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Microphone recommendations

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Microphone recommendations

Post by naturligfunktion » Wed Nov 24, 2021 10:19 am

Hello dear wigglers,

I have two microphones: one old sE 2200 (the grey one), and one SM57 look-a-like that a guy convinced me to buy (Beyerdynamic TG170 I think). I want to get more options, as I have started to record a lot of amps, guitars and vocals.

Thing is that I don't know anything about microphones. I will get one SM57, just to have one, but I am curious what else is out there.

Right now I am struggling to record an acoustic guitar. That may be because of the room, the guitar, my poor playing, or the microphone. Obviously I am thinking that the problem is the mic.

I am also interested in something that can record a bass amp. It doesn't work that well with either of my current microphones, so any suggestions here are welcome!

Thing is, you can't really recommend me too many options, as I am recording many different things. And planning to increase it in the future :tu:

My preamps are good. Got the RME interface and they are pretty tip-top if you ask me. So no need to discuss that

Many thanks!
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Re: Microphone recommendations

Post by SkyWriter » Wed Nov 24, 2021 10:25 am

Small diaphragm condenser is great for acoustic guitar. Can pick out fine detail. Use two for stereo, or more tonal control; one over the fretboard, another aimed around the body opening. Also, ribbon's are fun to get a different feel.
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Re: Microphone recommendations

Post by unclebastard » Wed Nov 24, 2021 11:54 am

The SE X1R is a fine ribbon mic and not expensive. You will need to boost the signal- I use a Triton FetHead which gives a clean 20db boost.
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Re: Microphone recommendations

Post by logan mkii » Wed Nov 24, 2021 12:15 pm

i don't have a ton of mic's, 12 or 13, but i really like the at4050 and it's a popular mic for acoustic guitar. it can be switched between omni, figure 8, and cardioid (this cardioid is least sensitive in the back and can help reject room noise, like a front-address mic). funny, i have tried it with a bass amp and it was usable when combined with the DI. that was a wurlitzer through a bass amp though, not a bass

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Re: Microphone recommendations

Post by GuyaGuy » Wed Nov 24, 2021 12:51 pm

naturligfunktion wrote:
Wed Nov 24, 2021 10:19 am

Right now I am struggling to record an acoustic guitar. That may be because of the room, the guitar, my poor playing, or the microphone. Obviously I am thinking that the problem is the mic.
What in the results aren’t you not happy with?

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Re: Microphone recommendations

Post by notmiserlouagain » Wed Nov 24, 2021 1:07 pm

Excellent SDCs for acoustic guitar that I can recommend from using them personally(steel and nylon):
Haun MBC 440
Line Audio CM4

Wonderful ribbon:
Bumblebee Pro RM6

All three not too expensive but still really really good :tu:
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Re: Microphone recommendations

Post by Dave Peck » Wed Nov 24, 2021 2:17 pm

logan mkii wrote:
Wed Nov 24, 2021 12:15 pm
i don't have a ton of mic's, 12 or 13, but i really like the at4050 and it's a popular mic for acoustic guitar. it can be switched between omni, figure 8, and cardioid (this cardioid is least sensitive in the back and can help reject room noise, like a front-address mic). funny, i have tried it with a bass amp and it was usable when combined with the DI. that was a wurlitzer through a bass amp though, not a bass
^ This. If you don't already have a good collection of mics, get a decent multi-pattern mic so you get a lot of versatility from one good mic. And the AT4050 hits the right point on the cost/quality scale. Although there are now a few other good options that you might also want to check out, like some of the multi pattern mics from Warm Audio in roughly the same price range.

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Re: Microphone recommendations

Post by Ears » Wed Nov 24, 2021 2:52 pm

I really like the ribbon mic I got from https://www.goldenageproject.com/ . I have a bunch of their pres, eqs and compressors and find them to be solid tools and very affordable.

Mics is such a wide open field - there is no one right answer. I’ve used ribbons, omni small diaphragm condensers and large diaphragm condensers for recording acoustic guitar. Each sounds different - different transient response, different, eq, different response/distance. I generally wouldn’t use a dynamic mic for softer acoustic sources, because as you can hear, it can sound weak unless you get the mic crazy close.

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Re: Microphone recommendations

Post by thelowerrhythm » Wed Nov 24, 2021 2:58 pm

When it comes down to it you can record pretty much anything with anything. It's a matter of understanding how the technology works and how it interacts with your environment and sound source. There's a lot you can read on that, but it can help to work with really popular mics because there are more examples and documentations out there on forums, etc. SM57s are good for that reason alone. I won't say on a high level the tool doesn't make the difference (LDCs and SDCs have very different characteristics, for example), but it sounds like you're not there yet, and for most people it won't matter. There's a really big problem in the way a lot of people look to the equipment to get the job done, rather than the person wielding it.

Everyone will have a different opinion, but out of hundreds of mics one cheap one I've found to be really forgiving is the MXL v67. It always made it into the studio regardless of piles of expensive mics around it. Like noted above though, this is a mic I've spent an inordinate amount of time with, and therefore can get it to do what I want it to do.
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Re: Microphone recommendations

Post by BailyDread » Wed Nov 24, 2021 3:01 pm

I would greatly recommend the Zenpro transformer-modded 57. There are a few demos on YouTube. Imo it sounds better overall, while still retaining the qualities of the 57 we love. I love mine so much I’m going to sell every other dynamic mic I have because that one gives me exactly what I’m looking for.

I’d also recommend the Audio technica AT2021 or the pro-37. These are great budget mics for capturing ambient room sounds. I bought mine because I saw a Steve albini video where he used it by placing it on the floor towards the corner of the room while tracking drums. I’ve used it for vocals too and was very pleased with the results after a little bit of processing. It has a nice detailed, articulate sound.

For acoustic guitar, I’d recommend placing an sm57 about a foot away from the 12th fret. You can angle it more towards the sound hole to get a bassier tone. Then you can place a pencil condenser over your shoulder, pointed down perpendicular to the front of the guitar to capture a sound reminiscent of what you’re used to hearing while playing.

Once recorded, use a plugin like the little labs IBP to align their phase relationship. To do this, spin the knob until it sounds as bad as possible, then hit the polarity invert button. Try out the 90 degree phase shift buttons too to see what you like most. You can also adjust phase by using a sample delay followed by a utility plugin—same technique still applies. Then set their levels relative to one another… usually I like the 57 being the one out in front, with the condenser there to flatter the articulations and give some ambience. Once that’s done, bus them together. Depending on what you’re going for, you may want to use a stereo bus and pan them in a pleasing way (such as 57 panned out to one side and condenser panned to the same side but more towards the center, or opposite one another) or use a mono bus for a more classic 1-mic kind of sound (maybe send to a mono reverb or dark slapjack panned opposite, or towards the center). On the bus, use a bit of compression to tame the attack and make it gel, the followed by a bit of EQ to remove any unwanted resonances or boost some sparkle. Maybe consider a tape plugin to give it a little polish and saturation—in the mix this can read as definition instead of distortion.

Good luck :)
Last edited by BailyDread on Wed Nov 24, 2021 3:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Microphone recommendations

Post by clusterchord » Wed Nov 24, 2021 3:05 pm

as far as guitar cabs recording, while sm57 is a staple i always find its presence too grating and prefer the body of Sennheiser 421. similar but more balanced imo.

and to complement, i'd definitely recommend a ribbon. its the famous "other" guitar cab sound. M160 is a classic here for a reason. warm, has presence but without the grating top. not uncommon to record both a dynamic and a ribbon, and combine or choose later. for room/distance mic: you could utilize your sE a few meters away, or if room is not ideal, M160 can also work as its very directional.

with acoustic guitars, when recording is shitty, in most cases its the room. then positioning the microphones, then mic choice. many rooms are either too naked ie. not adequately acoustically treated, or too dampened without any diffusion, and/or worst case - just too small with low ceilings, and there is no way arround that; with or without acoustics it will sound shit for all sources that require some distance to sound "normal". which is the case with acoustic guitar, and even moreso with solo string instruments.


while there are other mic techniques and options for acoustic sources, a standard starting point solution is a matched pair of small condensers with cardioid capsules, that you can utilize in various stereo techniques. pretty much every studio has a pair. on the bang for the buck side, i'd look into affordable Line Audio CM4, medium priced Geffel M300 or in high end, Schoeps CMC6/MK4.
Last edited by clusterchord on Wed Nov 24, 2021 3:08 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Microphone recommendations

Post by SkyWriter » Wed Nov 24, 2021 3:05 pm

Ears wrote:
Wed Nov 24, 2021 2:52 pm
I really like the ribbon mic I got from https://www.goldenageproject.com/ . I have a bunch of their pres, eqs and compressors and find them to be solid tools and very affordable.
I got a couple of those. I have mostly Blue mic's and a smattering of others; AEA has several good ribbons too.

These come in handy too!

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Re: Microphone recommendations

Post by jsu » Wed Nov 24, 2021 3:10 pm

If you don't have one be sure to consider a decent Direct Input box: Countryman 85 for $150. This will capture directly off of your pickups (in addition to micing) and will simply save you hassle.

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Re: Microphone recommendations

Post by naturligfunktion » Thu Nov 25, 2021 2:42 am

Thanks for all replies! I will take my time to answer more or less all of you :)
SkyWriter wrote:
Wed Nov 24, 2021 3:05 pm
Ears wrote:
Wed Nov 24, 2021 2:52 pm
I really like the ribbon mic I got from https://www.goldenageproject.com/ . I have a bunch of their pres, eqs and compressors and find them to be solid tools and very affordable.
I got a couple of those. I have mostly Blue mic's and a smattering of others; AEA has several good ribbons too.
I am familiar (sort of know a guy who knows the guy that make the goldenage-stuff) with GoldenAge preamps, really like them, but I haven't looked into their microphones, so thanks for the tip!

From what I know, a ribbon mic is traditionally used with a 57 when you record a guitar amp, right? How does the ribbon handle other things? Like a bass amplifier, for example?

@SkyWriter: you also mentioned small diaphragm condensers for the acoustic guitar. Any recommendations for a pair? :mrgreen:
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Re: Microphone recommendations

Post by naturligfunktion » Thu Nov 25, 2021 2:59 am

GuyaGuy wrote:
Wed Nov 24, 2021 12:51 pm
What in the results aren’t you not happy with?
Great question! The recordings are too boomy. I've tried to position the mic further away from the guitar, from the soundhole, higher up on the fingerboard, but it more or less sounds the same. I also tried to record it in different places in my room, and it doesn't seem to make that much of a difference either.

Im starting to think that the guitar might sound like that. I can't really compare by using the dynamic mic I have, as it needs to be boosted above and beyond unless you are holding it right next to the sound source, in which it gives a big thump in the lower midrange...

(works surprisingly well to record a guitar amp though!)
clusterchord wrote:
Wed Nov 24, 2021 3:05 pm
...
with acoustic guitars, when recording is shitty, in most cases its the room. then positioning the microphones, then mic choice. many rooms are either too naked ie. not adequately acoustically treated, or too dampened without any diffusion, and/or worst case - just too small with low ceilings, and there is no way arround that; with or without acoustics it will sound shit for all sources that require some distance to sound "normal". which is the case with acoustic guitar, and even moreso with solo string instruments.

while there are other mic techniques and options for acoustic sources, a standard starting point solution is a matched pair of small condensers with cardioid capsules, that you can utilize in various stereo techniques. pretty much every studio has a pair. on the bang for the buck side, i'd look into affordable Line Audio CM4, medium priced Geffel M300 or in high end, Schoeps CMC6/MK4.
I snipped your post a bit, just to continue on the acoustic guitar discussion. I think you are correct. I record in my living room and that may be part of the problem. The thing is that if I have my mic close to the guitar, it sounds bassy and really bad. If I move it away, it absolutely helps, but only to a certain extent. Don't know if that information was useful heh.

Anyways, thanks for your post and insights in recordings! I'll look into all of your recommendations :)
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Re: Microphone recommendations

Post by naturligfunktion » Thu Nov 25, 2021 3:03 am

Dave Peck wrote:
Wed Nov 24, 2021 2:17 pm
logan mkii wrote:
Wed Nov 24, 2021 12:15 pm
i don't have a ton of mic's, 12 or 13, but i really like the at4050 and it's a popular mic for acoustic guitar. it can be switched between omni, figure 8, and cardioid (this cardioid is least sensitive in the back and can help reject room noise, like a front-address mic). funny, i have tried it with a bass amp and it was usable when combined with the DI. that was a wurlitzer through a bass amp though, not a bass
^ This. If you don't already have a good collection of mics, get a decent multi-pattern mic so you get a lot of versatility from one good mic. And the AT4050 hits the right point on the cost/quality scale. Although there are now a few other good options that you might also want to check out, like some of the multi pattern mics from Warm Audio in roughly the same price range.
I read about the AT4050 in another thread about microphones, so it has been recommended three times now! I particularly like how it m-i-g-h-t be useful for my pretty little bass guitar.

Thanks for your posts! :tu:
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Re: Microphone recommendations

Post by GuyaGuy » Thu Nov 25, 2021 3:20 am

naturligfunktion wrote:
Thu Nov 25, 2021 2:59 am
GuyaGuy wrote:
Wed Nov 24, 2021 12:51 pm
What in the results aren’t you not happy with?
Great question! The recordings are too boomy. I've tried to position the mic further away from the guitar, from the soundhole, higher up on the fingerboard, but it more or less sounds the same. I also tried to record it in different places in my room, and it doesn't seem to make that much of a difference either.

Im starting to think that the guitar might sound like that. I can't really compare by using the dynamic mic I have, as it needs to be boosted above and beyond unless you are holding it right next to the sound source, in which it gives a big thump in the lower midrange...

(works surprisingly well to record a guitar amp though!)
clusterchord wrote:
Wed Nov 24, 2021 3:05 pm
...
with acoustic guitars, when recording is shitty, in most cases its the room. then positioning the microphones, then mic choice. many rooms are either too naked ie. not adequately acoustically treated, or too dampened without any diffusion, and/or worst case - just too small with low ceilings, and there is no way arround that; with or without acoustics it will sound shit for all sources that require some distance to sound "normal". which is the case with acoustic guitar, and even moreso with solo string instruments.

while there are other mic techniques and options for acoustic sources, a standard starting point solution is a matched pair of small condensers with cardioid capsules, that you can utilize in various stereo techniques. pretty much every studio has a pair. on the bang for the buck side, i'd look into affordable Line Audio CM4, medium priced Geffel M300 or in high end, Schoeps CMC6/MK4.
I snipped your post a bit, just to continue on the acoustic guitar discussion. I think you are correct. I record in my living room and that may be part of the problem. The thing is that if I have my mic close to the guitar, it sounds bassy and really bad. If I move it away, it absolutely helps, but only to a certain extent. Don't know if that information was useful heh.

Anyways, thanks for your post and insights in recordings! I'll look into all of your recommendations :)
That's helpful. I think backing off the mic is a good move, but if that's not yielding good results, I would work on EQ before mic shopping. That's not to say that your mics are ideal for recording guitar. I've not used the models, but I'm guessing they are at least workable. There are some standard techniques for EQing acoustic guitar, especially when putting it in a mix:

- Cut everything below 80-100Hz to avoid competing with bass
- Boost around 2-5Hz to accentuate string jangle
- Tame 100-300Hz as needed to reduce mud

I'd say almost all acoustic guitar recordings use some variation of that kind of EQing. Obviously it also depends on the guitar. Some of those tinny parlor guitars are perfect for recording strumming because they record top end well without boom or mud.

That EQing should get you in the general area of a good tone. Then you can tweak from there. Using a compressor can help to tame the potential volume difference between the bass and treble strings. Once you're getting a pretty good sound with your current mics you can then compare the two, figure out what's working, what's not, then look for a mic that fits the bill. Hope that helps.

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Re: Microphone recommendations

Post by naturligfunktion » Thu Nov 25, 2021 3:43 am

BailyDread wrote:
Wed Nov 24, 2021 3:01 pm
For acoustic guitar, I’d recommend placing an sm57 about a foot away from the 12th fret. You can angle it more towards the sound hole to get a bassier tone. Then you can place a pencil condenser over your shoulder, pointed down perpendicular to the front of the guitar to capture a sound reminiscent of what you’re used to hearing while playing.
I love your post mate! Im gonna try your technique next time I record an acoustic. Might have to get a small condenser mic first though :lol:
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Re: Microphone recommendations

Post by Hyberus » Thu Nov 25, 2021 3:51 am

naturligfunktion wrote:
Wed Nov 24, 2021 10:19 am
Hello dear wigglers,

I have two microphones: one old sE 2200 (the grey one), and one SM57 look-a-like that a guy convinced me to buy (Beyerdynamic TG170 I think). I want to get more options, as I have started to record a lot of amps, guitars and vocals.

Thing is that I don't know anything about microphones. I will get one SM57, just to have one, but I am curious what else is out there.

Right now I am struggling to record an acoustic guitar. That may be because of the room, the guitar, my poor playing, or the microphone. Obviously I am thinking that the problem is the mic.

I am also interested in something that can record a bass amp. It doesn't work that well with either of my current microphones, so any suggestions here are welcome!

Thing is, you can't really recommend me too many options, as I am recording many different things. And planning to increase it in the future :tu:

My preamps are good. Got the RME interface and they are pretty tip-top if you ask me. So no need to discuss that

Many thanks!
I have used a Rode NT1-A to record acoustic guitar (and violin) with good results.
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Re: Microphone recommendations

Post by naturligfunktion » Thu Nov 25, 2021 3:57 am

GuyaGuy wrote:
Thu Nov 25, 2021 3:20 am
That's helpful. I think backing off the mic is a good move, but if that's not yielding good results, I would work on EQ before mic shopping. That's not to say that your mics are ideal for recording guitar. I've not used the models, but I'm guessing they are at least workable. There are some standard techniques for EQing acoustic guitar, especially when putting it in a mix:

- Cut everything below 80-100Hz to avoid competing with bass
- Boost around 2-5Hz to accentuate string jangle
- Tame 100-300Hz as needed to reduce mud

I'd say almost all acoustic guitar recordings use some variation of that kind of EQing. Obviously it also depends on the guitar. Some of those tinny parlor guitars are perfect for recording strumming because they record top end well without boom or mud.

That EQing should get you in the general area of a good tone. Then you can tweak from there. Using a compressor can help to tame the potential volume difference between the bass and treble strings. Once you're getting a pretty good sound with your current mics you can then compare the two, figure out what's working, what's not, then look for a mic that fits the bill. Hope that helps.
Great post mate :) I dont use EQ before, only post, but I will try to use it subtle within this range and see how it works. Thanks for the tip, I'll probably give it a go during lunch
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Re: Microphone recommendations

Post by naturligfunktion » Thu Nov 25, 2021 4:10 am

thelowerrhythm wrote:
Wed Nov 24, 2021 2:58 pm
There's a really big problem in the way a lot of people look to the equipment to get the job done, rather than the person wielding it.
I absolutely agree. No matter how you put it, an acoustic guitar played badly will sound bad no matter how you record it. But it is also nice to have more options than only one microphone, hehe
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Re: Microphone recommendations

Post by Umcorps » Thu Nov 25, 2021 4:51 am

For stereo recording on a budget you can’t go far wrong with this set. For the price they are ridiculously good.

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Re: Microphone recommendations

Post by BailyDread » Thu Nov 25, 2021 11:43 am

naturligfunktion wrote:
Thu Nov 25, 2021 3:43 am
BailyDread wrote:
Wed Nov 24, 2021 3:01 pm
For acoustic guitar, I’d recommend placing an sm57 about a foot away from the 12th fret. You can angle it more towards the sound hole to get a bassier tone. Then you can place a pencil condenser over your shoulder, pointed down perpendicular to the front of the guitar to capture a sound reminiscent of what you’re used to hearing while playing.
I love your post mate! Im gonna try your technique next time I record an acoustic. Might have to get a small condenser mic first though :lol:
Cheers :) you can do the mic placement with any mics probably I just like the pencil condenser’s detail as the over-the-shoulder mic. The two audio technicas in my post are pencil condensers btw… think the 2021 goes for 80$ new. Sounds very nice tho

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Re: Microphone recommendations

Post by Dr Gris » Thu Nov 25, 2021 6:55 pm

No clue about your budget, but a budget friendly and versatile mic is the Shure KSM-141.
It’s multi-pattern and I would recommend recording in the omni mode. To me that makes the guitar sound very natural.
And you can get pretty close to the guitar if the room sounds “horrible” because there’s no proximity boominess that the cardioid pattern has and you can even move ever so slightly without affecting the sound too much.
With a cardioid pattern you have to be still or the sound will change dramatically.
But remember that even in omni mode higher frequencies are more directional than lower so try not to move too much.
Personally I would never point a mic at the sound hole and I would never use a SM-57 if it wasn’t for a specific sound for a song.

Best of luck!
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Re: Microphone recommendations

Post by Karl_Joseph » Thu Nov 25, 2021 10:48 pm

I’ve had a lot of microphones, all the usual mics, a matched pair of beyerdynamics MC950 where awesome, but the only one I kept was the Audio Technica AT4050. Just a great microphone with excellent clarity.
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