Join Larry Crane for an in-depth discussion in this video Taming boomy acoustic guitars, part of Real Recording School Weekly.
- [Man] Acoustic guitar frequently gets recorded with mics placed too close to the sound hole. These examples were recorded with a dynamic mic pointed towards the 12th fret or the joint of the guitar, which is generally a good place to aim the mic for a balanced recording. In the first file, it's two inches from the guitar. It's very close. Hear how this goes. (guitar strumming) It almost sounds distorted, even though the pre-amp wasn't being pushed hard and nothing was in place that would cause that, but it's very close and there's a lot of low-end buildup.
In the second file, I moved it five inches from the acoustic guitar. (guitar strumming) A little more clarity ensues, opens up a little bit, but in the third file I moved it 16 inches away from the acoustic guitar, which sounds a little preposterous. (guitar strumming) But in that example, it actually works pretty well.
It softens up some of the high tones of the guitar and the low-end drops quite a bit and opens up for a more softer tone that would work really good in a mix. Let's go look at this in spectral view. Here we see the same three examples. Play a little bit of this. The first one, very close ... (guitar strumming) Five inches away. (guitar strumming) And 16. (guitar strumming) Note how the mid-range comes a little forward at the 16 inch mark too and what really makes a difference here is what the low-end is doing.
We highlight these frequencies. (muted guitar strumming) And that's where we're hearing a lot of those distortion-type sounds. Five inches away. (muted guitar strumming) Similar, but just a little bit still, like, kind of distortion tone, but then at 16 inches ... (muted guitar strumming) Especially on that second chord, which has more of a weird beat to it, the high-end doesn't change as much and we can sample that by just hearing some of this and see the similarities.
(guitar strumming) 16. That's the close mic, the five inch mic. (guitar strumming) Definitely softens up, like I said earlier, when you get further away, and the mid-range changes just a little bit too as well, but the thing that really caught me when I did this recording for this demonstration was how nice actually the 16 inch away mic sounds, which is something I rarely do in mic placement and now I'm going to start doing this more often.
I want you to think about this every time you're putting a mic in front of acoustic guitar. How close do you need to be and how much pick sound do you want to have? How do you want to control the high-end, the lows, and the mid-range? The placement is really, really key to that.