Old 07-13-2018, 07:58 PM   #1
RDBOIS
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Default Acoustic guitar - B string nightmare - Any solution?

If you play acoustic guitar chances are you've come across the B string nightmare


Normally I don't worry too much about the fact that the B string always sounds 'a bit off', 'a bit harsh', 'metallic', 'twangy', 'ringing', etc. When singing by the fire camp the B string issue gets buried in the magic of the live performance and passes under the radar.

But, when I record and especially after compression and the final step of master limiting (making the song louder) the B string nightmare pops up and becomes something I simply cannot live with... You know, once you hear it you can't un-hear it.

Of coarse I've tried notching, dynamic EQ, less compression, etc.. The thing is that I don't want to process the damning frequencies to much, because the overall sound of the instruments becomes awkwardly unnatural.

I have tried fixing the problem at the source but without great success. I think I bought strings once that were better than others, but don't remember the brand name and gauge.

I've tried changing the position of the microphone. Heck, at times I even change the voicing of the song so I can avoid some especially hurtful chords --- how crazy it that!

How shall I deal with this issue?

Is that a combination of things that work best?

(note: I don't have the money to buy a better guitar - I'd like to figure a IN THE BOX -- DAW solution)

Thanks
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Old 07-14-2018, 02:17 AM   #2
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Sounds like a guitar issue. I have 2 very nice Martins and a great Taylor...none of them have B string issues. It'll be at the source, so fix the guitar.

What kind of guitar are you playing and what state is it in? It's highly unlikely the issue suddenly and miraculously appears when you press record.

Also, is it only happening on open B or at any and all fretted positions on the B string? And do you 'nurse' the issue when playing? You know if you have an issue with your guitar, it is possible, once very aware of it, to adjust the way you play so that you minimize issues.

The main thing, in conclusion, is to get the sound right at the source...the guitar...fix the issue at the guitar.
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Old 07-14-2018, 06:32 PM   #3
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Does it happen when the b string is fretted? Or is it when its open?

If it doesen't do it when fretted (open), then it could be the slot at the nut, or if it does it both open and fretted it could be the bridge saddle.

Or it could just be a bad string too.

Let me know, and I'll try and help you nail it down.
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Old 07-14-2018, 09:16 PM   #4
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You're hearing the drastic difference between the G and B strings, the same problem is there for the E string but its too far away from the G and separated by the B string anyway.

It's just a part of the acoustic guitar. Some string companies are better at blending at the G string.

A quick fix might be to pick up much heavier gauge B and E strings to match the tone of the D string.
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Old 07-15-2018, 01:33 AM   #5
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Thomastik Infeld Plectrums. I have them on my little Martin 00016 and it transformed the guitar for me. Expensive but they last a LONG time.
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Old 07-15-2018, 06:01 AM   #6
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I think you are talking about a pitch issue, but I don't know for sure. If it is a pitch/intonation issue, make sure that your strings are riding in the front of the nut slots, not further back toward the headstock. If a string is riding too far back, it can make a big difference, like having a fret slightly too far back. Then check that your strings aren't too high at the nut, causing intonation issues when you fret chords. There is a correct max action height at the nut for things to be in tune across different chords. Both aspects can cause pitch issues, and it is a very common problem for guitars which haven't gotten a good setup. If you don't want to mess with this yourself, find a guitar tech and describe the problem to him so that it can be corrected.

And then compensate the tuning as necessary so that all chords sound reasonably harmonious.
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Old 07-15-2018, 09:41 AM   #7
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Tune the B a tiny bit flat, to taste.

I do that on some electrics, some guitars sound a tad sweeter if you do that.

I got that idea from an old EVH interview.
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Old 07-15-2018, 11:25 AM   #8
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Put up a wave file somewhere we can listen too.
Could be anything from a poor bridge a poor nut slot etc etc
Hard to tell without a listen.

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Old 07-15-2018, 02:48 PM   #9
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Thanks for your responses.

To answer your questions:

1) My guitar is Yamaha FGX 800C.

2) The problem is when I press the B string

3) I will try different strings -- thx Fergler and ivansc for the recommendations

4) I read up on pitch issues and found this: http://ghost32writer.com/?p=19580 . While I know my guitar probably needs 'nut work' I think I'll try his temporary fix:



5) I'll try tuning a bit flat and see if it helps

6) @grinder I knew you were going to ask for a sample

Here is a short sample:

https://drive.google.com/open?id=1TR...PQRWY3WX5Lix1Q

I'm playing C - D - Bm ... But you'll hear the 'd' note in the Bm chord --- this note I cannot fix in my mix. You think it stick out now, imagine it post-compression and limited!!!
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Old 07-15-2018, 03:07 PM   #10
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Well sounds like a lot of normal acoustic guitars to me
Can you not just use a narrow Q on an fx eq to settle it lower in volume a little.
Will be easy to see the note in the FX window and listen as you adjust


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Old 07-15-2018, 04:46 PM   #11
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Got a buddy who swears this fixed the B string thing for him for good. Never used it myself, but worth a look, maybe. http://www.buzzfeiten.com/
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Old 07-15-2018, 06:01 PM   #12
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@grinder

Well hmmm... I swear I never heard this 'normal guitar sound' so much as with this new guitar. I know what you're saying -- this 'B string' issue has always been there throughout the years, more or less ---> so I guess it is sort of normal I also know that once we have a sound locked in our ear/head we tend to overhear and exaggerate things.

@Seldrums

Thanks I'll have a look.

____

In the meantime I inspected my guitar and found something unusual with the design of the saddle:

It did some research and it is called a compensated saddle:

note: I'm thinking to myself - "I don't know how much compensation this saddle is doing, but either it's not doing its job or I would hate to hear the B string with out the saddle". @@

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Old 07-16-2018, 02:37 AM   #13
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Wow, you're not joking man, I totally hear it... it's like that one dude at the party with the annoying voice that you can hear over everyone else... sorry about that, I'd just get what you can for it and get something else, I mean I put a $300 fret job into my old Squier Strat which is I don't think worth too much more but I -love- that guitar... do you love that guitar enough to chase whatever's wrong down and probably pay substantially to have it fixed? And many if not most guitar bridges are compensated, that's why most electric guitars have bridges where every string is adjustable, but never seen the B string only thing. It would of course make that string louder.

OIC, there's like a double compensation thing going on where the bridge is set at an angle plus extra relief for the B string. Doesn't look right to me, looks like the B string is clearly the longest string, should that be the case? Picking up my nearest guitar, it isn't on it. Well, in the end it seems to be ineffective and the question remains the same.

Good luck, hope it works out!

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Old 07-16-2018, 03:51 AM   #14
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Check intonation.
2nd B is typically the most problematic one.

Check tuning on different positions (especially where you play most in that song)
A few guitars would need reetuning for different parts.
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Old 07-16-2018, 04:32 AM   #15
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The easiest & quickest way to check if it's your nut that's the problem is to put a capo on the first fret & tune up if the problems gone it's definitely the nut!, (Usual cause!) BTW, the saddle is correct Most saddles are like that!.
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Old 07-16-2018, 07:39 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jiff 41 View Post
The easiest & quickest way to check if it's your nut that's the problem is to put a capo on the first fret & tune up if the problems gone it's definitely the nut!
Just to add to that good tip: The action height with the guitar capoed is roughly about what the action should be uncapoed, for achieving good intonation. So with the guitar capoed, you can use some feeler guages to measure the distance between strings and the first available fret. And your uncapoed open strings action should be at least a tiny bit higher than that to prevent strings rattling on the first fret but not so high that you have an intonation problem.

Also, while a compensated saddle is helpful for overall intonation, the biggest effect on intonation for chords near the nut is going to come from the string height at the nut and whether the strings are riding at the front of the nut slots (playing side of the nut).

You can measure action height at the nut yourself using automotive feeler guages that are available for something like $5-10. And you can adjust nut slot depth using inexpensive needle files for something like $10 and a fine piece of sand paper for smoothing out the slots. That is, if you don't mind the look of the slots after doing so (they won't look factory cut). If you do mind, you need a set of more expensive nut files. But from my experience, so long as you take your time and are careful, the functional result will be about the same whether you use needle files or nut files. And of course, you could always take it to a guitar tech if doing this kind of stuff bothers you.
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Old 07-16-2018, 11:58 AM   #17
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Looking at your bridge and also your compensated B saddle I would say that you have a problem with all strings.
Note how the strings coming from the pins are stressed in a curve this is one of your problems with the bridge they should be straight onto the bridge and over the bridge niot cantered to the side. You may be able to cut another bone bridge after you decide what the intonation of all strings are.
Take each string tune the string regular and play each note up the neck taking notes as to the true intonation of the
fret board do this for all strings and you will get an idea of the state of your neck/fretboard.
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Old 07-16-2018, 04:09 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RDBOIS View Post
Thanks for your responses.

To answer your questions:

1) My guitar is Yamaha FGX 800C.

2) The problem is when I press the B string

3) I will try different strings -- thx Fergler and ivansc for the recommendations

4) I read up on pitch issues and found this: http://ghost32writer.com/?p=19580 . While I know my guitar probably needs 'nut work' I think I'll try his temporary fix:



5) I'll try tuning a bit flat and see if it helps

6) @grinder I knew you were going to ask for a sample

Here is a short sample:

https://drive.google.com/open?id=1TR...PQRWY3WX5Lix1Q

I'm playing C - D - Bm ... But you'll hear the 'd' note in the Bm chord --- this note I cannot fix in my mix. You think it stick out now, imagine it post-compression and limited!!!
Going by that sample the whole guitar sounds out of tune, not to mention the clunky sounding strum job. No offense. It just sounds like a beginner playing a cheap guitar he doesn't really know how to tune. Plus it looks like someone's done some kind of half baked home remedy hack job on that compensated saddle. You need to get your guitar to a repair place and fix it properly.
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Old 07-16-2018, 06:16 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ringing phone View Post
Going by that sample the whole guitar sounds out of tune, not to mention the clunky sounding strum job. No offense. It just sounds like a beginner playing a cheap guitar he doesn't really know how to tune. Plus it looks like someone's done some kind of half baked home remedy hack job on that compensated saddle. You need to get your guitar to a repair place and fix it properly.
Ohhh
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Old 07-16-2018, 08:47 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fergler View Post
You're hearing the drastic difference between the G and B strings, the same problem is there for the E string but its too far away from the G and separated by the B string anyway.

It's just a part of the acoustic guitar. Some string companies are better at blending at the G string.

A quick fix might be to pick up much heavier gauge B and E strings to match the tone of the D string.
RDBOIS, haven't listened to the sample (on the downtown A train) but, yeah, the original post sounds like someone talking about a typical acoustic set with a wound G and unwound B and is trying to make the B sound more like a wound string. A string set that has a mellower sounding unwound/plain formula sounds like the only solution. There are coated sets where all six strings, including the plain unwound, are coated with a super thin layer of one of several formulas of coating. I would look into those to mellow out the difference between the wound and unwound strings.
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Old 07-16-2018, 10:58 PM   #21
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The bridge is standard these days?


Look @ these= https://tinyurl.com/y9tmz7vv


MOST (ALL?)are compensated?,,,The problem more than likely is down the other end?
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Old 07-17-2018, 08:00 AM   #22
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That bridge saddle is a typical compensated saddle; the B string needs the extra length because you are going from a wound string to a plain string. All of my acoustic guitars have had that, from beginner models to high end hand made instruments.

I suggest you take an approach combining several of the answers you've received so far.

First, change the strings (or at least the B and high E) to a mellower, coated set of strings one gauge heavier than the rest of the string set.

Second, tune the B string a bit flat. You'll need to vary how flat according to the exact chords you're playing in a song, but you'll probably find that you almost always want it at least a hair flat.

Last, work on your right hand picking attack so that you hit the B and high E strings slightly softer than the rest of the strings. This takes a bit of concentration at first, but is easier to do than it seems like it would be.

After a week or two with these three, you should have tamed your B string. If not, take the guitar to a competent tech and have them look it over to make sure there are no issues with your guitar.
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Old 07-17-2018, 01:23 PM   #23
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Thanks everyone for pitching in.

All along I was changing strings randomly hoping to improve things. Now I have better understanding and strategy.

I might try working on the nut myself if all fails. It is not worth sending this instrument to a professional. Like I said this guitar is on the cheap end. I may have to satisfy myself with 'what I got' and do my best to smooth things out with EQ.

I'll try finding different B and E strings (one gauge up and coated) and work them less hard.

I'll also re-arrange the song and give the electric (arpeggio) a bigger role.
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Old 07-17-2018, 05:38 PM   #24
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I'm still working on fixing the source.

But in the meantime I found a fix ITB to reduce the pain. I'm sure there are many other ITB solutions, but so far this one is the best for my given situation.

I made a video to show the steps for the B-string syndrome ITB fix.



Let me know what you think?
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Old 07-18-2018, 01:22 AM   #25
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Didi you try putting a capo on 1st fret?
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Old 07-18-2018, 05:47 PM   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jiff 41 View Post
Didi you try putting a capo on 1st fret?
Ok I just tried it.

It sounds a little bit better with the capo on the first fret. The string itself still sounds cheap-like, but the resonance is not as bad.

I also tried putting a small piece of cloth under the string on the nut groove. This also helped 'dampen' the resonance.

I also noticed something the other day. When I'm tuning the B string it seems like when I'm getting near the correct pitch (246.94 Hz) the sound coming from inside the body starts to hum and ring; overtones compound together and create a 'ringing' sound. Once I get to exactly 246.94 Hz things settle, but something is not right.

I wonder if the guitar body design could be amplifying some nasty overtones associated to the B string (would appear to be in the range of 4K).

My guitar was built with something they call "the scalloped X bracing"



I don't know what the "the scalloped X bracing" does but I did notice from the get go that this guitar has a very loud mid-range' like nothing I'd ever heard before.
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Old 07-19-2018, 04:42 AM   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RDBOIS View Post
Ok I just tried it.






My guitar was built with something they call "the scalloped X bracing"



I don't know what the "the scalloped X bracing" does but I did notice from the get go that this guitar has a very loud mid-range' like nothing I'd ever heard before.
I think it was to make the Gtr lighter & give more midrange?
Yamaha's were always very strong in the mid-range, I have an old FG160 & with decent strings on sounds just fine, much thinner than my Martin D35 but good in it's own way?, All Gtrs sound different?.
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Old 07-19-2018, 12:06 PM   #28
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You might want to check you nut slot where the B string sits instead of putting cloth in it in fact taking the nut out and putting a new one in sounds like a good idea.
For now loosen off the B string then on the string where it fits in the slot
coat the string underneath with the graphite of a pencil.
Then tighten the string to pitch, play a little then loosen the string while pulling up on the string from the sound hole side (to avoid letting the graphite contaminate any part of the slot it has not lain on.

With a magnifying glass have a look at the slot and see whether the string has sat in the slot properly ( the graphite off the string will show you this) is the graphite apparent all the way from the back to the lip (soundhole end of the nut?
The sound hole lip being the most important
The slot may be too narrow the slot may be high at the back so the string does not touch the slot sound hole lip etc etc.
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Old 07-20-2018, 05:01 AM   #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jiff 41 View Post
I think it was to make the Gtr lighter & give more midrange?
Yamaha's were always very strong in the mid-range, I have an old FG160 & with decent strings on sounds just fine, much thinner than my Martin D35 but good in it's own way?, All Gtrs sound different?.
Martin's are strong in the mid range (often cited as being 'loud') because they have solid tops. That old Yamaha sounds thinner because it has a laminated top.
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Old 07-20-2018, 09:30 AM   #30
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Now that I've listened to the example (in the Nova vid) what strikes me the most is that the strums you're doing are aimed at accenting the B (and E) string. The location of where the strum is most pushed is right there. Move that focus to the wound strings so that it's your strumming that changes the balance of the strings until you're satisfied. I honestly feel anything else is far secondary.
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Old 07-20-2018, 10:43 PM   #31
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vdubreeze View Post
Now that I've listened to the example (in the Nova vid) what strikes me the most is that the strums you're doing are aimed at accenting the B (and E) string. The location of where the strum is most pushed is right there. Move that focus to the wound strings so that it's your strumming that changes the balance of the strings until you're satisfied. I honestly feel anything else is far secondary.
You would think that 20+ years of strumming that darn thing would be enough to get it to sounding right. I guess playing and recording are two separate things.

I can sit by the camp fire or play on stage and nail a song just right (with the applause to boot), but it may require 15 takes just get a few arpeggios on beat. And I still may need to edit the darn thing in the box. I must be microphone shy or something? Recording oneself is a humbling act. Took me a few years to be able listen to my voice and not want to hit the delete button. Now I must relearn to strum the guitar.

I heard Mutt Lange (the producer) made a few guitarists very aggravated and cry... Somehow this makes me feel better.
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Old 07-21-2018, 05:50 AM   #32
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I had a Fender acoustic that had a similar problem. I had a tech look at it, and also tried a number of things to fix it as well.

Final solution was to sell the guitar and buy a different one. It worked!
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Old 07-21-2018, 12:21 PM   #33
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I actually agree James sometimes a guitar can just be too broke, however sometimes it educates us all to step into finding out what makes our instruments what they are and 30 minutes of time put into something like finding out why a B string may not be sounding as it should would be an exercise worth doing.
I am thinking the Yamaha may be an older one?
Guitars made today or the ones I have played seem to have their fretboards in order, pitch wise or as in order as much as is possible. Older guitars were pretty hit and miss. I have made several guitars and this has helped me in not just throwing away what may be a guitar that can be saved by even just a twist of a hex screw.

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Quote:
Originally Posted by grinder View Post
You might want to check you nut slot where the B string sits instead of putting cloth in it in fact taking the nut out and putting a new one in sounds like a good idea.
For now loosen off the B string then on the string where it fits in the slot
coat the string underneath with the graphite of a pencil.
Then tighten the string to pitch, play a little then loosen the string while pulling up on the string from the sound hole side (to avoid letting the graphite contaminate any part of the slot it has not lain on.

With a magnifying glass have a look at the slot and see whether the string has sat in the slot properly ( the graphite off the string will show you this) is the graphite apparent all the way from the back to the lip (soundhole end of the nut?
The sound hole lip being the most important
The slot may be too narrow the slot may be high at the back so the string does not touch the slot sound hole lip etc etc.
Grinder
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Old 07-30-2018, 03:22 PM   #34
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RDBOIS View Post
You would think that 20+ years of strumming that darn thing would be enough to get it to sounding right. I guess playing and recording are two separate things.
Well, they certainly are : ) but much of it is simply that without recording and listening back an acoustic guitarist has little idea of what the nuances, such as what you describe, are sounding like. Your head is hearing it from a different location than the mic, and your hearing is very different while you're playing and then while you aren't playing. It's a universal struggle for any acoustic musician. You pretty much can only come to terms with it by recording a lot and listening back.
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Old 07-31-2018, 12:53 PM   #35
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Old 08-01-2018, 02:59 PM   #36
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Well. I sure have many options to test out

Last week I tested the Elixir Phosphor Bronze - Nanoweb 12 / 53 (bright smooth) that were sitting in my tool box. They are so so; they helped a bit but not going to buy them anymore. To bright for recording. I'll try the strings recommended in the posts above and report back.
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Old 08-21-2018, 09:14 PM   #37
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Get a handful of different picks, even ones that you don't like to use, and try them all while recording a long continuous track. Call out which pick you are holding and keep playing and recording. Listening to this track back will blow your mind how much differently the mic picks up the different pick sounds than we hear from the position of our ears. You may run across your "new" pick you can't live without when tracking. I did. A pick will make more difference than just about anything you change on an acoustic guitar; including the mic, strings, positions, etc. Good luck, and let us know what you find out.
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