Experimenting with mic position to record an acoustic guitar

For a while I’ve meaning to experiment with using different microphone positions to record an acoustic guitar. After some discussion about this over at the Six String Bliss forum I decided to pull my finger out and do it. So without further ado, here it is;

The guitar was a Takamine EG560C (with some very old strings on) recorded using a Red5 Audio RV6 condenser microphone set at the same height as the centre of the guitar, into a Behringer Eurorack MX602a mixer, then into an Edirol UA-20 USB soundcard and into Reaper on Windows 7 (32-bit).

There were no effects, reverb or compression added. The only editing I did was to cut out some of the silences between parts and each individual section was normalised to just below 0db to make sure the volume was consistent between each sample. I rendered it to a variable bit rate MP3 (quality 80%, equivalent of 224kpbs).

And what of the results? Well here are the details about each position;

Number Position Distance from guitar
1 Level with the endpin 10-12″
2 Directly in front of soundhole 10-12″
3 Directly in front of soundhole 5-7″
4 Level with 12th fret 10-12″
5 Level with 12th fret 5-7″
6 Level with the nut 5-7″
7 Behind the headstock 5-7″

With the exception of position 1, I can imagine finding a use for each of these different sounds. In a sparse mix, where I need the guitar to fill things out, the warmth of placing the mic right in front of the soundhole will really help. If it has to fit in a busy mix then I’ll be moving it more between the nut and 12th fret for the more “stringy” sound without the booming low-mids and mids. Sound-wise I’m fairly ambivalent about the distance between mic and guitar, although when it was close up (positions 3 and 5) I had to be very careful not to hit it with my strumming hand so I’d probably err towards keeping it around 10-12″ away.

And let’s not forget – what we’re experimenting with here is the raw sound. The addition of some careful/tasteful EQ, compression, chorus and reverb will make the world of difference, but you need to have a good solid foundation to build on so I’d definitely recommend you undertake a similar experiment with your own gear.

Note: I didn’t try an option of placing the mic further away, because the room in which I recorded has a particularly harsh sound. If you’ve got a good sounding room though, this should be an option you try too.

2 thoughts on “Experimenting with mic position to record an acoustic guitar

  1. I’ve always wanted to try this! Thanks for sharing. I personally like position 2 and 5 the best.

    • Thanks. It is definitely worth testing out because I’m sure it’ll sound different with your own gear. Before doing this I’d just imagined it would be a case of finding the best sound and that would be it, but I suddenly realised that it is more about picking the right approach to fit in with whatever song you’re recording.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s