There are multiple acoustic instruments in the world today, with the acoustic guitar being the frontline. Despite the nature of their sound, these instruments are still versatile as they can be used with various musical genres like country and rock.
Due to their extensive popularity, recording acoustic instruments is already a standard. The acoustic tone simply holds a significance. It is distinct and standout in the mix. The prowess and beauty of the acoustic sound further radiate if you are playing solo.
Today, it is not difficult anymore to find a good acoustic guitar. Even at the entry-level category, you can already see high-quality acoustic tools that would not shy off in any competition. But that's just half of the story. Honestly, the most crucial part of producing a flawless mix is capturing the acoustic sound properly.
Traditionally, recording sounds are just done with the help of a microphone and a mono signal. You just have to put the microphone near the musical device and you are good to go. Meanwhile, some other instances require the instrument to occupy the majority of the stereo field. These approaches are viable. But there are factors that can prevent you from doing so.
For example, pianos and drums possess an organic and authentic stereo field. This is due to their given burly size and the volume and depth of the sound they produce. Therefore, it is completely understandable if a piano will be panned depending on the perspective of the player. The high notes are situated on the right and low notes on the left part.
These factors have taught us that recording acoustic instruments can be done through different means. Here are some of them.
5 Ways To Record Best Acoustic Guitar Sound
1. 12th Fret Vertical X/Y
If you are going to mic the guitar for recording purposes, it is recommended that place it near the 12th fret. This particular spot of the instrument has a great balance between the high-frequency sounds and low-frequency sounds. Furthermore, the 12th fret exhibits stability in the clarity of percussion and overall rhythm of the instrument. These things are very important for strumming and sustaining tones.
In the X/Y setup, there are two microphones that are placed near the 12th fret. Specifically, one of the mics should be directed to the lower guitar strings. Meanwhile, the other mic is inclined toward the high strings. This configuration enables you to record the lower and higher notes in both high amplitudes.
Also, this particular approach is also a good method in capturing the stereo image of the guitar. Most of the time, the image is pretty similar to acoustic pianos. All of the high notes are panned to the right and the low notes on the left.
2. 12th Fret Horizontal X/Y
The 12th Fret Horizontal X/Y is a technique that has been derived from the original Vertical X/Y configuration. Instead of pointing the microphones to right and low strings, they are pointed toward the sound hole and to the neck.
In this method, the microphone that you have angled to the sound hole will get signals that have a loud low-frequency response. Meanwhile, the one that is pointed toward the neck of the guitar will capture the silent low-frequency response signals.
The Horizontal X/Y recording method is excellent in capturing a repertoire or performance where the spectral composition of the sound is not balanced throughout the stereo field. Aside from acoustic guitars, you can also use this recording technique in capturing the dynamic composition of acoustic pianos.
If you are recording a piano, you should take note that the higher and lower strings are thoroughly spread throughout the entirety of the stereo field. Instead, you have to understand the tonal spectrum of the strings should be present in the entire stereo width.
3. 12th Fret Horizontal M/S
This technique is actually formed through the integration of the first two recording approaches that we listed here. It requires the use of a uni-directional microphone and bi-directional mic. The uni-directional microphone is already angled at the neck part on the 12th fret. Meanwhile, the bi-directional microphone is anchored close to the sound hole of the guitar.
You need to rotate the bi-directional microphone so that its back and front portion are somehow perpendicular to the guitar's body. There is also a mid-size matrix that will be used together with the bi-directional microphone. In this way, the front microphone will be able to capture the low string sounds and the back microphone will record the high string sounds.
Meanwhile, the signals that were generated through the bi-directional microphone can provide better amplitude on the parts of the stereo field that they were designated. You can also work the tonal balance of the setup. You can change or switch the position of the microphones depending on your preferences. The uni-directional microphone is on the sound hole and the bi-directional microphone is close to the 12th fret.
4. Ambient Spaced Pair
There are multiple reasons why people are using the microphone technique when recording the sound of an acoustic guitar. The first one is to create a spectral balance to the tone in the entirety of the stereo field. The second reason is the necessity to provide spatial depth to the sounds that are produced by the acoustic guitar. All of these things can be done through balancing the close and near microphones.
We have introduced multiple methods on how to do this. But another technique that can be employed is the utilization of a close microphone and put it on the 12th fret of the acoustic guitar. Furthermore, you should also use two ambient room microphones. You can pan the close microphone to the middle of the stereo field. On the other hand, you can pan the pair of ambient room microphones on either left and right side.
If you mix the close microphone, it will put the acoustic tone of the guitar on the front of the mix. If you mix the spaced pair microphones, it will generate depth to the sound. Moreover, it will put the tone on the back end of the mix.
Ideally, this method can render the best effects if you have a recording studio. The studio should have a great room sound as well. Most of the time, audio engineers would prefer to record other instruments to a spacious studio room. Meanwhile, acoustic guitars are typically worked inside an isolation room.
5. The Perspective of the Player
It is not a peculiar technique anymore that the microphone would be placed to areas in where the player can hear the sound. After all, the recorded sound should always be agreeable to the player of the instrument. That's the very reason why the microphone can be installed near the performer.
The method works by placing the microphone close to the area where the music player will be going to hear the sound. It can work by placing a microphone close to the proximity of your left ear and another one near your right ear.
Of course, it is already automatic that the head of the performer will work as the gobo or baffle to the microphones. Doing this will allow the player to get the nuances of the signal that is being recorded. With that being said, it is necessary for the microphones to get the natural sound imaging of the sound. After all, they were recorded in the physical setup near the proximity of the player.
These are the plausible methods that you can use to record the sound of acoustic guitars. You can utilize any of these techniques based on your preferences and need.
However, if you want to record without the hassle of bringing microphones and studios, you might want to try the iSolo Wireless Microphone System. It is a portable and compact recording device that you can bring anywhere. It can be attached to your instrument without the need for prior and complicated set-up procedure.
iSolo can transmit the sound to your amplifiers. However, it can also transfer the sound to your favorite mobile devices like the iPad and Mac computers.
The recording quality of the iSolo is impeccable as well. It has a near-field recording feature to cut-off background noises. It also has a flexible gooseneck and uncompressed sound for an unadulterated fidelity.