VIDEO: Miking Acoustic Guitar In Stereo

Miking Acoustic Guitar

Greetings, fellow musicians! In this video I show you two different stereo recording techniques for miking acoustic guitar.

Miking Acoustic Guitar

Miking acoustic guitar is a fairly simple undertaking, and the usual method is to point a small diaphragm condenser towards the 12th fret. This gives you a balanced tone, but recording acoustic guitar with two mics will really bring out the depth of the instrument and place it front and centre of the stereo image.

Recording Acoustic Guitar With Two Mics

I cover two methods for miking acoustic guitar with two mics – the ORTF stereo technique and the XY technique. Both can be achieved using two small diaphragm condensers like the Røde NT5 or NT55, Shure SM81 or Neumann KM184 if you can afford them!

Record Acoustic Guitar With The ORTF Mic Technique

The ORTF mic technique is achieved by placing two microphones 17cm apart and at an angle of 110°. The method is often used for classical music or room mics as it gives a wide stereo image that can be collapsed to mono without producing phasing issues. It is close to representing the stereo image we hear with our own ears so translates to headphones very nicely.

ORTF microphone technique drum recording

It can work well in a mix where the acoustic guitar takes centre stage and there are not many other instruments. Pan the channels hard left and right for a wide stereo image, or more to the middle for a more centred and focused image.

The ORTF mic technique also works well on drum overheads, for recording string sections, or for a group of backing vocalists or a choir.

XY Miking For Acoustic Guitar

Miking acoustic guitar using the XY mic technique will give you an acoustic guitar recording with depth, width and clarity. The two small diaphragm condensers are pointed across each other at an angle of 90°, with the diaphragms (the opening) of the microphones directly over one another.

recording drums with XY microphone technique

Pan the channels hard left and right when mixing. The stereo image is not as pronounced as the ORTF mic technique, but in comparison to a mono recording, it is much fuller, wider and deeper.

EQ Settings For Acoustic Guitar

Using EQ when you record acoustic guitar can enhance your recordings considerably and save you time and effort at the mixing stage. As long as you use your ears and dial in frequencies that improve the tone of the acoustic guitar, the benefits of using EQ pre-tape far outweigh the “risks” of recording something you can’t remove later.

The frequencies you want to focus on are the highs (around 10 kHz), the high mids (3-6 kHz) and the low mids (200 – 400 Hz).

Acoustic guitars can often sound boxy (like a cardboard box) so cutting a few dB around 300 Hz usually solves this.

Boosting around 4 kHz will bring out a bit more definition, but be careful not to make it sound thin and brittle.

Adding a bit of high shelf EQ will add some sparkle to the string sound. This can be great for fingerpicking.

As always, try it out and have a listen. The more you practice recording and mixing with EQ, the better you become at differentiating between the nuances and effects of different frequencies!

So give it a whirl and see how you can improve your acoustic guitar recordings with these stereo techniques and EQ.

Check out this article for more techniques and tips for recording electric guitar, bass and piano.

This post also guides you through the process of recording drums in your band room or home studio.

About The Author

Nick Braren is an audio engineer and musician with over 15 years experience in the studio, on stage, back stage and front of house. He is the owner and operator of Upaya Sound, guitarist and vocalist of Vandemonian, father of 2 and husband of 1. When he’s not in the studio or in the band room he’s either travelling in his van or at the beach – or both.

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