Thoughts about Micing and Mixing two acoustic guitars, Folk-type music

Dicus

Enthusiastic Member
Hi Folks,

I am planning to record a couple of songs with two acoustic guitars and two vocals. My go-to setup for acoustic guitar is usually two mics (often the same, sometimes different ones) one at the brigd one at the 12/14th fret and pan them hard left and right. But for this record I would like to mix two guitars that play two different fingerpicking parts.

What would be the best way to seperate the guitars enough in the recording?
Is there a way to still make them sound wide and lush, cause panning them both hard stereo makes an hard to define guitar mess.
Any thoughts, any experience?

I have got a nice sounding, properly treated room.
The mics I will probably use are a pair of AKG D224e (I love them!) and the two condensor mics I have got an MXL 440 and a Rode NT1-A.
Should I be using different mics on each guitar to seperate them more?

Is there a microphone that I should try for these recordings? I can have a look around in my network if anyone has anything I could use for a week.

Thanks a bunch in advance!
 

keith.rogers

Bobby'); DROP TABLE USER
Are you recording this a track at a time? I'm guessing you are, but just want to be sure.

If it's a track at a time, why not just mic them up the way you like, but bus or sum the individual guitar mics to a relatively tight stereo track and then mix those 2 left and right to get the kind of spread that sounds pleasing.

I'd rather use 2 different guitars than try to make the same guitar sound different with mics. And, of course, arranging the guitar parts so they're not banging away in the same parts of the fingerboard at the same time will be the only way to keep it from turning into a mudbath.

I sometimes put the LDC on the neck position and SDC (or that interesting AKG you have) on the bridge, and set them back a bit to get more of the full guitar, if you can do that without the room intruding too much. You might end up deciding each guitar sounds Ok with just the LDC capture.
 

Dicus

Enthusiastic Member
Thanks for your helpfull reply!

Yes I will probably record them track by track. I wish I was the kind of guitar-player that could do live one takes (but I usually need a couple).
Also planning to use to different guitars, which will hopefully differentiate. I will try stringing one bronze 80/20 the other phosphor bronze.

I wish I had SDCs, any particular you would recommend?
Those AKGs are really: double capsule dynamic mics with a treble and a bass capsule, nice sparkle, solid low-end, and no proximity effect. They are not loud however, always have to crank my pre-amps close to maximum on acoustic guitar. My cousin found them somewhere and did lend them to me, makes me a happy bunny!

So you'd first give both guitars a stereo image for a nice spread per guitar and then bus/group/sum them, left and right?
I never really understand what exactly happens when you pan groups in which tracks have already been panned. Does a track that is hard panned left, but hard panned right in the group/bus/sum end up in the middle?
 

keith.rogers

Bobby'); DROP TABLE USER
Thanks for your helpfull reply!

Yes I will probably record them track by track. I wish I was the kind of guitar-player that could do live one takes (but I usually need a couple).
Also planning to use to different guitars, which will hopefully differentiate. I will try stringing one bronze 80/20 the other phosphor bronze.

I wish I had SDCs, any particular you would recommend?
Those AKGs are really: double capsule dynamic mics with a treble and a bass capsule, nice sparkle, solid low-end, and no proximity effect. They are not loud however, always have to crank my pre-amps close to maximum on acoustic guitar. My cousin found them somewhere and did lend them to me, makes me a happy bunny!

So you'd first give both guitars a stereo image for a nice spread per guitar and then bus/group/sum them, left and right?
I never really understand what exactly happens when you pan groups in which tracks have already been panned. Does a track that is hard panned left, but hard panned right in the group/bus/sum end up in the middle?
I wouldn't have a wide spread for each guitar's bus - that's just if you want to. You could try just keeping them panned center to mix the mics and still send them to a stereo bus. You may have to change the kind of panning your bus does. In Logic you change the pan control from Balance (default for stereo tracks) to Stereo Pan. Not sure what you'd use in your DAW. Then, once you have the guitars positioned and balanced (just with their individual busses), you could play with the spread of the mics by playing with their pan control. You might decide it sounds fine with just the mono placement, or a little spreading around is more to your taste.

SDCs for acoustic guitar - lots to pick from. I like my AT4051a, and have made decent recordings with cheaper models that are good to my ear, but I am not burning CDs either. There are really dozens of SDCs that work, but ones I've heard recently that make me fight the buying urge are the Soyuz SDCs (013 FET), and folks love the Gefell M 300. Just a lot out of budget for now, and I have SDCs that work...
 

rob aylestone

Well-known member
I’ve got one of those AKG mics and find it just a bit characterless, but maybe that helps when you wide pan them, because I never do that with normal mics because it makes them huge and artificial. I like two mics for blending, but my pan positions are always set identical then one moved just a touch left and the other right. The reverb on them provides the space. For me two guitars would be probably the left one with half left, the right one half right and then the others spread between.
 

Dicus

Enthusiastic Member
I wouldn't have a wide spread for each guitar's bus - that's just if you want to. You could try just keeping them panned center to mix the mics and still send them to a stereo bus. You may have to change the kind of panning your bus does. In Logic you change the pan control from Balance (default for stereo tracks) to Stereo Pan. Not sure what you'd use in your DAW. Then, once you have the guitars positioned and balanced (just with their individual busses), you could play with the spread of the mics by playing with their pan control. You might decide it sounds fine with just the mono placement, or a little spreading around is more to your taste.

SDCs for acoustic guitar - lots to pick from. I like my AT4051a, and have made decent recordings with cheaper models that are good to my ear, but I am not burning CDs either. There are really dozens of SDCs that work, but ones I've heard recently that make me fight the buying urge are the Soyuz SDCs (013 FET), and folks love the Gefell M 300. Just a lot out of budget for now, and I have SDCs that work...

Thanks this is great, gives me a solid place to start from! I work in Ableton which normally does Balance, but I'll change that to Stereo Pan.

I’ve got one of those AKG mics and find it just a bit characterless, but maybe that helps when you wide pan them, because I never do that with normal mics because it makes them huge and artificial. I like two mics for blending, but my pan positions are always set identical then one moved just a touch left and the other right. The reverb on them provides the space. For me two guitars would be probably the left one with half left, the right one half right and then the others spread between.
Most records I did recently where big-ish, either contemporary ElectroPop or more Rock oriented for which huge was. But makes sense that for folk a more natural less stereo sound might be better fit.

Have you tried the AKGs on percussion? At this moment this is my favourite snare drum mic, with a SM57 at the bottom. I am not an expert on microphones in any way, only owning and having used a couple.

Cheers!
 

keith.rogers

Bobby'); DROP TABLE USER
I’ve got one of those AKG mics and find it just a bit characterless, but maybe that helps when you wide pan them, because I never do that with normal mics because it makes them huge and artificial. I like two mics for blending, but my pan positions are always set identical then one moved just a touch left and the other right. The reverb on them provides the space. For me two guitars would be probably the left one with half left, the right one half right and then the others spread between.
This is what I do, i.e., minimal spread in the bussed guitar. With 2 guitars, I don't spread them full L-R, but enough that the stereo field sounds/feels natural. Honestly, I've never done 2 guitars with 2 mics (both stereo) at the same time because when I've had 2 guitars, there's a vocal track, and so I really don't want them smearing too much into the center space. I do put the reverb on a stereo buss where everything gets sent to so that does help with space and melding a bit.
 

bouldersoundguy

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Unless the two guitars are playing duplicate parts, I wouldn't worry too much about trying to separate them tonally. I would pan them apart a bit, but not because I'm afraid they'll be indistinct but because it just makes it more interesting.
 

Dicus

Enthusiastic Member
Yes, that works! I did a little preproduction session and this sounds lush. Even though the two guitar have a similar sound distinction isn't a problem.
I'll post some clips when I've got the first track down. Thanks a lot!
 

mjbphotos

What?!?
I never wide pan acoustic guitar recorded with 2 mics, I don't think it sounds natural - put your head right in front of the guitar while someone plays, does that sound good? Well, it isn't really wide panned, because each ear picks up much of what the other ear does!
For 2 acoustics, I'd 2-mic them both, set one guitar with a spread 'mostly' one side, the other 'mostly' the other side - so one mic @ 30%L, the other 5% right for one guitar, and 30% right, 5% left for the other guitar. Then pan the reverb for each part way to the opposite side.
 

Dicus

Enthusiastic Member
I never wide pan acoustic guitar recorded with 2 mics, I don't think it sounds natural - put your head right in front of the guitar while someone plays, does that sound good? Well, it isn't really wide panned, because each ear picks up much of what the other ear does!
For 2 acoustics, I'd 2-mic them both, set one guitar with a spread 'mostly' one side, the other 'mostly' the other side - so one mic @ 30%L, the other 5% right for one guitar, and 30% right, 5% left for the other guitar. Then pan the reverb for each part way to the opposite side.
Yes, that reverb thing is cool. See other cats do that with their hardpanned mics to, Left mic gets Right reverb.

I get what you mean with the wide guitars sounding less natural. I personally have never found the sound of a wide guitar offensive, sure it is not how a regular guitar sounds, but is used often enough that I'm used to and enjoy it. It definitely makes the record sound more heavily produced, which I should consider steering away from.
 
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