The first guitar that I brought was an acoustic guitar and most probably your’s too. After you learn to play the guitar, many people want to move further and record their music.
Then the question appears, How to Mic an Acoustic Guitar?
This can be quite overwhelming to record a quality sound from an acoustic guitar if you’re new to the recording.
Hey, but don’t worry:
Here I come with the Ultimate Guide to miking and recording your acoustic guitar. I included almost everything in this article that needed you to mic and record your music/songs very efficiently.
Here, I provide step-by-step guide from choosing the perfect guitar and every little factor that can be game changer in terms of recording.
Also, I took care of the budget issues while writing this post. So, whether you’re a total beginner or a seasoned pro, you are going to love this detailed guide.
Let’s dive right into it:
How to Mic an Acoustic Guitar?
First Choose the Perfect Guitar for You:
You can buy an acoustic guitar for a couple of hundred dollars, or even for several thousand dollars.
It is very obvious that the more money you spend on your guitar, the better it going to sound.
If you haven’t brought a guitar yet, then I recommend you to spend some time at this step and choose the best guitar according to your needs and best for your money.
The cost of guitars depends on various factors like Brand, Manufacturing Location (Western or Asian), Material Used, etc. But, along with these facts, you should also keep in mind that, each guitar produces a somewhat unique tone so, you can get the best choice under your budget.
In case you’re fortunate and lucky enough to get a chance to hand over a couple of guitars, you’ll realize that best sounding guitars has not anything to do with price at all.
you’re going to attain for the guitar that produces a tone that suits the vibe of your song.
No one has access to every guitar on the planet, so select one based on what you had and starts recording or you can read this guide on How to Choose the Best Acoustic Guitars Under your Budget.
If you are going to buy a new guitar or even if you recently got one, then you can completely skip this step.
If you’re going to use an old acoustic guitar for recording your music then I think you need to go through this checklist first.
When strings get old, the sound they produce deadens, and they lose their clarity, their brightness in terms of tones.
this is obviously pretty an issue whilst recording with old guitar due to the fact you can’t experience and listen to the guitar as that recording mic and software are going to.
Probably you’re wondering about, whether you should change your strings or not?
Here’s the one thing that you can do:
Check if there is any kind of blackish stuff start settling on Strings. That black stuff is rust and particles of dirt. if you see the layer of stuff there, that means now its time to buy new acoustic guitar strings.
To check for dust, just run your finger below the strings and take a look at your fingertip. if it’s grimy, it’s time to switch out the strings.
Also, if one of your string breaks, then instead of getting only one new string, you should get all the set. because the new string won’t produce the same effect as old ones.
I am putting so much emphasis on getting new strings, because:
The benefit of the use of new strings is that your fingertips will slide along them simpler, and the strings may even live in tune longer.
If you want to go for long-lasting strings, then you may consider coated strings. but also, you need to know, coated strings little bit deaden sound as compared to non-coated strings.
So, this is all up to you. Choose the perfect one according to your budget and need.
Here’s the guide to Change the Strings of your Acoustic Guitar Easily.
Why You Should Tune your Guitar Frequently?
Many peoples tune their guitar at the starting of their recording session. but only this is not enough. you should tune your guitar several times during the session.
You should follow these steps strictly when the recording session is going to be long, or in the event, that guitar is played a lot.
Because if you won’t tune your guitar throughout the session, then this can lead to a quit problem.
You might not feel the difference at first glance while playing, but when you mix one part from the beginning of your session and one part from the end, you will clearly catch the difference.
Thus I recommend you to tune your guitar a few times, so you get the best out of your work.
First, let me tell you, this is a totally optional step and if you find it unwanted you can skip it.
If you have little extra money to invest, then you should.
So, What is Acoustic Treatment?
This is a concern with the shape of the Room / Hall, where you are going to record your music. almost all guitarist record their music in their home.
Now, your home is not built by considering the principles of acoustics, is it? But, don’t worry, Acoustic Treatment may sound something scary and expensive but it’s not.
How to Choose best Microphone for your Acoustic Guitar?
although you can use pretty much any mic to record your acoustic guitar, But if you want to get the best out of your efforts, then you should choose the best mic according to your budget and situation.
Top engineers and manufacturers invest their lots of time and money and found that certain types of mics give you more efficient results than others.
There are mainly only two types of mics to record your guitar. one is small diaphragm condenser mics and the other is large-diaphragm condenser mics.
Let’s discuss about each of them and see which type is best for you:
Small-diaphragm condenser mics:
small-diaphragm condenser mics are a great choice if you want to use it for close-miking purposes.
Close-miking helps you to minimizes and reduces the impact of your studio’s acoustic nature on your recording and provides your more separation.
And this mics can help you more particularly if you want to mic & record some other musical instruments at the same time.
Also, these mics are capable of recording even very small sound details from the guitar and pick up its natural tone with clarity.
Large-diaphragm condenser mics:
of course, you can also use large-diaphragm condenser mics for close-miking acoustic guitar, however, these mics will give you more efficient results while miking the guitar from some short distance.
they are perfect mics for picking up the room’s environment which brings depth and kind of space into your recording.
But, for these mics, you need to take care of your room’s acoustic nature and make sure it is complementary to your guitar’s sound. (I already discuss about the acoustic treatment for the room earlier in this article!)
Pro Tip for Miking your Guitar:
If possible try to record your guitar in the stereo mode instead of mono with one small and one large-diaphragm condenser mic. or you can also use a matched pair of condenser mics for this purpose.
And believe me, by following this step, your music recording can go to the next level. This tip is essential particularly for recording solo guitar tracks and you will get the lushest, wide, and beautiful sound.
If you’re a beginner, then I will recommend you to go with AKG P170. It is a small-diaphragm condenser cardioid mic and you can record the perfect sound with it.
How to Identify and Solve Phase Issues with Microphone?
If you are going to use two or more microphones to record your music then maybe you’re going to face some phase issues.
This is a very wide yet important topic to know about if you’re going into the mix engineering and want to experiment with the sound.
Check out this Video on this Topic:
Placement of Microphone for Best Results:
Finally, we came to the most important point of this article. by placing your microphone(s) at the right place, you can move your game to the next level.
And this is actually very easy, you just need to follow my leads and you can find out the perfect position of the mics for you.
First select any one microphone placement technique.
Below I provide the best recording techniques only. but one thing that you need to keep in mind that, you can move your mic around the hotspot to get most out of these placement techniques.
Don’t afraid to believe in your Ears. experiment and choose the best placement for you. at the end of this section, I also include one thumb rule that you can use for placement of your mic.
To make it simpler, I included the image for each technique. The red dots in the diagram indicates the diaphragm of a mic and the dotted lines indicate the direction towards which mic is facing.
Different Recording Technique to Mic an Acoustic Guitar:
Lets start with my favorite one:
1. The Spaced Pair Recording Technique:
You need a microphone bar for this technique just like the previous one. but the difference between this method and last on is here you place both microphones parallel to each other.
This is a decent starting technique for recording.for this technique you need to point the right-side microphone at the fifth fret and the left-side microphone where the neck associates with the body.
But, the one disadvantage of this technique is you may need to face some phase issues.
2. The Wide Spaced Pair Recording Technique:
This is another version of the microphone placement technique that we discussed earlier.
This technique is used to reduce the phase issue by placing two microphones at equidistance from the center of the snare.
For guitar, this arrangement is very like drums, in spite of the fact that the microphones are not placed up in the air.
As I told you, you need to place microphones some feet apart. And the beauty of this technique is, farther these microphones are more extensive the sound you get.
But one thing you need to keep in mind:
Distance between the microphone and the center point should be the same for both the microphones. otherwise, you may lead to face phase issues. you can use a microphone cable to avoid this.
Let’s head towards the next one.
3. The Trident Recording Technique:
The trident recording technique utilizes three microphones. But the arrangement of this technique is pretty much simple.
First place the first mic facing towards the guitar. Now place the other two mics on each side of that first mic. Check whether all the microphones are pointed in the same direction or not?
Because if you point left mic towards the left and the right one toward the right, then they will completely phase cancel each other.
You can use the four-microphone bar for this arrangement.
Because unfortunately, a three-microphone bar is not available. Or, you can use a tripod boom microphone stand depending on the shape of the mics you’re using.
4. The Mono Recording Technique:
All the methods I discussed above need more than one microphone. thus you need to take care of phase issues.
But, if you don’t want to get into the matter of phase issues or if you have only one mic then you can use this recording technique.
This method is so simple that, you only need to press the record button once you place the mic at the perfect position that you like.
This recording technique is regularly used to make thick lead vocals and it provides the more natural sound of your guitar.
5. The Mid-Side Recording Technique:
The mid-side recording technique is a little bit different than other placement techniques.
In this technique, we use two microphones but with different polar patterns stacked on one another. This placement enables us to accomplish a wide range of stereo images.
The first microphone uses a cardioid polar pattern and the second one uses a figure-8 polar pattern. I’ll recommend you to go with AKG P170 for cardioid polar pattern and AKG C414 XLII for the figure-8 pattern.
This technique provides many other benefits that this, but further processing and setup are necessary for this.
On the off chance that the idea of phase issues keeps you up at night time then the simple solution is X-Y recording technique.
But, this method needs two microphones. You can set this arrangement up by first attaching your microphone bar to a stand.
You can easily set two microphones in position by using a microphone bar. For this technique, you need to position your microphones in the right angle to make an L-shape with their heads touching each other.
This arrangement will allow you to record stereo images i.e both fretboard and the main body of the guitar.
Thumb Rule: The 3:1 Rule
This is a thumb rule that can use, it states that:
when recording with two mics, you will get the best results when you place the mics in such a way that, the distance between the second mic and the first is three times than between the first mic and the source.
I know, this is somewhat confusing but you can easily understand this rule by seeing the above image.
You can easily deal with the phase issues by using this rule. you can apply this rule when you are using room mic or even when you are going to miking different guitars at one time.
To be honest, none of the technique that I mention above follows this rule. But all the techniques have their own benefits and flaws.
If you want to experiment with the placement of mics to get the best results then you should definitely try this rule.
I hope you like at least one technique. Now, you need one headphone for further work.
Put on the headphone and start moving your mic on your guitar until you find the tone you’re looking for. If you don’t know anything then you can simply follow the technique and start your recording.
7 Tips for Miking your Acoustic Guitar like a Pro:
Find out the Role of your Guitar in Recording: If you are going to record a solo song with only one guitar then you can skip this step.
Choose between: Stereo vs Mono
Check for any kind of phasing issues (in case of Stereo)
Adjust your microphones and try to correct those issues.
Always stay aways from Fake-Stereo recording techniques
Take your time to properly place your mic(s)
Do not place your mic directly in front of the sound hole
If possible, start with a great sounding guitar
And keep practicing music and get better and better in it.
Final Thoughts on Micking an Acoustic Guitar:
That is it for today guys. I gave my best information in this guide. But to get started with recording your acoustic guitar, just choose the anyone recording technique you like the most and just get started with it.
Once you spend some time experimenting with the position of the mic, you can achieve the results that you’re gonna love.
I’ll recommend you to get started from now, even if you don’t have proper gear then also.
You can start by your phone’s mic right now. because instead of finding the best technique and all the best gears, I think starting a new thing is more important.
Don’t forget to tell me which recording technique you like the most and when you’re going to start to record your first song?