• Phil McDonald

Recording Acoustic Guitar

Getting a good acoustic guitar sound can make the difference between a great recording and a mediocre one. There are a few things to consider before you start tracking and once you've got a good take in the bag there are some things you can do to really make the guitar part stand out.

Perhaps the key thing to remember is the instrument you use is going to make a lot of difference on how the track turns out. If you're using an old guitar you picked up at a car boot sale for £10 with its original rusty strings on it's going to sound bad, no matter what. You could use a £10,000 mic in a perfectly treated room and it would still sound awful. No amount of mixing and EQ trickery is going to make it sound good. So using the best instrument available to you is always going to yield the best results. I know this sounds obvious but the "fix it in the mix" mentality often comes to the fore and will always lead to an inferior finished product.

If you have the option to experiment with a couple of different mics it's worth spending some time trying different mic placements and comparing the results. All guitars and mics are different so it's never just a case of sticking the mic in front of the guitar and hitting record. Guitars have different characteristics too, I've recorded with instruments that are deep and boomy, others that are light and airy. Again, time spent finding the right spot for mic placement will make all the difference.

So you've got your hands on a decent guitar, it's mic'd for the optimum recorded sound, what else can you do to make it sound really special? Doubling up the guitar parts, either the whole track or certain parts, the chorus, for example, can really make a difference. Try panning the parts in opposite directions to make a much fuller sound. Post recording you can always thicken up a weaker guitar part by duplicating it in your DAW and panning the parts left and right.

You can play around with effects in the mix phase to get some interesting or different sounds from your guitar parts. If the guitar is recorded well at the source you'd be hard-pressed to make it sound really bad. It's often the best option to keep it simple, don't overload the tracks with EQ and effects, some subtle additions should be enough. Again, with most things it comes down to using the best equipment available to you, taking your time with mic placement and having a predetermined plan for the parts you're going to track. All being well you'll end up with recorded parts that are a pleasure to mix and will sound fantastic when the record is finished.

How do you capture a great guitar sound? Feel free to comment.

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