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Old 11-10-2018, 01:43 AM
Larsis Larsis is offline
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Default Question about recoding fingerstyle and percussive guitar

Hello everyone,

I'm asking your for an advice about recording an acoustic guitar. I play fingerstyle, so I need very detail, balanced and bright sound. Sometimes I do percussions too, so it is all in one.
Couple weeks ago I bought some new microphones and equipment, so I built myself a little home studio. And here are my two questions:

1) I can not find any proper advice, or manual or tips, how to record fingerstyle guitar. All is just about, how to record an acoustic guitar in general. With one or two microphones, S/M, stereo pair etc. But all I found was just about, how to record it with a band or rhythm part. I know, record an acoustic is one of the hardest thing to record at all and it is all about trying and trying different positions of mics.

I have these microphones: Match pair Rode M5, Lewitt LCT 240, and AKG C1000. And also line from the pick-up, but that is not so important now.
So I have four sourcers of sound and would need to know, how to set them properly. Is the position alright or would you place it some other way?

Here is the picture of my last recording.

http://jyxo.info/uploads/D1/d1e24694...8ed78c1d9b.jpg

2) My second is question is: I have Steinberg UR44 with six inputs. I have four microphones + pickup, so 1 input si free. I was wondering, If I should buy another microphone, so all I can use all inputs. Now, I also have Shure SM57, which is legend, but I know, that it is not really good for recording acoustic instruments. Would you recommend me use this Shure or buy new condenser microphone? Or 5 sources are just enough?

Thank you very much for any advice and tips!
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Old 11-10-2018, 02:02 AM
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Larsis, your photo looks fine to me. I would not try to record with more than 2 mics if you are just getting started. 2 mics is usually sufficient, and more are likely to introduce phase issues. Spaced pairs, like you have set up should work fine. Just experiment with different mic positions (how wide, how far away, etc) until you hear something you like. You can find a lot of discussion of recording fingerstyle guitar on this forum, so browse around a bit. Post something you've recorded, and maybe people will give you some suggestions based on what you have so far.
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Old 11-10-2018, 07:36 AM
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Like Doug said you appear have a reasonable concept of the basics as far as a place to START experimenting .
And Doug is right there is a common misconception (especially among those new to recording ) that for a "bigger" sound more mics and tracks is better
When in reality almost always the opposite is true.

All mics will introduce some noise
All mic recordings will have (usually and especially in the low frequencies) buildup that tends to muddy the signal
So the more of this mud one introduces by adding more mics, the more it tends to rob the overall sound of clarity which tends to reduce the clarity and 3 dimensional quality (or bigness ) of the sound

Unfortunately there really is no one pat method or answer . So much depends on your particular playing style ,your equipment , your room and most importantly your personal tastes and preferences
You may like the uniformity of the matched pair OR You may prefer the sound of two different mics, or one mic , and the pick up or two mics and the pick up . Only with experimenting with your gear and experience will you come to know what works best for you BUT I agree with Doug perhaps start with just two inputs and go from there.
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Last edited by KevWind; 11-11-2018 at 06:59 AM.
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Old 11-10-2018, 08:21 AM
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Suggest two mikes. Also the right guitar pick up is very important for percussive and tap guitar music. You might listen to some artists playing this style,
find those you like and find out what they are using. Of course YMMV.
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Old 11-10-2018, 03:48 PM
Brent Hahn Brent Hahn is offline
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Tapping calls for recording and listening and adjusting. It's likely that your mics will hear that stuff in a different way than you do.
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Old 11-11-2018, 12:29 AM
Larsis Larsis is offline
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Thank you guys for your advice.

Quote:
Originally Posted by KevWind View Post
And Doug is right there is a common misconception (especially among those new to recording ) that for a "bigger" sound more mics and tracks is better
When in reality almost always the opposite is true.
I must say, this is exactly, what I was thinking... the more mics, the bigger sound. Apparently, I was wrong the whole time.

I got my spaced pairs Rode M5 first and I wasn't satisfied with sound, so I bought that Lewitt and after that, I bought AKG 1000C, but I just feel, that the AKG is redundant now.

I'll do it, as you say. Keep my four mics + pickup from the guitar and just try different positions, distance etc. and I'll see, how far I can get.

Again, thank you very much!
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Old 11-11-2018, 12:47 AM
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Even 4 mics + pickup is a lot to deal with, especially if you're just getting started. I do sometimes use 2 pairs of mics, but it took me a long time to be able to make that work, and I'm still not totally convinced it really helps more than it hurts. I often do it more as a matter of choice, choosing between the pairs based on what sounds best for a tune - not so much combining them. The issue is that any time you mix 2 mics together into mono, you get phase cancelation, which causes tonal changes - these might even be "good", but usually not. Since you only have 2 speakers on playback - unless you're doing surround sound or something, 4 mics means some mics will end up being mixed to the same speaker. There are people who use lots of mics, there are some interesting photos floating around of some fingerstyle players recording with 6-8 mics! But it's not clear what they are all for, whether they were actually used in a mix, etc. They might be there just to be able to A/B during playback and choose the best sound. When I do combine mics, I'm usually blending something very different - for example, I have used a pair of condensers along with the gigantic AEA R88 stereo ribbon mic, which is almost like adding in a lower octave to the sound - so it brings something distinctive to the mix, not just yet another mic.

My suggestion would be to work on getting a good sound with 2 mics, period. Once you've gotten a killer sound - which can take a lot work to figure out, dealing with room acoustics, mic placement, performance issues, etc, etc, maybe see if adding in a pickup does anything positive for you. I generally find it only degrades the sound - most pickups sound pretty bad on recordings, but some of the popular percussive players do mix in pickups for a punchier sound. After that - after you're getting a great sound - ask yourself what else you need. What's missing? And can you get that by adding another mic, mics, etc? Or maybe you just need to learn to EQ, or use reverb, or compression, or...

Of course, the cool thing about home recording, assuming you have the time, is that you're free to try anything you like. The clock's not ticking, no audio engineer will tell you what you want to try makes no sense (just people on the internet :-) ), so knock yourself out and see what happens - you may get a result you like, or at least learn something along the way.
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Old 11-11-2018, 07:28 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Larsis View Post
Thank you guys for your advice.



I must say, this is exactly, what I was thinking... the more mics, the bigger sound. Apparently, I was wrong the whole time.

I got my spaced pairs Rode M5 first and I wasn't satisfied with sound, so I bought that Lewitt and after that, I bought AKG 1000C, but I just feel, that the AKG is redundant now.

I'll do it, as you say. Keep my four mics + pickup from the guitar and just try different positions, distance etc. and I'll see, how far I can get.

Again, thank you very much!
Perhaps the place to start is see if you can analyze and describe (in as technical or objective terms as possible) what is it about the sound of the pair of Rodes that you were not satisfied with.

Often no matter what mic/s are used with home recording in marginal rooms (i.e. reflection problems) mixing with some specific judicious EQ can bring more spaciousness to the recording as much or more so than different or more mics . In rooms with less reflection problems often little or no EQ is needed. All this very much depends on the room and or the mic position.


And another misconception of beginners (me included when I started) is the notion that for a bigger, more spacious , more present more 3D ish sound that boosting with EQ is the answer, and again more often than not the opposite is true. For example high pass filtering ( cutting the low end ) or finding and cutting specific problem frequencies with a narrow Q filter will help to correct the effect of unwanted frequency build up or (muddiness ) and actually make the recording sound "bigger" where boosting may only make the problem worse.
The reason this is so is because we perceive any build up mud as sound flat and lacking spaciousness and depth sounding more 2D than 3D..
And simply boosting without first cutting this mud, will often actually make the recording worse and flatter,less spacious .
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Last edited by KevWind; 11-11-2018 at 07:58 AM.
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Old 11-11-2018, 09:34 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Larsis View Post
…I have Steinberg UR44 with six inputs. I have four microphones + pickup, so 1 input si free. I was wondering, If I should buy another microphone, so all I can use all inputs.
Hi Larsis

I'm glad you don't have a 16 input interface!!

The best recordings I ever made of guitars were with one or two mics.

In all the years I operated a small acoustic studio, we had the best results from simple recording setups.

Some of the 2 mic rigs I used were:
  • Jecklin Disc with a pair of small diaphragm (not my favorite on guitar)
  • Mid-side with a pair of figure 8 mics (great for binaural recordings)
  • A/B with one at the neck/body joint, and one below the bridge (past the bridge and toward the tail). I've done this with large, medium and small diaphragm mics with solid results. Probably my most used when I have time and good sounding space to record guitars in.
  • x/y with any matched pair. OK results…

When limited for time or space, I still just setup a single 20mm diaphragm mic 12"-18" (30-46cm) from the neck/body joint, aimed at the joint. It produces very natural recordings.

More is not always better. I used to set up extra pairs (at different spacings and distances) but you know, somebody has to review all those recordings, and then make editing choices later which takes TIME…lots of TIME.

Spending money for a better instrument and time learning to play it more musically will contribute more to decent recordings than more/better mics at a certain point.

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Old 11-12-2018, 02:09 AM
Larsis Larsis is offline
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Honestly, now I feel bad, that I have so many microphones Well, I'm not saying, Rode M5 spaced pairs are bad, not at all. I just wanted a bigger, like you said ''3D'' sound I could not have it with those. Then I bought the Lewitt to the center and the AKG and I admit, during my recording couple weeks ago, I just felt like the AKG is already too much.

I usually pan space pairs to L and R a Lewitt to the center. I even saw a technique, when you place another mic over the player's body, so it has totally different sound. I'll try that. To be honest, I don't want to hide those mics in the closet, when I can use them.

But as you said, I'll start with two microphones, then add the others.
I'm going to record a new piece next weekend, so I can post here the results.

Oh boy, recording an acoustic guitar is really hard job
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Old 11-12-2018, 01:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Larsis View Post
I just wanted a bigger, like you said ''3D'' sound I could not have it with those.
As KevWind mentioned, room acoustics are a factor in sounding "big". When you record in a bad sounding room, the guitar sounds weak and distant from all the noise (literally as well as reflections and "room sound"). Think of a flashlight - it seems really dim in the daylight, but can be blindingly bright in pure darkness. When you get the room out of the sound, the guitar is what's left, so it sounds "big".

I do find the most useful approach to multiple mics - at least the only way I've had any success with it - is what you described, spaced pairs with a mic in the middle. I often put an MS pair in the middle. More than that becomes mud. However, you have to be careful, and it's easy to be fooled with multiple mics. For example, if you have 2 stereo tracks, listen to each by themselves, then switch both on at the same time, the sound will probably get "bigger". Why? Because you've just increased the volume by about 3db by having both tracks on. You might very well get the same effect with just 2 mics, and turning the volume up! You have to be sure you're listening at the same volume to accurately assess whether adding in an additional mic is helpful or not.

Quote:
Oh boy, recording an acoustic guitar is really hard job
Getting a good acoustic guitar sound can be tricky, lots of small details around mic placement, room acoustics, the guitar itself, how you play to sound right on the recording, etc, etc. At the same time, I think you'd get a chuckle out of any audio engineer who deals with complete bands - micing drums sets, managing bleed between different instruments, dealing with the extreme dynamics of some instruments, etc, if you told them recording a solo guitar was hard :-)
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Old 11-13-2018, 10:25 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Doug Young View Post
As KevWind mentioned, room acoustics are a factor in sounding "big". When you record in a bad sounding room, the guitar sounds weak and distant from all the noise (literally as well as reflections and "room sound"). Think of a flashlight - it seems really dim in the daylight, but can be blindingly bright in pure darkness. When you get the room out of the sound, the guitar is what's left, so it sounds "big".

I do find the most useful approach to multiple mics - at least the only way I've had any success with it - is what you described, spaced pairs with a mic in the middle. I often put an MS pair in the middle. More than that becomes mud. However, you have to be careful, and it's easy to be fooled with multiple mics. For example, if you have 2 stereo tracks, listen to each by themselves, then switch both on at the same time, the sound will probably get "bigger". Why? Because you've just increased the volume by about 3db by having both tracks on. You might very well get the same effect with just 2 mics, and turning the volume up! You have to be sure you're listening at the same volume to accurately assess whether adding in an additional mic is helpful or not.



Getting a good acoustic guitar sound can be tricky, lots of small details around mic placement, room acoustics, the guitar itself, how you play to sound right on the recording, etc, etc. At the same time, I think you'd get a chuckle out of any audio engineer who deals with complete bands - micing drums sets, managing bleed between different instruments, dealing with the extreme dynamics of some instruments, etc, if you told them recording a solo guitar was hard :-)
Love your Flashlight Theory! This comparison makes the most sense I have ever heard.
Like so many, it is hard for myself to invest in acoustics over equipment. It is hard to turn a place of habitation into a recording set up. Thus it has not been in my priorities.
However, after hearing your flashlight analogy, I am beginning to truly understand the value of room treatment. Makes so much sense, a flashlight in sunlight verses the dark.
However, one microphone manufacturer offered another solution. He claimed that you could also try recording at different angles in rooms. Claiming that by turning small degrees you could eliminate some of the room problems and find those sweet spots. I have yet to try this though. Building a close quartered isolation booth as you have done seems an easy enough fix.
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Old 11-13-2018, 11:36 AM
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L
However, after hearing your flashlight analogy, I am beginning to truly understand the value of room treatment. Makes so much sense, a flashlight in sunlight verses the dark.
However, one microphone manufacturer offered another solution. He claimed that you could also try recording at different angles in rooms. Claiming that by turning small degrees you could eliminate some of the room problems and find those sweet spots. I have yet to try this though. Building a close quartered isolation booth as you have done seems an easy enough fix.
Rooms have resonances and standing waves, so yes, different spots can sound different. Depending on your room, you may find spots that sound better than others. You can do a theoretical analysis, and there's software that can help you do that - check out my web site, a section on all steps I went thru in building my garage studio for some screen snaps - but it's easier and more efficient to just try things, the software is based on all kinds of assumptions about materials and so on, hard to take it too seriously. But your ear can tell you if one spot is better or not. If your room is too bad, nothing will help, tho. It just depends.

Here's an example of "beyond repair" - no change in location will fix this. This was my garage before I treated it - concrete floor, hard walls, etc:

http://dougyoungguitar.com/mp3/18inches_bare_room.mp3

Here's the same mic, guitar, and position after I was about 90% done with room treatment:

http://dougyoungguitar.com/mp3/Final...3_18inches.mp3

and then here's the result of closer micing, in stereo, again right after I'd finished adding room treatment (I think I'd added a bit more in the way of treatment by this time, + closer micing):

http://www.dougyoungguitar.com/mp3/8..._realtraps.mp3

I hope I get better recordings than any of these now, but those were just quick examples trying to quantify whether all my work on room treatment was worthwhile.

Sorry for the thread drift...
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Old 11-13-2018, 11:47 AM
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but it's easier and more efficient to just try things
no truer words said!
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Old 11-13-2018, 11:59 AM
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no truer words said!
I don't want to come off as anti-scientific :-) A compromise between needing a degree in acoustics before you can do a recording and just randomly trying things is to use simpler software like Room EQ Wizard that simply measures your room and can tell give you some useful info, without getting all theoretical about it. it also helps to at least read a bit about room acoustics before trying things, so you understand the issues - but then what matters most is how it sounds in the end. There is so much good info and demos out there on how you can improve room acoustics - anywhere from total room remodels to setting up a few temporary baffles - that it should be possible to get a good sound with a tiny bit of self-education and some educated trial and error.
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