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Recording acoustic guitar using a pickup?
Old 26th January 2013
  #1
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
Recording acoustic guitar using a pickup?

Hello,

I live in an apartment - not the greatest environment for recording, especially when the fridge starts whirring (can't unplug it). I've recorded my Taylor acoustic before using a mic (KM184 or U87) and that's nice, but usually there's a lot of background noise or I have to wait long periods to get a quiet path. Pretty annoying. It doesn't also pick up fingerpicking all that well.

So, I was thinking of adding a pickup to my Taylor and then recording it via a DI box (like the LR Baggs ones). Thoughts on that? Any pickup recommendations? Like a Baggs Anthem?

Thanks!
Old 26th January 2013
  #2
Registered User
 
1 Review written
🎧 10 years
I have NOT heard or tried one of these, but they are HIGH on my list of choices if I ever wanted to do what you suggest ...

Highlander Musical Audio Products. Acoustic Instrument Amplification

Get everyone else's opinion - it will be confusing, but ultimately the only way to find out is to try it.

A pickup will never sound like a mic, but it can be a good useable sound and solves a lot of problems.

I would probably avoid the whole preamp thing - just get the cleanest sound possible directly from your pickup and straight into your converter. If you can bypass as much electronics as possible, you sound should retain all the transients and not lose too much detail. Don't be fooled by expensive hardware - sometimes the simplest short path solution is the cleanest, most noise-free solution.

You can futz with the tone to your hearts content inside the box. For many instruments analog color can be of benefit, but acoustic often benefits from ultra clean and simple. Less can be more.
Old 26th January 2013
  #3
Lives for gear
 
8 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
Have never been able to get an acoustic recorded with a pickup where I was satisfied with the tone, pick attack, etc.

I'd try a dynamic mic before a pickup.

Maybe someone else can also chime in though.

EDIT: You could always buy a couple of premium moving blankets and a couple boom mic stands ... jack up the stands and make em look like "T"s then drape the blankets over them. You can configure them any way you want while trying to control the room sounds. Just a thought.
Old 26th January 2013
  #4
Gear Nut
 
🎧 5 years
I've had to do it when the location is truly awful with background noise. It's not ideal, but with a good pickup (I like fishman), it can be quite usable. Better on strummed than arpeggio, obviously.
Old 26th January 2013
  #5
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TurboJets's Avatar
 
3 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
If you have to go with a pickup I'd recommend Bill Lawrence's A300

But the fishman blender is nice with the internal mic if you can afford it.

Or...

...unplug the fridge when you record.
Old 26th January 2013
  #6
Lives for gear
 
1 Review written
🎧 15 years
If you've ever heard either of the Jackson Browne "Solo Acoustic" albums or heard him live, you have heard the Trance Audio Amulet. It's apparently designed based on the old Frap pickups that Neil Young uses. I believe it's the closest you're going to come.Trance has come out with a mono version that is less than $250, but apparently the installation is pretty tricky (finding the best position for the transducers inside the guitar). I was going to buy one to try in my Gibson AJ, but settled for a B-Band soundboard transducer ($119 at Shoreline Music) which has a closer to acoustic sound than anything I've ever used (Baggs I-Beam, Baggs I-Mix, K&K Pure Western). Still don't know that I could be happy with it for recording though. Hope these suggestions help.
Old 26th January 2013
  #7
Here for the gear
 
🎧 10 years
DON'T! Get a 57 (directional as hell) and unplug the fridge for takes. None of the pickups sound good.
Old 26th January 2013
  #8
Lives for gear
 
guitarmax_99's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
My suggestion...

Move to another apartment!

Okay, seriously, I'm not a fan of pickups. The ones that come close to sounding good on a recording are ones that have internal condenser mics anyway (which might pick up background noise!).

You can try a dynamic mic, but you won't get the detail of a good condenser. The 57 is a pretty good bet though.

Turning off the fridge isn't a bad idea either :-)
Old 26th January 2013
  #9
Lives for gear
 
5down1up's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
if its recording or not every pickup is bettern than none.
its always great to have an extra track besides the miced ones.
i have a fishman in my acoustic, dont really know the exact name.
i am glad its in there, d.i sound. going to amps, some great options.
Old 26th January 2013
  #10
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
Sounds like most of you are not fans of the pickups I have an SM7B that I can try, but I've noticed it requires a lot of gain, especially when fingerpicking, and that can introduce a lot of noise / background noise.

So no fans of the Baggs Anthem? What about something that blended the two, like the Fishman Rare Earth? Like 5down1up said, maybe I can record a mic alongside the pickup, just to have the option?
Old 26th January 2013 | Show parent
  #11
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TurboJets's Avatar
 
3 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Clonkified ➑️
Sounds like most of you are not fans of the pickups I have an SM7B that I can try, but I've noticed it requires a lot of gain, especially when fingerpicking, and that can introduce a lot of noise / background noise.
Background noise is the nature of the beast when living within city limits and not having isolation booths. Doesn't matter if it's a single family dwelling or a house. Ambient/background noise has to be embraced then.

When tracking fingerpicking, using an omni mic up close and hyping the capture with a compressor can sound fantastic, like you're almost inside the guitar.
Old 26th January 2013 | Show parent
  #12
Gear Guru
 
Brent Hahn's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by TurboJets ➑️
If you have to go with a pickup I'd recommend Bill Lawrence's A300
I have this pickup, and I use it in recording situations even though I have a soundproof and fridge-free studio. To me, it sounds kinda like the guitar sound in those Tom Bodett Motel 6 radio commercials. Not typically "acoustic," but I like it. Especially for fingerpicking and flatpicking, maybe not so much for strummy parts.

You can hear a sample at the beginning of http://radioactive.la/7e_twofer.mp3

The guitar's a Martin 016NY.
Old 26th January 2013
  #13
Old 26th January 2013
  #14
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celticrogues's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by brianellefson ➑️

EDIT: You could always buy a couple of premium moving blankets and a couple boom mic stands ... jack up the stands and make em look like "T"s then drape the blankets over them. You can configure them any way you want while trying to control the room sounds. Just a thought.
Do this!

IMO pickups can work fine for something like a strummed acoustic in a rock track, but for fingerpicking and anything more acoustic guitar based you are going to lose too much detail and tone.


-Mike
Old 26th January 2013 | Show parent
  #15
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TurboJets's Avatar
 
3 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn ➑️
I have this pickup, and I use it in recording situations even though I have a soundproof and fridge-free studio. To me, it sounds kinda like the guitar sound in those Tom Bodett Motel 6 radio commercials. Not typically "acoustic," but I like it. Especially for fingerpicking and flatpicking, maybe not so much for strummy parts.

You can hear a sample at the beginning of http://radioactive.la/7e_twofer.mp3

The guitar's a Martin 016NY.
Nice example. How old is your 016NY?

I also agree with celticrogues that an amp'd acoustic can be nice to beef up rock tunes with a touch of added distortion a la Rolling Stones "Sister Morphine" and some of the vibe on Sticky Fingers.
Old 26th January 2013 | Show parent
  #16
Gear Guru
 
Brent Hahn's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by TurboJets ➑️
Nice example. How old is your 016NY?
Thanks. 1971, I think.
Old 26th January 2013
  #17
Gear Guru
 
FFTT's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I've used my Mercenary Audio, Upgraded TAB SM57 on all kinds of stuff
from 100 watt amps, specialty amps, to vocals to tambourine.

SM57 Microphone with Mercenary Audio Transformer

Best money I could have spent for very similar less than idea recording situations. The modded SM57 essentially gives you SM7b response for about
$120.00 less than an SM7b.

If the noise floor is bad, you can use some of the same techniques you might use with a condenser, adding a pop filter, suspension mount or just put a fat
towel or small carpet samples under the mic stand to absorb noise.
Old 26th January 2013 | Show parent
  #18
Gear Guru
 
Brent Hahn's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by FFTT ➑️
If the noise floor is bad, you can use some of the same techniques you might use with a condenser, adding a pop filter, suspension mount or just put a fat towel or small carpet samples under the mic stand to absorb noise.
Not sure that's what "noise floor" means.
Old 26th January 2013 | Show parent
  #19
Gear Guru
 
FFTT's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn ➑️
Not sure that's what "noise floor" means.
I'm thinking in terms of unwanted noise like from other noisy neighbors, fridge motor vibration, footsteps, foot taps etc traveling up the mic stand and getting picked up in your tracks.

Perhaps floor rumble would be a better term.
Old 27th January 2013
  #20
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jmikeperkins's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Maybe there is some magic pickup that sounds great, but I have never been able to get anything close to the sound of a mic with a pickup on an acoustic guitar. If noise isolation is your problem, then you should try using an EV RE-20 or a Sennheiser 441 mic. Both are top of the line dynamic mics with MUCH better high end response than an SM57 (which I also love, just not my 1st choice for acoustic guitar). The RE-20 sounds a lot like a condenser mic but has the noise isolation and tight pattern of a dynamic mic. I have often used an RE-20 for vocalists who play piano and sing at the same but want to avoid leakage of the piano into the vocal track. I also have pairs of U87's and a KM184's and they will pick up EVERY little noise your fridge makes and I can see why those would be a problem in your situation.
Old 27th January 2013
  #21
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
Thanks! Maybe that's the right option then - moving blankets and a better dynamic mic. Are those better than the SM7B (which I already have)?

Yes, the U87 (and when I had them, the KM184s) pick up every nuance, which can be great and annoying. I have the same issue with vocals, but I try to put the vocalist in the other room. Bit hard to do with me playing the guitar and engineering at the same time though (and not as fast).
Old 27th January 2013 | Show parent
  #22
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 10 years
I have one, and with some work, I found images that work well for both my nylon and steel string guitars (different images, of course). The blend knob is for live performance only, imo, and I don't like a blend at all, as a rule. 100% image, properly selected and eq'd and it sounds very, very convincing.

I have a couple of albums in my collection that are latin guitar instrumentals. They have been obviously recoded with a garden-variety piezo pickup, and I find them almost unlistenable after a short time. That distinctive piezo sound drives me nuts, live or recorded.
Old 27th January 2013
  #23
Gear Guru
 
FFTT's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I found all the acoustic pickup systems tend to sound very plastic recording D/I

Sure you could use a pickup for preliminary layouts and scratch tracks, but
for the final tracking, I'd go to a mic'd up guitar or do both.
Old 27th January 2013 | Show parent
  #24
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by FFTT ➑️
... I'd go to a mic'd up guitar or do both.
Especially if the guitar will feature prominently in the track. If it is simply a background rhythm instrument, you could get away with the Aura.
Old 27th January 2013 | Show parent
  #25
Lives for gear
 
richgilb's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Clonkified ➑️
Sounds like most of you are not fans of the pickups I have an SM7B that I can try, but I've noticed it requires a lot of gain, especially when fingerpicking, and that can introduce a lot of noise / background noise.

So no fans of the Baggs Anthem? What about something that blended the two, like the Fishman Rare Earth? Like 5down1up said, maybe I can record a mic alongside the pickup, just to have the option?
If you get a Fethead for the SM7b, that will probably work out better than a pickup. Cheaper too. I have a Fishman top of the range pick up and I wouldn't use it for anything other than live work. Not great sounding!
Old 27th January 2013
  #26
Gear Guru
 
FFTT's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
If you're picking up street noise beyond your control, then you might need to get some
moving blankets with eyelets and hang them where needed.

It is true you will need more gain for fine detail tracking and that's where isolating the
mic from floor rumble helps.
Old 28th January 2013
  #27
Gear Guru
 
FFTT's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Just fast and dirty 16 bar loop to show you what I'm getting with my Mercenary SM57 from about 8-10" pointed roughly between sound hole
and the 12th fret.

Signal is hot, gain on interface is about 1:00

Untreated living room, air handler On, Fridge 20 feet away.

Hitting Larrivee P-10 Parlor Very Hard using Dunlop .60 Nylon



https://soundcloud.com/ogredaddy/p-10-boom-test
Old 28th January 2013
  #28
Lives for gear
 
mahler007's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Combining an electromagnetic pickup (like a Sunrise pickup) with a contact pickup (like a Frap) is an interesting and beautiful combination if done right. A lot of Michael Hedges' tones were created that way, both live and in the studio.

It's not the most "natural" sounding acoustic sound, admittedly, and you will need some good pres and EQ's to get it right, but it could get you something nice.

Cheers,
A
Old 30th January 2013
  #29
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 10 years
I use a D-tar Mama Bear with my Fishman equipped Taylor and it sounds really good. When playing through a PA it takes out the quack sound. I've also used it in the studio with very good results. The name comes from Duncan Turner. As in Seymour Duncan. Turns out Buddy Miller raves about them too, as he can sing and play the guitar without vocal showing up in the guitar track.
Old 30th January 2013
  #30
Gear Head
 
kkalnasy's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
I like the K&K Pure Mini on my 1972 D-28. It needs a 70Hz bass roll off to kill handling noise, but with that, it sounds great.
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