Acoustic guitar recording advice needed.

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hillerheilman
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Acoustic guitar recording advice needed.

Post by hillerheilman » Wed Nov 27, 2019 4:51 pm

Hey all. So I’m just about to get my new acoustic guitar, and my luthier has offered to install an LR baggs anthem pickup in it for an additional $400. I’d like to be able to accurately record its sound, and that seems like a pretty efficient way to do it. But I’m wondering if it would be better sound quality wise to just use that $400 to buy a nice mic and actually mic the acoustic. If so, what kind of microphone would be ideal? I’ve never worked with microphones before. When I record my electric it just goes: guitar-interface-ipad DAW. I would like to keep it equally simple with the acoustic if I can.

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Re: Acoustic guitar recording advice needed.

Post by mbene085 » Wed Nov 27, 2019 7:44 pm

The Anthem sounds nothing like a mic'd acoustic and can never be substituted for one if you want a remotely similar sound. The anthem is a "great" pickup because most acoustic guitar pickups sound like plasticky pieces of crap, so it's great for live use where people are used to decade after decade of terrible sounding guitars (except the bluegrass circuit, which has always kept the decibels down and used mics on stage).

Condenser mics are the most popular in the acoustic guitar world. It depends on the guitar and the type of music. An acoustic guitar going into a full-band pop song and a solo acoustic or solo singer-songwriter have a rather different end-goal. I tend to like SDCs for stereo mic'ing solo acoustic guitar. Many people like LDCs and I've certainly loved many recordings made with them.

I'd take a $50 craigslist SM57 through a Tascam Portastudio's preamp recorded in a public men's room over any "acoustic" pickup, unless the goal is to capture the guitar live in a high-SPL environment, like tracking a rock concert. That's why those pickups exist - for live sound, not studio recordings.

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Re: Acoustic guitar recording advice needed.

Post by Larry Mal » Wed Nov 27, 2019 8:07 pm

Yes, that's all correct what is written above. I had an Anthem for a while, it was better than other things, I guess. I had hopes that it would be decent for at least scratch recording but it was useless for even that.

Sure, it has a microphone in there, but the microphone is in the cavity of the guitar. You hear a lot of times that the microphone should be considered a substitute for your ear, and while there are certainly plenty of contradictions to that rule of thumb in recording, you'd never want your ear to be inside the body of an acoustic.

If you have $400 to spend then you have enough to get a good small diaphragm condenser microphone- that's probably the best place for you to start.

The Shure KSM141 would be a strong choice.

The seElectronics SE-8 is always reviewed very well and is not a super expensive microphone.

I just recently sold a Shure SM81, sold it for a little over $200, I certainly did like that microphone on acoustic guitar and would buy one again. I just needed to free up some money for other stuff.

If you stretched the $400 a bit, you could even get two small diaphragm condensers along the lines of the SM81 or such, and that would allow you to use various recording techniques such as X/Y, spaced pair, ORTF or maybe some other ones.

This will give you some knowledge and skills to prepare for your next microphones if you keep at it. But honestly, there's a lot to recommend with keeping it simple, and just getting one very good microphone and learning to record very well with that rather than get hip deep in a bunch of stereo recording techniques, which are not always appropriate for a lot of mixes.

Under no circumstances would you want to record with an LR Baggs anything. Like Mike said, those are for live use. I'm not saying that no one has ever made a good recording with a setup like that, but when you listen to the great sounding acoustic recordings throughout history, they were done with microphones and that's how you get a good sound.

Best of luck!
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Re: Acoustic guitar recording advice needed.

Post by øøøøøøø » Thu Nov 28, 2019 12:12 am

I'd only ever record an acoustic guitar pickup if I were going for some sort of special effect (i.e. I wanted it to evoke the bizarro-plasticky sounding "acoustic" guitar on Madonna's "Secret"--which I do think is strangely kinda awesome--for some reason).

Get as decent a condenser microphone as you can budget for. For $400 you might try a Røde NT5, an Audio Technica ATM-450 or used 4050, an Oktava MC-012/MK-012, a Shure KSM-141, or an AKG C451 or C452. I'd probably start with the 451 if I were in your shoes.

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Re: Acoustic guitar recording advice needed.

Post by sookwinder » Thu Nov 28, 2019 8:21 pm

I use a matched pair of RØDE NT55 pencil condenser mics for my recordings.
The sound is sublime.
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Re: Acoustic guitar recording advice needed.

Post by hillerheilman » Fri Nov 29, 2019 5:40 pm

Thanks for the help guys. Looks like getting some decent microphones is the way to go. Kinda what I wanted to hear, since it gives me an excuse to get a better interface as well. ;D

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Re: Acoustic guitar recording advice needed.

Post by Dok » Sat Nov 30, 2019 8:52 am

øøøøøøø wrote: I'd only ever record an acoustic guitar pickup if I were going for some sort of special effect (i.e. I wanted it to evoke the bizarro-plasticky sounding "acoustic" guitar on Madonna's "Secret"--which I do think is strangely kinda awesome--for some reason).

Get as decent a condenser microphone as you can budget for. For $400 you might try a Røde NT5, an Audio Technica ATM-450 or used 4050, an Oktava MC-012/MK-012, a Shure KSM-141, or an AKG C451 or C452. I'd probably start with the 451 if I were in your shoes.
Echoing Brad's comments here - and if you can stretch your budget and get a pair of microphones you'll be REALLY set (I love to have one mic pointed at the fretboard and one over the right shoulder), but if it's your first time out you can still get great results and learn a lot with one microphone. Just try not to develop an unhealthy obsession with new microphones like I did and you'll be fine. :)
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Re: Acoustic guitar recording advice needed.

Post by øøøøøøø » Sat Nov 30, 2019 9:19 am

Dok wrote:
Sat Nov 30, 2019 8:52 am
Just try not to develop an unhealthy obsession with new microphones like I did and you'll be fine. :)
Yeah... if you think guitars are an expensive, gear-obsessive pursuit, you should probably stay far away from learning too much about microphones!

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Re: Acoustic guitar recording advice needed.

Post by mbene085 » Sat Nov 30, 2019 9:41 am

øøøøøøø wrote:
Sat Nov 30, 2019 9:19 am
Dok wrote:
Sat Nov 30, 2019 8:52 am
Just try not to develop an unhealthy obsession with new microphones like I did and you'll be fine. :)
Yeah... if you think guitars are an expensive, gear-obsessive pursuit, you should probably stay far away from learning too much about microphones!
And once you start investing in mics, let's not forget the preamp rabbit-hole.

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Re: Acoustic guitar recording advice needed.

Post by Larry Mal » Sat Nov 30, 2019 11:54 am

Even the best microphone in the world will sound bad in a bad sounding room...
Back in those days, everyone knew that if you were talking about Destiny's Child, you were talking about Beyonce, LaTavia, LeToya, and Larry.

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Re: Acoustic guitar recording advice needed.

Post by Dok » Sat Nov 30, 2019 12:16 pm

Larry Mal wrote:
Sat Nov 30, 2019 11:54 am
Even the best microphone in the world will sound bad in a bad sounding room...
LARRY NO DON'T DO THIS TO HIM
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Re: Acoustic guitar recording advice needed.

Post by hillerheilman » Sat Nov 30, 2019 2:05 pm

I hadn’t even considered preamps or the acoustic quality of the room itself yet... Looks like I’ve got more research to do before I pick a new interface. I don’t reckon that my wallet will thank me for jumping down this particular rabbit hole, but I’m not doing much else currently as is so I may as well just jump in.

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Re: Acoustic guitar recording advice needed.

Post by Dok » Sat Nov 30, 2019 2:38 pm

hillerheilman wrote:
Sat Nov 30, 2019 2:05 pm
I hadn’t even considered preamps or the acoustic quality of the room itself yet... Looks like I’ve got more research to do before I pick a new interface. I don’t reckon that my wallet will thank me for jumping down this particular rabbit hole, but I’m not doing much else currently as is so I may as well just jump in.
Do you see what happens, Larry? Why did you have to go and ruin this guy's life for no good reason? All he did was ask a simple question.
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Re: Acoustic guitar recording advice needed.

Post by øøøøøøø » Sat Nov 30, 2019 6:14 pm

Dok wrote:
Sat Nov 30, 2019 2:38 pm
Do you see what happens, Larry?
Am I the only one that read that in Walter Sobchak’s voice?

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Re: Acoustic guitar recording advice needed.

Post by Larry Mal » Sat Nov 30, 2019 6:20 pm

I actually watched that clip on Youtube after reading that!

Man, it's been too long.
Back in those days, everyone knew that if you were talking about Destiny's Child, you were talking about Beyonce, LaTavia, LeToya, and Larry.

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