Resources for the Recording Musician
August 6, 2019

How to record and Mix Acoustic Guitars

Hello Stephen. Maybe you can use this on your blog. When I record any guitars I always mic them. I just don’t like the sound of direct miking for electric and especially acoustic guitar. I mic my electric guitar cab and and use a x/y configuration on my old Gibson acoustic. I point the “arrow” of the mics at the 12th fret about 6” away. My question is. When I am using the x/y configuration how do you mix these mics? Do you pan them and treat each one as its own track? Do you mix the two mics down to one track? Do you use a splitter of some sort? What do you do when mixing this configuration for acoustic guitar? Also, if you were to mix them down to one track would you then double track the acoustic, as I do with electric, and pan them?

We are in agreement that using microphones to record acoustic guitar always sounds much better than any DI/Pickup I've ever heard.

If you haven't already stumbled across it, at the bottom of this post there is a very short video I produced comparing the sound of 4 different popular recording techniques for acoustic guitar. With a great sounding guitar, a good sounding room, and a good guitar player, you rarely have to do a lot of processing to get a good acoustic guitar sound. Most of the processing might be a touch of EQ, maybe some compression, to help it fit into a busy mix, and then maybe a touch of reverb for some more ambience.

As to your specific question, if I'm recording in X-Y, as shown in example #3 of the video below, I'll use two of the same microphones that are hopefully matched fairly well, and I'll record them to a stereo track, with them panned hard left and right (i.e., one microphone to the left channel only, and the other to the right channel only). The typical X-Y configuration doesn't give you a super wide stereo sound... although it can vary depending on how close to the guitar and the placement on the guitar. So, any processing I do is applied to the stereo track, i.e., both channels are being processed the same. Sometimes I'll collapse the stereo field a bit and move the guitar to one side or the other if I need to make space and balance it out against some other instruments. If I want that really wide stereo sound, then the only way to really get that is with double-tracking, as in example #4 in the video.


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