitar in a six piece band with three part vocals is one thing. A solo acoustic guitar fingerstyle composition is something else.

I record the later. I've spent perhaps too much time chasing the "best" for that simple application and narrow musical purpose. What I've learned is there are many great mic/pre combinations, none necessarily being better than the others. All are just different flavors of nice. Of course, there are even more mic/pre combinations that aren't quite up to snuff, or just suck.

Still, for my uses and aesthetics, I gravitate towards a pair of Gefell M295 and a dbx 786 preamp.
Old 9th April 2016
  #30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Resis View Post
Love the km84. What miking technique would you use with a pair?
most likely X/Y, I prefer this to ORTF and spaced pair, but sometimes for some pieces you want more of the room, it depends on the piece of music.
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