Recording Acoustic Guitar

[sg_popup id=”2″ event=”onload”][/sg_popup]For many guitarists, the Acoustic guitar is where we get started. It is easy to pick up and strum, and there always seem to be one laying around in the corner or gathering dust at the back of the closet. It seems to be our pick it up and go option. But when we get better and eventually get into recording acoustic guitar, things are not simple at all.

Playing guitar acoustically, amplified for live show and recording in the studio are all very different animals. And most of the time the result sound very different. When you play acoustic guitar in a room, the walls reflect the sound back. In a live situation, most musicians use a pickup, that is amplified by an acoustic amp or a sound system. Both sound very different.

When we go to the studio, most of the time we try to capture the true tone of the acoustic guitar, so I will talk about this process. I will give you two different technique. First, we look at my standard recording setup which requires two microphones. Then we follow by looking at a method where you only need one microphone. All of these techniques can definitely be reproduced even if you record music in your home.

Two microphone technique

This is my favorite way to record acoustic guitar, and I have recorded hundreds of acoustic guitar tracks this way. What you need are two small diaphragm active microphones. The Neumann KM 184 is a great, but pricey choice. For more budget conscious I can recommend a pair of Rode NT5’s. I use a pair of Oktava MK012’s, and I have nothing but good things to say about these Russian made microphones.

I position one of the microphones facing the 12th fret pretty close to the guitar. The other one I position facing the bridge, or just behind it and I try to keep both microphone’s distance from the guitar about the same.

Then in the mix, I pan the microphones hard left and hard right. For those of you who have collaborated with me in any of the Melosity #CollaborationTuesday projects, you have heard me playing acoustic guitar with this setup. You can check out a sound sample HERE.

One microphone technique

I also want to share with you a simple technique that only requires one microphone. For this technique, if you can get your hands on an AKC 414, the results are going to sound amazing! But any large diaphragm microphone will do the job. Also if you only have a dynamic microphone, like the Shure SM 58, or SM 57, this will still get you great results.

Position the microphone just about where the neck of the acoustic guitar meets the body. Again, I would keep the microphone close enough. This is as simple as it gets.

But what about the soundhole?

I hear you scratching your head and wondering why I don’t put a single microphone anywhere near the soundhole. The thing is, there is air coming out of the soundhole. And the sound around this area is very boomy and missing definition. By all means, experiment with the microphone positions. After all, this is one of the things that makes recording so much fun.

Let us know below in the comments, what your experiences of recording acoustic guitar are and if I missed any tips.


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