There are many different ideas and method’s behind recording what is most likely the most popular instrument on earth, the acoustic guitar. It requires thought on; the type of microphones to use, microphone positioning/recording technique, DI, type of guitar, guitar strings, etc. Below I’ll break down the aforementioned areas a little and point you in the right direction for other great articles on this topic.
The mics listed below are all great choices for recording acoustic guitar. I’ll start with budget mics and work up to high end mics. The types of mics here vary from dynamic, condenser and large diaphragm. I won’t go into detail about their specs but you can find great content for that here.
- SM57 Shure dynamic mic (excellent choice for beginners and pros and great for higher frequencies and quite often used on snare drums.)
- Audio Technica ATM450 cardioid condenser mic (excellent for picking up higher frequencies)
- SM81 Shure cardioid condenser mic (excellent for picking up higher frequencies)
- Neumann KM 184 small diaphragm condenser mic (some say this is one of the best small condenser mics to record acoustic guitar with. A great choice for picking up high end with minimal noise interference and high SPL (sound pressure level).)
- Audio Technica 4050 large diaphragm condenser mic (an excellent mic for vocals and acoustic guitars. This will pick up every little nuance of the recording with a high clarity natural sound. When recording acoustic guitar, it is great on a cardioid setting slightly off from the sound hole close to the high frets.)
- AKG C414 large diaphragm condenser mic (This is a classic studio mic among many professional engineers. This mic’s versatility is incredible and if you’re rolling in the money, this is the pick of the bunch. Great for vocals, guitars, violin, etc. The high SPL and minimal noise interference of this mic is second to none.)
To check out a great article on mic positioning for acoustic guitar recordings head here.
A DI box or Direct Input box is a great tool for changing a high impedance un balanced signal to low impedance balanced signal for live situations and recording. A simple example in a recording environment is an acoustic guitar jack going to a DI box jack input then from the DI box XLR output to the audio interface XLR input. Essentially this makes for a higher quality recording as it converts and balances the signal and also creates a cleaner recording as it filters out more ambient noise. Check out this great article on DI boxes here.
There are many different varieties of acoustic guitar. If possible, it’s a good idea to record with the right type of acoustic guitar for your playing style. For example, if you are mainly fingerpicking style you may want to use a classical guitar/nylon string or a 000 / OM shaped steel string guitar. If you are digging in a bit more with the strumming perhaps a dreadnaught or jumbo shape is preferable. If you are doing a bit of everything some prefer the Grand Auditorium shape. Check out a great article on guitar shapes here.
Prior to your recording don’t forget to have new or close to new strings put on the guitar and make sure you’ve practiced your songs at home to the required BPM with a metronome/click.
So that’s our advice for recording acoustic guitar. We hope this helps you on your recording journey! Don’t stop researching here as this is only one opinion. To find more great tips on recording acoustic guitars head here.
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