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Old June 19th, 2009, 08:27 AM   #1
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Best mic for recording guitar?

I'm looking to get a new mic to use on my XH-A1 to use for guitar recordings. I'm looking for the best mic for a basic point and shoot situation, not necessarily a perfect recording studio situation. I don't know if there is a difference.

A friend let me use his Schoeps the other day and that's when I realized I needed something better than what I have.

I am considering getting a Schoeps, but I've also be looking at the Rodes NTG 3, as well as a Neumann KM 184.
Any other suggestions? I would like to hear suggestions for a mic under $1000.00 as I've made my mind up if I'm going to go all the way I'll get a Schoeps.

Thanks...
Michael
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Old June 19th, 2009, 09:37 AM   #2
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I don't know the environment you're shooting in but if its not a studio then I wouldn't spend $1,000 on a mic. For around $300 you can get a good small condenser mic. Put it on a stand near the guitar and you should get good results. The acoustics of the place you're recording in and your skill as a musician is going to have a bigger impact. People have a tendency to want to solve they're audio problems by buying the most expensive mic. Don't get me wrong Schoeps is top of the line, but I think its over kill. I own Oktava MK12 $265 and its a nice mic and seems to excel at the pickup the highs.
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Old June 19th, 2009, 11:10 AM   #3
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I agree with Pete. A seperate mic on a stand next to the guitar and attach with XLR or use wireless system if you need to float with the camera. Check here and perhaps more audio-centric forums for a good guitar mic. (I'm assuming this is an acoustic guitar. If electric, taking the line out of the amp is always an option.)

One tip: The rosette of hole in the top of a guitar is not the best place to point a mic. Better pointed at the top wood near the bridge, where the strings attach down past the rosette.
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Old June 19th, 2009, 12:16 PM   #4
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This is above my paygrade, but my son the music producer recently did an album with a combination of Neumann U87 (for which, substitute large-diaphragm condenser mike of your choice) aft of the sound hole, over the body of the guitar, and a Shure SM57 aimed at the 12th fret on an angle toward the sound hole, says never aim directly at the sound hole....what do I know, hope this is some help....Battle Vaughan/miamiherald.com video team
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Old June 19th, 2009, 12:24 PM   #5
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I'm trying to figure out the same thing and just posted a thread asking for advice about a couple of specific mics. In the process of scoping it out, I came across this review which might be helpful: Smokin' Condensers - A roundup of seven small-diaphragm cardiod-pattern condenser microphones.

-JP
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Old June 19th, 2009, 01:24 PM   #6
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A DPA 4061 attached to the guitar works well.
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Old June 19th, 2009, 02:02 PM   #7
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Richard brings up a good point. I've heard excellent results from a lav attached peeking into the soundhole or clipped to the fretboard at the rosette. I'm pretty sure that's the typical micing used by the Mexican acoustic guitar duo "Rodrigo y Gabriela." If you watch these clips on YouTube you can see the mic in position. YouTube - Rodrigo Y Gabriela's Video 'For Diablo Rojo' and YouTube - Rodrigo y Gabriela - 'Tamacun'
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Old June 19th, 2009, 05:28 PM   #8
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the whole top of the guitar ie the wood vibrates and makes the sound. the whole in the top allows the air to move but is mostly resonant lower frequencies. the neck gives off high frequencies to. the best sound comes from capturing it all in balance. One mic aimed at the neck body join seems to get a good balance. Listen on cans or monitors and check placement. A couple of omni room mic's are good too if you have a decent space to record in and the guitar style suits it. Say a solo clasical style if the player has volume to the playing. Stick the omnis wide spaced and backe them well off. I digress.

Get a KMI 84 or similar small diaphram mic. Schoeps is truley great for this. Listen listen listen and one day it might be something you can do without a bit if luck. I'm still learning after 30 years of recording and playing.
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Old June 19th, 2009, 06:20 PM   #9
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I really don't believe there is a simple 'buy this one' answer to this. So much depends on the instrument and if we are talking just a sound recording, or a sound recording with picture.

Large diaphragm mics have a nice warmth, small size ones tend to be more clinical (perhaps even accurate). Once you understand the instrument, then you need to take into account the playing style. Lots of fret noise, as part of the style will need different technique to a more clean left hand and nail picked right hand.

Small diaphragm mics look better, and a tiny shoeps on an extension tube are very discrete. A Neumann U87 always sounds good, but looks very ugly.

Acoustic guitars have a terrific range of timbres - picking a single mic that can do them justice is pretty tough.

Picking the right one is a combination of visual vs aural, and the exact location - the elusive 'sweet spot' is best done with mic in hand, and headphones on, while the player plays.

My personal favourite for guitar, at a free budget level would be an AKG 414.
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Old June 19th, 2009, 06:29 PM   #10
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Michael,

I think last time I looked a $choeps would be closer to $2k by the time you get the cartridge and the amp. Depending of course on what cartridge(s) you get.

If you're going direct to the camera, though, I think the $choeps might be overkill as I think the camera's audio capability would be the limiting hardware factor.

By the way, I found that Izotope RX does a great job of toning down the finger squeaks from a classical guitar without damaging the overall sound much, if at all. I like to leave a little bit in as I think it's part of the character of the instrument, but there is often more than the performer wants people to hear. I think people remember the squeaks more when listening to a CD than to a live concert.
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Old June 20th, 2009, 12:23 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jimmy Tuffrey View Post
the whole top of the guitar ie the wood vibrates and makes the sound. the whole in the top allows the air to move but is mostly resonant lower frequencies. the neck gives off high frequencies to. the best sound comes from capturing it all in balance. One mic aimed at the neck body join seems to get a good balance. Listen on cans or monitors and check placement. A couple of omni room mic's are good too if you have a decent space to record in and the guitar style suits it. Say a solo clasical style if the player has volume to the playing. Stick the omnis wide spaced and backe them well off. I digress.

Get a KMI 84 or similar small diaphram mic. Schoeps is truley great for this. Listen listen listen and one day it might be something you can do without a bit if luck. I'm still learning after 30 years of recording and playing.
Thanks Jimmy, and everyone who commented.
I recall an article once where they put a guitar in the middle of a room with 256 microphones in the ceiling, then played each note and photographed where on the surface of the guitar the note radiated from. As you say the notes come directly off the surfaces. The treble response came off the top near the bridge, and the bass frequencies radiated from the sound hole area.

Michael
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Old June 20th, 2009, 12:38 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Andrada View Post
Michael,

I think last time I looked a $choeps would be closer to $2k by the time you get the cartridge and the amp. Depending of course on what cartridge(s) you get.

If you're going direct to the camera, though, I think the $choeps might be overkill as I think the camera's audio capability would be the limiting hardware factor.

By the way, I found that Izotope RX does a great job of toning down the finger squeaks from a classical guitar without damaging the overall sound much, if at all. I like to leave a little bit in as I think it's part of the character of the instrument, but there is often more than the performer wants people to hear. I think people remember the squeaks more when listening to a CD than to a live concert.
Jim, you bring up an interesting point I didn't think of, about the audio capabilities of the XH-A1. Yes, this changes everything, away from the Schoeps.

I did some research today and found perhaps I need two Mic's, one for an all around mic for talking, and one for guitar. I found that they recommend a shotgun mic for outdoor recordings, and a hyper cardioid for indoor stuff. I only record indoors so it looks like I should get a hyper cardioid. This eliminates the Rode NTG 3, I guess.

I like the Rode video mic but don't like the the mini jack. Any recommendations for a fairly inexpensive mic to mount on the camera. I hate the onboard mic.

Thanks to all of you guys for the help as well!

michael
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Old June 20th, 2009, 12:48 AM   #13
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BTW, here is my website with a few videos I did........ don't be too rough on me I'm learning.
Thames Classical Guitars

Michael
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Old June 20th, 2009, 03:47 AM   #14
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I just looked at Michael's work, and I suspect, he's unintentionally hit the nail on the head!

This man spends his time creating musical instruments, of the kind that serious, not casual musicians like, want to buy because of what the sound and play like. The piece of music playing as background has been chosen by an expert to promote his standard - which looking at what he does is craftsman type work.

I'd now state that my best guess is that only a recording that sounded good to him, counts.

We're looking at this from a video perspective. The instrument builder is listening to it. Our choice of microphone should defer to the musician or craftsman. Nobody who dictates "Thou shall only use a super-cardioid" should be listened to. I've provided sound for classical guitarists, and in one case, the musician, Richard Durrant was playing a concert with bass guitar legend Herbie Flowers. Richard opened a bag, and pulled out a battered AKG 451 microphone. Not what I would have selected, but his call. He set it up himself and 'aimed' it at a certain point on the guitar, and adjusted it very carefully. He'd worked out where this particular guitar needed a microphone to be, and the result was excellent. You learn a lot from people like this.

I asked him how he came to this choice. Patience and my ears was the reply.
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Old June 20th, 2009, 04:21 AM   #15
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Positioning is the key really. Both mic and player in the room. I'll mark the players foot positions and chair legs to keep him from moving. But then there are different approaches for different reasons.
You might want a close up dry sound with a little dynamic squeezing from a compressor to fatten it up and then put it through a stereo reverb. One mic but a stereo recording. There are some top end records by people such as Flavio Cucchi who have this sound. One advantage of it is you can record without reverb and then the reverb covers the edits nicely. And the pro's are often heavily edited to avoid the finger fluffs and squeeks that plague guitar players. As Julien Breem said, the mic hears everything in detail. SOmething like that. MAkes all the fluffs sound worse. Listen to the old bream recordings and the sound is quieter and dryer. No compression or artificial reverb used back then.
Personally I thing it's the player that matters the most. Also they need to be well rehearsed and have newish strings on the guitar as well. Old strings sound bad when recording.
It's a joy though recording Nylon stringed instruments though. One of my favourite things.
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