Recording any acoustic instrument is tricky. Many people believe that you have to have a completely sound proof room, the musician has to breath as silent as possible and it’s going to be impossible to get a clean sound. With acoustic guitar many engineers make the mistake of recording solely from the direct out. So here, in my opinion, are some ways to record acoustic guitar.
Don’t rely on the Direct Out
I’m not saying you can’t utilize the direct out, but you shouldn’t rely on it alone. Direct outs were made for the ever growing size of live venues and the popularity of acoustic guitars in them. It’s great for amplification, but for recording will give you more troubles than you’d imagine. If you are going to use the direct out, set up a mic to pick up the external sound as well. imagine recording a piano just using a direct out. the most beautiful and full sounds are located all around it: Above, below, inside, around… Use the same technique for when you record acoustic guitar.
Where do you place the mic? Well that’s completely up to you. But bear in mind a few things. If the player is singing at the same time you will want the mic closer to the strings as to not pick up too much bleed. If there is no singing, feel free to move the mic back a bit to pick up some of the room atmosphere.
You may be tempted to place the mic right in front of the sound hole, that’s where the sound comes from right? This is actually the least desirable, the sound is more balanced closer to the bridge or at the neck/body joint.Placing a mic any closer than a foot will result in a heavier low end. If that’s what you are looking for then go for it. But ideally place a directional mic pointing at the point right where the neck and body meet.
Too Much External Noise
Typically using a condenser microphone will amplify external sounds, especially fret noise and plucking. If this is the case, don’t be afraid to try a dynamic mic. They tend to be a bit darker and just as detailed. They will block out breathing and subtle noises that may occur in a normal room.
Nothing Beats the Real Thing
At the end of the day nothing will ever beat the external “real” sound of a guitar. Remember that you are trying to capture the sound that we hear the guitar make. So don’t be afraid to play around with placement, microphones and techniques.
Do you have any tips on recording Acoustic Guitar? We’d love to hear them, share with us below or on twitter @darkhorseinst!