Do you want to record or amplify your acoustic guitar sound? We explain how to do this quickly, on a budget, on stage and more professionally in a (home) studio.
Fast, easy and cheap guitar recording
One of the many great advantages of an acoustic guitar is that you do not need any cables, no amplifier, no hassle: just pick it up and play. That makes every Fellow happy!
But what do you do if you want to record or amplify that sound?
The good news is that you can record acoustic guitar very easily, just give it a try with your mobile phone or tablet, and you will notice that works fine to capture an idea. But sometimes it's a bit of a shock when you listen to your previously recorded footage: it is either too loud or not loud enough, too harsh or way too boomy, compared to the nice warm sound you’d expect from an acoustic guitar. This can easily be improved by pointing your cell phone's microphone properly. Directly across from the sound hole seems to be an obvious choice, but it is not, because you will miss the subtle sound of the resonating wood. In general, somewhere between the 12th fret and the transition of the neck to the body is considered a sweet spot, but there are many exceptions to that general rule. Geert Verdickt gives a great explanation in this video.
These principles for placing a mic can also be used if you only use your mobile phone or tablet. Remember: there is no ‘Best Way’ to record an acoustic guitar. If you are a hard hitting strummer instead of a more of subtle fingerpicker you will get better results with a slightly different approach. What room do you play in? Where are you going to sit? What is the distance to the microphone? Our advice: just try! Experimenting doesn't cost you anything, except some time and can sometimes lead to surprisingly good results.
Do you want to record an acoustic guitar sound with a bit more quality, whilst remaining affordable, without too many cables, stands and such? There are some beautiful compact solutions that you just click on your tablet or mobile and they take the recordings of your acoustic guitar to a whole other level.
Guitarmaster Mike Dawes shows what can be done with just an iPad and a very small MV88 mic from Shure.
Are you looking for even more quality in your recordings? Then you can set up a room in the house as a mini-studio. This may sound like a big deal, but is easily achieved. You don't need more than one good all round microphone, an audio interface which is a little box to connect the cables to your computer or laptop, some software(a DAW: Digital Audio Workstation), such as Garageband or Audacity. And if you want to go all out, you could add a few good speakers, but you don't even have to do that, because a good set of headphones will do just fine. That's it!
Acoustic guitar sound on stage
Maybe someday in the future you want to get back on stage with your acoustic guitar and in such a setting there are some different rules. Are you playing alone? Or in a smaller setting? With the very good looking and even better sounding microphones of Ear Trumpet you can capture acoustic sound on stage very nicely. We always use this Fellow-Favorite at our Fellowship sessions, because these microphones can be used for a lot of things. Recording a six-man bluegrass band? With just the one Ear Trumpet you can make it sound really beautiful. And in the studio you can use them for just about anything.
In a band with amplified bass and a hard hitting drummer may you may need to amplify the acoustic guitar sound more directly. There are of course acoustic guitars with built-in pick ups and you can consider purchasing such a guitar. What suits you best is of course personal, but for a well-amplified acoustic sound on stage we would like to mention Maton. Thanks to their self-developed AP5 Pro system, these guitars are the first choice for a lot of performing artists, such as Tommy Emmanuel. Do you already have an acoustic guitar that you want to use on stage but can't plug in yet? We can help you choose and install a pick-up system that matches your sound and acoustic guitar. For example with something like the very popular and affordable K&K pure mini, or one of the many other possibilities. Do you want a pickup in the sound hole? Or do you prefer something which is tucked away more discreetly in the guitar? Active, so with a battery, or passive just to be sure it always works?
What is most suitable depends on your guitar, what you are going to do with it, your preferences and of course your budget. Feel free to contact us: we are happy to help you with your choice!
Do you want to give your acoustic guitar an extra boost on stage or a bit more color for a recording? To add some warmth and some room to the sound, some effects like these LR Baggs pedals could be very useful.
In a real studio
To capture the ultimate guitar sound with all those beautiful nuances, of course the best place to go is a professional studio. There you can adjust all the circumstances to your liking and with a little luck choose from different types of microphones. One is not necessarily better than the other, although they do have their own character. With a dynamic microphone, you can generally record a very focused sound. Good for vocals, but also for guitar this is a great option.
With a condensator microphone you record more 'space' in the room and that makes them good for speech, but also a good choice for singer songwriters who want to record guitar and vocals with just one microphone.
Ribbon microphones stand out because of their unprecedented detailing in the recordings, without getting harsh. A bit like a good camera lens that captures reality in such a way, that it looks even nicer than in real life.
Which microphone is best is hard to say. With many recordings, the trick is to place different microphones in different positions and mix them for the best result. That's what we usually do when we record guitar sound for our Demo channel on Youtube.
In the studio, of course, you can polish the sound perfectly with compression, reverb or whatever you want, so that your guitar will eventually sound better that you've ever heard it yourself when you were playing.
Take a look at this video by Rick Beato and Rhett Shull in which they explain the whole process of recording an acoustic guitar, including perfectly placing different microphones and all the studio settings step by step.
Want to know more about acoustic guitars and recording and amplifying them? In our magical shop in Dedemsvaart we always have hundreds of guitars in stock and all the accessories you need. Our Fellows have assisted hundreds of professionals and beginners and we can help you with your next step to recording your acoustic sound.