Let’s face it, capturing a decent acoustic guitar tone is not an easy task. Here are some tips that will help you cover the basics of this deft art and avoid the pitfalls that will render your efforts a jangly and dolorous cacophony. So if you don’t want your Dreadnought to sound dreadful, read on.
By far the most crucial aspect of recording acoustic guitars well are the microphones used to record them. For instance a dynamic vocal mic will neither be sensitive enough to handle the instrument’s relatively small volume, nor able to cope with the fretboard’s entire frequency range. Go for a good quality capacitor microphone every time.
Tip: record in an environment that sounds good to start with. Ever done it in the bathroom? You might get a great result from those super sound-reflecting tiles.
The next most important thing is to position your mics correctly. However, like many things, there’s more ways to skin a rabbit etc. We’ll concentrate here on a tried and tested method.
Position your mic about 24 inches (0.6m) from the neck to body join. The idea behind placing the head of the mic a fair distance from the instrument is to be able to capture some of that resonant air emanating from the instrument
The next thing to do is to fire up your recorder and don some headphones. Now wander slowly around the area with the mic, listening out for that sweet spot. When you find it, stop. Put the mic stand right there and start recording.
Tip: If you want your acoustic to sound right up front in your face, record in stereo. That’s to say, get two good quality capacitor mics, point them across each other at roughly 90 degrees and keep their heads real close.
When you are recording you don’t want to hear anything but the guitar. So ban any ticking things like watches from the room. Try to be still and focused when you play. Above all, don’t sneeze.
You’ll know when you have succeeded when you merely have to apply minimal corrections in EQ to achieve a strong and acoustically pure result.