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Approaches For Micing Vocals And Acoustic Guitar Simultaneously

For several years, Bob Buontempo moderated a very popular forum on PSW, and here, the community provides several helpful suggestions for ways to mic vocals and acoustic guitars at the same time.

By PSW Staff March 30, 2011

Capturing guitar & vocal at the same time can be a challenge.

Question posed by deharmonic
Thoughts and ideas on recording a person playing acoustic guitar and singing simultaneously? I have been experimenting with different mics and different placements to minimize bleeding and the resulting phase problems, but there must be some tricks.

Reply posted by sturgis58
Fine question! You know those conical collars they put on dogs at the vets office? That oughta do the trick. In all seriousness, my usual method doesn’t mind bleed. I’d rather have a great performance than a perfectly clean pair of tracks any day.

Mic choice and placement being key, naturally. I only own the cheapest of the cheap when it comes to mics, but I get pretty damned good results.

If you really want total separation though, here’s what I do in those circumstances: Record a scratch vocal/acoustic guitar take, then dub a new vocal over the track without the guitar. Then do a separate guitar take. Dump the scratch take. Now you have a clean vocal, and a clean acoustic guitar.

You’ve sacrificed spontaneity, but what the hell, right?

Reply posted by nightshade
Had some luck with a couple mics in XY, which means the diaphragms coinciding at an 90 degree angle, only vertically instead of the usual horizontal. The mic pointing up gets the vocal, and the mic pointing down, well now you’re getting it.

The joy is, the bleed is all phase-happy and adds up nice.

Reply posted by deharmonic
I thought about doing the vertical X-Y, but I want isolation on this artist. I like the idea of the roundabout isolation using scratch takes. Thanks for the ideas (serious and otherwise)…

I would love to do X-Y or single mic, but I need as much control over each track as possible with this artist… Plus he has no concept of playing to the mic, let alone mixing himself to one mic.

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The Barn Studios says

Yah,  I second the figure 8 null mic technique.  Although,  if the room is unpleasant,  the back of the figure 8 can make the recording more ambient than you want.  In that scenario,  SM7 on the voice pointing slightly upward,  and a nice little hypercardioid SDC on the guitar 12th fret.  This can be astonishingly clean for bleed to and really dry this way.  Phase is acceptable,  maybe not quite as nice as a vertical XY but works great.

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