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Tech Tip Of The Day: Recording Acoustic Guitar Low Frequencies

Would a change in microphone help me to better achieve the sonic image I'm looking for?

By PSW Staff January 10, 2014

Provided by Sweetwater.

Q: I’ve been recording some acoustic guitar lately and have been having some difficulty. The problem is that I just don’t seem to be getting the low-end reproduction I was hoping for.

I know I can probably boost this later with EQ, but is there something I can do? Maybe a different mic technique?

A: There’s no doubt about it, recording an acoustic guitar can be tricky. There are several ways to bring out more of the bottom end fullness you’re looking for.

One solution — assuming your guitar has a pickup — is to record the pickup output via a DI at the same time as you record the microphones. When it’s time for mixdown, filter the pickup signal with a low-pass filter, so that all that is left is the low-end.

Shape this further with EQ, perhaps add a dash of compression, and blend to taste with the miked-up guitar tracks. Go lightly; you’ll find that it doesn’t take much of this acoustic guitar “subwoofer” track to fill out the bottom end. This trick is especially useful with detuned, alternate-tuned, and drop-tuned acoustics.

However, if you use this method you should double-check that you aren’t creating phase issues by mixing the direct pickup signal in with the miked signals. In many cases the DI will arrive slightly before the mic signals; use your ears to check whether this is affecting the mix or not. If so, slide the DI track slightly in time until the “phasiness” clears up.

As you mention, changing the microphone is another possibility. You’re best bet in that instance is to compare the frequency responses between the prospective microphones. Those which offer a more of a low-end boost are likely what you’re looking form in this instance.

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