Old 11-14-2019, 07:56 AM   #1
ChrisBlue
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Default Recording Acoustic Guitar

Could people offer some advice on recording acoustic guitar please as I have found it necessary to cut deeply at around 3K due to horrible clanging kind of sound. No YouTube video I have watched addresses this in any way, they all just seem to stick an affordable mic about 1 foot away pointing either at 12th fret or sometimes at other parts of the body etc (I've watched them all!) and no-one gets anything but a nice rounded sound, definitely no harshness and clanging
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Old 11-14-2019, 08:16 AM   #2
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Will have to hear/preferably see an example. It's probably how you're playing and the guitar action.
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Old 11-14-2019, 10:31 AM   #3
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Not a bad idea the mic with some distance from the guitar and let air attenuate some of the high end for one and... - OK people do 12" all the time but I'm less fond with that approach because it sonically zooms in to part of the guitar instead of letting the sound of the entire guitar develop YMMV/IMHO.

That said, much of recording acoustic guitar is...

1. The performance - nothing can fix a performance that results in bad, scratchy, clangy, tinny tone.

2. A good room aka treated whathaveyou - much of the reason people mic acoustic guitar too close is because they are micing defensively (bad room) vs creatively.

3. The instrument itself - acoustics with laminated tops will be tinnier than one with a solid top but I put this as #3 because 1 and 2 take priority by far.

As Fergler said though, were doing a lot of guessing without more details such as a sample. A real-world example of the above...

I was recording someone two years ago, they brought in a 200.00 guitar in, I mic'd it, it sounded terribly scratchy and tinny - I moved mics and tweaked for 15 minutes and still terrible - I said wait, I grabbed my 3000.00 Taylor which I've recorded smooth and buttery tones with for years, he started playing it - it sounded exactly the same. 100% true story.
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Old 11-14-2019, 11:03 AM   #4
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Room/Space has a huge lot to do with it
Best sounds I have got
recording at the top space of my home built cedar lined rimu spiral
staircase recorded with a Rode condenser and a shure 565D.

Further on in my treated room I found my own idea for wave dispersion
and ribbon mics a Golden age mK3 ribbon and now a Rode NT ribbon.

The room treatment was the key as much as the ribbons and to go
with the ribbons has to be a pre-amp capable of the right ohmage.
Even if you surround yourself with sound absorption you may get a better sound.
Some rockwool panel on the ceiling above you and 4 panels around you
not a big job. (all movable) Add reverb later.

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Old 11-14-2019, 11:55 AM   #5
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When I record acoustic instruments, I use a single LDC from about three feet back, angled down from above, and with the instrument facing the one live wall in my room. You have to crank up the gain on your mic, and that means you need quieter than normal conditions to record in when the mic is farther back.
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Old 11-14-2019, 12:44 PM   #6
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I found acoustic guitar more difficult to mic than any other instrument I've tried.

The standby I use now is an SDC about 18" away, pointed at the join between the body and neck and angled slightly toward the sound hole, coupled with an LDC at about 12" from the top, pointed at the area between the bridge and the end-peg.

But it really varies from guitar to guitar. For years I used a single LDC pointing straight over my shoulder at the side of the guitar nearest my left arm, and got great results. I tried that with another guitar someone brought in and seriously thought that my mic was broken, it sounded so horrible. I moved the mic around and found a spot on the upper side about a foot closer to the end of the guitar that sounded fantastic.

Experiment. And I generally agree with all of the above.
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Old 11-14-2019, 01:01 PM   #7
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If you're not too animated while playing you can try mic'ing fairly close to the bottom strap button (or where that would be if your guitar doesn't have one). It might take too much sparkle out of steel string, but it sounds great on classical guitars.
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Old 11-14-2019, 02:13 PM   #8
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Here's a very recent video that covers the basics in a completely accessible way. It covers both recording and subsequent processing - incidentally his "reverb" trick is really easy to do in Reaper. Paul is an invaluable resource on the net for guitarists and is always entertaining too.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=awzXNl30lKg&t=527s
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Old 11-14-2019, 03:05 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by grinder View Post
Room/Space has a huge lot to do with it
Yes, non treated room acoustics, meaning bad acoustics, is the number one factor for getting a bad acoustic guitar sound. The 3K that ChrisBlue is talking about is pretty high for bad room grunge, but certainly not out of the question.
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Old 11-14-2019, 04:07 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Glennbo View Post
Anyway, I've recorded like this for eons and here's a sample done with no effects, no EQ just distance on the mic to try and balance the tone. The guitar is a 1933 Gibson L-00 so it has an inherently natural nasal tone due to the wood and ladder bracing.

https://www.soundclick.com/music/son...ongID=13945958

-
it's great to hear the tone of this guitar with such clarity. Like walking into an old photograph...
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Old 11-14-2019, 04:27 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by martifingers View Post
it's great to hear the tone of this guitar with such clarity. Like walking into an old photograph...
Thanks martifingers. The guitar has been in my family about 85 years now. Records well with a single LDC a couple of feet back.
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Old 11-14-2019, 04:57 PM   #12
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With a decent room I have used 1 mic pointing down at the soundhole, another direct at the 12th fret, and 1 third round the back of the guitar, just below the player (akin to the point above pointing at the strap button!)

You have to be a bit careful about the distances and check phase etc.

I used a 1" on the main mic and 1/2" on the fret and rear mics.

Depending on the sound you want, this gives you some mix choices.

+++ on decent room acoustics.

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Old 11-14-2019, 10:01 PM   #13
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I normally record it 1 foot away pointing at 12th fret. Just roll of the bass after, it'll smooth out. Or even better do High Pass as far as it still sounds full. You don't need deep frequencies.
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Old 11-14-2019, 10:40 PM   #14
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I can’t figure out how anybody can answer the question from the information in the OP. We use acoustic guitars for soooooo many different things! This can be true of anything we record, of course, but for whatever reason acoustic guitar seems to be really sensitive to this. Until and unless you have a good idea of where this guitar needs to live in the mix, there is no answer. If this is meant as more of a percussive instrument on the edges of a big arrangement, if it’s supposed to stand up to a distorted electric, if it’s front and center of a solo piece...even then are we shooting for more of a documentary “in the room” presentation or that hyperreal idealized thing? They all need different treatment from the very start. Sometimes, believe it or not, the right answer is just the piezo pickup in the guitar. I suppose there are some techniques that are likely to get you something more or less neutral that can be hacked and hewed as necessary, but it really isn’t as easy or as convincing as actually knowing what you need and recording that.

Then absolutely yes: Performance, room, instrument. Put the mic where it sounds like what you want.

My one piece of advice is to make sure that you are hearing what’s coming out of the microphone while you’re playing. That means decent headphones that you know reasonably well. Isolation is important in both directions of course. I’ve been using earbud style monitors with really positive results. Listen to what the mic is doing to the guitar and what the guitar (and you) are doing to the microphone. The closer the mic is to the instrument, the more small movements will affect the capture. You need to hear that and learn to play to/with it if you can. That’s back to performance, I suppose...
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Old 11-14-2019, 11:26 PM   #15
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Put the track on cycle, grab another pair of headphones, turn it way up so you don't hear the player, then move the mic(s) around until you hear what you like.
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Old 11-14-2019, 11:54 PM   #16
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one trick I always repeat is to use readelay with a 5-10 seconds delay at 100%wet.

It's great for recording yourself. you play, then stop. Then listen to what's coming out of your headphones/monitors. You only get the mic sound without the guitar, so it's much easier to judge if you have a good guitar sound or not.

Then you move the mic around, play and listen again. rinse/repeat until you get a good sound. I know where the sweet spot is for my guitar, (12th fret pointing at the soundhole, about 20 cm away) so it doesn't take me a lot of time these days..

but yeah. just move the mic until you get something ear pleasing.
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Old 11-15-2019, 04:11 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ashcat_lt View Post
I can’t figure out how anybody can answer the question from the information in the OP. We use acoustic guitars for soooooo many different things! This can be true of anything we record, of course, but for whatever reason acoustic guitar seems to be really sensitive to this. Until and unless you have a good idea of where this guitar needs to live in the mix, there is no answer. If this is meant as more of a percussive instrument on the edges of a big arrangement, if it’s supposed to stand up to a distorted electric, if it’s front and center of a solo piece...even then are we shooting for more of a documentary “in the room” presentation or that hyperreal idealized thing? They all need different treatment from the very start.
Total sense.
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Old 11-15-2019, 04:13 AM   #18
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Without more information, all we can do is throw suggestions that might mitigate string noise and let the OP try them out and see what works for them.

Nothing wrong with chucking information out there, even if it isn't relevant for the OP, it will probably be useful to someone who reads the thread.
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Old 11-15-2019, 05:49 AM   #19
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Well thanks for all the suggestions! I was thinking last night maybe if I put the mike higher it will pick up less of the top E string. I have decent room treatment and have actually made some progress in capturing the sound since starting to try. I think I have been a bit too focussed on trying to copy a set placement in the hope that it will simplify things and these answers are leading me to think I need to experiment for my guitar in my room with my mic. Thanks everyone
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Old 11-15-2019, 09:04 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by g4greg View Post
one trick I always repeat is to use readelay with a 5-10 seconds delay at 100%wet.

It's great for recording yourself. you play, then stop. Then listen to what's coming out of your headphones/monitors. You only get the mic sound without the guitar, so it's much easier to judge if you have a good guitar sound or not.

Then you move the mic around, play and listen again. rinse/repeat until you get a good sound. I know where the sweet spot is for my guitar, (12th fret pointing at the soundhole, about 20 cm away) so it doesn't take me a lot of time these days..

but yeah. just move the mic until you get something ear pleasing.
that's a great idea, i need to try this.
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Old 11-15-2019, 11:05 AM   #21
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FWIW, I found micing my Taylor with the mic close, about mid way between the 12th fret and the sound hole gives me the best results. (have to be careful while I'm playing to not move around too much.) But my room treatment is garbage, and the tone I like may not be the tone you like.

Also, add a +1 to Karbos point about the performance.

Thanks to a lot of people here, I've gotten a lot better at recording and one of the things that I discovered once I started getting good quality recordings was how lazy I had become as a guitar player. End result it is it forced me to focus more on "how" I was playing rather than "what" I was playing.

That's not a comment on your playing, but rather a realization that I came to over the years in that, even with all the great digital tools we have at our disposal to tweak things, there really is no substitute for a good, solid performance.

Just my humble opinion, best of luck to ya!!!
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Old 11-15-2019, 12:43 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisBlue View Post
I think I have been a bit too focussed on trying to copy a set placement in the hope that it will simplify things
Those are good places to start but in the end...

Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisBlue View Post
and these answers are leading me to think I need to experiment for my guitar in my room with my mic. Thanks everyone
You've answered your own question. Good job!
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Old 11-15-2019, 04:06 PM   #23
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I am sure proper studios and treated rooms and such can be important but maybe we should not be prevented from making beautiful sounding music by any limitations.
This moderately successful combo made do apparently 😉:
(see from 3.30 on):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OU-7GX8s0dA
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Old 11-16-2019, 01:45 AM   #24
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Acoustic guitar is an amazing instrument to use in the mix. I use it very often. You can have only three plain tracks with guitar, bass and drums and that's not easy to make sound full without FX. But you put an acoustic guitar in there and you have a complete fully blown production. The trick is to EQ and level the acoustic in such way, that you can't almost hear it in the mix, yet the empty background remains completely filled with almost "unnoticeable" wall of sound.
So anyway, my point is that you need to make it fit the mix. But like I said all ready, start with rolling off the deep bass, match the highs to cymbals and tweak the mids to taste if needed. Also listen and tweak it only with rest of the instruments playing because on it's own it'll sound bad.
If recording only acc guitar as a solo, than there are good advises here all ready.
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Old 11-16-2019, 04:29 AM   #25
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Tubeguy makes a great point. I was once playing with a bunch of people - sax, keyboard, bass, flute and accordion and really thinking I was making no contribution at all by being on guitar. Then after one piece the sax player commented how much fuller the sound was when the guitar was playing. As Tubeguy says it doesn't have to be up in the mix to make a difference.
Maybe it's not exactly the biggest ego boost being there to fill in the (musical) cracks but music isn't really about ego, right?
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Old 11-16-2019, 06:20 AM   #26
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Great, thanks again
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Old 11-16-2019, 03:22 PM   #27
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Set up a mic. Record a take. Listen to the take. If you don't like what you hear, move the mic. Repeat this process until you like what you hear. Have fun and embrace the process. Cheers and good luck to you.
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Old 11-18-2019, 05:12 AM   #28
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Couple of things to try:

1). Instead of pointing a dynamic cardioid mic square onto the fretboard or soundhole, turn it 45 degrees (or less), moved slightly further towards the nut, ie less bass.

2). If you don't already, play using your pinky to steady your hand, which also has the effect of damping the soundboard.
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Old 11-18-2019, 02:51 PM   #29
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Some of the sound the OP is talking about, sounds like pick problems to me. When a player plays really soft on acoustic, you get to much of the pick clanking on the string. When you strum hard this sound goes away.

Strum harder, I bet that's what is going on. To test, strum with your thumb and listen. Does it sound great? If yes, pick harder and also try different picks. When I track acoustic, i try 5 or 6 different picks. And choose whichever sounds the best.
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Old 11-18-2019, 03:09 PM   #30
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My standard acoustic setup:

Stereo mic it. SDC close mic on the bridge or tone hole or wherever sounds best on that guitar and that song, and then an LDC a couple feet away (distance adjusted to reduce phase problems.) Drop a -6db notch right around 250Hz.

I usually start there, then fiddle with it until it's right.
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Old 11-18-2019, 03:37 PM   #31
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OT question that might be related.

Has anyone here tried blocking room reflections at the mic? For eg an SM57, I'm envisioning a "collar" made out of acoustic foam or similar, surrounding the mic just south of the element, a foot or so in diameter. Maybe arranged more like a pop filter for eg an AT2020 etc.

Think it would work?
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Old 11-18-2019, 05:21 PM   #32
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Mea culpa! I messed up when I linked to the Paul David's video - I gave the wrong url! It should have been this:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ww-cH29IGeM
(although the other one is also relevant).

Quote:
Originally Posted by jerome_oneil View Post
My standard acoustic setup:

Stereo mic it. SDC close mic on the bridge or tone hole or wherever sounds best on that guitar and that song, and then an LDC a couple feet away (distance adjusted to reduce phase problems.) Drop a -6db notch right around 250Hz.

I usually start there, then fiddle with it until it's right.
That is basically what is in the video together with post processing.
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Old 11-18-2019, 10:53 PM   #33
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Recorded this (below) over the weekend. I have no comments on the goodness or badness of the acoustic guitar recording but I'm happy to share any details... but there aren't many really, stereo mic ~20 inches away.

https://forum.cockos.com/showthread.php?p=2204224
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Old 11-19-2019, 10:51 AM   #34
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Recorded this (below) over the weekend. I have no comments on the goodness or badness of the acoustic guitar recording but I'm happy to share any details... but there aren't many really, stereo mic ~20 inches away.

https://forum.cockos.com/showthread.php?p=2204224
It's nice to hear a full spectrum recording of a very nice sounding acoustic.

I get the need to hollow out the low end in a more complex mix. But it seems a little ridiculous sometimes to track a first-rate guitar when all you hear in the mix is "schwing schwing schwing".
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Old 11-20-2019, 06:27 AM   #35
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I was inspired to try a few things out after reading this thread and thought I would share my thoughts.

I put some new strings on the guitar a few days before so they are not brand new, but still have some good rasp to them and they feel good. I have read that brand new strings can be too bright, but I guess this is probably dependent on the guitar and the strings and myriad other factors. suffice to say, the guitar is sounding quite good to my ears.

I tried the kind of standard SDC pointing at the 12th fret around 1' away and, on its own, I thought it was a bit too bright and lacking much body. I think this could work well in the mix, especially for a strumming part that it is in the background and offering a percussive element as much as anything else.

I added another SDC (the other half of the matched pair) and pointed it at the bridge around 1' away too. The direction of this mic was very important and you can "tune" the low end with subtle movements towards/away from the sound hole. It occurred to me that where you pick the strings is also highly relevant and influential in terms of tone (also, finger style, type of pick, etc.) and I guess this is where the player can really make the difference between good/great and underwhelming. In combination, the two SDCs produce a decent tone and changing the placement can give you options. (the mics are a pair of oktava mk012s, both in cardioid throughout - I'm recording in a smallish bedroom so I did not bother with omni mode, because the room is not great sounding.)

finally, because I was procrastinating, i added an LDC about 2' away and pointing at around the 17th fret/body above the sound hole. on its own this sounded ok, nothing special, and then combined with the other two IT SOUNDED ABSOLUTELY HORRENDOUS! most of you will probably have realised what the problem was, but it took me a while to think about experimenting with the phase. I flipped it on the LDC channel and voila, it sounded pretty good again.

I tried this setup on a variety of songs (strumming, finger picking and hybrid picking) and it worked nicely, with a few tweaks needed mainly to accommodate the different playing styles - basically all of the tweaking was in aiming the SDC either closer to or further from the sound hole so it was getting an appreciably 'full' sound that could be used to balance the bright tone from the other mics. the only EQing I did was a high pass filter in ReaEQ (120dB or so) and then I added a cheesy reverb and I was a happy camper.
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Old 11-20-2019, 08:18 AM   #36
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@martifingers...do not mean to hijack this thread but I also saw Paul's video and made a question on youtube on how he is making this reverb trick...since you advise it is quite easy to do and since I am starting up with recording acoustic on reaper can I kindly ask you to send me a few steps of how this trick is done please...would really appreciate that.

Thanks.
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Old 11-20-2019, 09:08 AM   #37
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Hi emann. I don't want to hijack it either and not entirely sure it's exactly what Paul was suggesting but my method for the reverb technique was as follows:

1. Record the two tracks (duh!)
2. Pan them: one hard right, the other hard left and name them GTR Left, Guitar Right.
3. Create two more empty tracks. I named mine GTR Left crossover, Guitar Right crossover.
4. Pan the "GTR Left crossover" hard RIGHT and "Guitar Right Crossover" hard LEFT.
5. From GTR Left make a Send to "GTR Left crossover". Make sure the SEND is set to "Pre-Fader".
6. Put your favourite Reverb effect on the "GTR left crossover" track.
7. Do the equivalent steps 5 and 6 for the "GTR Right crossover"
8. Mix the whole thing as your ears suggest best bearing in mind you have the option of changing Reverb parameters as well as the relative level of the "crossovers" etc.

I think that's correct but looking at it I seem to have perhaps over complicated thee explanation. Kenny, help!

For me it was about just getting in my mind what is happening and then it's really easy. It also occurred to me that there may be fun stuff that could do be done with effects other than reverb...
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Old 11-20-2019, 12:01 PM   #38
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Quote:
Originally Posted by martifingers View Post
Hi emann. I don't want to hijack it either and not entirely sure it's exactly what Paul was suggesting but my method for the reverb technique was as follows:

1. Record the two tracks (duh!)
2. Pan them: one hard right, the other hard left and name them GTR Left, Guitar Right.
3. Create two more empty tracks. I named mine GTR Left crossover, Guitar Right crossover.
4. Pan the "GTR Left crossover" hard RIGHT and "Guitar Right Crossover" hard LEFT.
5. From GTR Left make a Send to "GTR Left crossover". Make sure the SEND is set to "Pre-Fader".
6. Put your favourite Reverb effect on the "GTR left crossover" track.
7. Do the equivalent steps 5 and 6 for the "GTR Right crossover"
8. Mix the whole thing as your ears suggest best bearing in mind you have the option of changing Reverb parameters as well as the relative level of the "crossovers" etc.

I think that's correct but looking at it I seem to have perhaps over complicated thee explanation. Kenny, help!

For me it was about just getting in my mind what is happening and then it's really easy. It also occurred to me that there may be fun stuff that could do be done with effects other than reverb...
Karbo has a slick little trick that is pretty much the same thing but easier. I'll let him chime in if he's a mind to.
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Old 11-20-2019, 12:09 PM   #39
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Which one Jeff? Both require far less setup IMHO.

Shimmer (it's possible this is my take on one of Pauls ideas):

https://forum.cockos.com/showthread.php?t=223197

Reverb follows Pan (same side, inverse, or both):

https://forum.cockos.com/showpost.ph...71&postcount=4

The point of this one is the classic instrument in one speaker, reverb or delay in the other ala Van Halen I (or in the same speaker or somewhere in between) then if you pan the track, the reverb/delay follow proportionally. So if guitar in left and verb in right, if you now pan the guitar to 10 o'clock, the reverb now goes to 2 o'clock and so on.
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Last edited by karbomusic; 11-20-2019 at 12:17 PM.
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Old 11-20-2019, 12:12 PM   #40
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Quote:
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OT question that might be related.

Has anyone here tried blocking room reflections at the mic? For eg an SM57, I'm envisioning a "collar" made out of acoustic foam or similar, surrounding the mic just south of the element, a foot or so in diameter. Maybe arranged more like a pop filter for eg an AT2020 etc.

Think it would work?
Hold on dude, I am going to blow everybody's mind. I built a vocal/acoustic guitar booth for 30 bucks. And it is movable! let me snap a picture so you guys can see what a freaking genius I am.

Just realized, I have no clue how to upload pictures to here anymore. And I built the raddest setup I need to show you guys

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