Best mics for recording classical guitar

Discussions relating to the classical guitar which don't fit elsewhere.
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Paul Janssen
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Re: Best mics for recording classical guitar

Post by Paul Janssen » Sun Nov 12, 2017 11:39 am

A few people have suggested a matched pair of Rode NT5's and I have to agree that this is an excellent and versatile choice. If you are going to go down this path then the I would strongly recommend you get the Rode Stereo Bar with them as this will make it much much easier to set them up in either X-Y or Stereo ORTF configurations.

However, another option you might like to look at is the Rode NT4. The NT4 is effectively an X-Y version of the NT5 in that it has two acoustically matched 1/2" cardioid capsules mounted in an X-Y (stereo) configuration on the end of the Microphone barrel. The NT4 takes all the guess work out of setting up two smaller diaphragm mics in an X-Y configuration. The NT4 is slightly more expensive than a matched a pair of NT5's but when you add the cost of the Stereo Bar, they work out to be pretty much the same.

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Andrew Fryer
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Re: Best mics for recording classical guitar

Post by Andrew Fryer » Sun Nov 12, 2017 11:48 am

sxedio wrote:
Sun Nov 12, 2017 10:50 am
Andrew Fryer wrote:
Sat Nov 11, 2017 11:31 pm
They are on a cheap stand about 6" apart and I just place them as close to the sound-hole as possible to minimise extraneous sound. I only use two because I can't find a way to get mono sound using just one - once one is plugged into the left channel of the pre-amp, that's it: it comes out of the left speaker only!
Have you tried using Audacity or a similar editor to edit the recording?
I didn't like Audacity, but I assume it was mostly user error. I will reinstall it and see what I can get out of it.
1975 Calatayud y Gisbert, Yamaha CG131S.

PeteJ
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Re: Best mics for recording classical guitar

Post by PeteJ » Sun Nov 12, 2017 12:26 pm

I find it most useful to record on two mono channels since it is more flexible. The danger, as I discovered the other night, is to play for an hour only to find that one of tracks is not in record mode. *&%^$%$ I was mad. I made this mistake with an orchestra once.

The point about damping is important. When I started recording seriously (in a poor room) I spent months tweaking the position of blankets and cushions, the position of the gtr, the angle of the mics etc. I find the best way to minimise room resonances (also gtr resonances) is to mic over the shoulder pointing down, picking up roughly what the player hears. But there's no predicting what will work best.

I don't know the modern SM58 mentioned above but I always thought the old one was very good for CG. None of the brittleness of many condensors and a warmer sound.

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Andrew Fryer
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Re: Best mics for recording classical guitar

Post by Andrew Fryer » Sun Nov 12, 2017 12:43 pm

The SM58 is best kept only as a vocal mic, IMO - basically it's designed for people to scream into it from an inch away. It's noticeably a few decibels less sensitive than the SM57, although in theory they both contain the same element. And the SM57 is an instrument/amp mic, so it's less sensitive than many other mics around, especially condensers. I only own my SM58 because it came up cheap on e - b a y before I found something more suitable. If I'd already had an SM57 and a PG81 (the best mic of the three), I'd never have bothered with it.
1975 Calatayud y Gisbert, Yamaha CG131S.

John Stone
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Re: Best mics for recording classical guitar

Post by John Stone » Sun Nov 12, 2017 9:09 pm

I've tried and owned lots of mics, including some very pricey ones. My favorite combination is a pair of Neumann KM-184's, usually in X/Y position. They aren't cheap, but they aren't terribly expensive either (as the price range of mics goes).
2001 Manuel Velazquez
1977 Ramirez 1a
2014 Cordoba C10
They said, "You have a blue guitar, You do not play things as they are." The man replied, "Things as they are / Are changed upon the blue guitar."

DCGillrich
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Re: Best mics for recording classical guitar

Post by DCGillrich » Mon Nov 13, 2017 8:51 am

Hi Arash

About five posts ago, Paul Janssen suggested using the Rode Stereo Bar. I agree. This is what I use, and it has marking showing spacing and microphone orientation for X-Y and ORTF (although, as explained earlier, I currently use DIN -- very similar to ORFT -- not that I can hear the difference in practice). You may also need a pivot depending on how you mount the bar on the end of the mic stand. Per Lindhof Frederiksen shows examples of setups in some of his YouTube clips on microphones. He has obviously made up some bars to experiment with wide spacing, but you still need microphone mounting clips of some sort.

Although I haven't tried them myself, I have learned through another learning forum that MXL 606 Small Diaphragm Condenser Instrument Microphones may be a reasonable, low-cost option.

A final point I would make is, before my current setup, I used a simple Logitech C922 (but C920 is virtually the same) web camera with built in stereo microphones. I still use this for video, but use the Rode NT5 setup for audio. The C922 microphones perfectly good for self review purposes, but not great if you plan to share your recordings. I found the C922, being a USB camera/mic, created noticeable background hiss. I haven't tried "better" USB systems, but from what I have read, induced sound over the recording may be a common problem with USB mics. The noise comes from the computer, power supply, and so on -- very hard to isolate. It is not practical to remove the noise by digital filtering without seriously affecting the main recording (I have tried). Using mics connected through a pre-amp eliminates that problem.

Cheers... Richard

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robin loops
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Re: Best mics for recording classical guitar

Post by robin loops » Mon Nov 13, 2017 7:29 pm

PeteJ wrote:
Sun Nov 12, 2017 12:26 pm
I find it most useful to record on two mono channels since it is more flexible. The danger, as I discovered the other night, is to play for an hour only to find that one of tracks is not in record mode. *&%^$%$ I was mad. I made this mistake with an orchestra once.
What recording software are you using? In Logic Pro X I group stereo pairs (two mono tracks) so that if I hit record on one it automatically record enables all the grouped tracks (in this case a stereo pair). It also allows for group editing so if I make an edit to one track it does it on both (or all grouped). Before I learned this trick, edits were a nightmare on multiple tracks and often forgot to record enable both tracks. haven't found a similar function in Ableton Live but other DAWs have it so you might look into it.
One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all, and in the darkness bind them.
-James-

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Arash Ahmadi
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Re: Best mics for recording classical guitar

Post by Arash Ahmadi » Tue Nov 14, 2017 11:38 am

Thank you everyone for your posts!
To send light into the darkness of men's heart, such is the duty of the artist. (Robert Schumann)

PeteJ
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Re: Best mics for recording classical guitar

Post by PeteJ » Tue Nov 14, 2017 12:40 pm

Thanks Robin, good thoughts. On Cubase 6 I can group tracks but I haven't tried this on a stereo pair for editing etc. I don't do it because I may adjust the tracks individually but I can see that it might be a good idea for much of the time. After my mistake the other night I'll give it some thought.

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robin loops
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Re: Best mics for recording classical guitar

Post by robin loops » Wed Nov 15, 2017 6:29 pm

PeteJ wrote:
Tue Nov 14, 2017 12:40 pm
Thanks Robin, good thoughts. On Cubase 6 I can group tracks but I haven't tried this on a stereo pair for editing etc. I don't do it because I may adjust the tracks individually but I can see that it might be a good idea for much of the time. After my mistake the other night I'll give it some thought.
Not sure about Cubase but Logic has a group clutch with a shortcut to quickly disable the group for individual editing. In LPX you alt click the group number in the channel strip (then again to re-enable). I think in Cubase you just click the orange = button near the playback buttons to toggle groups active/disabled but don't know what it is or if there is a command to disable a single group or not. The caveat to using this (in logic) is you have to remember to re-enable it afterwards, as opposed to holding a key down to temporarily disable a group (which I think might also be possible but don't use).
One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all, and in the darkness bind them.
-James-

Andrew Pohlman
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Re: Best mics for recording classical guitar

Post by Andrew Pohlman » Wed Nov 15, 2017 7:21 pm

I use a matched pair of Rode M5s into a Scarlett 2i2 with Reaper. I have read reviews of the M5s and multiple engineers say that you can get professional level recordings. Users say that the M5s are built much more sturdy than other mics in the same price range. And from my own use, I find they pick up every stupid little thing with perfect clarity!!! So you really do need a disciplined recording environment.

You actually asked a loaded question, because the "best" mics can be $5K each or more. I have a hunch you mean the best cost/performance ratio for a home studio. Just be careful of overkill for your recording situation. More pragmatically, if you think a Blue Yeti sounds acceptable, the M5s will be all you ever need at much less cost than many/most other high end mics.

Have fun recording !
2013 Rodriguez FF Sabicas blanco
2015 Trevor Gore custom Neoclassical
- redwood top, Palo dorado B+Ss.

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sxedio
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Re: Best mics for recording classical guitar

Post by sxedio » Wed Nov 15, 2017 8:49 pm

Andrew Pohlman wrote:
Wed Nov 15, 2017 7:21 pm
I have read reviews of the M5s and multiple engineers say that you can get professional level recordings. Users say that the M5s are built much more sturdy than other mics in the same price range.
Or indeed consider a standalone recorder, the Zoom H5 is comparable to the M5s in performance, and you won't need to buy an interface.
(Gr) (En) (very little Fr)

Andrew Pohlman
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Re: Best mics for recording classical guitar

Post by Andrew Pohlman » Wed Nov 15, 2017 10:52 pm

Andrew Fryer wrote:
Sun Nov 12, 2017 12:43 pm
The SM58 is best kept only as a vocal mic, IMO - basically it's designed for people to scream into it from an inch away. It's noticeably a few decibels less sensitive than the SM57, although in theory they both contain the same element. And the SM57 is an instrument/amp mic, so it's less sensitive than many other mics around, especially condensers. I only own my SM58 because it came up cheap on e - b a y before I found something more suitable. If I'd already had an SM57 and a PG81 (the best mic of the three), I'd never have bothered with it.
I don't understand the praise for SM58s and SM57s for recording classical. I use both for live rock performances and live rock recordings - read LOUD. The noise floor on those mics is horrible. Any subtlety of a CG would be compromised by such high noise. But for rock, the live source can be like 90-100dB, so high noise floor is not so bad. Even then, the M5 I mentioned earlier, and other mics too, will handle the huge volume and still are far far cleaner than the trusty old SM58s. I love my SM58s and 57s! I have two pair of each! Just not for recording classical.
2013 Rodriguez FF Sabicas blanco
2015 Trevor Gore custom Neoclassical
- redwood top, Palo dorado B+Ss.

John Stone
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Re: Best mics for recording classical guitar

Post by John Stone » Thu Nov 16, 2017 12:03 am

Andrew Pohlman wrote:
Wed Nov 15, 2017 10:52 pm
I don't understand the praise for SM58s and SM57s for recording classical. I use both for live rock performances and live rock recordings - read LOUD. The noise floor on those mics is horrible. Any subtlety of a CG would be compromised by such high noise. But for rock, the live source can be like 90-100dB, so high noise floor is not so bad. Even then, the M5 I mentioned earlier, and other mics too, will handle the huge volume and still are far far cleaner than the trusty old SM58s. I love my SM58s and 57s! I have two pair of each! Just not for recording classical.
Totally agree about SM57's and 58's. They also lack the detail and clarity you really want for CG, especially in the high frequencies.

But I love those mics in other applications, especially for recording the signal from an electric guitar amp.
2001 Manuel Velazquez
1977 Ramirez 1a
2014 Cordoba C10
They said, "You have a blue guitar, You do not play things as they are." The man replied, "Things as they are / Are changed upon the blue guitar."

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Andrew Fryer
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Re: Best mics for recording classical guitar

Post by Andrew Fryer » Thu Nov 16, 2017 12:40 am

I didn't say they were fabulous - they're just all I've got at the moment, and CG is not likely to be their main use ever.
1975 Calatayud y Gisbert, Yamaha CG131S.

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