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Acoustic guitar sound weirdness
Old 12th October 2013
  #1
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Acoustic guitar sound weirdness

I dont know if this belongs in the guitar section or not, but I'll start here:

I have two acoustic guitars, and 30 year old Guild D-25 and a 5 year old Martin HD-28.

I enjoy recording them both, having distinctive sounds and I've become pretty comfortable using an SM-81 and an LDC to capture balanced sounding tracks.

However, I have noticed that sometimes there will be a "tinny" string sound from the acoustic tracks that's just audible at the top of the mix. Sounds like the sound of a mic'd electric guitar right at the strings.

As I said, I am getting a very nice sound from the acoustics overall.

Any advice for fixing this? I am thinking that maybe 2 bus compression is emphasizing pick/string sound?
Old 12th October 2013
  #2
I'm not sure of the sound you're describing, but it could be phase distortion in the high frequencies. You might consider adjusting your mic placement through trial and error to find the spot where the phase distortion is minimal. You might also consider using matched types of microphones.
Old 12th October 2013
  #3
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ephi82 View Post
I dont know if this belongs in the guitar section or not, but I'll start here:

I have two acoustic guitars, and 30 year old Guild D-25 and a 5 year old Martin HD-28.

I enjoy recording them both, having distinctive sounds and I've become pretty comfortable using an SM-81 and an LDC to capture balanced sounding tracks.

However, I have noticed that sometimes there will be a "tinny" string sound from the acoustic tracks that's just audible at the top of the mix. Sounds like the sound of a mic'd electric guitar right at the strings.

As I said, I am getting a very nice sound from the acoustics overall.

Any advice for fixing this? I am thinking that maybe 2 bus compression is emphasizing pick/string sound?
I'm a fingerpicker and one of my main fp guitars is a small body, 14-on-the-neck auditorium guitar I keep downtuned a half-step and sometimes have in the equivalent of DADGAD, and I find that if I have too light a gauge and pluck the first two strings hard, I sometimes get a plinky/tinny overtone that is pretty nasty. I've tamed it somewhat by sticking to heavier strings and keeping my nails shorter. (Not sure precisely why this latter helps, maybe it just keeps me from pulling/plucking as far/hard. Maybe it just helps put more fingertip into the process.)

I'm not sure I have a precise solution, but at least I know what you mean.

(At least I think I do. The sound I'm talking about is plainly audible in free air, but, of course, is also captured spectacularly well by recording. Unfortunately.
Old 12th October 2013
  #4
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The tinny sound I am hearing in a 16-20 track to stereo mix is not apparent when I play back just the two tracks dedicated to the acoustic guitar.

I often check for phase issues when tracking by reversing polarity on one mic, so I am not sure its the cause?
Old 12th October 2013
  #5
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Try a low pass filter set fairly high, one possible reason you hear the acoustic sounding strange during the whole mix and not during solo is during the mix some of the lower harmonics of the guitar tone are getting masked, leading ones ear to just hear the upper harmonics, hence the strangeness. Could be a possability, but then again hard to say without hearing it. Also try a good de-esser if you don't want to kill all your high end.

Sent from my LG-VS700
Old 12th October 2013
  #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ephi82 View Post
The tinny sound I am hearing in a 16-20 track to stereo mix is not apparent when I play back just the two tracks dedicated to the acoustic guitar.
Sounds like other instruments are possibly clashing when have them all in there.
What other instruments in there could be clashing? clean guitars?

Often other various guitar tracks or stringed instruments in general can cause this problem since they share the same frequencies.
Old 12th October 2013
  #7
In addition to the very likely explanations immediately above, with re hearing the weirdness only in the full mix -- check your FX settings. Your DAW or board may be set up to solo without FX and it may be an effect of some kind that is causing the weirdness. (Or, it could be the combination of multiple instruments in an effect like reverb combining and causing unwanted effects.)
Old 12th October 2013
  #8
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When you mention using a LDC and a SM-81 I'm picturing a placement with the LDC on the body and the SM-81 up near the 12th fret - is this your basic mic placement?

If so, I would ask if you still hear the problem in the mix when you take the SM-81 out of it (probably at the expense of string definition but it's key to know which mic is making this happen)

If the problem goes away then the 81 is removed from the mix then I would recommend experimenting with the following:
A) more distance between mics and guitar
B) placement of the 81, perhaps it needs to be closer to where the neck meets the body to pick up the top end of the guitar without too much string noise
C) trying a different mic with the 81 - I personally find that mic to have a pretty harsh top end
D) using just the LDC and finding a good placement for it that gives you a picture of the whole guitar.

Also, it's tempting to mic each instrument to get it to sound amazing on it's own but I often choose my mic placement (and mics) based on where I want it to sit in the mix - that way if there's not room in the mix for a full bodied stereo guitar than I don't have to carve like crazy with eq to get it to fit.

When doing this, often the guitar sounds like ass when soloed up by itself but sits perfectly in the mix which is the opposite of your problem but a better way to go.

Any of that help?
Old 12th October 2013
  #9
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also one thing you can do is sort of fight fire with fire.
Presumably you are losing the lower/mid frequencies due to some clashing

perhaps try stringing up an acoustic with a Nashville set
it can often create a bit more presence and not sound thin
since what were the bass notes will now be in a higher octave

give it a shot
Old 12th October 2013
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AllBread View Post
When you mention using a LDC and a SM-81 I'm picturing a placement with the LDC on the body and the SM-81 up near the 12th fret - is this your basic mic placement?

If so, I would ask if you still hear the problem in the mix when you take the SM-81 out of it (probably at the expense of string definition but it's key to know which mic is making this happen)

If the problem goes away then the 81 is removed from the mix then I would recommend experimenting with the following:
A) more distance between mics and guitar
B) placement of the 81, perhaps it needs to be closer to where the neck meets the body to pick up the top end of the guitar without too much string noise
C) trying a different mic with the 81 - I personally find that mic to have a pretty harsh top end
D) using just the LDC and finding a good placement for it that gives you a picture of the whole guitar.

Also, it's tempting to mic each instrument to get it to sound amazing on it's own but I often choose my mic placement (and mics) based on where I want it to sit in the mix - that way if there's not room in the mix for a full bodied stereo guitar than I don't have to carve like crazy with eq to get it to fit.

When doing this, often the guitar sounds like ass when soloed up by itself but sits perfectly in the mix which is the opposite of your problem but a better way to go.

Any of that help?
Yes, these suggestions make a lot of sense! I am using the LDC aiming across the body at the 12th fret, the sm-81 is perpendicular and up pretty close to 12 fret.

The Sm-81 can be really great but its very un forgiving. When placed or gain staged incorrectly, it can sound like crap! I may not be hearing this with the LDC dominating, but in a 2 bus mix with compression, uglies with the sm-81 may be accentuated

Thanks all for the great input, I've got a lot of things to try out!
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