Best Polar Pickup Pattern For Recording Acoustic Guitar?

Discussion in 'Recording/Live Sound' started by Steve Berger, Jul 9, 2008.

  1. Steve Berger

    Steve Berger Member

    Apr 29, 2008
    I just bought a Rode NT2A mic to record vocals.

    I know the Rode NT2A is not the best mic choice to use for recording my acoustic guitar as it is a large capsule mic . . . but I figured I would give it a shot and use it until I picked up a small capsule mic or pair of mics.

    The Rode NT2A has 3 switchable polar patterns: Cardioid, Omni and Figure 8.

    My question is what polar pickup pattern should I use for best results to record my acoustic guitar . . . Cardiod, Omni or Figure 8?

    The Rode NT2A instruction manual indicates that the Omni should be used "for room mic'ing or to record a more natural sound when close-mic'ing instruments" and to "eliminate the proximity effect".

    I would think that this applies to recording acoustic guitar, but I am not certain so I wanted to get some input from some experienced folks on the forum
  2. LSchefman

    LSchefman Member

    Jan 4, 2002
    Steve, first, there really aren't any rules. Lots of pros record acoustic guitars with a LD condenser - the 414 is often mentioned as a classic choice for acoustic, and I happen to like it a lot with a very open sounding acoustic - and really, you select the polar pattern based on the room you're recording in, the sound you're looking for, and by experimentation.

    Just like with a vocal.

    If your guitar tends toward a boomy sound on the bottom, you might prefer the omni pattern. But you might not like the sound of the room itself, which the omni will pick up. And that's where experimentation with the other patterns, and with placement, will pay dividends.

    I like to record acoustic guitar in a fairly live room, with a wood or stone floor, and since I don't have to worry about noise, I'd certainly try the omni first.

    But in a less good-sounding room, or a fairly dead room, the Cardiod pattern is worth trying.

    I'm not crazy about hypercardioid for guitar, but heck, if there's a problem with the other patterns, or if you want to highlight a particular area of the guitar, try it!

    Bottom line: there's nothing to lose trying out various recording locations and various patterns. This also goes for everything else in the signal chain.

    Only you know what you want to hear, and the various patterns and placement options are simply tools to help you get there. Use them all!

  3. Gretschman

    Gretschman Member

    Oct 2, 2005
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