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What's your favourite technique for recording singing acoustic guitarist?

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What's your favourite technique for recording singing acoustic guitarist?

Postby Dr Huge Longjohns » Sun May 19, 2019 7:48 pm

Singer singing while playing acoustic guitar. What's your favourite mic technique for getting reasonable separation? (Apart from saying "Play the guitar first and we'll overdub the vocal after")
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Re: What's your favourite technique for recording singing acoustic guitarist?

Postby Bob Bickerton » Sun May 19, 2019 9:30 pm

Figure of eight microphones pointing the nulls at the alternative sources. Works remarkably well. I also use an H-Clamp to position an MKH8050 over the 12 fret position, again being cognisant of null positioning.

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Re: What's your favourite technique for recording singing acoustic guitarist?

Postby CS70 » Sun May 19, 2019 9:43 pm

One mic, I just spend some time finding a good spot in the room and angle the mic towards the vocals, leaving a bit of distance to get the body of the guitar. An example I have copyright of :D at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0nCZ_4FA42U That's a no frills one-shot take done just for fun, but gets you the idea - used only a few mins to find a suitable position.

Two mics, I get the vocals nearer but pay attention on how the guitar sounds in it, and same with the the guitar mic - usually the guitar mic is a ribbon so I can use the deep null to my advantage. Again, most of the time is spent moving the mics a little here and there until they both sound ok and so does the mix.

Or you can cheat and get a signal out of the piezo or the guitar onboard mic :D :D

In any case a good singing guitarist does the rest, getting the right dynamics out of the guitar - basically a good singing guitarist should come already mixed..
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Re: What's your favourite technique for recording singing acoustic guitarist?

Postby blinddrew » Sun May 19, 2019 9:49 pm

Either of the two methods mentioned above - but I generally steer towards the two fig-8s approach.
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Re: What's your favourite technique for recording singing acoustic guitarist?

Postby CS70 » Sun May 19, 2019 9:52 pm

Bob Bickerton wrote:Figure of eight microphones pointing the nulls at the alternative sources. Works remarkably well. I also use an H-Clamp to position an MKH8050 over the 12 fret position, again being cognisant of null positioning.

Bob

:thumbup: Time I get myself two ribbon mics :D :D
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Re: What's your favourite technique for recording singing acoustic guitarist?

Postby Sam Inglis » Sun May 19, 2019 10:01 pm

Only two?!
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Re: What's your favourite technique for recording singing acoustic guitarist?

Postby blinddrew » Sun May 19, 2019 10:16 pm

Just as a coda, if I'm doing a single mic job I'll use an omni generally. Means sticking an extra duvet up but I think it gives you the natural bottom end.
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Re: What's your favourite technique for recording singing acoustic guitarist?

Postby Sam Spoons » Sun May 19, 2019 10:36 pm

Really struggled last year to record a singer guitarist, she has good songs, decent guitar chops (and a nice Martin guitar) and a good sounding voice with plenty of emotion but her pitching is dodgy. I suggested some voice coaching as Autotune is useless with guitar spill in the vocal mic and I only have one fig 8 mic. I tried a close miked 'live vocal' style with better success but the next attempt will be with my fig 8 (a Blue Reactor which I've discovered, rolls off the top quite early for some reason) on the voice and a dedicated Tone Dexter IR off the piezo for her guitar. Hopefully that will give enough separation to clean up her improved but not perfect pitching.
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Re: What's your favourite technique for recording singing acoustic guitarist?

Postby ConcertinaChap » Sun May 19, 2019 11:07 pm

For some reason I've never really got into figure-of-8 for this, I ought to try it. My normal usage is a couple of KM184s on a stereo bar for the guitar a couple of feet back and pointing downwards a bit towards the guitar. For the vocal I'll use an appropriate LDC on a drop bar from above so it's in front of the performer's face.

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Re: What's your favourite technique for recording singing acoustic guitarist?

Postby Bob Bickerton » Sun May 19, 2019 11:11 pm

Good point. Even figure of eight mic techniques will not give sufficient separation to enable pitch correction but should enable eq and compression adjustments.

Most of the singer/guitarist work I’ve done has been for typically sparse arrangements, so I’m looking for stereo guitar plus vocals.

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Re: What's your favourite technique for recording singing acoustic guitarist?

Postby CS70 » Mon May 20, 2019 12:32 am

Sam Inglis wrote:Only two?!

Been lusting after an AEA Nuvo for a few months now.. I just don't have any reasonable financial excuse because the work I usually do doesnt really require it... gotta find an unreasonable one! And there's the Royers and other AEAs and.. omg :D
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Re: What's your favourite technique for recording singing acoustic guitarist?

Postby Bob Bickerton » Mon May 20, 2019 12:45 am

CS70 wrote:
Sam Inglis wrote:Only two?!

Been lusting after an AEA Nuvo for a few months now.. I just don't have any reasonable financial excuse because the work I usually do doesnt really require it... gotta find an unreasonable one! And there's the Royers and other AEAs and.. omg :D

I feel exactly the same way. Should we form a support group? Ribbon Mic Fanciers Anonymous.....

Bob
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Re: What's your favourite technique for recording singing acoustic guitarist?

Postby Jack Ruston » Mon May 20, 2019 6:09 am

Dual fig8 usually, but I also use fig8 on the guitar and a very close dynamic on the vocal at times. Depends on the voice.

Btw...you CAN use pitch correction with dual fig8...sometimes melodyne polyphonic can work, and sometimes the monophonic mode is better...yes it moves the guitar spill too, but that can be preferable if the vocal, which is where the attention goes, is offensive without. Of course you notice it if you listen, but it's a question of lesser evils. If there are other elements in the track, so much the better. Typically I don't do it, and I tell the artist that it's going to be difficult or impossible to correct any mistakes, but it sometimes works, and I do occasionally get away with it.
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Re: What's your favourite technique for recording singing acoustic guitarist?

Postby Sam Inglis » Mon May 20, 2019 8:49 am

For me it slightly depends on the relative levels of the voice and guitar, and also on whether the performer is sitting or standing.

One thing I've done quite a bit is to use a Soundfield mic in front of the performer and decode separate mono vocal and stereo guitar mics from that. The beauty of this is that all the decoded virtual mics are perfectly coincident so there are no phase issues. The down side is that it doesn't give you the same richness on the vocal that you can get from something like a U87.

As a variant of the same idea I'll sometimes use either a single-point stereo mic or, more often, two mics placed coincidentally. These will usually be a large-diaphragm capacitor mic in cardioid pointing upwards towards the mouth, and a figure-8 mic behind it pointing downwards towards the guitar. With a bit of mucking about you can make them nearly coincident and the vocal mic provides a bit of extra acoustic shielding to stop vocal spilling onto the guitar (which is usually more of a problem than guitar spill on the vocal mic unless the player is strumming hard).

Very often I'll add a second guitar mic close in just behind the bridge.
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Re: What's your favourite technique for recording singing acoustic guitarist?

Postby Dr Huge Longjohns » Mon May 20, 2019 9:17 am

Excellent responses so far, thanks everyone. Sam, what do you mean by 'coincident' in this context?
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Re: What's your favourite technique for recording singing acoustic guitarist?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Mon May 20, 2019 9:36 am

It depends a lot on the context, style and any post requirements.

For stage use, it's typically a close up (narrow) cardioid or hyper-cardioid on the vocals, and a small-diaphragm cardioid around the 12th fret -- and occasionally a large diaphragm mic somewhere around the bottom of the guitar for some more body if necessary. KM105 and KM184/5 is a good combination, or an SM7 and C414....

In the studio, I prefer a single-mic or perhaps a small stereo array if the guitar and voice are reasonably well balanced, moving the mic(s) to find achieve the perfect blend. SM69fet is nice... :-)

But if some kind of post-processing is needed, and close miking isn't the ideal approach, then the double fig-8 solution does work remarkably well provided you take care with aiming the nulls for best separation. I like ribbons in this role too, but most multi-pattern LDCs will get the job done.
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Re: What's your favourite technique for recording singing acoustic guitarist?

Postby ConcertinaChap » Mon May 20, 2019 9:50 am

Sam Inglis wrote:One thing I've done quite a bit is to use a Soundfield mic in front of the performer and decode separate mono vocal and stereo guitar mics from that. The beauty of this is that all the decoded virtual mics are perfectly coincident so there are no phase issues. The down side is that it doesn't give you the same richness on the vocal that you can get from something like a U87.

This is something that's definitely in my near future to try.

Dr Huge Longjohns wrote:Sam, what do you mean by 'coincident' in this context?

I'd guess he means that because the virtual mics are decoded from the output of the ambisonic mic, whose four capsules are as coincident as makes no odds, then the virtual mics will be too, whatever formation you go for. (Correct me if I'm wrong, Sam).

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Re: What's your favourite technique for recording singing acoustic guitarist?

Postby Sam Inglis » Mon May 20, 2019 10:04 am

ConcertinaChap wrote:I'd guess he means that because the virtual mics are decoded from the output of the ambisonic mic, whose four capsules are as coincident as makes no odds, then the virtual mics will be too, whatever formation you go for. (Correct me if I'm wrong, Sam).

Exactly right. And if I use separate mics rather than a single-point mic like the Soundfield, they'll usually be positioned as close together as possible. So, instead of having one mic in front of the mouth and the other in front of the guitar, they'll both be together, somewhere in the middle.

This isn't always the right approach but when it is it has some advantages. It's particularly good when the performer is sitting down -- a lot of folkies do this and it usually means there isn't much physical separation between voice and guitar.

So this session for instance was done with two mics -- the Soundfield in front of David and another mic for Jenna's voice:

https://www.cambridgeandwalker.com/take-action

In retrospect I don't think I chose the right mic for Jenna but you get the idea.
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Re: What's your favourite technique for recording singing acoustic guitarist?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Mon May 20, 2019 10:34 am

Dr Huge Longjohns wrote:Sam, what do you mean by 'coincident' in this context?

Sam has answered, but just to colour things in a little more, if microphones are spaced apart -- even by just a few inches -- they will receive sound at different times because sound travels at a fixed speed through the air (roughly 1foot per ms, or a metre every 3.4ms)

If those spaced microphones are hearing the same sources, they will have similar signals, but the waveforms will be phase-shifted relative to each other because of the time delays involved.

If you then try and mix those signals together -- either because you want to mix the voice over a guitar, say, or because you're combining stereo into mono -- the phase-shifts will result in a comb-filter effect where some frequencies (and their harmonics) will add together and boost the output, whereas others will tend to cancel and reduce it. This typically creates a rather nasal-sounding colouration -- a bit like the sound of your voice if you cup your hands in front of your mouth.

The extent of the colouration -- how unpleasant or obvious it is (or not) depends on the relative levels of the mics in the mix, the amount of similar audio the mics are picking up (spill), the audio frequency range of the source material, and the spacing (and hence time delay/phase shift) between the mics.

However, this problem can be avoided completely by ensuring the mic capsules are as close together as physically possible, so that sounds from all the directions of interest arrive more or less simultaneously at all the capsules. This is called a coincident mic technique because the capsules are coincident in space. The physical construction of the capsules limits how close they can actually be, but for stereo arrays it's possible to get them aligned perfectly for all sounds in the horizontal plane (which is usually the one that matters). The SoundField mics are essentially coincident for sounds from all directions at all frequencies up to 12kHz or more...

All of the Blumlein XY and Mid-Side stereo mic arrays rely on this kind of configuration, as does the SoundField mic and its derivatives.

Hope that helps.
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Re: What's your favourite technique for recording singing acoustic guitarist?

Postby John Willett » Mon May 20, 2019 11:24 am

Being completely different .....

What's the room like?

Does it sound good in the room?

If so, I would probably use a stero pair with a bit more distance from the sound source to capture the instrument in the room.

If the voice does not sound "right" using the pair, then. I would use an LDC for the vocals and delay the vocal sound in the mix slightly so that it is in-phase with the main pair - ie: so you don't get multi-path distortion by the voice being picked up by both mics.
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