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Recording the Acoustic Guitar - – by Joe Chiccarelli (Tori Amos, Beck, Counting Crows, Shawn Colvin)
Article sponsored by Blue Microphones.
For more information, www.bluemic.com



When recording an acoustic guitar, the first thing you have to decide is what sound you are looking for. Do you want the acoustic to sound big and brassy, percussive, or rich and woody? Do you a small mid range sound or more of a hi-fi sound? Different miking techniques will yield very different results. When you've decided what sound you're after, then you can apply the mic and technique that you need to get that sound.
As a typical starting point, I will place a mic where the neck meets the body (around the 12th fret) of the guitar and aim it towards the sound hole. This mic is about 6-18" away from the guitar. It is usually a large diaphragm condenser mic with a cardiod pattern. If I'm getting too much proximately effect from a cardiod mic, then I'll use an omni and get it closer. Also, if the room is stuffy and dark sounding, then I'll use a large diaphragm condenser with an omni pattern. This will get you a good basic sound to start with.
From this starting point, you can add mics or make modifications to achieve the sound you want. For a bigger sound, I'll add another mic. This second mic will be a small diaphragm condenser placed above the neck and aimed at the body - it captures the air and top end of the strings. For a more woody sound, I'll place another mic down by the bridge, either a small diaphragm condenser or a dynamic mic, to get the finger picking and the tone of the body. If I really want the sound to be thick and chunky, I'll only use the mic down by the bridge of the guitar. But, it is usually placed in conjunction with another mic. Sometimes I use all three. When I was recording Davey Johnstone for Elton John's last record, I used the Blue Kiwi aimed at the sound hole, a KM84 or AT 4051 by the neck, and sometimes a SM57 by the bridge. For a rock mix, the low-fi approach often cuts through the mix best. For that, I use a mid-range sounding mic like a MD421 or a SM57. I use a completely different mic technique for nylon string guitars; perhaps a stereo mic like the AKG C24 or Neumann SM69. It gets a bigger sound, giving a broader more natural picture of the sound. Using different mics and techniques make a big difference.
The player's technique will also greatly influence the sound you get. When players play too hard, you get a trashy mid range sound. In Nashville, the studio players are very sensitive to what the mic hears, changing a chord voicing or using a different thicknesses of pick to get the best sound. All of these elements play in to getting a particular sound out of an acoustic. So, decide on what sound you're looking for and go from there.

Article sponsored by Blue Microphones.
For more information, www.bluemic.com



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