Recording Acoustic Guitar - 2 Placement Techniques to Remember!
Acoustic guitar is a fickle instrument to master, more often than not due to the source recording constantly fighting against you in the mix.
It’s either too bright, or too warm and boomy, then, there’s distortion the builds up from your choice of mic/preamp/compressor… well - we’re here to change all of that! Introducing two techniques for recording acoustic guitars that you’ll use once and never look back!
2 Mic’s - Source Split EQ
Now, let me start off by saying we’re not actually splitting the EQ but more concentrating our microphone choices on what we’re aiming for with the placement of said microphones.
First off, we need body to the instrument as that's what houses the main meat of the guitar - remember, it’s a mid range instrument so placement is very important here. This is usually where things actually go wrong for a lot of people and there is a simple two step process to this;
Fig 1. A recent session of mine with Jess from It Comes In Waves, using a Parlor Sized guitar - notice the distance of both mic’s in line with each other, and the placement of both means they’re aiming towards the player.
Step 1 - Have your microphone pointed towards the bridge of the Acoustic guitar, behind the resonance hole, and just behind the bridge! (Fig. 1)
Step 2 - make sure the microphone is about 1ft away from the guitar, and ideally in height comparatively to the resonance hole) the capsule of the microphone and the top ridge of the resonance hole are level in height
I usually use a large-diaphragm microphone, such as our Vintage 67, for this application due to the larger range of low ed its able to produce, but also because sometimes using a figure of 8 polar pattern built into a lot of them is a lot of fun to play with if you’re in a good room!
The second mic is going to be placed about 1ft away from the guitar as well. This ensures phase coherence across both mics and you’re not fighting as much in the mix, however; if things sound thin and wispy upon checking the first takes, make sure your waves are in phase and if not, either adjust the mics or flip the phase of one of them!
As for positioning, you’ll want this pointed towards the 12th fret, and towards the player (Fig. 1) - aim to have the mic stand about level with the 5th fret and then continue your positioning.
I usually tend to stay with a small-diaphragm condenser here, like the JZ BT301 due to its ability to capture the brilliance and subtle harmonics without absorbing too much resonance from the body of the guitar.
Below, is an example of the use of this technique with my own bands single:
1 Mic to rule them all..
Now, this one is a new one even for me, but I’ll never look back and I personally love it’s simplicity. It literally is one mic, but the beauty is in the placement.
Simply aim the microphone down, about 1ft away again, but this time you want to be aiming between the 12th fret and the resonance hole, drifting slightly towards the 12th fret is you decide it’s too boomy upon first listening.
You want to be aiming this at almost a 45 degree angle, towards the guitarist, again, similar placement of the stand as above in fig.1 (regarding the Small Diaphragm condenser).
I tried this with an artist just to get some demo recordings and it ended up being the best acoustic guitar I’ve ever recorded, so I implore you to try it yourself - I’m sure you’ll love it!