Old 01-28-2020, 03:01 AM   #1
madphilly
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Hey guys!

Firstly I'd like to lay down that I'm totally green to recording processes. I've done the noob thing and browsed YouTube and this forum for tips and techniques etc., which I must say has been massively useful.

My question is around recording acoustic guitar. I have tried the DI approach, which I don't like too much, but volume-wise it's okay. I have a Behringer UMC22 AI and Fender Acoustasonic 40 Amp with DI out.

When recording through the instrument input in the AI, it's VERY quiet and I have to add 95% gain on the AI just to get anything through. Rumour has it that this is because of the pickup in the guitar (Taylor A10e, ES pickup). I don't have a pre-amp to boost the weak signal using this approach, aside from a Rowin Looper which boosts a little.


So, recording with Mic provides best results, but you have all the finger sounds and ambient noise which I'm unsure how to combat. I'm following vids about EQ and yesterday I tried the JSFX Spectrum Matcher approach, which was very good.

I read another post that mentioned recording both the DI and Mic'd input and 'blending' them.

Apologies for the lengthy post, I figured some background might help

TIA

Andy

EDIT: I'd like to add for completeness that the whole mix in this particular instance just includes the guitar, vocals and drums, so the guitar has a good level of focus.

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Old 01-28-2020, 09:36 AM   #2
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It depends on the part you're trying to track. You'll approach a fingerpicking part differently than a rhythmic strum.

Generally speaking, acoustic gtrs are tracked with small diaphragm condensers, but you can get great results with an SM57. The small diaphragm is important for directionality. It has a small pickup pattern, so you can point it away from sounds you don't want to hear (like finger squeaks etc).

Start with positioning the mic at the 14th fret, approx. 6-8" away. It gets bassier as you move toward the soundhole.

Don't be afraid to experiment. Move the mic closer or further away. Try a couple takes and listen carefully to what you get. If you don't like it, do it again. Repeat till you're happy.
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Old 01-28-2020, 09:44 AM   #3
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Hi. To add to the above: yes quiet signals can be an issue though it's more an issue about the signal to noise ration than the signal per se. Considering using a pre-amp - my little and very cheap Art Pro Tube has made a big difference but even taking a DI from a half decent acoustic amp might be worth trying.

Here's the always watchable Paul Davids on how to record acoustics:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ww-cH29IGeM&t=108s
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Old 01-28-2020, 11:08 AM   #4
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Squeaky ...
Here are a couple of things.
The shortest and believe it or not the best way to avoid squeaks while playing an acoustic guitar is to practice not making them. Study the times you do not make squeaks when you could have and learn from those.
Relaxed playing, good position of the fretting hand and also right hand.
Tricks.... one I did two days ago on my Martin this guitar has a very slim neck for all practical purposes too thin for my left hand to get a clean "C" chord without a buzz. I needed the sound of open chords they had what I wanted and needed to play a "C" then "D" I was getting this buzz and nothing in my artillery of vst' would take this sound out, so... I tuned my B string up to C (up a semi Tone) and there the answer was two new shapes with less interference in the sound quick to record a perfect take and then a down tune after success. (My Martin neck is too narrow for my fingers at the nut)
Think outside the square and note the things that succeed for you and build off those.

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Old 01-28-2020, 12:15 PM   #5
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So, recording with Mic provides best results, but you have all the finger sounds and ambient noise which I'm unsure how to combat.
I also record using a Taylor acoustic and found as you did that mic'ing it gave me the best results.

To Grinders point about the squeaks while playing, you're better off fixing that in the performance rather than trying to fix it in the mix, so to speak, but that's just my opinion. Nothing wrong with a little bit of that though, just shows it's a human playing rather than a machine.

I record in my man cave, have some ambient noise to deal with, but I'm just a hobbyist so I'm not expecting studio quality results.

Good Luck.
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Old 01-28-2020, 01:06 PM   #6
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If the guitar amplified from it's piezo pickup with that amp is your preferred sound... That's what you want to record. I'd record the DI and also mic the amp in that case for flexibility. The unamplified acoustic sound of the guitar would be a different animal.

If you were actually after an unamplified acoustic guitar sound, and the pickup and amp business is more of an attempt to play with louder instruments (like drums) as well as possible...

The sounds from an acoustic guitar can include some noises. You kind of have to dial that in with performance technique. Mics are going to record what comes off the thing with no lies.
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Old 01-28-2020, 01:26 PM   #7
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If you are playing repetitive passages as in verse or chorus type passages and you do have a muck up in one. If you can find a good one the same in that or another file then edit the bad one by inserting a copy of the good sounding part of the passage into that place where you cut out the bad one.

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Old 01-29-2020, 11:36 AM   #8
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I like to use an SM57 and point it to the 12th fret of the guitar so the sound isn't too boomy. As an recent experiment I tried to create the acoustic sound of the first America album and this setup, along with my Martin dreadnought worked well for doing that.

My other tip is to listen to good acoustic music for inspiration. My suggestion: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gDZbpEgQ6i0
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Old 02-03-2020, 05:49 AM   #9
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Hey guys,

Thank you all for your inputs.

I definitely agree on the performance practicing, this will of course knock it out at source.

I've watched the Paul David video a few times and he's very helpful. At present I have a Shure SM58 and a Samson C01 Large Diaphragm Condensor mic. As I have just picked up here, the large diaphragm may not be the best for recording the guitar in terms of background sounds. To be honest, I do quite like the human element to the sound, so some sliding, squeaking is totally fine.

I do really need to take some time changing mic placement, I suffer with a lack of patience so this always proves tough lol! I haven't tried yet, but I'll have a go recording both mic'd and DI and research this 'blending' technique, see where that takes me.

"I record in my man cave, have some ambient noise to deal with, but I'm just a hobbyist so I'm not expecting studio quality results"

I also do this. I'm not expecting studio quality, just a bit of fun. But I would like to get a noticeably better quality sound so I'm just gonna have to keep researching and learning.

As I've trawled, it seems that some basic EQ'ing and Delay can make a world of difference. Just need to know what I'm doing

Again, thanks for taking the time to respond. This learning curve is steep and it's always good to know there are people willing to help you climb it.

Andy
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Old 02-03-2020, 11:23 AM   #10
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So assuming the condenser has about the same polar pattern and you put it in the same place relative to the guitar and you play basically the same volume, the signal to room noise ratio will be the same. The idea that condensers pick up more room noise comes from the fact that theyíre usually placed further from the source and is not some inherent difference in the technology.

That said, I usually canít stand the sound of a close condenser on an acoustic. It very much does depend on the context of the mix, but that really high frequency clack and zing that condensers tend to pick up and sometimes even amplify just sounds horrible to me. Itís basically the exact same thing that I donít like about the piezo pickup DI sound. That is A sound, and actually pretty important when youíre using the acoustic like a tambourine in a big production, but I donít like it for most of the things I do.

When I know that itís not what I want, I just use a dynamic. I usually put it in front of the bridge, but pointed toward the face of the guitar below and beyond the sound hole sometimes at a pretty extreme angle. Ideally youíd have headphones and you move the guitar around until you find something you like. Then maybe move the mic to get the same thing but with the guitar where you actually want it.

Or I happen to have a couple of decent, neutral rooms where I can back off a few feet which is good way to get a real honest picture of the instrument as a whole. Like thatís kind of where theyíre meant to be heard from. In that case the top end of a condenser can still be a little strident, but it also helps provide some detail and ďairĒ to the sound.

But also there isnít a damn thing wrong with EQing it to get what you need. You need a good idea of what youíre actually looking for - what you need in the context of the mix. Try to get as close to that as you can with mic selection and placement. Then force it do what you want with whatever plugins it takes to get there.
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Old 02-03-2020, 11:44 AM   #11
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I do really need to take some time changing mic placement, I suffer with a lack of patience so this always proves tough lol! I haven't tried yet, but I'll have a go recording both mic'd and DI and research this 'blending' technique, see where that takes me.
I know what you mean about the patience thing. But you'll find that as you play around with different mic placements, settings, etc. you'll soon get the sound that you like, or more accurately, the best sound that you can get with your setup. Like you, my setup won't give me studio quality, but with a little work I can get something that sounds good enough. Once you get that, then on future projects, you'll be able to dial that in pretty quickly.

There's a preset in ReaEQ called Close mic acoustic guitar, something like that, I found that if I get the recording to sound as good as I can, that's pretty much the only effect I need. I'm sure my recordings could benefit from other tweaks as well, but I try to keep things simple, especially given that there is so much about all this recording and mixing that I don't really get anyway. I'm just a guitar player.

I recorded this last year, just mic'd the guitar at the 12th fret and put that ReaEQ on.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/tv69zgigvh...ustic.wav?dl=0

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Old 02-03-2020, 12:03 PM   #12
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Generally speaking, acoustic gtrs are tracked with small diaphragm condensers, but you can get great results with an SM57. The small diaphragm is important for directionality. It has a small pickup pattern, so you can point it away from sounds you don't want to hear (like finger squeaks etc).
Hey Kirk, that's not actually the case. SDC's don't have smaller pickup patterns than LDC's. In fact, at high frequencies LDC's patterns get narrower, so for avoiding string squeak an LDC will be more directional, assuming a cardioid pattern is used.

Some more on that here: https://forum.cockos.com/newreply.ph...eply&p=2237557
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Old 02-03-2020, 12:14 PM   #13
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...given that there is so much about all this recording and mixing that I don't really get anyway. I'm just a guitar player.
I mean do you wanna keep saying ďIím just...I donít get it,Ē or do you actually want to learn? Iím cool either way really.

The one big trick that nobody else will tell you is that it doesnít have to be hard or particularly complicated. If you have a compelling performance of an appropriate arrangement of an interesting piece of music, it doesnít take much to get it recorded. Use what youíve got, move things around, turn knobs, try not to fuck it up. Especially donít waste time and creative energy trying to make it sound too much like something it isnít. Record it. Record it on your phone if you have to! If it actually is good, people will thank you.

Afterwards you can listen through and find maybe some things that arenít quite the way youíd like them to be. Then you find a knob to turn and then turn it until it sounds good. Which knob? Well, whatís wrong? That part (knowing which knob) takes some knowledge and experience, but youíve got a bunch of that at your fingertips right here on the forum.
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Old 02-03-2020, 12:46 PM   #14
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I mean do you wanna keep saying ďIím just...I donít get it,Ē or do you actually want to learn? Iím cool either way really.

The one big trick that nobody else will tell you is that it doesnít have to be hard or particularly complicated. If you have a compelling performance of an appropriate arrangement of an interesting piece of music, it doesnít take much to get it recorded. Use what youíve got, move things around, turn knobs, try not to fuck it up. Especially donít waste time and creative energy trying to make it sound too much like something it isnít. Record it. Record it on your phone if you have to! If it actually is good, people will thank you.

Afterwards you can listen through and find maybe some things that arenít quite the way youíd like them to be. Then you find a knob to turn and then turn it until it sounds good. Which knob? Well, whatís wrong? That part (knowing which knob) takes some knowledge and experience, but youíve got a bunch of that at your fingertips right here on the forum.
Yup!

I'm a sucker for marketing as much as the next guy, but the truth is the industry (both manufacturers and "educators") can make it sound far more complicated than it needs to be.

Stick a mic in front of something. Hit record. What you are recording is the really important part, not how you are recording it.
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Old 02-03-2020, 12:54 PM   #15
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Acoustic guitar is one of the harder instruments to record well.
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Old 02-03-2020, 01:44 PM   #16
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That said, I usually can’t stand the sound of a close condenser on an acoustic. It very much does depend on the context of the mix, but that really high frequency clack and zing that condensers tend to pick up and sometimes even amplify just sounds horrible to me.
Fully agree and I never find myself listening to someone play acoustic with my ears 6" from the guitar. 12" is the closest I will get and that is still too close for me most of the time. I like 20 or more inches better but my room can handle that.

Another thing to remember is much of the long-lived internet advice is addressing home recordists and less than ideal conditions - meaning there is a lot of close-micing advice out there that only exists in trying to compensate for shitty room reflections.

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The one big trick that nobody else will tell you is that it doesn’t have to be hard or particularly complicated. If you have a compelling performance of an appropriate arrangement of an interesting piece of music, it doesn’t take much to get it recorded.
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Yup!

I'm a sucker for marketing as much as the next guy, but the truth is the industry (both manufacturers and "educators") can make it sound far more complicated than it needs to be.

Stick a mic in front of something. Hit record. What you are recording is the really important part, not how you are recording it.
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Acoustic guitar is one of the harder instruments to record well.
IME, recording acoustic guitar is only hard when the performance is sub par - because much of making an acoustic sound good is keeping the noise, clicks, squeaks and clacks down... I've watched players with my own eyes/ears destroy an acoustic tone and make it sound thin as crap even though in anyone elses hands, it sounded full and warm...

Or if the room has bad acoustics, and/or if the instrument is just sort of terrible. There are countless tutorials showing that recording acoustic guitar is simply not hard or complicated. It may be harder to target some specific exact tone/sound but that's not really the same as getting a great recording that works in a mix.

A good performance is hard or rather takes time and patience to practice if it isn't there and it's very easy for performance issues to sound like or be assumed as recording issues.
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Old 02-04-2020, 03:42 AM   #17
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Stick a mic in front of something. Hit record. What you are recording is the really important part, not how you are recording it.
I see this as a valuable piece of experienced advice! And to be fair is what makes the most sense. I'm not a brilliant guitarist and my technique lacks in areas so the initial piece of music is more likely to be poorly played as opposed to poorly recorded. Having said that, I don't want to hold off for years until I'm accomplished before I record lol. Cue the lack of patience again!

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There's a preset in ReaEQ called Close mic acoustic guitar, something like that, I found that if I get the recording to sound as good as I can, that's pretty much the only effect I need.

I recorded this last year, just mic'd the guitar at the 12th fret and put that ReaEQ on.
I've dicked about with this, I'll persevere. That recording sounds better that what I'm currently getting. A very boxy noise with no life.

Thanks again for all the responses. I think I'm overthinking it too early in my home recording journey. I'll experiment with both mic's, placement and EQ'ing and see what happens

Cheers all
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Old 02-04-2020, 04:12 AM   #18
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I see this as a valuable piece of experienced advice! And to be fair is what makes the most sense. I'm not a brilliant guitarist and my technique lacks in areas so the initial piece of music is more likely to be poorly played as opposed to poorly recorded. Having said that, I don't want to hold off for years until I'm accomplished before I record lol. Cue the lack of patience again!



I've dicked about with this, I'll persevere. That recording sounds better that what I'm currently getting. A very boxy noise with no life.

Thanks again for all the responses. I think I'm overthinking it too early in my home recording journey. I'll experiment with both mic's, placement and EQ'ing and see what happens

Cheers all
I don't think there's any point waiting until you're "good enough" to record. Practice makes perfect, so all your experimentation with recording as your playing gets better will pay off. Just don't expect things to sound like a record for a while and enjoy the process.

If you're getting a boxy tone, it is probably the room.
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Old 02-04-2020, 05:34 AM   #19
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IME, recording acoustic guitar is only hard when the performance is sub par
Tell that to the high quality classical acoustic guitar technicians
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Old 02-04-2020, 05:41 AM   #20
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Tell that to the high quality classical acoustic guitar technicians
There is a huge margin between messing something up and making it amazing.
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Old 02-04-2020, 06:27 AM   #21
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I found this instructive re classical guitar recording. The bits about editing are interesting too.
https://classicalguitarmagazine.com/recording/
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Old 02-04-2020, 07:38 AM   #22
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Tell that to the high quality classical acoustic guitar technicians
My classical acoustic is even easier than steel string to record, really. But if they find it's difficult, they are, as mentioned, likely having to meet some very specific sonic target, not just get a good sound.
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Old 02-04-2020, 07:42 AM   #23
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I don't think there's any point waiting until you're "good enough" to record.
It's like saying, I'm not going to practice guitar until I'm better at guitar. You practice recording while you are practicing guitar. That's a much faster-progress feedback loop since you are practicing both at the same time. I record (either audio or audio/video) much of my personal practice, both for reviewing the practice part and the recording part - hearing it back as third person is the most important part. I also record ALL my micing techniques/practice and catalog them, and have done so for years.
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Old 02-04-2020, 09:58 AM   #24
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I've dicked about with this, I'll persevere. That recording sounds better that what I'm currently getting. A very boxy noise with no life.
If you're micing your acoustic and the acoustics where you record are not that good, you might want to consider placing the mic closer to the guitar. I typically have mine within 6 inches or so of the 12th fret, but as was mentioned earlier, having a mic that close to a guitar can introduce some annoying tones. So it becomes a matter of the lesser of two evils.

You might try an amp/cabinet simulation plugin of some type. I used the Voxengo Boogex plugin for awhile, direct connect to eliminate all that ambient noise and then tweak the plugin settings to get the sound you want.

Keep practicing, and keep experimenting. Sooner or later you're going to come across something that works for you. Keep things simple at first and focus on your performance.
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Old 02-04-2020, 10:05 AM   #25
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If you're micing your acoustic and the acoustics where you record are not that good, you might want to consider placing the mic closer to the guitar.
Or recording in a different room!

Most people have their computers in boxy little rooms with few soft furnishings. They record in that room because that's where their computer is.

A living room usually sounds much better if it's of a fair size.
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Old 02-04-2020, 10:08 AM   #26
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My problem with close micing to avoid the room is it is bar none a "defensive" move - by all means, use it if you have to because you have no choice but I harp on this because it's defensive micing vs creative micing and you usually can't have that cake and eat it too.

This is precisely why getting the room in better shape (or finding another room) is pretty much always vastly superior than using guerrilla tactics to avoid it. I had bad rooms for years got some decent results but I never achieved the freedom and quality I could get with a good room in comparison. Not to mention all the extra time spent avoiding the bad room acoustics, it was terribly frustrating.

In contrast, now that I have a good room, the guitar and mic just need to be in the same room and I can get a usable sound.
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Old 02-04-2020, 10:44 AM   #27
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Or recording in a different room!
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In contrast, now that I have a good room, the guitar and mic just need to be in the same room and I can get a usable sound.
That's why I'm looking forward to recording at Pipeline's studio.
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Old 02-04-2020, 11:21 AM   #28
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That's why I'm looking forward to recording at Pipeline's studio.
Seeing as you're somewhere with good weather, I recommend trying outside recording, preferably at night. I've had great success with that on the few days it hasn't rained around here.

It totally gets rid of the need to figure reflections into how you mic stuff.
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Old 02-04-2020, 11:27 AM   #29
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Seeing as you're somewhere with good weather, I recommend trying outside recording, preferably at night. I've had great success with that on the few days it hasn't rained around here.

It totally gets rid of the need to figure reflections into how you mic stuff.
Now that's an interesting idea. Might have to give that a try.
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Old 02-04-2020, 12:25 PM   #30
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There is a huge margin between messing something up and making it amazing.
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My classical acoustic is even easier than steel string to record, really. But if they find it's difficult, they are, as mentioned, likely having to meet some very specific sonic target, not just get a good sound.
Of course, no reason not to get started with what you have. In the end a sm57 and simple solid playing can be perfect.
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Old 02-04-2020, 12:39 PM   #31
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You can make a great recording with a good room and a good mic with a good classical guitar - that is literally all that is needed if the performance is there. Those examples of having to spend days in a million dollar studio for this is a myth and as bad as people spending days in the studio just trying to mic an amp through multi-thousand dollar preamps - the difference is microscopic compared to the performance. So anyone saying micing a classical is that hard, is pulling one's leg.
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Old 02-04-2020, 01:40 PM   #32
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Now that's an interesting idea. Might have to give that a try.
Here's an example from years ago that I found I still had.

REALLY cheap 3/4 size nylon string guitar ($40 new), recorded with a Zoom H4n, maybe 2' or 3' feet away? I don't remember... must've been close enough to use headphones because I played to a click. Not in the open space, but the porch area of a stable.

All the birds and field recording crap was from a different recording. The guitar was recorded at the dead of night and had no other sounds. I don't think it is even EQ'd.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/jychakow18...uitar.wav?dl=0

Getting a sound that dry from that far away is pretty crazy. This isn't the best example, but the only one I could find. What I like is you get no reflections but at the same time a kind of nice air about it.
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Old 02-04-2020, 05:48 PM   #33
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Here's an example from years ago that I found I still had.

REALLY cheap 3/4 size nylon string guitar ($40 new), recorded with a Zoom H4n, maybe 2' or 3' feet away? I don't remember... must've been close enough to use headphones because I played to a click. Not in the open space, but the porch area of a stable.

All the birds and field recording crap was from a different recording. The guitar was recorded at the dead of night and had no other sounds. I don't think it is even EQ'd.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/jychakow18...uitar.wav?dl=0

Getting a sound that dry from that far away is pretty crazy. This isn't the best example, but the only one I could find. What I like is you get no reflections but at the same time a kind of nice air about it.
Got me thinking about hauling my laptop and acoustic to my friends house and setting up on his deck. His place in on the ocean, some ocean sounds in the background might sound pretty good with Dust In The Wind.
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Old 02-04-2020, 11:13 PM   #34
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Got me thinking about hauling my laptop and acoustic to my friends house and setting up on his deck. His place in on the ocean, some ocean sounds in the background might sound pretty good with Dust In The Wind.
That would be "Salt In The Wind"
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Old 02-05-2020, 01:31 AM   #35
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That would be "Salt In The Wind"
Or "Rust On The Strings".
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Old 02-05-2020, 02:11 AM   #36
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Easy
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it's meant to sound like that...
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Old 02-05-2020, 04:37 AM   #37
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At the risk of this being a stupid question....The room size where I am doing this is ample, 4m sq. It's a bedroom so there's a bed, duh, few small bits of furniture and my desk. I record by the window, which also has a radiator below it. Could this have a negative effect on the acoustics? Sound reflection or something?

Anyhow, I'm trying different mic positions and I'm surprised how a subtle move can make a hefty difference in the sound. I'm also considering Mic'ing my amp to see if that gives me something near what (I think) I want. And that's another thing you may be asking yourselves....wtf does this guy actually want??? And I don't blame you lol! Being a noob I don't think I'm sure. The only way I can articulate it, is that the recording just doesn't sound very full.

I will continue to experiment, and more than likely come back here and spout crap until I understand something.

Thanks all!
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Old 02-05-2020, 05:35 AM   #38
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At the risk of this being a stupid question....The room size where I am doing this is ample, 4m sq. It's a bedroom so there's a bed, duh, few small bits of furniture and my desk. I record by the window, which also has a radiator below it. Could this have a negative effect on the acoustics? Sound reflection or something?

Anyhow, I'm trying different mic positions and I'm surprised how a subtle move can make a hefty difference in the sound. I'm also considering Mic'ing my amp to see if that gives me something near what (I think) I want. And that's another thing you may be asking yourselves....wtf does this guy actually want??? And I don't blame you lol! Being a noob I don't think I'm sure. The only way I can articulate it, is that the recording just doesn't sound very full.

I will continue to experiment, and more than likely come back here and spout crap until I understand something.

Thanks all!
4m isn't very big for a recording space. Reflections affect the sound because all those waves interacting cause amplification and attenuation of different frequencies.

Experimentation is the best way to go though, so good luck!
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Old 02-06-2020, 10:45 AM   #39
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https://www.youtube.com/results?sear...coustic+guitar
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Old 02-06-2020, 02:58 PM   #40
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4m square is ample to move around in, but like others have said, it's constrained from a recording perspective.

I'd dampen as much as possible, even the floor. Then I'd set up a single mic and move myself around while playing and listening via headphones until I found a good sound in the mic. Once you know your relationship of mic-to-guitar, then move together as a unit around to a couple of different spots in the room... trying to get a nice clean dry sound. Pick the best position that you can. Then give a killer performance. That should result in a tone that suits your mind and a room sound that hopefully is dampened enough to eliminate issues. If you need artificial verb, then add it during mixing.

Yes, experimenting and going slow is best. Once you know your room and what sounds you can capture cleanly, then next time you record you'll be MUCH faster. It's VERY common to go to a new place and walk around the live room playing until the room sound hits you in the right way. If the resident engineer knows their room, then they can offer common suggestions.

Concerning micing, I lean towards a single LDC or a mid-side set up with LDC and a ribbon, if the song can handle that. I love the MS technique for sparse songs.
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