Decent mic/pre setup for recording acoustic guitars

Discussion in 'Recording/Live Sound' started by Jerrod, Aug 21, 2004.

  1. Jerrod

    Jerrod Silver Supporting Member

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    I'm recording with an M-Audio Omni Studio/Cubase setup, and I'm seeking recommendations for a mic/pre setup to record acoustic and baritone acoustic guitars. Budget? Well... I can spend money, but I'm not trying to turn out Richard Thompson records. Cheaper is better, and probably nothing over $1000 will get considered. Right now all my electric stuff gets recorded with a 57. To be really honest, I haven't even tried that mic with the acoustics. Thanks!

    Jerrod
     
  2. ricoh

    ricoh Member

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    Shure SM-81 small diaphram mics - a stereo pair
    350.00 each
    km-84 Neumann better yet but twice as much new
    Check different threads here for mic pres
    Check for different methods of mic placement and your good to go
     
  3. LSchefman

    LSchefman Member

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    One of my favorite acoustic guitar mics is the lowly GT 33, $199 at Guitar Center. You have to watch the low end proximity effect with it, placement is important, but I like its presentation on acoustic guitar.

    Another favorite is the Blue Dragonfly. $800.

    Absolute favorite: Blue Kiwi, $2000.

    Mic preamps: I can't stress this enough, but it's just my opinion after recording for 15 years professionally: Find the right mic, and put your money there. It's much more important than the mic preamp. I guarantee you will hear the differences in the mic a lot more than in the preamp.

    There are a lot of mic preamps under a grand, but the really great ones, where you'll hear a difference on an acoustic guitar track, start in the two grand range.

    Concentrate your $$ on the mic.
     
  4. MichaelK

    MichaelK Member

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    I agree with Les that if you want the best bang for your $1000 put most of the money into the mic. Ricoh mentioned the KM84, I use a KM184 and I'm always happy with the results. Bryan plays a baritone guitar and he gets a terrific sound, maybe he'll speak up.
     
  5. GaryNattrass

    GaryNattrass Member

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    AKG 451 or a 414 are my personal favorites.
     
  6. Scott Peterson

    Scott Peterson Staff Member

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    Soudelux U195 is the finest all around mic I have ever used - acoustic guitars, electric guitars, vocals... it does it all. Used for $800.

    Preamp puts me over your budget, but *not* by much - FMR Really Nice Preamp. Closer to $500 for two channels; but it is, well, really nice. :D
     
  7. loudboy

    loudboy Member

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    I'd check out a used KM-184 and a used AKG 451 (not the reissue,) between the two, you'll be able to find an appropriate sound.

    The Neumann is flatter and woodier, while the AKG has a nice high-end zing to it which will help it cut through a denser mix.

    If you're really on a budget, try an Oktava MK-012. Shockingly good for way less than $100, almost as nice as the KM-184.

    Loudboy
     
  8. Greggy

    Greggy Member

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    "KM 184" for me, placed very close (3 inches) to the fingerboard at about the 15th fret angled 45 degrees or so towards the soundhole. Also sounds good aimed at the bridge from behind the guitar for special effect.

    I've tried the SM57 on acoustic and didn't like it. Sounded too flat with little detail. The KM 184 has a sweet high end and is very articulate. I would also look at the Blue Dragonfly if I were you.
     
  9. Bryan T

    Bryan T Guitar Owner Silver Supporting Member

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    Jerrod,

    It seems like we keep running into each other at different forums. Which baritone did you end up getting? My Goodall is working out fabulously.

    I have a pair of mics that I use on my baritone or Santa Cruz dreadnought. The Groove Tubes GT-33 is a medium-diaphragm condensor that sounds really good - it has a nice presence to it. I also have an Audio Technica 3035, a large diaphragm condensor, that I like. It seems less bright and sounds different in the midrange than the Groove Tubes. The mp3 at http://www.moebiustrip.org/BT/pizzi.mp3 was made with the A/T and my Goodall. All told, I spent $300 on the microphones, as I bought them at the same time.

    I recently purchased a Focusrite Twintrak Pro preamp. I use a Digi001 on my Mac and was told that the preamps weren't particularly good, so I thought I'd give an external mic pre a shot. The Focusrite sounds much, much better than the Digi001. It cost $500 and I enjoy it.

    Now, the big question: What would I do if I were doing it over again?

    I would probably spend more on the mic front and get some industry standards. I'd love to have a pair of AKG 451's or a 414. On the preamp front, I don't think I could do much better than the Focusrite within my budget. Everyone points to the RNP and RNC combination for preamp and compression, but that would cost another couple hundred dollars. I recently read a review of the Twintrak Pro and they stated that the compressor built-in to the Twintrak was comparable to the RNC in "really nice" mode.

    Anyhow, I think that the recordings that I'm making these days are of pretty good quality and I don't have a ton invested in my studio. I'll be finishing up a CD in the next few months and I think I'll be proud of the sound quality of the final product.

    Hope this helps,
    Bryan

    P.S. One other point: tracking with a touch of compression has really helped my recordings, so don't overlook a compressor.
     
  10. Jerrod

    Jerrod Silver Supporting Member

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    Bryan,
    I got the Berkowitz JB-30C. I bought it used and like it a lot. It is also dramatically different than the Goodall... 30" scale, huge strings, cedar top, etc.

    I've had pretty good luck with the Omni Studio box for recording electric stuff (at least in terms of tone :) so maybe I'll just try getting a good pair of mics and running them straight into that box for now.

    Jerrod
     
  11. Bryan T

    Bryan T Guitar Owner Silver Supporting Member

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    I saw a pic of a Berkowitz baritone that looked great. The body shape was nicely scaled up. The 30" scale would probably be too long for my hands.

    You mentioned getting a pair of mics. While this might be better in the long run, I find that using a single mic is a lot easier to work with. The main issue that I have trouble with is phase problems. Since I'm my own engineer, there is a lot of trial and error involved in getting a pair of microphones to work together.

    Good luck in the microphone hunt. It can be annoying, as it is hard to try a microphone before you buy it. There is a lot of internet discussion about microphones, a lot of which is contradictory. One person's "great presence" is another's "excessive brightness." I'd recommend looking at the industry standards (Shure SM-81, the AKG's I mentioned) or some of the more popular home recording mics (Rode has one, some of the Octavias are popular).

    Bryan
     
  12. LSchefman

    LSchefman Member

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    I forgot to mention that I also like the 414 and the KM 184 and 140.
     
  13. wooldl

    wooldl Member

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    Not a lot of experience here, but I had good results with an Oktava aimed at the 12th-15th fret, about 6" off the fretboard and an sm57(believe it or not?) on a boom at my right ear aimed down at the guitar, panned hard left and hard right for a pretty nice stereo sound.

    Experiment.:)
     
  14. Chiba

    Chiba Gold Supporting Member

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    For a grand, I'd go with a BLUE Dragonfly and a simple pre/comp like the Joemeek VC3Q. I got a new D'fly and a used VC3Q for under a grand and recorded most of the acoustic guitars on my band's album with that setup.

    The Dragonfly is a 'sleeper' of sorts - it just might be the most versatile mic I've used to date, and I get great results with it, but you don't hear too much hype about it. Best money I've spent on recording gear IMHO.

    --chiba
     

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