In most forms of popular music, one of the fundamental components is the acoustic guitar. It’s a staple that can provide your track with richness and detail. With a few basic techniques, you can capture a broad range of sounds for any style when recording acoustic guitar.
1. Strummed Steel Strings
Using a small diaphragm cardioid condenser like the AT4041 is the ideal way to capture the attack and brilliance of strumming on this steel string guitar. Aim the microphone at the 14th fret and angle it toward the body to capture a balance of brightness from the strings and body from the sound hole. Moving the mic towards the neck emphasize the brightness of the guitar sound. Moving it towards the sound hole will capture more body.
2. Fingerpicked Nylon Strings
For a more delicate fingerpicking part, try an AT4040 cardioid condenser mic to capture the fullness and warmth of a nylon string guitar. Again, aiming the mic for the region where the neck meets the guitar is the best starting point. Make sure the mic is close enough that you don’t capture too much ambience from the room, but not so close that the guitar sound booms.
3. Two Microphones
With two mics, you can actively control the balance between brightness and a full low end. Use an AT4041 cardioid on the neck to capture brightness from the strings. On the body, try an AT4047/SV cardioid condenser to round out the bottom end. Keep the microphones roughly the same distance from the instrument to avoid phase problems. Adjust the levels to create the perfect balance for the part, player and instrument.
4. X-Y Pair
Try a pair of AE5100 cardioid condenser mics in roughly the same spot as the single mic would go. The idea here isn’t necessarily a wide stereo image, but a very natural sound that provides control over the balance between string brightness and body.
These four configurations give you options for recording any acoustic guitar on any budget. Experiment and find the right setup for your situation. Check out the full video below:
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