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$1k to record acoustic guitars
Old 10th September 2012
  #1
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 5 years
$1k to record acoustic guitars

Just curious to see what people would choose/do.

You have the following gear available
3 CAD M179
2 Heil PR35
2 Heil PR30
1 Heil PR22UT
1 Heil PR48
1 Neumann KMS105
Focusrite Scarlett 18i6
Golden Age Project Pre73

You have a budget of $1000 to add mic(s)/preamp(s) to do just one thing record acoustic guitars.

Would you pick one mic and a preamp (like an AT4033, KSM137/141 and a Warm Audio WA12, GAP Pre73, etc), would you pick a pair of small diaphragm condensers and use the focusrite preamps, maybe one really nice mic (such as Blue dragonfly), or something else?

Instruments:
Epiphone Texan standard tuning (solid spruce top, solid mahogany back/sides, bone nut/saddle/bridge pins)
Epiphone Masterbilt AJ500R tuned to Open D or Open G (solid spruce top, solid rosewood back/sides, bone nut/saddle/bridge pins)
Washburn tuned to Nashville tuning (solid spruce top, rosewood back/sides, bone nut/saddle/bridge pins)

Styles:
Blues, Rock, Indie, Folk, Psychedelic, Country

I'm willing to track acoustic guitar on it's own or track it while singing.

My vocal chain would use the above mentioned GAP Pre73 and Neumann KMS105.

Other uses that this gear could see may be drum overheads, drum room mic, occasional vocals, another flavor for guitar cabs, orchestral recordings, etc.

And since this is gearslutz you can't tell me to use stuff I already have because that wouldn't be whoring myself for more gear. And yes I have adequate monitoring, a treated recording environment, stands, cables, etc.
Old 10th September 2012
  #2
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Ok, I won't say to use what you've got. I'll just say you should save your cash to buy something WAYYYYY better than what you've already got somewhere down the line. You know, something REALLY slutty
Old 10th September 2012
  #3
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
What kind of arrangement? If it's in a dense mix, I tend to throw up a single LDC. Sometimes with fingerpicked guitar in a more guitar-driven song I'll go stereo, with x/y or spaced pair of SDCs, depending on the effect I want.
Old 10th September 2012
  #4
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 5 years
it will primarily be singer-songwriter type arrangements where it's just voice and guitar only

however there will be instances in which I will likely be overdubbing acoustic guitar parts and including parts in full band mixes (with bass, electric guitars, drums, etc)
Old 10th September 2012 | Show parent
  #5
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chrisc_o ➑️
Ok, I won't say to use what you've got. I'll just say you should save your cash to buy something WAYYYYY better than what you've already got somewhere down the line. You know, something REALLY slutty
well I do have some plans to be a slut
Cascade Vin Jet Pair with Lundahls is on the bucket list
Focusrite Octopre Dynamic MKII is on the bucket list
a pair of mics for location recordings is on the bucket list (those will be a nice expense depending on responses given here I may just invest in the pair of Shure KSM141 now as it'll likely nail acoustic guitar stuff in mono or stereo and obviously excel for location work and do great on drum overhead duty) and I think those mics will serve me well even as I add/upgrade to the likes of Sennheiser, Schoeps, Neumann, or Gefell.

I'm just curious to see what people suggest as an additional GAP Pre73 may prove useful as a pair of drum overhead preamps using the Focusrite preamps for spot miking everything else (snare, toms, kick, possibly the room). Or another option may be to use the GAP Pre73 for kick, a WA12 for snare, and the focusrite pres for all other drum uses.

I know the Pre73 excels on acoustic guitars, vocals, drums, etc. I just don't have any firsthand experience with the Warm Audio WA12 and it was very tempting.

So I guess my personal view right now is to invest in a pair of Shure KSM141 and possibly a second GAP Pre 73.
Old 10th September 2012
  #6
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 10 years
The best sound is always at the input. So the best player and instrument will always trump everything else. Also a great song is a major plus.

So I agree with others. Use what you have and experiment.

Mike
Old 10th September 2012
  #7
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
I'd start with the source. Sell your 3 average instruments and buy a much better guitar.

you also didn't mention what you are recording it to and where.
Old 10th September 2012
  #8
Lives for gear
 
edva's Avatar
 
26 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
FWIW, currently I am digging KSM44 on acu, can often be found used for way less than 1k.
Old 10th September 2012
  #9
Gear Nut
 
🎧 15 years
it's not too sexy, but many, many great sounding records and specifically great recordings of acoustic gtr. have been made in Nashville with a 4033.
Old 10th September 2012 | Show parent
  #10
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by j2dafo ➑️
I'd start with the source. Sell your 3 average instruments and buy a much better guitar.

you also didn't mention what you are recording it to and where.
with all due respect I hand selected all three guitars with the intention of spending about $2k per instrument and these are what I prefered for tone and playability and that included some very high end taylors, martins, gibsons, guilds, breedloves, seagulls, tacoma, yamaha, alvarez, larrivee, etc vintage and new (I've literally tried hundreds of acoustics at varying price points).

And the Epiphone Texan and the Masterbilt line are both sleeper acoustics, I've been playing for over 20 years and have experience playing some very high end acoustics (featuring the most sought after tonewoods), I studied music performance and recording arts so I have a well trained ear on these things. Just because they have a reasonable price tag does not make them garbage guitars. I can almost bet you 9 out of 10 people wouldn't know the difference between the guitars I use and some of the $1500-$3000+ acoustics that are perceived as the standards by which all others are judged, let alone justify the price difference. Not to mention the fact that an investment such as that still wouldn't be justified when I really wouldn't have the right tools to capture the better instruments with the detail required for such subtle nuances to be observed in a recording.

Are you going to tell me that Noel Gallagher, Peter Frampton, Paul Mccartney have bad taste when they play the Epiphone Texan?
Or how about Alex Lifeson and countless others that are Masterbilt devotees?

the instruments are not the problem and only having one acoustic is impractical as I require 4 different setups to accomodate everything I play (I'm currently one acoustic short and I'm planning to buy a fourth acoustic to setup) so with your logic I'd be spending about $4k-$10k to "upgrade" my guitars for your subjective opinion on a "better" instrument. Unless you want to be my guitar tech and reset my instrument every time between songs from standard to open d to open g to nashville tuning.

the performance isn't the problem, the room isn't the problem.

All three guitars feature all solid wood construction using high quality tone woods, bone nuts/saddles/bridge pins (which imho are the best material one can use for tone and functionality), and have been professionally setup and use either DR or John Pearse phosphor bronze strings (always kept fresh, these are my personal string preferences, when neither DR or JP are available I use D'Addarrio).

I run a small studio so I record to Presonus Studio One Professional using a Vaio laptop and the Focusrite Scarlett 18i6 interface. Studio has acoustically treated rooms.

all this thread is serving as is a what would you choose preamp/microphone wise scenario. It's more of a what would you add to that collection of gear to capture the best end result. I'm using my personal gear collection as the focal point as I'll probably use the stuff more than anyone else, especially if the business fails (lol someone has to keep the investment, and since I'm the backer well I want gear that I'll like).

I have a budget of about $10k to sink into finishing the studio over the next year. And that budget has to provide me with a solid starting point to track live bands, do location recordings, and do high quality youtube videos.

Obviously when it comes to recording clients the gear they use, their performance, etc could become variables.
Old 10th September 2012
  #11
Lives for gear
 
TurboJets's Avatar
 
3 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
A pair of 4033's and a fast clean pre. The pre's on a ZED are very fast and inexpensive. RNP as well. Fast but a hint of sweetness. An RNLA can add a sweet flavor to the ZED as well. But the 4033 is amazing amp'd by a fast clean pre.
Old 10th September 2012
  #12
Lives for gear
 
oceantracks's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
API512 hard to beat...
T
Old 10th September 2012 | Show parent
  #13
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Matchless35 ➑️
it's not too sexy, but many, many great sounding records and specifically great recordings of acoustic gtr. have been made in Nashville with a 4033.
I'm more concerned with tone and I've recorded in the past with the 4033 and loved it. I've also heard great things about the Blue Dragonfly and have seen B-stock and used for $600-$700. And usually someone on here comes up with some cool out of the box thinking on things.

so I guess these are my considerations at the moment

GAP Pre 73 and AT4033/Dragonfly/the KSM32/44 idea is also a good one

or

Shure KSM141 stereo pair

it's possible I may do both
Old 10th September 2012
  #14
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 10 years
Also you need to look at what the track is going to be. There is no perfect set up for "all the time". If your Acc gtr is going into a dense mix the large diaphragm condenser mic might not give you what you need to make it easily fit in the frequencies needed for that particular mix.

Just another thought.

Mike
Old 10th September 2012
  #15
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 5 years
so without killing the budget do you think an AT4033 and a KSM141 pair would serve for general uses on acoustic guitars?

I can likely score both the pair and that mic in the 1k range.
Old 10th September 2012
  #16
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 10 years
Should work well.
Old 10th September 2012
  #17
Gear Maniac
 
kludge's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Acoustic guitars that sound great live don't always record well, and vice versa. A recording is a different beast. And recording guitars don't need to be fancy or expensive! My three favorite acoustic guitars for recording cost $25, $100, and $200. I have a $4000 handmade beauty that smokes them all live, but in the context of a mix, the refinement is lost, and the others are usually better.

As for mics and preamps... if you have a preamp with high gain and low noise (I'm seriously thinking of adding a Cloudlifter myself), try dynamic mics and ribbons on acoustics! The SDCs that are "correct" can lead to an overly bright sound even when paired with just a singer, imho. Something like a 57 or a ribbon has a nice tight pattern and can take eq well. Great for live gtr/vox.

Also, if you're not the performer, something better than ANY preamp or mic is to put on some really good, sound-blocking headphones and CAREFULLY place your mic. Move it around off-stand, by hand, until you find the spot that works, then put it on a stand and try to get back to it. And make acoustic guitarists sit down if you possibly can (without compromising their performance, that is). It's MUCH easier to maintain the guitar/mic relationship if their butt is planted in a seat!
Old 10th September 2012 | Show parent
  #18
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by kludge ➑️
Acoustic guitars that sound great live don't always record well, and vice versa. A recording is a different beast. And recording guitars don't need to be fancy or expensive! My three favorite acoustic guitars for recording cost $25, $100, and $200. I have a $4000 handmade beauty that smokes them all live, but in the context of a mix, the refinement is lost, and the others are usually better.

As for mics and preamps... if you have a preamp with high gain and low noise (I'm seriously thinking of adding a Cloudlifter myself), try dynamic mics and ribbons on acoustics! The SDCs that are "correct" can lead to an overly bright sound even when paired with just a singer, imho. Something like a 57 or a ribbon has a nice tight pattern and can take eq well. Great for live gtr/vox.

Also, if you're not the performer, something better than ANY preamp or mic is to put on some really good, sound-blocking headphones and CAREFULLY place your mic. Move it around off-stand, by hand, until you find the spot that works, then put it on a stand and try to get back to it. And make acoustic guitarists sit down if you possibly can (without compromising their performance, that is). It's MUCH easier to maintain the guitar/mic relationship if their butt is planted in a seat!
I've recorded these guitars and they made good recordings and I love the live tone as well.

well I think I'm feeling a lot more confident in my choices thus far, I guess I really wasn't too doubtful it's just a matter of picking the right tools since I have a lot of money on the line.

I have the Heil dynamics (which I actually find work really well on acoustic) and as for the other flavors I plan to do the pair of Cascade Vin Jets as my ribbon flavor with Lundahl transformers, the Shure KSM141 pair, and some sort of LDC (probably an AT4033).

I think the GAP Pre73 should serve well for the ribbons as it has a nice vintage character and plenty of gain available. The Focusrite preamps are also pretty good for a clean/transparent pre that doesn't break the bank I have used a pair of Fatheads with good results using the Scarlett preamps, granted I did Glyn Johns drum method and .

Eventually I'll probably get an DAV Electronics BG1 I'm hoping to include that in my initial startup costs.

I figured 10 channels of Focusrite preamps, 2 GAP Pre73 for colorful preamps, and then the DAV BG1 as a good pair of preamps to handle a main pair for location recordings.

Down the road I'm sure I'll want to add an API flavor preamp.

But I think for now I'm on the right track for a solid start/foundation.
Old 10th September 2012
  #19
Gear Maniac
 
kludge's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
The Focusrite pres do sound good with sufficiently loud sources. But I've found that with low-output mics on acoustic guitars, they don't have enough gain and get noisy and hard to control. Like I said, I'm very interested in adding a Cloudlifter to my setup. I suspect it will solve a lot of my gripes (well, my one gripe) with the Focusrite pres.
Old 10th September 2012
  #20
Gear Addict
 
1 Review written
🎧 15 years
I've done a bit of acoustic fingerstyle instrumental recording with some of the mics mentioned here. I've done a few comparison clips with a Schoeps CMC64, CAD M179, KSM44, and KSM141.

These clips are not in the order listed above:

http://www.homebrewedmusic.com/audio/20090626-F.wav
http://www.homebrewedmusic.com/audio/20090626-G.wav
http://www.homebrewedmusic.com/audio/20090626-H.wav
http://www.homebrewedmusic.com/audio/20090626-I.wav

I've kept these clips blind for a couple of years now. If you'd like the key let me know and I'll send it email or PM. Please don't announce the key in public.

Fran
Old 10th September 2012
  #21
Lives for gear
 
NEWTON IN ORBIT's Avatar
If you want a fool proof, tried, tested and true solution, and you don't need stereo, then think about this.

Grab a Hardy M-1, and either an SM81, AKG 451, or some other SDC. Put phones on. Have buddy play. Point mic @ guitar, find a starting point for the distance. Starting @ 12th fret, sweep whilst trying to keep the mic on axis.

Find best spot for mic. Then sweep a little with variations of slight off axis. If not better, leave in the first position, on axis.

Tape or velcro with low tack tape (blue stuff is good) a $2.00 laser pointer on SDC body. Use pointer to see where the mic is actually pointing at on the guitar (or sometimes, player). If it is on the gtr, (usually is of course), use blue tape to mark spot.

Now mark with tape where the feet of the player's stool, and mic stand are on floor. Mark the boom and mast of the mic stand with tape as well. If anything moves, you have a reference of where it was when it "sounded kick ass".

Do not remove this tape until the project is done.

Stereo gets more complicated, same sh*t applies.

It's not that complicated. Don't over think, and just be meticulous.

Good luck,
john

PS: You might also look at the Milab mics for acoustic.
Old 11th September 2012
  #22
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
My "go to" set up is a Shure PG 81 at the 12th fret and an AT-4040 about 2 feet away from the body (pointed between the bridge and the lower bout). YMMV, but I like it!
Old 11th September 2012
  #23
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Man, I certainly didn't intend to call into question all the years of experience you have in playing and selecting an instrument. I would trust your hand-picking of instruments, which in guitars, is paramount. If you tried those side by side against the usual suspects of top brand big money guitars and still picked the sleepers, I'm sure you did it for the right reason: the sound.

That said, you've mentioned you've been mostly happy with the tone you're getting. What is leading you to seek out more? Perhaps you can experiment with diff mic techniques and placements. I personally would add a ribbon to the list for a diff flavor (Coles, AEA R84, Fathead with Lundahl tranny).

And if you are going to invest 10k in any studio, spend it on mics,monitors, and your recording platform (DAW and converters).
Old 11th September 2012
  #24
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
I'd get a Beyer mc930 stereo pair and use the focusrite pres as they aren't that bad and you can upgrade them at a later date. The beyers have a lot of output so should be just fine with that interface. The Epi Masterbilts sounds great and I can't believe they aren't more popular. For tracking acoustic I like using an optical compressor with just a touch of compression so maybe after you get two matching outboard pres look into an art pro vla ii as a starting point. It's a decent compressor and a great value. For something with a little less in the high end maybe a pair of cad e100s mics. I use these on acoustic a lot and they have become my workhorse mics.
Old 11th September 2012
  #25
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 5 years
well a lot of it is just acquiring gear for myself in the past I've pretty much used stuff at studios or borrowed/rented.

I'd like to spend about $10k to setup a half decent studio that I can make a little bit of money from operating, I'm certainly not trying to get rich but I'd like to use it to advertise my solo projects and to make youtube demos for products I make at my workshop (usually guitars and snare drums).

So what I'm missing right now is really variety in my mic locker I've got a handful of Heil dynamics which are great, a Neumann KMS105 again a great mic, and then I recently picked up a 3 pack of CAD M179 for tom duties. While I can get usable results with the gear I have I think having the AT4033 and the KSM141 pair would do a better job capturing my guitars.

So I'm definitely looking to expand my mic locker and preamp arsenal to handle assorted tasks.

I'd like a pair of small diaphragm condensers (pref cardoid/omni), a pair of long ribbons (enter vinjet pair), ideally a pair of large diaphragm multi pattern condensers (AT4050 or AT4047MP would be my reaches on a budget). The AT4033 is appealing because it's such a bluegrass standard and it's hardly any money new or used ($200-$400) plus it can be useful on other sources.

I'm not going to drop the entire 10k at once so I'm trying to go in phases.

And my immediate needs are to market my solo projects and do youtube demos.

Down the road I'd like the ability to do location recordings and live band tracking (which I'm projecting to be done investing in the studio by the end of next year.

So ideally I'll be going in $1k chunks.

So I guess it'd be easier to say I'm kinda rebuilding my once mighty rig.
Old 11th September 2012 | Show parent
  #26
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by mjtripper ➑️
I'd get a Beyer mc930 stereo pair and use the focusrite pres as they aren't that bad and you can upgrade them at a later date. The beyers have a lot of output so should be just fine with that interface. The Epi Masterbilts sounds great and I can't believe they aren't more popular. For tracking acoustic I like using an optical compressor with just a touch of compression so maybe after you get two matching outboard pres look into an art pro vla ii as a starting point. It's a decent compressor and a great value. For something with a little less in the high end maybe a pair of cad e100s mics. I use these on acoustic a lot and they have become my workhorse mics.
see this has me thinking because I keep contemplating the MC930 is it that much better of a mic that it's worth sacrificing the omni mode?

I'm assuming both would work well for classical choir/orchestral recordings in addition to the acoustic guitar/drum overhead/piano stuff.
Old 11th September 2012
  #27
Lives for gear
 
Bristol_Jonesey's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Get a pair of matched ribbons and set up a Blumlein Pair
Old 12th September 2012 | Show parent
  #28
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by indie folk guy ➑️
see this has me thinking because I keep contemplating the MC930 is it that much better of a mic that it's worth sacrificing the omni mode?

I'm assuming both would work well for classical choir/orchestral recordings in addition to the acoustic guitar/drum overhead/piano stuff.
I believe so and would work very well for the other sources you mention. They are very nice mics.
Old 12th September 2012
  #29
Lives for gear
 
sdelsolray's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Take a look at 3 Zigma CHI mics. A pair of mic amp bodies, a pair of SD capsules and one LD capsule with provide some versatility, and you can add other capsules later if desired.

Very nice mics.
Old 12th September 2012
  #30
Here for the gear
 
PaladinRadio's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
AKGs

When I was still in the recording studio side of my life, we would use AKG 414s. But there goes your entire budget! On the lower priced side of life, the C1000 for $200 is a surprisingly good sounding mic on guitars, overheads on drums, and piano.
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