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Acoustic guitar recording (not mic technique) Virtual Instrument Plugins
Old 8th September 2011
Gear Maniac

Acoustic guitar recording (not mic technique)

Hey there guys,

So ive been recording a bunch of acoustic but i think im going about it all wrong.

I record it with 2 mics and i usually pan one left and one right.

I would like to just blend the 2 signals and then record another performance with 2 diff mics and blend those signals.

is this common practice?

If i blend just the 2 mics into one channel and thats it, where the heck would i put the acoustic in the stereo image? seems like center would be out cuz thats where I want the vocal.

There wont be any other instruments in this arrangement. Just an acoustic and a vocal, and a kick drum in the deep background.

Thanks in advance!

Old 8th September 2011
Lives for gear
im different than most but i like recording the guitar in mono. thats how alot of classic stuff was done. you can always duplicate pan and effect a second track. to make it bigger. but thats just me
Old 8th September 2011
Originally Posted by boomer81 View Post
im different than most but i like recording the guitar in mono. thats how alot of classic stuff was done. you can always duplicate pan and effect a second track. to make it bigger. but thats just me
duplicating and panning and effect never gets you the sound of a stereo recording. I think if you have a dense track a mono guitar works great, if you need it poke out. A stereo guitar track works well when you need detail and a larger sound, double tracking guitars works well when you want it big and don't mind a little smear from the differences between the two tracks. To the OP if you want a double track part, just use one mic, it will stack better.
Old 8th September 2011
Lives for gear
Ben B's Avatar

When I record an acoustic guitar in mono, there is a pseudo-stereo effect that I sometimes use. If using PT, here's what it involves:

1. Send the mono acoustic track to a stereo aux via a pair of busses. (Use an aux send for this, not an output assignment.)
2. Insert a multi-mono short delay on Insert A of the stereo aux.
3. Insert a multi-mono Trim on Insert B of the stereo aux.
4. In the delay plug-in, set for a short-ish delay of around 5-20 ms.
5. In the trim plug-in, polarity invert only one side.
6. Slightly low-pass the delayed signal (using the filter in the DigiRack delay is fine).
7. Experiment with the delay times and send amounts for the desired effect.

This effect relies on a complementary comb filter, in which frequencies of addition and cancellation are opposite on the left and right sides. I find this technique to work especially well on mono acoustic guitars. YMMV.

-Ben B
Old 8th September 2011
Gear Head

Blending two mics on one source and panning them mono is common practice.

I don't think stereo acoustic guitar ever sounds all that stereo anyway. In cases where you want the acoustic to take up a lot of space, it sounds nice though.

For typical strummy parts when there is a full arrangement around them, mono is cool and double tracking panned left and right gives a nice balanced image that stays out of the center.

Mono can be panned center under the vocal. Works great for singer/songwriters with lush arrangements/effects around them.

Also, panning an acoustic on one side and an electric (or keyboard, or percussion) on the other is cool. The electric can be doubling the acoustic (especially for picking parts), playing a different rhythm and/or voicing, or it can be a more ambient thing.

It all depends on the arrangement, but as a guideline, if you pan a mono acoustic to one side, you should at least at some point in the song have something to balance it on the other side.

If it's just vocal and acoustic (just reread the op and saw that this is the case), I'd stick with a stereo pair or stereo rooms and mono spot. Another option is to blend your two mics mono in the center and use fx to make it stereo.

A fun effect for a lush stereo ambiance is to take a fairly dark mono delay with a stereo vibrato/chorus (same mod rate on both sides but different depths, or if you want it really swirly, use slightly different rates) on just the delay and send both signals to a stereo plate or hall reverb.

Hope these thoughts are helpful.
Old 8th September 2011
Lives for gear
RiF's Avatar
I started a very similar thread on The Womb Forums.
Check out the posts of Comte de St Germain and Mixerman at least.
Old 8th September 2011
Lives for gear
DarbyOhara's Avatar
I am not sure I understand some of the logic to -- 2 mics panned left and right. I am sorry, but if both mics and channels are identical, then it IS a center and it would sound mono... unless you eq or delay one side or the other.

I have many years of recording just acoustic and vocals (styles of Bob Dylan, Early Beatles, Cat Stevens, Jim Croce type recordings). I agree with several others. Record the acoustic just one mic and mono. You have the flexibility on that one mono track and you can sit it anywhere in the stereo image. I usually place the vox center and offset the acoustic a bit on the right or left. But I have mixed some with both in the center, then using equalizer you can bring the vox forward from the acoustic to be more intimate. Also, if there is bleed of the vox in the acoustic track, I have more luck equalizing a mono track then a stereo track to blend, or cut it out.

Interesting lil story I'll tell, when I started recording back in the 70's, as a young army soldier, I couldn't afford anything decent or all the goodies of reel and outboard stuff. So I used two cassette tape recorders. Many decent cassettes back then had built-in reverb in the mic-in. But I used the same techniques in my current DAW as I did back then as far as recording acoustic and vox.

To get even a bigger sound with a better image, pan the mono acoustic hard left and dub in a second acoustic mono session hard right. That is pretty common technique with multi-track DAWs these days.
Old 8th September 2011
Gear Nut
The Fold Studios's Avatar

To be honest I wouldn't say that you can't put it in the centre in your case. If you just dip a little mid range out where the vocal energy is you should be able to to get them to sit well together. The percussiveness of the acoustic should be able to cut through the vocal without smudging or overpowering it and if you want some subtle stereo interest you can always use a little ambience (either in plugin form or actually record the acoustic with one close mic and a stereo pair for ambience assuming the room sounds nice).

If the idea is to give the impression of a guitarist/singer it makes sense for the vocals and guitar to be in the same place.
Old 8th September 2011
Lives for gear
Unclenny's Avatar
I spent a lot of time figuring out all the ways to record my acoustics with two mics........tried about every configuration imaginable. The subtle latency involved with the signal hitting the mics differently can be very musical if you work it right. I never much liked the sound of two mics blended in to one channel.

These days, though, I have gone to mono recording to get as much clarity as possible. For arrangements like you mention....just guitar and vox.....I like to record the guitar on to two mono tracks and put a short delay on one. By playing with the panning of those two monos you can get the guitar sitting nicely just off to the side of your vocal with some subtle width.

Track another guitar part and pan it exactly opposite (same delay setting) and you can end up with a pretty nice stereo picture.


Just for's a little snippet of something that I'm working on as an illustration.
Attached Files

Hard Wired.mp3 (586.1 KB, 88 views)

Old 8th September 2011
Gear Maniac

Great great stuff here guys! Thank you so much. I'll have a lot to experiment with when I get home

So let's say a song will have pianos, acoustic, a banjo, and maybe a mandolin or something. How does that change things?

Straight mono record the acoustic?

Thanks a ton, this site is simply amazing!

Old 8th September 2011
Lives for gear
Unclenny's Avatar
Originally Posted by kleraudio View Post
So let's say a song will have pianos, acoustic, a banjo, and maybe a mandolin or something. How does that change things?
I'm basing my songs around the best acoustic guit sound that I can muster up. I add instrumentation I tend to tighten up my acoustic guit panning to give up space as needed while still keeping the acoustic sharp and dominant.

In fact, once I get my mono tracks right as I described above I put them on to a stereo track where I have even more control over the panning. At that point I can bring the panning in even tighter if I want to get those guitars in just the right place.
Old 8th September 2011
Lives for gear

I like to blend two different mics that compliment each other. I usually use one for detail and one for more body and ambiance. I often pan them close together to keep the effect of a single instrument. I usually put the ambient mic a bit more toward the center to spread the sound out a little and the detail mic at the place I want it to sound like the instrument is actually located. If that is the same place as the vocalist I'll carve a little space with the eq for the vocals to fill and pan them the same. For a solo performer I tend to like to place the performer a little off center and place a little delay and/or reverb a slightly to the other side. Thickener tracks (doubling or ambient mics of the source) can also go a little to the other side and slightly lower in volume. The over all effect I go for is that the singer/player is at a fixed location near (but not AT) the center, and the sound fills the room at a comfortable and natural level.

Placing the main guitar mic slightly opposite-center of the vocal can create the illusion of a duet if that is the effect you want to create, even if it is just a single performer. This can be especially useful if the guitar part is a counterpoint (alternate melody) to the vocal melody and needs an equal presentation as a voice in the arrangement. In the end it is all about what serves the song best.
Hope this helps!
Old 9th September 2011
Lives for gear

Just add another mic.

1 close that you treat as mono, then 2 ambient mics that you pan as you need for width.
Old 9th September 2011
If you want a stereo acoustic guitar sound you really need to record two passes. Trying these different "tricks" to obtain a stereo'ish sound is never going to be as good as just recording another track.

As far as the mics are concerned, if you like the sound of the two mic record with two mics and blend them together. Just ensure that you pan them exactly the same so it's the sound you want but it ends up as a "mono" track (across two tracks of course).

There is certainly no "rule" that you need to use two mics to record anything. The only reason people use more than one mic is because they are trying to achieve a sound that is not possible by using only one mic.
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