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Let's talk specifics about SDC's and Acoustic Guitars
Old 26th March 2019
  #1
Let's talk specifics about SDC's and Acoustic Guitars

Ok- I have had a journey with this- and I suspect a few of you have too- I want to discuss specifics about what we like and dislike with acoustic guitar recordings and more importantly, WHY? What about the EQ, or the sonic print of a mic or recording is compelling?

The first thing that I have learned is that what is "good" is always contextual to what serves the song.

Sometimes an acoustic guitar needs to be big because it's the meat (or a lot of the meat of the song) So- EQ and mic placement wise, that would alter my choices from say the opposite:

A thinner, shinier sound meant to be almost like another high hat or shaker.

There is a continuum ranging from Fleetwood Mac Dreams, High hat panned to one side, acoustic to the other- and then say Nick Drake or M Ward where the acoustic is the star of the show. Some Wilco on the Whole Love- or Far Far Away- the acoustic is what sets the mood-

A lot of CLA rock mixes, the acoustic is more like a shaker - it drives the groove or propels a chorus forward, but it's not a feature.

So for me, I had to learn over time that there is not one great acoustic sound- only what serves the song the best.

I have discovered that I like certain things and dislike certain things-

Number one- I discovered that I like strings that have been used a while way more than I like new strings-

Number two- I like Big Martin and Vintage Gibson acoustic sounds whenever I hear them- so I bought both, and it's made all the difference.
Number 3

I don't like certain shrill higher frequencies ever- some acoustic guitars just don't sound good in that way.
Also the PICK and the PICKING STYLE matter. ALOT

I prefer a nylon dunlop 60mm for some, and a fender smooth 60mm for some.
I may go heavier or lighter depending on the song.

I had KM 184's and I just felt they were somewhat tinny- except if you had a really soft room and woody guitar, with a dynamic player- then the 184's show that they are in fact, Neumann's.

I prefer a mix of smooth and poky in my acoustic tracks- Matt Costa has that sound- I know they used Daking Mic Pre's and Martin guitars on that some of his tracks.

Number 4: There are just mics that have a presence that supersedes EQ - they sound sanctified- like the right picture frame.
I've listened to many hundreds of mic samples from all over and I keep coming to the conclusion that in most cases, on some level you get what you pay for in terms of the sonic footprint, reach and articulation of a mic on certain types of sources.
For whatever reason, and I know I may be flamed for this, but I find that I keep hearing that "set apart" thing with German made mics.

Shure sm57 can be that- I love my AT 3035's , but I'm saying when that vocal needs to grab you immediately, it has been seemingly easier for me with German made mics-

The ones that I've owned, all had that- even if I didn't love the EQ utility of the mic for lots of sources. One example is the TLM 103, and another is the KM184- I've owned both-

I tried to make a Yamaha FG 350 sound like M Ward's guitar, and it never worked- I bought API compressors and different mic pre's (yes not smart)

So you need to have an acoustic guitar that fits the bill in the first place!!

Now, you have to figure out what the song should feel like and what role the acoustic plays.

Pete Yorn Back & Forth is a great acoustic based record, and that's a benchmark for me in terms of all things acoustic guitar and mix wise. It's featured during the verse and then is more in the mix in the bigger chorus.

I have been using SM81's (I am a fan of Shure) but I think I have decided that the pencil mics like the Beyer MC930, etc... have a little more poke that I want. The SM81 is a great strumming, won't offend anyone mic. It absorbs strumming well- and it's a great high hat mic for that reason too.

But, on more intimate, acoustic guitar-featured tracks, I am looking for a mic and mic technique to smoothly poke forward.

I used to think that the only way I would get this is by tracking my 68 Gibson through a KM84 through a really nice pre-amp

I've decided after weeks of research and listening that the KM84 is not the only SDC that is superlative. I think the Beyer MC930's and the Beesneez Lulu FETS are as well.

I have also come to the conclusion that I like XY recordings with SDC's almost no matter what the song is- I always thought I had to record with one SM81 on the 12th fret about 8 inches or so away. I've tried that with all kinds of mics in mono.

I'm not looking for a wide spread- just for presence and electricity- I keep hearing that with XY recordings.

I have also found that the room matters ALOT with acoustic guitar recordings.

What have you found with acoustic guitar recordings.

Last edited by babydaddymusic; 26th March 2019 at 03:31 AM.. Reason: Forgot something
Old 26th March 2019
  #2
Lives for gear
 
Arichlsss's Avatar
I like being the engineer or the player but not both

It’s a pain to move two mics around and I feel there is comb filtering when I do it to close to my desk and equipment racks.

I like 451’s going in to neve’s on a D 35 for thick out front stuff and a d28 for strummy (shaker sound) in the mix style stuff

Also some times a sm7 sounds the best on a hard hitting danamic player .
Old 26th March 2019
  #3
Gear Guru
 
jwh1192's Avatar
Hi, I like my Schoeps CMC4 with MK41 capsule ... got it cheap years ago ... also, on the other end of the spectrum, the iSK Pearl !!

cheers john
Old 26th March 2019
  #4
Quote:
Originally Posted by Arichlsss View Post
I like being the engineer or the player but not both

It’s a pain to move two mics around and I feel there is comb filtering when I do it to close to my desk and equipment racks.

I like 451’s going in to neve’s on a D 35 for thick out front stuff and a d28 for strummy (shaker sound) in the mix style stuff

Also some times a sm7 sounds the best on a hard hitting danamic player .
I have secretly loved an sm57 on acoustic- I mean like really loved!
Old 26th March 2019
  #5
Quote:
Originally Posted by jwh1192 View Post
Hi, I like my Schoeps CMC4 with MK41 capsule ... got it cheap years ago ... also, on the other end of the spectrum, the iSK Pearl !!

cheers john
If you had to talk specifics about why you like- what would you say?
Old 26th March 2019
  #6
Gear Guru
 
jwh1192's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by babydaddymusic View Post
If you had to talk specifics about why you like- what would you say?
Scheops - sits in mix easily .. nice midrange for strum or pickor fingers ..

Pearl - same as above but with a little more low end - the capsule is a little larger
Old 26th March 2019
  #7
Quote:
Originally Posted by Arichlsss View Post
I like being the engineer or the player but not both

It’s a pain to move two mics around and I feel there is comb filtering when I do it to close to my desk and equipment racks.

I like 451’s going in to neve’s on a D 35 for thick out front stuff and a d28 for strummy (shaker sound) in the mix style stuff

Also some times a sm7 sounds the best on a hard hitting danamic player .
I think you touched on something here- AKG's on the whole have a Wild Horses shimmer to them that to my ears can be GREAT or not at all good- I can see how a Neve style pre would pair well-

AKG mics are a cool thing in that way-
Old 26th March 2019
  #8
Quote:
Originally Posted by jwh1192 View Post
Scheops - sits in mix easily .. nice midrange for strum or pickor fingers ..

Pearl - same as above but with a little more low end - the capsule is a little larger
The Schoeps are so nice- really really have that thing, although my limited experience with them fits into my theory about what works for songs-

I've become much more specific in my thinking-

Like- an AKG 451 on a twelve string strumming is a GREAT thing.
XY KM84's on a Big Martin or Vintage Gibson acoustic is probably going to be good-

Sometimes an SM57 can be great-
Old 26th March 2019
  #9
Gear Guru
 
jwh1192's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by babydaddymusic View Post
The Scheops are so nice- really really have that thing
i saw an ad in a magazine called the Recycler out here .. 500.00 !! i had Location Sound send it to Austria for me for a good going over once i made sure it was not stolen ... has been Stellar ever since .. got really lucky ..
Old 4 weeks ago
  #10
Gear Nut
 

This is a really fantastic post, OP. Bumping just to see what other thoughts people might have.

Also, to add my own piece, I don't have much experience miking acoustic in a studio situation (live sound guy), but I've got a session coming up and am exploring options. For a jazz guitarist with a steel string acoustic playing solo, I'm going to try XY with two 57s through Daking pres and see how it goes. Looking for a fuller sound and am interesting in the 3D quality some slight panning will do, as well as the ability to emphasis lows or highs by favoring one side or the other. Maybe I'll put an LDC a few feet out as a room mic just to see what I get, but I'm hoping XY will give me what I need.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #11
Quote:
Originally Posted by babydaddymusic View Post

What have you found with acoustic guitar recordings.
I pretty much agree with everything you said. One of my goals in life is to get great acoustic guitar recordings.

I had a year off last year and used a Shure sm81 and a CAD e70 mostly. Some years before that I'd tried RODE nt5s...but found them too bright and scratchy sounding.

In hindsight, what I keep in mind is that the performance is the most important thing. It's the way the guitar is played and the execution that the player has that will dictate the largest % of the quality of the sound.

I've made so many bad acoustic guitar recordings myself by having horrible headphone mixes and being distracted by trying to keep one eye on meters, one on what I'm playing, trying not to breathe too loud, minding the tapping foot...and what happened as a result was that I played rubbish, hacky sounding crap...and successfully recorded the heck out of it! A real slam dunk of perfect rubbish.

So...you need to play the guitar well.

And of course, everything else you mention is crucial as well haha



Oh by the way...I'm in a recording hiatus for the next year...but plan to try ribbon mics on acoustic guitar when I get set up. I have a feeling it's going to be the sound I'm looking for.


Last edited by hello people; 4 weeks ago at 12:59 PM..
Old 4 weeks ago
  #12
Gear Guru
 
Karloff70's Avatar
 

Seems we have similar tastes. I also love vintage Gibson and also 70's FG Yamaha acoustics (CW 63, FG180, FG75 here at the moment). And nothing shrill.

Very happy with a set of Lomo UM53 sdc's I stumbled upon randomly and will likely never sell. But also very up for dynamics, like 635a, 545, M88, M201 into a pre that makes them work out. Also, don't discount LDC's. A pair of U89's is on my list as 'LDC's for anything' (or MDC's...lol) and they sound very nice indeed to my aesthetic on acoustic.

The other thing is strings. Got a thing for D'Addario NB 13-56's right now. Sound lovely on the old Gibson especially. between those and good old EJ's, but also the Santa Cruz Low tension set is great. Just expensive and doesn't last long either. And for my style I often replace the bottom string with something ridiculously fat to get some more fundamental underpinning. No need to go with a ready made set. Changes the guitar massively, depending on how you play. I think it's critical to 'make yourself cozy' as much as humanly possible on the guitar, as to make things flow rather than fight things.

Oh, and for picks (which I almost never use) check out Blue Chip picks. Ridiculously pricey, but don't really wear almost at all and so unless you lose the thing it's worth it. Removes the horrid zing of plastic.

Will be following this thread.......
Old 4 weeks ago
  #13
Lives for gear
 
Shannon Adkins's Avatar
 

This is the journey I'm currently on right now. I started out with AT 40 series mics about 12 years ago, and they were my mainstay until I discovered ribbons about 5 years back. Since then it's been an R84 almost exclusively, until just recently I've been auditioning some SDCs.
I've only tried 4 models: Miktek C5, Shure SM81, AT4021, and sE8. Honestly, I've liked them all. For some reason, though, I'm hearing a special quality that I really like in the AT4021. It's forward, but not aggressively so. Kind of makes the guitar poke out (as the OP would say) in a flattering way. Just seems to work with my guitar and playing style really well.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #14
Stopped at "German made mics..." Yeah, I love my Sonor drums made in Germany, too, but that's not the only country that can offer something unique and fantastic...

I second the CMC641 as a desert island acoustic guitar mic. I'm in the middle of mixing a huge project recorded a while ago with acoustic as the main instrument, which was recorded with a very high end LDC. At times I wish I could go back in time and redo some of it with the Schoeps 41.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #15
Gear Maniac
 

Schools mk22 is my favorite acoustic guitar mic. Sennheiser mkh80 offers a different but equally stunning perspective. AEA KU4 offers remarkably pleasing sound. U67, U87, U47, U47fet, TLM107 (my new favorite Neumann) all really excellent. The room is more important than the mic. RE15 is a stellar acoustic mic for a certain texture, RE20 as well, even a 421. Sm57 really can be great.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #16
Gear Maniac
acoustic guitar recording has been the trickiest - and an instrument I use a lot. I've gone through the land of KM84 and found satisfaction in 451e as first grab. and triple O martins. for really rich fingerpicking, beyerdynamic m160. not a great room here, but not awful.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #17
Lives for gear
 

I like pencil mics on acoustics: 451s, Oktava MK012, Rodes, even cheap Thomann ones. When I've tried more expensive purer SDCs, like Sennheiser or Schoeps it has undoubtedly been a more honest, less hyped sound, which would probably be the best choice in a great room with a great player, but frankly I like a bit of top-end hype and sizzle when it comes to acoustic guitar recording. It oddly ends up sounding more 'natural' to me that way.

Or alternatively 'faster' LDCs (AT4033s or 4047s): ones that actually pick up transients. I've found some LDCs just mellow out guitars too much (e.g. U67ai or C414Bs) which just neuter them a bit: they end up sounding very pleasant but robbed of attitude.

Never liked dynamics on acoustics, never really liked ribbons much unless the guitar sounded weak and poor to begin with.

Placement makes a huge difference with SDCs. Place an SDC in the right place on the right guitar and it can sound huge.
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