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-   -   Choosing a Recording Guitar (https://www.acousticguitarforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=164118)

Alexrkstr 09-17-2009 06:40 PM

Choosing a Recording Guitar
 
For those of you who have experience recording and have been doing this for a while amateur or professionally...

I was talking a listen to my recordings and I'm not crazy about the way they sound. My question is more related to the material of the guitars and teh body shape (if you have clips that would be great to hear too).

I have two acoustic guitars and this is what I have found:
814ce (RW / Spruce): It sounds too thin and somewhat muddy. Not sure how the pro's do it since there was an issue on Wood&Steel about this one guy doing all his recordings with the 814ce.... ? Anyone here has any clips?
Larrivée LV-03e (Mahogany / Spruce): I like this sound better but it doesn't have the 'oomph' that I am looking for. It does come close clarity wise.

I have seen WALNUT and MAPLE record well.
I do mostly strumming (not fingerpicking or flatpicking)
My style is Rock/Pop/Alternative

Thoughts?

Bob Womack 09-17-2009 07:27 PM

If you are doing mostly strumming and want a guitar with "chirp" to cut through an ensemble, maple/spruce is probably the very best combo. With a good small diaphragm condenser pointed at the joint between neck and body and spaced out 12-16" in a good room, you just about can't miss. A couple of weeks ago I recorded a Takamine maple/spruce for an indie pop combo. I mic'd it with a pair of AKG451Bs set at 90' and pointed as above. I simply rolled off a little bit of the bass. Strumming perfection.

Bob

Guit Hacker 09-17-2009 07:33 PM

While I was typing Bob beat me to it.

It might also help to know if you're recording with a band or solo. The acoustic might take on a different role in the mix.

Alexrkstr 09-17-2009 08:08 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Guit Hacker (Post 1962358)
While I was typing Bob beat me to it.

It might also help to know if you're recording with a band or solo. The acoustic might take on a different role in the mix.

Yep, my tracks usually consist of the following:
- Drums
- Acoustic Guitar
- Electric riffs or "effected" guitar
- Bass
- Soft-synths

I only have the MXL combo 990/991 though. Do you think that's a problem? I'm not sure if the difference is huge to the next step up mic? In any case, I am always EQ'ing the guitars, doubling tracks, compressing, etc to make them sound fatter.

Herb Hunter 09-17-2009 08:17 PM

Is the opening post a request for how to make satisfying recordings with the guitars at hand or a question about which wood combinations result in a guitar that is easy to record?

If it is the former, it would be helpful to know what specific microphones were used to produce the disappointing recordings and how the mics were positioned relative to the guitar in order to provide suggestions on how to make better recordings.

rick-slo 09-17-2009 08:20 PM

It is mostly how you record (gear, using the gear you have). You can get good recordings with a wide variety of guitars having different price points, body sizes and wood combos. Of course I am not saying the guitar recorded does not make a difference but it sounds like from your post you have some other issues to deal with that make or break recording sound.

Alexrkstr 09-17-2009 08:41 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Herb Hunter (Post 1962396)
Is the opening post a request for how to make satisfying recordings with the guitars at hand or a question about which wood combinations result in a guitar that is easy to record?

If it is the former, it would be helpful to know what specific microphones were used to produce the disappointing recordings and how the mics were positioned relative to the guitar in order to provide suggestions on how to make better recordings.

Hi HH, the post is about the wood combination that is easiest to record for clear/fat defines strums.

Quote:

Originally Posted by rick-slo (Post 1962401)
It is mostly how you record (gear, using the gear you have). You can get good recordings with a wide variety of guitars having different price points, body sizes and wood combos. Of course I am not saying the guitar recorded does not make a difference but it sounds like from your post you have some other issues to deal with that make or break recording sound.

Perhaps. For the recordings that I don't like I am using a pencil condenser at the 12th fret about 4-6 inches away....

Doug Young 09-17-2009 10:00 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Alexrkstr (Post 1962434)
Perhaps. For the recordings that I don't like I am using a pencil condenser at the 12th fret about 4-6 inches away....


There's a bit more to it than that :-) How are your room acoustics, for example? What is this "pencil condenser"? And that is far from the only placement that can work. You have to experiment. A fraction of an inch can change the sound. What's the rest of your recording chain? Strings can change the sound, your pick can dramatically change the sound. how you play can affect your sound. Your guitar can affect the sound, but for pop rhythm guitar, an 814 should be pretty darn near perfect.

Alexrkstr 09-17-2009 10:10 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Doug Young (Post 1962518)
There's a bit more to it than that :-) How are your room acoustics, for example? What is this "pencil condenser"? And that is far from the only placement that can work. You have to experiment. A fraction of an inch can change the sound. What's the rest of your recording chain? Strings can change the sound, your pick can dramatically change the sound. how you play can affect your sound. Your guitar can affect the sound, but for pop rhythm guitar, an 814 should be pretty darn near perfect.

Glad you bring that up... I guess where I am going with this thread is - Is it worth it to get a 614ce to record or can I achieve the same results with my 814 and LV03?

Investigating a little more I found this video which is pretty helpful...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j2yEhHc-LeI

BUt I still don't know if I should pull the trigger on a 614ce. It seems that I should go with a cheaper option of improving my setup.... ?

Doug Young 09-17-2009 10:19 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Alexrkstr (Post 1962524)
BUt I still don't know if I should pull the trigger on a 614ce. It seems that I should go with a cheaper option of improving my setup.... ?


You're unlikely to get radically different results just by changing Taylors, maple or not. I think you should tell us more about your recording setup for starters, and especially try lots of different mic placements. One guess about your "muddy but thin" problem is that you say you're micing at the 12th fret, that would account for some thinness, mostly string sound there. And 4 inches away, your going to get proximity effect (bass buildup from the mic being too close), depending on the mic. Try moving it further out. Try 8 inches, 10 inches, 12 inches, etc, and also try bring it in more toward the body, 14th or 15th fret. If it's a directional mic, try tilting it toward the soundhole if it's too thin, away from the soundhole if it gets too boomy. There are dozens of other spots, you could spend weeks carefully experimenting with mic location to dial in the sound you want.

Alexrkstr 09-17-2009 10:38 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Doug Young (Post 1962532)
You're unlikely to get radically different results just by changing Taylors, maple or not. I think you should tell us more about your recording setup for starters, and especially try lots of different mic placements. One guess about your "muddy but thin" problem is that you say you're micing at the 12th fret, that would account for some thinness, mostly string sound there. And 4 inches away, your going to get proximity effect (bass buildup from the mic being too close), depending on the mic. Try moving it further out. Try 8 inches, 10 inches, 12 inches, etc, and also try bring it in more toward the body, 14th or 15th fret. If it's a directional mic, try tilting it toward the soundhole if it's too thin, away from the soundhole if it gets too boomy. There are dozens of other spots, you could spend weeks carefully experimenting with mic location to dial in the sound you want.

Doug, you have to be one of the most succinct guys in the forum. I understand exactly what you are saying and it makes complete sense... I did check some of my old recordings with my Larrivée and they sound really nice. I think it does have to do with the mic placement more than with the guitar or the microphone themselves.

My set up consists of either the Larrivée or the Taylor mic'd up with the MXL 990/991 combo or alone. I prefer to use the pencil condenser because it is easier to manipulate than the large diaphragm 990... I am in a 12 x 10 room with my bed behind me and a wall in front of me, not too many ricky corners in my room and I don't think that would impact much at where I am right now.

Doug Young 09-17-2009 11:12 PM

The MXL should be fine. You'd be amazed at how much difference a little bit of room treatment could make, or even moving to different spots in the room. A 10x12 room is exactly what most home recordists have to work with, and it has a lot to do with why the results usually sound like a home recording. Fortunately, with fairly close micing and a bit of attention to the acoustics of the room, you can get away with it for acoustic guitar. But the muddy and indistinct issue is another typical result of a non-treated room. Some online searches on room acoustics should give you lots of info. Just don't get sucked into buying lots of stuff. Experiment with what you have. Pillows, blankets, curtains, carpet. Its not ideal, but it can all make a difference if you mess with it enough. You can also try different rooms. A furnished living room is often not a terrible starting point.

Room acoustics and mic placement is 99% of the home recording puzzle. Once you get a good sound with some guitar, any guitar, you can get into whether you're looking for the subtle differences in how various tonewoods record.

Alexrkstr 09-17-2009 11:30 PM

And that just summarizes it so I go do homework :) thanks Doug!

Doug Young 09-18-2009 12:00 AM

Don't let me talk you out of a new guitar if you just want a new guitar, of course :-)

rumi11 09-19-2009 03:43 AM

The guitar or wood is not the problem
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Doug Young (Post 1962532)
You're unlikely to get radically different results just by changing Taylors, maple or not. I think you should tell us more about your recording setup for starters, and especially try lots of different mic placements. One guess about your "muddy but thin" problem is that you say you're micing at the 12th fret, that would account for some thinness, mostly string sound there. And 4 inches away, your going to get proximity effect (bass buildup from the mic being too close), depending on the mic. Try moving it further out. Try 8 inches, 10 inches, 12 inches, etc, and also try bring it in more toward the body, 14th or 15th fret. If it's a directional mic, try tilting it toward the soundhole if it's too thin, away from the soundhole if it gets too boomy. There are dozens of other spots, you could spend weeks carefully experimenting with mic location to dial in the sound you want.

That's a good comment. I usually point the mic (a directional mic, like cardioid or figure-of-8) to the soundhole (but not directly in front of it). Moving it away allows for a more even sound, there are less problems with finding the sweet spot. Although the room acoustics get more important then, it can sound much better and more natural if the mic is further away. Don't get fooled by the "thinner" sound you get from moving the mic further away. If you have the same audio levels you will often find that it sounds more natural and relaxed than close miking. Apply some EQ if it's really too thin.

Proximity effect might make your recordings sound dull. Move further away and you get less of it. You don't want those bass frequencies from the acoustic guitar in a crowded pop song anyway.

I often start with the spot around the 14th fret, pointing towards the sound hole, 1 to 2 feet away. I often move the mic higher, and sometimes also closer to the sound hole, always pointing to the sound hole.
So the best spots in my experience are between 14th fret straight and above the sound hole, always pointing to the sound hole.

If the acoustic guitar plays a dominant role, try multiple miking, like spaced omni, or a second mic above the right shoulder of the player, pointing down... The variations are endless. Be aware of phase problems, though. Apply the 3-to-1 rule: The mics should be 3 times further apart from each other than from the source. And most of all, use your ears! Flip the phase on one channel and see what you get. If the sound is really thin, you're fine, if there are lower frequencies, it might be problematic. A little bit of phase is unavoidable, and if you pan the mics in the stereofield this is not an issue.

Take your time and experiment! That's the best advise.

You can totally destroy the sound of a guitar by wrong mic placement, and alter it beyond recognition.

Changing the guitar probably won't be the solution for your problem. Changing the mics or the mic preamps might be. But the starting point is the mic placement.


FYI, I have been recording acoustic guitars for 25 years, and am a professional guitarist as well as a professional audiophile mastering and recording engineer. If you have any further concrete questions feel free to PM me.


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