Show 102 – Recording Acoustic Guitar And Our Favorite Music Of 2010

In this week’s show, Ryan shows some options for recording Acoustic Guitar and we talk about our favorite music from this year.

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24 thoughts on “Show 102 – Recording Acoustic Guitar And Our Favorite Music Of 2010

  1. Ryan – I really appreciated your segment on acoustic guitar mic techniques. This is a great reference as I prep to do some solo guitar sessions. Can you tell us a little bit about the guitar that was recorded in your segment? It would help my perspective to know a little bit about how the guitar itself is voiced (i.e. a Gibson J-45 has a distinctly different tonal voice compared to a Taylor 814). Also, were the strings new or towards the end of their life? You did an remarkable job for spending only one hour on it! Thanks 🙂

    • With a Gibson J-45 acoustic guitar, if you get a bad recording it can only be because of the the player or the engineer. The tone of that guitar is phenomenal!

  2. I have done quite a few recordings of various acoustic guitars using two M-Audio Sputniks and have had very good results. I spaced them using the XY pattern. I really appreciate your comments and am going to try some of those different configurations to get some new sounds. Thanks for your show.

  3. Hey, thanks for the mention. Awesome show today! I’ve been trying different mic positions. This helped a lot. A quick question about recording drums. Is it recommended that I use a matched pair of mics for overheads? Or can I use two different mics?

  4. Fantastic show chaps – and congrats on the 100 btw.
    On the lack of new discoveries for you I would humbly beg to present this link to you for consideration at your leisure.
    Mike Fraser (The) mixed this – it`s a band from my home town who are just stunning in my opinion.
    ps Jon mentioned about varying the distance from the mic when performing vocal doubles and beyond – this was similar in priciple to my suggestion of similar with guitar ods. Jon mentioned comb filtering being tricky with that. As a person still fumbling around in the dark when it comes to phase – would voice not encounter the same pitfalls?

  5. Great examples of guitar mic techniques. Also kudos to Jon for the drum segment on the last show. Great point to make note of the players position. I had an acoustic guitar tracking session Monday and needed the player to punch in on the verse. After the take not only was the volume different, but the tone was not the same. I took a look around the sound baffles and noticed he was turned to side more. Easy fix, but if I would have looked for it the take would have not been wasted. With a player that moves it is important to remember that every time you double the distance from the mic you have between a 4 and 6 db drop, so moving that mic back 6 inches could really make a difference. Thanks again for another relevant topic we all deal with.

  6. Wonderful show guys! I love recording myself playing my classical guitar. I play in the style of Rodrigo y’ Gabriela and consist of very heavy strumming. Do any of you know where one might find information on where they recorded but more importantly what mic’s were used? Odd question I know, but the sound on their latest record 11:11 is OUTSTANDING! it would be a dream for any of you guys to listen to this master peice and share any technique they might have used (if any) thank you for taking the time to share a knowledge only obtained from being shown. I seriously wish you guys could make a living doing this. My next pay check I will be donating 50$

  7. One of the techniques that I’ve used is the ol’ M/S about 1.5 to 3 feet in front of the player. I’ve also experimented with moving that configuration up varying degrees from in front to over the head of the player – still being about 1.5-3 feet away.

    On advantage of M/S is that it gives you the flexibility of controlling the width of the stereo image after the fact through either fader levels or panning.

    It’s great also in that you can just use the mono mic on certain parts of the song and then bring in the sides to get a stereo width when things need to get bigger – all from the same performance without the phase issues.

    Good list of albums / artists. It’s taken me a while, but I’m warming up to the Tron soundtrack…

  8. Congrats on making to 100. And thanks to Ryan for that useful segment on recording acoustic guitar. I’ve always recorded acoustic with a mic at a foot or less — just to cut down on room sound. Gotta try out some of these other techniques.

    And I thought there would be a lot of “best of 2010 music lists” in the comments but no. Anyway here’s mine. Hopefully this will prompt some more posts.

    My Musical Discoveries in 2010 (ie Old Stuff I Just Got Into):

    Harry Nillson. Nillson Schmillson. Great collection of tunes. Classic Mid-70’s production sound. His albums are kind of spotty but these one’s pretty consistent.

    Ben Folds solo albums. He fell off my radar but hard to argue with his songwriting chops. Clever, funny, touching. I’m hard pressed to think of anyone current who’s writing songs as good.

    New Stuff from 2010:

    The Sword, Warp Riders. Kind of everything I want in a metal band. Sludge guitars and Dungeon & Dragons inspired lyrics. Easy to imagine any of their tunes in the original Heavy Metal movie.

    Mayer Hawthorne, A Strange Affair (Actually 2009. Sue me). Indie soul? Kind of like the low-fi version of the recent Rafael Saddiq album. Home-recording note: Hawthorne recorded a lot of the record in his bedroom. Even singing into a pair of headphones.

    LCD Soundsystem, This is Happening. This one grew on me.

    Inspiration. So what inspired me in 2010?

    Definitely Pomplamoose (whom Jesse mentioned). They make recording look fun. Not that it isn’t but they bring a real joy to recording. It’s almost as if they treat recording as performance art. So does it make a recording sound better if you have a silly smile on your face while you’re tapping a tambourine? Maybe. Works for them.

    A Tie Between: Audio Tuts and Home Recording Show. Both were essential in opening my eyes to new methods of working with audio. If you’re starting out, Audio Tuts is a must visit. Good stuff.

    Keep up the good work all.

  9. I play a lot of tapstyle, Michael Hedges/Preston Reed-esque acoustic guitar. Recording some songs (since I’m tapping on acoustic guitar) requires tracking the piezo and/or internal mic as well, for note definition. I usually do this in addition to a pair of mics. Also, although “plugged in” acoustic isn’t all that natural sounding, it can be a usable tone.

  10. Thanks for another great show guys, love the Acoustic guitar segment!

    Dave Chick: I also like the M/S miking on acoustic guitar, esp. with a ribbon as the figure-8 mic!

    Oh, and regarding the favorite music segment, I must say that the kick-drum sound that Underoath has on i.e. the “Define The Great Line” record is godlike, it has a great attack to it but don’t seem that “clicky” at all!

    Happy New years btw!

  11. @Anton: Nice! I’ve also used a tube condensor for the side and a small diaphragm condensor for the center. Turns out quite nice.

  12. With regards drum recording…

    I undertake both 16-mic, 3 hour setup drum recordings AND 4-mic, 1 song-per-hour recordings. Both are valid and both can sound great, but it’s about doing the right thing for the music. There’s as little point in putting 4 mic’s up for someone trying for a modern ‘metal’ sound as there is carefully positioning 15 mic’s and a sub-kick for a trash-rock Eolling Stones tribute act! Led Zeppelin recorded a long time ago – it was great, but we’re all now allowed to move on now guys!

    I also use both raw drum recordings and drum replacement. Often I simply like to use samples of the drummer’s own kit to keep things souding consistent. The bar continuously raises and if you aren’t capable of making your client sound as good as the rest you chace of lsing that client in the blink of an eye. If I need to sample replace to present the client’s music in its best light then I’l knuckle down and do it.

    I simply don’t get recording ‘purism’ at any level. The moment you plug you a mic into a recording system you’re creating an illusion, so why sweat how that illusion is created? There’s simply no ‘right’ way to record drums as much as there is a ‘right’ guitar sound or the ‘right’ way to sing. Just do whatever it takes!

  13. With regards acoustic guitar…

    Some nice sounds in your examples – well done!

    My favourite technique at the moment is one mic over the player’s right shoulder and one mic toward the neck. I don’t worry too much about stereo balance – I’ll let the image take care of itself.

    I also like SDCs in ORTF and I’ve also used this pattern on drums, choirs and anything where I need some natural width.

    I like Neumann KM184, Rode NT55 and MXL 603s for guitar, but I’ll sometimes use a Neumann U87, or a variety of other LDCs when I can. An SM57 on an acoustic guitar is great for a sound that holds its own in a rock mix. I often prefer a mono recording in this context.

  14. Hey guys, I just wanted to tell you that (and this is coming from a guy who already knew a lot about sound, music, and recording) I’ve learned a lot from listening to you guys talk here on the show. I think I should say something though. From time to time, I hear you guys talk about keeping your segments short and editing your show to keep it from being too long. I love when I download a new show and see that it’s longer than normal! I can’t be the only one who thinks this. I think it’s great to be the guy who sits there and listens to people who work in the areas you’re interested in talk about all the little tricks they’ve learned and just talk shop. I never get sick of it. There have been a few times where I was like “man…I wish this show was longer” or “I wish this part wasn’t as short as it was because I was REALLY enjoying it.” Any chance we could get you guys to spend a little less time on the editing and just let your conversations or segments run a little longer? Sometimes people can learn things that way too. Other than that, I really have no complaints. Awesome show! Also, this show now has me stuck on the idea of buying a green bullet mic lol! Thanks for doing what you guys do and letting us in on it.

    • Thanks for writing in with all the nice words. The shows have all become considerably longer recently since we have added the comments section to the front of the show. That is almost sure to add 15 minutes plus to every show. When we talk about editing, we are not editing out content! We take out the parts where we misspeak, stumble on words, take longer than necessary pauses, and crowbar all of the sections together. Trust me on this one… you are not missing a thing!

      A final thought… If the listener to any show wants more when that show ends, you can expect them to come back for the next. We certainly want you all to come back week after week and tell all of you friends while you are at it!

  15. Great show as usual. I really liked what Ryan had to say about new material in 2010 that was also good. He said that he’ll listen to a song that he doesn’t like, because he really digs the snare sound.

    I recently did that with a James Blunt album that I got for free. I think I won it in 2006 or something, but had never listened to it all the way through until last Thursday. The songs (lyrics, delivery, content) were awful; they made me want to claw my eyes out with forks; but, damn, the drums (and keyboard for that matter) were tight! It’s like Nick Lachey threw up on Abbey Road Studios.

    Jon, how’s that segment on metering coming? My trip to the “donation button” might happen more frequently if that segment would ever drop…

    Peace, Love, and Outboard gear!


  16. Well, I didn’t think of it like that lol! But, I guess that’s true. Also, I heard you say that Jon talked once, about some plug ins that were free. Any chance you could tell me what show number that was? Or, maybe give us some more places to go and get some? I know it’s always cool to make more sounds with what you have and learn new ways to use the stuff you already own but, it’s fun to get new fx as well. Thanks again!!

  17. “There’s simply no ‘right’ way to record drums as much as there is a ‘right’ guitar sound or the ‘right’ way to sing. Just do whatever it takes!”

    And that was my point all along. I still say though, exactly what is the point of paying for a “great” drum room’s sound when you have to layer so much stuff on top of the actual recording you are no longer really getting the room’s sound? As you said, with all the tools available and with convolution reverbs, etc., you can pretty much make any room you want inside the box. It all goes back to the actual sound of the drummer…If I am recording a drummer (or being recorded), I want the end result to be pretty close to what I actually played, excluding effects and/or eq. All those metal samples people wanted started out with someone actually playing and recording a real drum in a room. At what point do you just have the drummer play an electronic kit and record the drums as MIDI and then trigger ALL samples?

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