This past week has been really busy, and I finally had a little bit of down time to go work on some music. As I’ve have written in a previous post, I had recently bought a new Ibanez Acoustic/Electric guitar and an SM57. I’ll cover the SM57 in a future post, but for now I want to share my experiences recording the acoustic guitar.
My attempts at recording acoustic guitar were always fine. Never great, but they could pass. Now that I have my own acoustic/electric, I figured I can try to figure out what way would be best to capture a nice, thick sound.
Recording direct (whether it was acoustic or electric) always sounded dull to me. There was just a certain tone that was missing, and I could never put my finger on it, whether it was the missing reverb, or just the way the pickups were bringing in the sound.
With an electric guitar, you can always use plugins to mess with the sound because electric guitars are manipulated in so many different ways today that you can record something direct, then use effects to get the desired effect later. This goes for distortion, overdrive, flangers, chrouses, and whatever else.
Acoustic guitars are a lot more difficult, because the desired tone and/or sound for a majority of acoustic guitar uses will be very similar. The differences may come in the way it’s EQ’d, or some style of compression or reverb. However, that particular sound of an acoustic guitar cannot be created or be the product of a manipulation from an electric guitar and have it sound that accurate (at least during the time of this writing I haven’t found anything that would do that yet). Of course you can get VSTi’s that have acoustic guitar sounds, but where’s the fun in that? =] Especially since, unlike an orchestra or a chorus, you can buy yourself a guitar and a mic to record with for about $200 (of course at the very low end of the food chain.)
With an acoustic/electric, you have a choice of either mic’ing it up, or going direct, or doing both. Neither on its own for me ever fit the bill completely. However, recording both simultaneously covered all grounds and got me the sound I personally was looking for.
Keep in mind also that I don’t have a state of the art studio, and I’m stuck with an E-MU 0404 Sound Card with two mono inputs. I do have a Samson MDR6 mixer, which I thought would be useful for me when I bought it, but realized after I wouldn’t be able to simultaneously record four tracks and be able to manipulate post-session. I could, however, use two mics and feed them through one mono signal or two for a stereo, if I so desired.
The final setup that I came up with that got me the sound I wanted was the following:
- Ibanez Acoustic/Electric direct with the bass slightly up into a Studio Projects VTB1 Tube Preamp into one channel on the 0404
- Audio-Technica PRO37 small diaphragm condenser mic at the 12th fret about four inches away + Audio-Technica 2020 large diaphragm condenser about six-seven inches pointed at the third fret, going into the MDR6, then into the other channel on the 0404.
I then compressed both recordings softly and gave both a slight reverb.
The direct recording captured I’d say about 80% of the sound I wanted, but the mics gave it that extra 20%; that character and natural reverb. I then panned one 25% to the left, then panned one 25% to the right.
I think it’s pretty good. What do you think?
More to come people. Stay tuned.