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Thread: Live Vox/Guitar: Keeping Guitar out of the Vocal Mic

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    SmattyG is offline Senior Member
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    Question Live Vox/Guitar: Keeping Guitar out of the Vocal Mic

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    Have been doing some work lately with a female vocalist who is playing guitar and singing live. With a lot of her stuff, esspecially the song we did last night, there are a lot of really quiet vocal passages. Of course, she quiets the guitar down for these, but the passages are still quiet in comparison.... I get so much bleed from guitar ending up on the vocal track, that it is almost all the guitar I need without overpowering the vox. The problem being of course, that the guitar coming in through the vocal mic doesn't sound very good at all, while the seperately tracked guitar sounds great. So, I want to add more of the guitar track, but there is already so much guitar in the vocal track, that it becomes too much.

    We got to the point of having the mic (we decided to use the rode ntk) about 6" from her mouth, off to the side a bit (the side furthest from the guitar soundhole of course) to reduce sibilance. Any closer, and she will choke on it, but the vocal:guitar ratio is still not big enough. Any ideas? I was thinking that a hyper-cardiod might be the trick (although I don't have access to one).. my other thought was to build a baffle of sorts under the mic to block sound from below... Any suggestions?

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    chessrock's Avatar
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    Re: Live Vox/Guitar: Keeping Guitar out of the Vocal Mic

    Originally posted by SmattyG
    Any suggestions?
    Yea, do it a track at a time.


    If she complains that it will "spoil her vibe" or whatever . . . then ask her what she'd rather have: a) a good recording at the expense of some of her "vibe", or b) a crappy recording with her (so-called) vibe in tact.

    Tell her it's an either-or deal, because you can't have it both ways.

    You can do things to minimize the bleed -- like using a couple of figure 8 mics and positioning them so you get the best possible rejection . . . or you can build these makeshift gobos or whatever. Talk about a vibe killer. But in the rare instance that these actually work, it's still not anywhere near as good as doing it a track at a time in most cases. And it's about 10 X the effort.

    Basically what you're left trying to do is get lucky and actually make it sound good (with ods of about 1 in 5) . . . or just look for ways to make it suck less.

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    TexRoadkill is offline Audio Bum
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    Or just redo the vocals afterwards.

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    SmattyG is offline Senior Member
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    Re: Re: Live Vox/Guitar: Keeping Guitar out of the Vocal Mic

    Originally posted by chessrock
    Yea, do it a track at a time.


    If she complains that it will "spoil her vibe" or whatever . . . then ask her what she'd rather have: a) a good recording at the expense of some of her "vibe", or b) a crappy recording with her (so-called) vibe in tact.

    Tell her it's an either-or deal, because you can't have it both ways.
    Hehehe, yeah, that's basically what I've been thinking all along... I guess part of it, is that I'm a musician as well, and I can really relate to the desire to play live. I have probably done my best recorded performances playning live, but the acctualy quality is not as good... What a tradeoff!!

    What is the deal with figure 8's? Wouldn't that make it worse because the 8 picks up from both sides of the diaphram...

    So here's the other parallel to the argument: I've done other songs with this vocalist, with the same guitar, where the vocals were louder, and that came out f@#$ing fantastic! But yeah, I've started coaxing her into the idea of overdubbing the song, and I think she might come around soon... I just keep thinking that it might take 10x the amount of effort to get her to play the song through like that, because she has never done any overdubbing before.

    Thanks for your advice!

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    chessrock's Avatar
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    The main problems are that in order to get a really good, full-sounding accoustic guitar, I really like backing the mic up a bit and using a moderately wide pattern. Sticking a figure-8 or a tight cardiod pattern up close does give you a certain sound, but it's kind of pinched, in my opinion, and rarely works.

    Plus, the vocals never seem to have that tight, in-your-face focus. You're basically stero-micing them in essence, which doesn't cut it for me. If I were to actually stereo mic a voice, I wouldn't do it by sticking a hypercardiod or the null of a figre 8 mic at waist-level.

    Plus you've got phasing issues to contend with, and it's hard to compensate for this, because if the singer moves his/her head at all during the performance, it not only changes the center-focus of the vocal track, but it messes with the phase relationships between the two mics.

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    I know EXACTLY what you are talking about.

    There are just somethings that are played on a guitar that can only be played while do the vocals with it.

    I am trying to find a way around it right now beause I cannot for the life of me play the guitar track, then overdub the vocals on to it because I don't play with a "normal" time signature. I like to speed things up and slow them down tremendously.

    Right now I am going to try a scratch track with both guitar and vocals, then listen to that for a couple days. I will probably fuck up the way I want my song to sound but basically rewriting it to whatever comes out on the scratch track, but hey......

    Anyways, after a couple days I will try playing along with the scratch track for a while. Then record the guitar over it, then the vocals, then ditch the scratch track and hope to God that it doesn't sound like a robot.

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    13th_Omen's Avatar
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    I have an idea! Try running your guitar signal to an amp in the other room and mic it, record it onto a seperate track. This will give you a track of just guitar. She can then sing along with this track for overdubbing and the guitar should be just like it is when she is plaing live! I realize this will be hard with an acoustic, so if possible get an acoustic/electric with a direct out. Problem: if no direct outputs are available you will definately get a vocal bleed in the guitar mic = it wouldn't work!
    "Peace, Pot, and Micro-Dot... Jesus loves you stoned or not!

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    BillyFurnett is offline Force of Nature
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    I suggest something very much as 13th did, but I say give her an electric guitar and DI it.
    You can keep the electric track.
    Do an acoustic track to the singing.
    Blend both Electric track and acoustic track.
    Double the singing or do harmonies on a new acoustic track.

    Bleed through with an electric should be cut considerably.



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    Originally posted by 13th_Omen
    ...so if possible get an acoustic/electric with a direct out.

    Except this girl is playing an acoustic guitar. She wants an acoustic guitar sound. Micing an acoustic amp is nowhere even close to sounding like an acoustic guitar. However it is a good idea for a different type of sound. I am going to try it sometime.

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    13th_Omen's Avatar
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    Bleed through should be cut considerably
    Really the only bleedthrough with an electric guitar would be the strings noise (strumming). You could just run it direct and feed the headphones!
    "Peace, Pot, and Micro-Dot... Jesus loves you stoned or not!

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