Larry Murante recording acoustic guitars at DBAR Productions

How To Record Acoustic Guitar

A quick comparison of 4 popular acoustic guitar recording techniques

The purpose of this video is to let you compare the sound of different recording techniques for the acoustic guitar. All of the techniques were recorded in one performance pass, so the performance is the same for each. A second recording was done for the double-tracking method (#4). NO reverb, delay, or chorus effects used, although there is some compression and EQ (applied equally to all).

Technique #1 – A single small diaphragm condenser microphone slightly above the guitar and aimed at about the 12th fret, where the neck meets the body. This is the most common single microphone tracking method. In this recording an Audio Technica AT-4031 microphone is used, running through the A Designs Pacifica preamp, through a Cranesong Trakker compressor and then through the UA2192 Master Audio Interface.

Technique #2 – This adds a large diaphragm condenser microphone, aimed at the lower part of the guitar body, to create a stereo sound along with the microphone from #1 above. For this recording, an Audio Technica 4060 tube microphone was used, going through the 2nd channel of the A Designs Pacifica preamp, and through a second Cranesong Trakker compressor that was stereo linked with the other one. Also going through the second channel of the UA2192 converters.

Technique #3 – This is a stereo recording with two identical microphones configured in an X-Y arrangement, and set a little further back from the guitar. This gives a different kind of stereo sound, which is not as wide as in method #2, but would collapse to mono better. In this recording, we are using two Audio Technica 4041 small diaphragm condenser microphones, going through a Presonus ADL 600 tube microphone pre-amp, and then through the Drawmer 1968 Mercenary Edition tube compressor, and then through a couple channels of the Lynx Aurora 8 A/D converters.

Technique #4 – Double Tracking – This is by far the most popular technique to get that big wide stereo sound for acoustic, as well as electric, guitars. For this, we go back to technique #1 with a single small diaphragm condenser microphone at about the 12th fret. But, then we have the guitar player play the same thing two different times, as accurately as possible. Each take is recorded on its own track, and then those tracks are panned hard left and right in the mix. The result it a big and wide, yet natural, sound. Sloppy playing will ruin this effect, though, so the guitar player needs to be good enough to play the parts exactly the same way twice. It’s the subtle differences in timing and pitch that make it work and sound great!