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Boom! How to tame acoustic gtr boominess?
Old 26th May 2011
  #1
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Boom! How to tame acoustic gtr boominess?

Would love some quick tips to help remove some acoustic guitar resonant boominess...

I'm retracking some acoustic parts, relatively strong strumming, and the guitar that sounds by far the best is this Taylor GS (the bigger ones), except, one fatal flaw... the BOOM that comes on certain chords centred around 100Hz (but extends up the spectrum too). At first I thought I was getting feedback in the signal somehow.

Tried all of different mics (LDC, SDC), different angles, low pass filter, EQ, moving back (to the point the recording sounds anaemic), strategically placed sound absorption, different strings, etc, etc.

The real issue is the guitar it would seem... probably the larger GS shape. It sounds awesome with a real vibe live and on tape/disk (that is, when there's no boom), but it's got some hyped resonant thing going on for specific chords like open A. The ironic thing is this resonance is probably what makes it such a great sounding guitar, especially for finger picking.

Weird thing is you don't notice the resonant boominess live in person, but via Mic it can really show up. It's also not a soundhole/air thing as I don't mic over the soundhole. Listening to the DI track I can also hear it, although not as prominent.

So.... rather than compromise on a lesser sounding axe or spend hours trying to better EQ it, any tips you can share to help remove an acoustic's boom while tracking? (other than "don't play the chords that cause it!" or "get a new guitar")

Perhaps taping something to the soundboard to dampen it a little, or putting a sock in the guitar itself, might help with the boom but still keep the jangle of the strings? I'll experiment tomorrow, but thought it's worth asking first...

Thanks slutz
Old 26th May 2011
  #2
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Have you tried putting/pointing the mic at the 12th fret approx 6 - 18 inches away (YMMV)? boominess is pretty much always a problem w/ acoustic guitars IME.

Omni instead of cardioid can help too but your room has to be decent.
Old 26th May 2011
  #3
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I usually cut at around 200hz to 250hz to tame that boom. Use an EQ with Q control to dial it in just right. In order to not thin it out too much, you can keep some of the 80-120hz stuff. The boom is usually due to proximity, so you can try backing off the mic a bit.
Old 26th May 2011
  #4
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i like a thin pic on strummed acu. the position notes above will help as well.
just moving the mic back will help capture what you hear a lot, if you can get away with it in your room.
it's hard to not end up eqing a acu in a bigger mix though.
Old 26th May 2011
  #5
Here for the gear
 

One of my main acoustics is a GS. Yours may have a peak in the resonance, but the size and shape do give it a big low end. I haven't had as much trouble either at home or in Nashville studios as you seem to be having.
With everything else you've tried, have you changed where you are in the room? Turned facing different ways?

When shopping for acoustics, I listen for even response. There's quite a lot of inconsistency even in good builders.
Old 26th May 2011
  #6
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I am not sure how you are tracking it but if you have nice and fairly isolating headphones move the mic around till you find the sweet spot. Should not be terribly hard. Otherwise -- 12th fret as CrankyChris said.

Quote:
or spend hours trying to better EQ it
Just HPF it. Should take about 30 seconds. Not super steep. Start low, roll it up until it sounds natural.

Old 26th May 2011
  #7
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If it's in the DI signal too, mic position isn't going to cure it. Probably just a ring in a certain frequency and its harmonics that the guitar has.

I know you said "don't tell me to play different chords", but I think your only bet other than what you've tried already and has been suggested to remedy it is to transpose and try the song in a couple of different keys if you can. This could make your problem disappear altogether. Guitars sound better in some keys than other keys. And they're all different. Got a capo?
Old 26th May 2011
  #8
Funny I see a post like this. I've just posted a similar thread in the low end section - I'm having problems with my Martin DXK2AE, it seems to have a resonant boom around 140hz. EQ and mic placement don't seem to help, and it's really annoying because I just can't seem to be able to capture what's nice about the tonality of the guitar without that boom. I'm kind of almost tempted to try one of those soundhole blockers, although most likely that would butcher the tone :P

Let us know if you find a solution to your problem, as I've honestly tried everything and can't find a solution to mine
Old 26th May 2011
  #9
Gear Head
 

Mic the acoustic (mid/small condenser KM86 would be ideal) about a foot away from the guitar aim straight at the bottom of the sound hole. Keep an eye on fret noise move the mic further away if it's annoying. Also the room shouldn't be too dead, some kind of hard surface around the player or basically not in a dampened room.

cut a load of 30hz (bell rather than shelf, although it's not that important at that frequency) before the compressor, just a few dbs of compression mid attack, fast release on the way in. Then on the monitor add your top end (10khz or 2.5khz for mid) and mess around with the 200-300hz to fit the track.

See if that works.
Old 26th May 2011
  #10
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Showcase's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by marcreeves View Post
I'm kind of almost tempted to try one of those soundhole blockers, although most likely that would butcher the tone :P
It actually works pretty well sometimes as a last resort, just with some thicker paper and tape!
Old 26th May 2011
  #11
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kennybro's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by marcreeves View Post
Funny I see a post like this. I've just posted a similar thread in the low end section - I'm having problems with my Martin DXK2AE, it seems to have a resonant boom around 140hz. EQ and mic placement don't seem to help, and it's really annoying because I just can't seem to be able to capture what's nice about the tonality of the guitar without that boom. I'm kind of almost tempted to try one of those soundhole blockers, although most likely that would butcher the tone :P

Let us know if you find a solution to your problem, as I've honestly tried everything and can't find a solution to mine
Yeah, the soundhole is usually the main boom source, but the whole damn body booms with some guitars.

How much boom you will be able to include depends on how it's used in the mix. If it's in an arrangement with a bass guitar, that's going to seriously cut into how much acoustic guit low end you can include. If big low-end is totally integral to the character of the guitar's sound, then you will have a difficult time including that character to it's fullest advantage in any but the most sparse arrangements.

Frustrating, because you spend big bucks on an auditorium filling acoustic. Solid rosewood and spruce, hand carved bracing, etc... only to find that in some cases you feel like you're working to make it sound like a $99 Jasmine. Nice thing is, if properly recorded, the superior character of that guitar will always come through, even if your severely managing the low end.
Old 26th May 2011
  #12
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Kris's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by CrankyChris View Post
<snip>
Omni instead of cardioid <snip>
Old 26th May 2011
  #13
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How heavy are your strings? Sometimes heavy strings, on a guitar that doesn't like heavy strings, will introduce tooo much tension into the guitar body and neck and cause that boom to be boomier/boxier/brittle...all guitars have a sweet spot with regard to string weight..and how you're pulling on the bridge>distorting the face/body of the guitar will cause that boom to multiply and morph in different ways.

otherwise, like posted above by somebody..i find the boxy boom in 200-450 ish range on my guitar..pull a point on your eq and sweep it to see where the peak is and then try dropping it a few db..dont high pass filter with a total sweep on the low end..i prefer to try keep some of the lower stuff if it's there, that's not where the boom usually is..

That said..mic position in combo with all of the above is critical..i tend to make sure that my mic, when micing the neck, is angled away from the soundhole and parts of the body that give off that boom, if your booming..it's def not only the soundhole doing this stuff, the body will boom, big time..also, what's your room like?
Old 26th May 2011
  #14
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FFTT's Avatar
 

Listen to Tom Petty A Face In The Crowd.

Note how the use of a soft pick creates a reference to the
root chord, but what you hear in the larger mix is the washboard effect
of the pick used as more of a percussion instrument.

If you have access to a 00 or Parlor guitar, try that too.
Old 26th May 2011
  #15
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Old Goat's Avatar
 

I record a Guild D-25--lotsa boom. Recording strummed parts, I've taken to putting one omni LDC about 18" in front of me about chin high, and an LDC pointing down at the fretboard from over my shoulder. That and judicious HPF usually gets me in the ballpark.
Old 26th May 2011
  #16
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aj633's Avatar
1. Guitar, Pick, Player
2. Mic Placement
3. Mic Selection
4. EQ
5. Compression

Guitars that sound good in a mix, don't always sound good on their own. A lot of times they actually sound very percussive, with a lot of high end and string noise. A guitar that sounds awesome when you play it solo may be too boomy in the mix. Try a thinner pick. Have the player change how they are strumming. Some players strum differently and add to the boominess. A new pack of strings may give the guitar a better shimmer, if you have older strings on.

Move the mic back to avoid proximity effect. Point the mic at a different part of the guitar (i.e. strings and not the body). Mix in an extra mic. I used an SM57 pointed at the strings and a Miktek C7 pointed toward the body on my last acoustic guitar recording. The SM57 added a good amount of string jangle and pick noise that brightened up the sound. I got the warmth of the body from the C7, but it was too much by itself. The blend of the two was just right for the mix.

EQ can help when you've already recorded the tracks. Sometimes it's hard to tell what works if you record acoustic early on in the process. It may sound awesome when it's just acoustic with drums and maybe bass, but when you add in electrics, piano, vox, etc. they start competing with one another for space in the mix. Maybe try compressing the low end more than the high end.
Old 26th May 2011
  #17
Quote:
Originally Posted by cameron View Post
Would love some quick tips to help remove some acoustic guitar resonant boominess...

I'm retracking some acoustic parts, relatively strong strumming, and the guitar that sounds by far the best is this Taylor GS (the bigger ones), except, one fatal flaw... the BOOM that comes on certain chords centred around 100Hz (but extends up the spectrum too). At first I thought I was getting feedback in the signal somehow.

Tried all of different mics (LDC, SDC), different angles, low pass filter, EQ, moving back (to the point the recording sounds anaemic), strategically placed sound absorption, different strings, etc, etc.

The real issue is the guitar it would seem... probably the larger GS shape. It sounds awesome with a real vibe live and on tape/disk (that is, when there's no boom), but it's got some hyped resonant thing going on for specific chords like open A. The ironic thing is this resonance is probably what makes it such a great sounding guitar, especially for finger picking.

Weird thing is you don't notice the resonant boominess live in person, but via Mic it can really show up. It's also not a soundhole/air thing as I don't mic over the soundhole. Listening to the DI track I can also hear it, although not as prominent.

So.... rather than compromise on a lesser sounding axe or spend hours trying to better EQ it, any tips you can share to help remove an acoustic's boom while tracking? (other than "don't play the chords that cause it!" or "get a new guitar")

Perhaps taping something to the soundboard to dampen it a little, or putting a sock in the guitar itself, might help with the boom but still keep the jangle of the strings? I'll experiment tomorrow, but thought it's worth asking first...

Thanks slutz
The problem, as you describe it -- and particularly in light of remedies and issues you've already addressed -- is one that seems to me best fixed by careful use of EQ.

You say you don't want to spend 'hours' EQing it -- and I can understand that. But I don't see why it should take more than minutes. If that.

Find the resonance ranges that boom out and notch them using as little band and depth as you can in order to tame the boom.

If you're having problems targeting those frequency ranges, a graphic spectrum display can probably help.

(My favorite multiband parametric EQ has a low-rez realtime spectral display running below a 'rubber band' type graphic interface that makes it relatively easy to find and target specific ranges. But you could simply use separate spectrum display and EQ plugs and get the same basic functionality.)

PS... glancing above I do see the compression potential remedy which I don't think you had mentioned in your OP. And that, indeed, might also be a useful tool in taming your boom.

PPS... I thought your observation that the very boom that seems problematic in recording may well be part of what makes the guitar enjoyable to play may have some real merit. I've always noticed that the very qualities that make dreads so much fun to play, sonically, make them tricky to fit into a mix.

PPPS... omni instead of cardioid... something I thought about early on, too, although your mention of trying a range of mics and positions did bump it out of my mind. But, for sure, the proximity effect that comes as part of the cardioid baggage can make for problems. That said, pulling back a cardioid will reduce prox effect.
Old 26th May 2011
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cameron View Post
Would love some quick tips to help remove some acoustic guitar resonant boominess...

I'm retracking some acoustic parts, relatively strong strumming, and the guitar that sounds by far the best is this Taylor GS (the bigger ones), except, one fatal flaw... the BOOM that comes on certain chords centred around 100Hz (but extends up the spectrum too). At first I thought I was getting feedback in the signal somehow.

Tried all of different mics (LDC, SDC), different angles, low pass filter, EQ, moving back (to the point the recording sounds anaemic), strategically placed sound absorption, different strings, etc, etc.
Have you tried moving your recording position to other parts of the room? I had a similar problem with the D note (and chord) on my big guitars - it just sounded louder and would ring on awhile. It turned out to be the room, or the part of the room I was in. I moved around some bass traps and fixed it. It wasn't the guitar after all, it was my room.
Old 26th May 2011
  #19
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I highly recommend using a LDC in omni mode, especially with overdubs. You shouldn't have to worry about the sound of the room if you close mic the guitar. The wonderful thing about an omni is that there is no proximity effect and mic placement is not as critical as with a cardioid.
Old 27th May 2011
  #20
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Freemiumaire's Avatar
 

Thanks all for the extremely helpful posts..

I've solved it... read on...

Reason I originally posted was to try avoid EQ... best to get the source to sound 'right' in my opinion. The resonance I was getting was so extreme it had harmonics that extended up the spectrum... those Taylor grand symphony's ring like church bells... usually in a great way...

Anyway, as it turns out, the responses above (esp. Karloff70 & Pchicago..) hinted at the best solution... I snap realised that the guitar was tuned up a full tone for the song in question, which you would think sounds better than a cappo, but it clearly changed the tension in the guitar enough to alter the resonant frequency, in a bad way...

Isn't it funny that at 1am with bloodshot eyes and ringing ears you miss the bleeding obvious and focus on every other possible solution!

So with the guitar at proper tuning and thus tension, and a cappo at 2nd fret, the extreme booming has stopped. I'm also taking on the other advice as well... such as changing the LDC from cardioid to omni (thanks mbrebes!).

If anyone else like marcreeves is getting booming with normal E-tuning, look at the above responses, and as a last resort you could re-tune down and apply a cappo to alter your guitar's resonance.
Old 27th May 2011
  #21
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CD over the soundhole held down with masking tape
Old 27th May 2011
  #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cameron View Post
Thanks all for the extremely helpful posts..

I've solved it... read on...

Reason I originally posted was to try avoid EQ... best to get the source to sound 'right' in my opinion. The resonance I was getting was so extreme it had harmonics that extended up the spectrum... those Taylor grand symphony's ring like church bells... usually in a great way...

Anyway, as it turns out, the responses above (esp. Karloff70 & Pchicago..) hinted at the best solution... I snap realised that the guitar was tuned up a full tone for the song in question, which you would think sounds better than a cappo, but it clearly changed the tension in the guitar enough to alter the resonant frequency, in a bad way...

Isn't it funny that at 1am with bloodshot eyes and ringing ears you miss the bleeding obvious and focus on every other possible solution!

So with the guitar at proper tuning and thus tension, and a cappo at 2nd fret, the extreme booming has stopped. I'm also taking on the other advice as well... such as changing the LDC from cardioid to omni (thanks mbrebes!).

If anyone else like marcreeves is getting booming with normal E-tuning, look at the above responses, and as a last resort you could re-tune down and apply a cappo to alter your guitar's resonance.
good thought man, different string tension = different resonance.
Old 27th May 2011
  #23
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FarWestWrenchCo's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by giraffe View Post
good thought man, different string tension = different resonance.
Very interesting, and not just for acoustics. I've come across a couple of serious players recently that swear by electrics tuned down a whole tone, ie DGCFAD, and claim that their guitars' timbre is richer there. I haven't yet tested this idea personally though...
Old 27th May 2011
  #24
Any cardiod mic will need to be 24" back to eliminate the proximity effects.

That may be too far back?

I suggest the omni's as you can get as close or far as you like with consistant low end. I just got a CK-60 difuse field capsule I dying to try out on my acoustics. It raises the top end a bit as you get closer, the opposite of what those cardiod capsules are doing.
Old 27th May 2011
  #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FarWestWrenchCo View Post
Very interesting, and not just for acoustics. I've come across a couple of serious players recently that swear by electrics tuned down a whole tone, ie DGCFAD, and claim that their guitars' timbre is richer there. I haven't yet tested this idea personally though...
to a lesser extent, you can also control this with your string size choice.
Old 27th May 2011
  #27
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Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

If the room you're trying to record in isn't well trapped, it's gonna respond to the guitar (or anything) unevenly and exaggerate boominess. Especially if the room's not very big.

But before you do something rash like treating your room, try this:

If you have a couch handy, try sitting in the middle of it and piling up cushions/pillows/laundry/etc. around you. That should, um, "lower the boom" to some degree.
Old 27th May 2011
  #28
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Of course, this is just the resonance of the guitar. It's typically around G# to A (about 100 Hz). Playing those notes excites the resonance, and the notes sound louder (perhaps by 10 dB) and sustain longer. You probably hear and feel the same effect an octave higher, perhaps slightly less.

Your ear's sensitivity down at that frequency at the volume you hear while playing acoustic guitar is very low, so it doesn't sound that obnoxious to have a big peak in the response, but it's noticeable when miked up and amplified to play in a mix or cranked on headphones while playing. Proximity effect and mike placement within the strong part of that resonant mode can enhance that boom, and make it more obnoxious when amplified.

Cheers,

Otto
Old 1st June 2011
  #29
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Karloff70's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by FarWestWrenchCo View Post
Very interesting, and not just for acoustics. I've come across a couple of serious players recently that swear by electrics tuned down a whole tone, ie DGCFAD, and claim that their guitars' timbre is richer there. I haven't yet tested this idea personally though...
Different guitars are differently happy under different tensions and with different strings and in different keys......find the guitars 'natural habitat'/resonance and let it sing there. If you want to go somewhere else, get another guitar. heh
Old 1st June 2011
  #30
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doorknocker's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by cameron View Post
Would love some quick tips to help remove some acoustic guitar resonant boominess...
I can only speak from personal experience and I don't mean to utter yet another 'it's the player' mantra. Of course, it IS the player to a large degree but with acoustic guitars I found that it's mostly the instrument itself.

My life got easier after aquiring two Gibson guitars- a small-bodied LG-2 and a J-185. It's amazing how you can get pretty close to the soundhole when necessary with practically no 'boom'. I don't know what it is but these guitars act very differently than others I've owned or instruments that clients play.

When micing acoustic guitar with say a KM 84 I don't position the mic too close of course but I really think that the 'You need to aim the mic towards the 12th fret'-method, if you want to call it one, is a load of crap. Of course you might want that sound/position but making a 'rule' out of it seems strange to me.

There are great guitars and then there are great recording guitars, it's as simple as that. These days I tend to rather add EQ at 100-200hz sometimes rather than 'notch' that range out.

Of course strings and picks especially make a big difference too.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cameron View Post
(other than "don't play the chords that cause it!" or "get a new guitar")
o.k, I hear ya! Here are some ideas:

- Use different strings (I'm very fond of Gibson 'J-200' strings that have a silk wrap at the ball-end which to my ears seem to give a slight smiley curve to the sound)

- Use a different plectrum : Generally a thinner pick produces less boom.

- An here's a big one: Experiment with holding the pick looser or tighter. It's amazing how that changes the sound and touch. I only started to explore this concept very recently and I've been playing guitar for 30+ years!?)

-String gauge: a friend and great acoustic player complained about intonation issues on his Gibson. I suggested he use 12s instead of 13s and the problems disappeared, the solution seemed so simple and obvious that he didn't think of it at all! I'm a firm believer that most guitars 'lean' towards a certain gauge/tension, obviously taking into account the player's technique and the music as well. In other words, rather that saying 'I always use 13s and that's my sound' check what's best for the guitar and the sound and tailor your playing technique to that. ESPECIALLY so in the studio.

- Try a dynamic mic. Often a dynamic mic with a bit of EQ added might produce better results that a condensor that may pick up too much room resonance and, yes, boom.
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