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  #1  
Old 07-31-2017, 10:39 PM
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Default Do you record your acoustic guitar in mono or stereo?

I'm a singer songwriter who makes simple demos in a home studio. So far I've been satisfied recording my acoustic guitar in mono. Depending on the sound I want for a song I'll choose an SDC, LDC, or AEA ribbon microphone. To get stereo spread I usually lay down a second guitar part and then pan the two guitars left and right.

Lately I'm thinking about recording my acoustic guitar in stereo and wondering if it's worth hassling with. FWIW I've fooled with Blumlein, XY, and ORTF. The demo will be just guitar and vocals with some percussion and harmonica.

Which of these stereo set ups works best for you songsters who hang out here? Which method do you find produces the most coherent stereo sound? Or do you prefer to record your guitar with a single mic in mono?
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Last edited by Al Acuff; 07-31-2017 at 11:05 PM.
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Old 07-31-2017, 11:41 PM
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Solo guitar in stereo, however with a second track, guitar plus voice, etc. perhaps not. Why not setup one mike in position for best mono sound track and then add a second mike to that (another mono track) for the best combo sound when panned out right and left? Ultimately use the single mike signal or the combo, whichever sounds best to you. After a bit you will know whether mono or stereo guitar recording works best for you and your situation.
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Old 08-01-2017, 06:47 AM
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I do a fair amount of recording for ensemble work and sessions without a bunch of time to spare. I've come across a technique that works really well for me. I've shown a picture of it here before. It just occurred to me late one night before a big session and I posted it here and someone reminded me of where I had heard of it before - in an article where he described recording the Trio album with Linda Ronstadt, Emmylou Harris, and Dolly Parton, George Massenberg described turning the classic x,y type in edge. I simply took an inverted ORTF (mics pointed inward at 110' at seven inches) and turned it on edge. What this accomplishes is a wide soundstage with a strong center but no "bright-on-one-side-and-dull-on-the-other" spectrum issue. It looks like this:



Many people suggest using a single mic, tracking two performances, and panning outboard. There is one little problem with that: the mind is a "difference machine." It senses differences between two things pretty well. If you pan two performances outboard, a keen observer can often be distracted by the differences. Of course you can always pull them inboard a bit, but one technique I use it to record both performances stereo to stereo clips and then use the stereo panner on each clip to spread them wide enough for some stereo interest but enough centrality and overlap to keep them from distracting.

Of course, the standard method for preventing the "difference distraction" is to record three takes, centering one and panning the other two out some. It turns out that the brain isn't nearly as good at discerning differences when there are three of an item. As a result, my standard "doubling" method now is to "triple." And remember: you can always turn off any copies you don't need in the mix, all the way down to one. It is a pain to find stereo interest in the mix phase, however.

I used the triple method on the project I'm now working on. In several cases, but not all, have pulled back to a single performance. I pulled back to singles for the verses and then blossomed out to all three performances for the choruses, for example.

Bob
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Old 08-01-2017, 07:48 AM
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I do both depending on the arrangement . Sparse (guitar vocal) I record stereo , more complex with multiple instruments usually mono.
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Old 08-01-2017, 08:34 AM
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I primarily record solo arrangements of steel string acoustic guitar; I don't have to deal with the issues of vocals. I prefer recording in stereo.

I've tried several micing techniques (x-y, ortf, m-s, ab) and have pretty much settled on the A-B spaced pair technique. I tend to set the mics back somewhere in the range of 18-30", with 1 mic pointed towards the bridge and one mic pointing between the neck/body joint and the sound hole. The spacing between the mics is usually in the range of 16-24", and is adjusted to get the stereo separation I'd like (I pan the mics hard right and hard left). I prefer using omni sdc mics of the same model.
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Old 08-01-2017, 09:15 AM
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If it's only a single acoustic guitar on the final mix, 2 mics. If there are other guitar tracks, single mic.
When I've tried the two guitars playing the same thing (whether its the same guitar or different guitars), there has often been a weird phase issue that comes from the slightly different strumming on each track. No matter how precise the playing, there is going to be slight differences in how the strings are hit. If the two tracks are panned 100%, the phase issue would only happen when listening in mono, obviously. If you are talking about finger playing, and the player can duplicate the playing very accurately then the two-tracks method can work fine, as the phase issue is less likely to happen than when strumming.
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Old 08-01-2017, 09:56 AM
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I've played around with every kind of stereo guitar capture there is and always go back to mono.

Seems to me that with a given guitar and room and musical context, there's almost always one spot to put the mic in that's better than the other options. If you have two mics, at least one of them won't be in that spot.
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Old 08-01-2017, 10:31 AM
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I've sorta been chasing the sound of Dick Gaughan's guitar on the album 'Handful of Earth'. The stereo acoustic guitar on the song Now Westlin Winds sounds lovely. And what a performance! Can anyone here help me reverse engineer this recording?
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Last edited by Al Acuff; 08-01-2017 at 10:50 AM.
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Old 08-01-2017, 05:10 PM
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Sparse mix = stereo (XY, ORTF, spaced pair)

Denser mix = single (LD usually)
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Old 08-01-2017, 05:13 PM
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Each guitar track separate (two guitar players) with a Mic at the soundhole and another at the 12th fret. Each mic is it's own track that gets blended before recording and mixed/mastered afterwards.
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Old 08-02-2017, 03:23 PM
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Thanks for all the info guys.

After reading here I did some experimenting with the mics I have here. To my surprise a single N22 ribbon mic is giving me a huge guitar sound and lots of detail. It beat out some very good condenser mics in a comparison.

You don't immediately think of ribbon mics for acoustic guitar but with the right guitar it's magic. It just friggin' nails the midrange!

I can live with a big mono sound so I think I'll skip the complications of stereo miking for now and just go with the single ribbon mic. Sometimes less is more.
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