Monday, September 6, 2010

Audio Lesson #1: Acoustic Guitar

In an attempt to make this bit of the web-i-verse (©mattyp 2010) useful, I'll be posting bits of knowledge from my years as an audio engineer.  Most of this stuff I picked up in school, with a few years of experience to fine tune the techniques.  Today's lesson: Recording an acoustic guitar.

OK so miking an acoustic guitar is pretty straightforward, or at least it can be.  Throw your best mic in front and let 'er rip.  Done.

Want a bit more? Fine.  I like using 2 or 3 mics, usually a large diaphragm condenser near the butt of the guitar, not in front of the sound hole.  usually the sound hole placement, while loudest, sounds too boomy and loses low end definition.  I like the mic placed slightly to the side of the guitar, aimed across the soundboard.  The other mic I like to use is a pencil condenser, or AKG 414 or similar, anything with  good clarity. I put this about 1-2 feet in front of the headstock, aimed at the 12 fret.  This picks up nice sparkle, and surprisingly really deep bass tones as well.  Play with the phase, pan and EQ a bit to separate the channels, and thee you are.

This really works well for almost all guitars however sometimes I do add a mic directly overhead centre, to help add a bit of room tone, especially if recording in a nice sounding large room.

Revolutionary? Naw, but it works.  It also helps if you can cement the guitar player in place to avoid having to reposition mics every time he needs another cup of coffee. As for EQ, i have no rules, other than keeping it fairly unmodified before it's recorded.  I'm not going to list what gear you should run it through, I'm sure you can figure out to run it in your best stuff, whatever that may be.  Acoustic guitar doesn't really need compression while being recorded, but if you have outboard comps, now would be the time to use 'em.

Hopefully you find this useful.  If you use it, let me know what you think, or if you have any different ideas please feel free to share in the comments.

1 comment: