Does anybody have any experience recording solo classical guitar? - Jemsite
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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 11-10-2012, 10:55 AM Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
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Does anybody have any experience recording solo classical guitar?

I am still pretty new to the world of recording but I know enough to know I have SOOOO much more to learn. I heard someone say a great line, "It's not like electric guitar where you can have a crappy guitar and an awesome amp and still sound great, in recording, everything matters."

Having said that, I'm trying to record some solo classical guitar music meaning nylon strings, plucking with the right hand, no overdubs, no mixing (unless it's some form of stereo like Mid/Side), etc. I have been using an AKG C430 (mono) through the mic preamp in my Eleven Rack and I have to say it sounds terrible.

So my first instinct was to blame the gear. Then I wised up and realized I need to work on proper mic placement, off axis/on axis experimentation, etc. Well after about two weeks of this it sounds better but its not what I'm going for at all. So on a whim I recorded something on my with my iPhone and, while it sounds bad because its just a phone, the sound had more depth, bass, a quasi stereo image, all the things I want in a recording just at the quality level of a telephone mic. So now my instinct is back to blaming the gear!

I have read what the pros use: Ribbons and spaced omni's through Earthworks, Grace, or Millennia preamps in concert halls, churchs, or studios that are great for solo guitar.

I have read what the average joe uses too: a small diaphragm condenser into a cheap audio interface. Pretty much like what I am doing.

Is there a middle ground people effectively use? If so I would love to hear from people who have done it.

By the way, I have used many of the tricks you can do in a DAW to create a stereo image from a mono signal such as using a short delay or stereo width plugin. But I wouldn't be able to submit something like that with applications or auditions.

To summarize, my main questions are:
Why would an iPhone have better sound characteristics than my small diaphragm condenser?
What gear should I be looking at?
Thank you for your help! I don't want to hate recording but at the moment, I kinda do!
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 11-10-2012, 11:18 AM
 
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Re: Does anybody have any experience recording solo classical guitar?

Its mostly about the mic. , search well known guitar players and what they use in concerts if you're serious about buying a mic. . I have a friend who tours europe and teaches at a conservatory, I think he prefered a rode nt5 over much more expensive options.
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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 11-10-2012, 11:55 AM Thread Starter
 
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Re: Does anybody have any experience recording solo classical guitar?

Does he use it for amplification or studio recording? I would be serious about buying something at the Rode NT-5 level. I wouldn't be serious about buying something at the Royer SF-24 level.

Thank you for the Rode recommendation. They seem to be inexpensive but good for the price and I have never heard anything negative about them.
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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 11-10-2012, 12:38 PM
 
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Re: Does anybody have any experience recording solo classical guitar?

He uses it for stage and studio, tried a few and ended up with that.

The preamp isn't really that important unless you're producing and album with big bucks, the ones that come with average soundcards can do the job.

Besides the mic. and its placement you can also try to make the room acoustic better (eliminating unwanted reflection). There's ton's of info on the web to make it witout spending lots of money, search for diy basstraps. Good luck.
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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 11-10-2012, 01:05 PM
 
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Re: Does anybody have any experience recording solo classical guitar?

Mics, and preamp is very important. I would recommend either a condenser mic or a ribbon mic. Also, the Rode NT5 is a good mic, also look into the Rode NT4 stereo XY condenser mic.

Recording an acoustics with stereo mic give you a fuller and wider sound than a mono mic.

A ribbon mic recording on acoustic sound smoother than a condenser mic. A Royer R101 is very affordable for a good ribbon mic.

Also, look into a decent mic preamp like a Universal Audio 710 Twin-Finity, which double as a mic preamp and a DI box. You can use your Eleven Rack as a recording interface with XLR analog out of the Universal Audio 710 Twin-Finity into the Eleven Rack XLR analog input.
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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 11-10-2012, 05:57 PM
 
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Re: Does anybody have any experience recording solo classical guitar?

Yeah, what everybody else said. You need a condenser mic, and a very nice room. You can't get a good sound by putting the mic against the fretboard and adding post reverb, unfortunately.

You will actually need a lot of trial and error. Mic placement is `80 percent of the issue. Also make sure you are judging it inside the mix and not just soloed, that will be a big difference.
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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 11-11-2012, 02:14 AM Thread Starter
 
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Re: Does anybody have any experience recording solo classical guitar?

Thank you for the responses!

I have tried so many different mic positions over the last few days that I simply think the AKG C430 isn't the right microphone for the job. The best sound came from close miking behind the bridge. I was able to get the best overall frequency response and minimal nail noise and fretboard squeaks. But the sound was still not very representative of the actual guitar tone. Since this is the first and only mic I own, I have nothing to compare with.
I really like the idea of a ribbon mic or a large diaphragm condenser with switchable polar patterns. I haven't been overly impressed with small diaphragm condensers on classical guitar recordings and from my own experience.There is too much high end. I'm sure it's great for steel string acoustic guitar but I feel concert classical guitars do not benefit from added high end.

I have thought about the Royer 101, but I think I would regret not getting the 121 even though it is more expensive. I'm also looking into the sE Electronics VR1 Voodoo Ribbon Mic. I like the sound samples I have heard, and while not perfect, it's affordable as far as ribbons go. This would allow me to do M/S recording which is a stereo style I particularly like which doesn't require a matched pair of microphones.

Something I forgot to mention is that I want to get an audio interface (Apogee Duet 2 or RME Babyface) that is portable since I hope to be recording myself and other guitarists in a variety of places. The Apogee seems to make the most sense since I'm using a MacBook Pro for recording.

As for running a preamp through the Eleven Rack, it's a good idea, but for the time being I want to only use it as a dedicated electric guitar preamp/audio interface to Pro Tools.

I realize I won't get professional studio quality recordings out of a portable setup. I have read what the pros's use and I simply can't afford to be an active classical guitarist (ask me how much my strings alone cost), electric guitarist and audio engineer. I'm just looking for sounds I'm satisfied with that will prepare me for going into the studio.
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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 11-11-2012, 02:38 AM
 
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Re: Does anybody have any experience recording solo classical guitar?

You'll definitely be looking at some kind of stereo solution. I've used NT5's before and they do sound good (although i used them for drum overheads).

Grab yourself a nice set of noise isolating, flat response headphones (EX-29) to hear what the mics hear so you can very quickly get your mic placement right.

Lastly, you'll either want a room with a nice reverb or a dead room and add in reverb in your DAW. Since you're on a budget, i'd go the DAW route, it's also easier to control this way.

You could try double tracking your guitar, for more depth (proper double tracking, not a copy+paste+move job). But this may be hard, unless you have a metronome going, but then you'll lose the rubato feeling from the classical music.

Lastly, there's nothing wrong with doing a little bit of EQ on your tracks, obviously try to get them as close as possibly to the sound you want through mic placement, but it can't hurt to do some minor EQing.

I hope this helps you out.
Toodles, Julz.
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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 11-11-2012, 10:58 PM
 
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Re: Does anybody have any experience recording solo classical guitar?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Formerly Given To Fly View Post
Thank you for the responses!

I have tried so many different mic positions over the last few days that I simply think the AKG C430 isn't the right microphone for the job. The best sound came from close miking behind the bridge. I was able to get the best overall frequency response and minimal nail noise and fretboard squeaks. But the sound was still not very representative of the actual guitar tone. Since this is the first and only mic I own, I have nothing to compare with.
I really like the idea of a ribbon mic or a large diaphragm condenser with switchable polar patterns. I haven't been overly impressed with small diaphragm condensers on classical guitar recordings and from my own experience.There is too much high end. I'm sure it's great for steel string acoustic guitar but I feel concert classical guitars do not benefit from added high end.

I have thought about the Royer 101, but I think I would regret not getting the 121 even though it is more expensive. I'm also looking into the sE Electronics VR1 Voodoo Ribbon Mic. I like the sound samples I have heard, and while not perfect, it's affordable as far as ribbons go. This would allow me to do M/S recording which is a stereo style I particularly like which doesn't require a matched pair of microphones.

Something I forgot to mention is that I want to get an audio interface (Apogee Duet 2 or RME Babyface) that is portable since I hope to be recording myself and other guitarists in a variety of places. The Apogee seems to make the most sense since I'm using a MacBook Pro for recording.

As for running a preamp through the Eleven Rack, it's a good idea, but for the time being I want to only use it as a dedicated electric guitar preamp/audio interface to Pro Tools.

I realize I won't get professional studio quality recordings out of a portable setup. I have read what the pros's use and I simply can't afford to be an active classical guitarist (ask me how much my strings alone cost), electric guitarist and audio engineer. I'm just looking for sounds I'm satisfied with that will prepare me for going into the studio.
Instead of the Apogee or the RME, look into UAD Apollo,
http://www.uaudio.com/interfaces/apollo.html
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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 11-11-2012, 11:04 PM
 
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Re: Does anybody have any experience recording solo classical guitar?

Here is a video of the UAD Apollo demo of the preamp, and DI feature.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rUwhqdmltyM
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post #11 of 11 (permalink) Old 11-12-2012, 01:00 AM Thread Starter
 
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Re: Does anybody have any experience recording solo classical guitar?

The Apollo would be overkill for what I need right now but I wouldn't turn one down if it was offered to me!

Thank you for suggesting the EX-29 headphones. I had never heard of Direct Sound before but I'm interested in these headphones.
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