Guitar Picups

Country Guy

New member
I wanted to beable to record my guitar at the same time that I was singing(I only have one mic). So i was told that I could get an acoustic pickup that I could place in the sound hole. So I went out and bought a Dean Markly. It records ok but the sound is muddy, very muddy in the middle. Is this because I just got a marginal pickup? Or do I need something to plug my Picup in to before I plug it in to my Recorder? Maybe an amp? Or some kind of special Guitar EQ? Any help would be great.
I have one of the aforementioned Dean Markley pickups, recording directly into an old Tascam Portastudio 242, and the mix is punchy and bold. It's important to note that no matter how much tweaking you do, you can't fix a bad signal... but that said, it sounds to me like it's primarily an EQ/gain question. My experience has been that the pickup is a bit high-endy. I rotate the pickup itself (right in the soundhole!) so that it is farther away from the bridge at the high strings. Then I roll as much of the treble response as I can (couldn't tell you which frequencies.. it's all quite low-tech! :-) ). I also reduce "mud" but cutting out as much of the bass as I can stand... which isn't much, because I'm a bass fiend!

What you're left with is fairly unremarkable, though. It's just a simple, punchy midrange guitar...

So if you want it to "shimmer" a little bit, double the part with a clean-toned electric guitar, single-coil if possible... and then just hide it in the mix a bit. Don't treat it as a second instrument on the track, just fade in enough that the track gets some texture.

If you don't have such a guitar, you can always record a second acoustic track and then mix it softer and with a bit more response in the high frequencies.

As a final note, vary your attack on the second track where possible... even if you double it as accurately as you can, there will still be a difference, and the texture will show... but the occasional 'suprise' will add a bit more dynamic to the track.

That's it for me... caveat emptor, though, I just do what seems to work.
How much did you pay for that pick-up? Someone swiped my Lawrence, so I bought a "George L" pick-up and it works great through the pre-amp built into the TASCAM Porta-07.
But since you've already got one mic, it would be worth your time to run this experiment. Try mic-ing the guitar with the one mic you've got to see if the results are worth buying a second mic instead of another pick-up. Nothing will beat a good microphone on an acoustic guitar. But you do need a
somewhat quiet place to use this system.
The pickup is fairly cheap... I paid less than $100 Cdn for mine, which is like, $15US (heh!). I agree that a mic is better, but if you want to record the part at the same time as you play, but to seperate tracks, it's pretty difficult. :) I only have one mic... but sometimes I blend the pickup AND the mic'd sound together on one track. I'm pretty low-tech with my Tascam 244 Portastudio. :-)

Here's something you could try.....if you haven't already thought of it.

Record just like you have been. (Pickup on guitar, Mike on vocal).

Then go back and record on another track with the microphone on the guitar, (Point it at the 17th fret or so about 3" to 6" away)

This should get you a good full bodied guitar sound . Not too wooffy or thin!

Then ditch the original guitar track or mix it in with the second one, as has already been suggested.

Dom Franco