How to Mic an Acoustic Guitar?

How too Mic an Acoustic Guitar?

Mic’ing an acoustic guitar can be a bit tricky, but with the right techniques and equipment, you can get great results. Here are some steps you can follow to mic an acoustic guitar effectively:
  1. Choose the right microphone: A condenser microphone is generally a good choice for mic’ing an acoustic guitar, as it can capture the fine details and nuances of the sound. Large diaphragm condenser microphones, such as the Shure SM27 or the Audio-Technica AT4050, are often used for this purpose.
  2. Position the microphone: Place the microphone about 6 to 12 inches away from the guitar’s soundhole, pointing towards the center of the soundhole. This will capture a balanced mix of the guitar’s high and low frequencies. If you want to emphasize the high end, move the microphone closer to the soundhole. If you want more of the low end, move the microphone further away.
  3. Use an external preamp: If your microphone requires phantom power, you can use an external preamp to provide it. This will give you more control over the sound and help you avoid any unwanted noise or hum.
  4. Experiment with microphone placement: Try moving the microphone around to find the sweet spot where it sounds best. You may also want to experiment with pointing the microphone towards different parts of the guitar, such as the neck, the fretboard, or the body.
  5. Use a pop filter: To reduce the plosives that can occur when the performer sings or talks into the microphone, you may want to use a pop filter. This will help ensure that your recording is clean and professional-sounding.
How too Mic an Acoustic Guitar?

How too Mic an Acoustic Guitar?

Where Do I Place the Microphone?

Mic placement is a crucial factor in determining the quality of sound captured from an acoustic guitar. Incorrect placement can result in an overwhelming mix of frequencies, making it difficult to achieve the desired sound.

Here are some tips for mic placement to get the best sound from your acoustic guitar:

  1. Avoid placing the microphone directly in front of the soundhole: The soundhole acts like a cannon, sending all the sound waves and power straight out. This can result in an overpowering mix of frequencies, particularly in the lower end, which can overwhelm the high frequencies.
  2. Place the microphone towards the neck: Placing the microphone towards the neck, around the 12th fret, results in a greater emphasis on the higher frequencies. This can help to produce a brighter, more articulate sound.
  3. Emphasize the low frequencies by moving the microphone towards the bridge: If you want more emphasis on the lower frequencies, move the microphone towards the bridge and position it closer to the bass strings.
  4. Experiment with different positions: There is no one ‘best’ position for the microphone. Experiment with different positions to find the sound that works best for you.
  5. Consider the height of the microphone: The height of the microphone can also affect the sound. For example, placing the microphone higher may produce more bass frequencies, while placing it lower can produce more treble frequencies.
  6. Use a pop shield: To reduce plosives, such as the sound created when pronouncing the letters ‘b’ and ‘p’, use a pop shield to reduce unwanted noise in your recording.

Mic placement is a critical factor in capturing the best sound from an acoustic guitar. Experiment with different positions and consider factors such as the height of the microphone to achieve the desired sound. Remember, there is no one ‘best’ position and it’s important to find the placement that works best for you and your equipment.

The techniques for microphone placement for acoustic guitar differ between live performance and recording environments. Here are some important considerations for each setting:

Live Performance:

  1. Use one microphone: In a live setting, using one microphone is usually sufficient and reduces the amount of equipment and set up required.
  2. Consider the distance from the microphone: During a live performance, the musician may move around more and therefore, it is important to keep the microphone close enough to capture the sound of the guitar while avoiding the risk of moving out of range or hitting the microphone.
  3. Be mindful of movement: While it is common for musicians to be animated during a performance, it is important to be mindful of movement around the microphone to ensure that the sound of the guitar is captured consistently.
  4. Use a directional microphone: Using a directional microphone can help to reduce ambient noise and focus the sound of the guitar.

Recording Environment:

  1. Multiple microphones: In a recording environment, multiple microphones can be used to capture different aspects of the sound of the guitar. For example, one microphone can be placed towards the neck to capture the higher frequencies, while another can be placed towards the bridge to capture the lower frequencies.
  2. Experiment with mic placement: In a controlled environment, it is possible to experiment with different microphone placement techniques to find the sound that works best for your recording.
  3. Pay attention to sound isolation: In a recording studio, it is important to ensure that the sound of the guitar is isolated from other instruments or noise in the room. This can be achieved through the use of soundproofing techniques or by recording in a separate room.

In conclusion, the techniques for microphone placement for acoustic guitar differ between live performance and recording environments. It is important to consider the specific requirements of each setting, such as the number of microphones used, the proximity to the microphone, and the level of movement, in order to achieve the best possible sound.

 The best way to mic an acoustic guitar is to experiment and find the technique that works best for you and your equipment

Using a microphone on an acoustic guitar provides several benefits that cannot be achieved through pickup and preamp systems alone. Firstly, many acoustic guitars do not come with a pickup installed and in some cases, installing one may not be practical or desirable, such as in the case of a vintage Martin.

Additionally, the tone of an acoustic guitar captured through a pickup may not accurately represent the true sound of the instrument. This is especially important in recording environments where capturing the rich and full tone of the acoustic guitar is crucial, but can also be valuable in live performances where you want your audience to experience the unplugged sound of the guitar.

A microphone allows you to capture the natural sound of the guitar and provides greater control over the tone and volume of the instrument. It also gives you the ability to experiment with different microphone positions and techniques to find the perfect balance between the high and low frequencies of the guitar.

While pickup and preamp systems offer convenience, using a microphone on an acoustic guitar provides a level of control and accuracy that cannot be matched. Whether in a recording studio or a live performance, using a microphone to capture the sound of an acoustic guitar can lead to a more authentic and enjoyable experience for both the performer and the audience.