Best mics for recording classical guitar

Creating a home studio for recording the classical guitar. Equipment, software and recording techniques. Amplification for live performance.
User avatar
Peter Frary
Posts: 251
Joined: Tue Aug 22, 2017 8:40 am
Location: Honolulu

Re: Best mics for recording classical guitar

Post by Peter Frary » Thu Nov 16, 2017 7:53 am

I use a matched pair of Neumann KM-184 for most of my classical guitar recording. They're tiny, extremely sensitive and accurate and respond well to the smallest changes in dynamics, nail angle or right hand position. So if you're playing clean, they give back what you played in spades. But if you're a little sloppy, the sensitivity reveals finger noise and lack of tonal and dynamic control shockingly well. I like using them about two meters out in X-Y on a Shure A27M Stereo Microphone Adapter. Much faster and easier to set up compared to a stereo bar or two stands. http://www.fraryguitar.com/shure_a27m.htm

If you want a sensitive mic that's a wee bit warmer and forgiving, check out the Neumann TLM 102 MT. I only use mine for multi-track projects but really love it's sound. I plan to buy another one when Mr. VISA is feeling a little looser.
I play a Cordoba Mini so I look taller on stage!

PeteJ
Posts: 1119
Joined: Fri Jul 08, 2016 12:52 pm

Re: Best mics for recording classical guitar

Post by PeteJ » Thu Nov 16, 2017 11:59 am

Agree about noisy SM58s etc., but sometimes a mic can flatter can I find the SM58 can do this sometimes, partly because they lack detail. But it's a long long time since I used one.

User avatar
Andrew Fryer
Posts: 3235
Joined: Mon Jan 30, 2012 9:13 pm
Location: London SE5

Re: Best mics for recording classical guitar

Post by Andrew Fryer » Thu Nov 16, 2017 1:25 pm

Arash Ahmadi wrote:
Sat Nov 11, 2017 11:54 am
best affordable mic
Peter Frary wrote:
Thu Nov 16, 2017 7:53 am
I use a matched pair of Neumann KM-184
So, how do you define affordable, Arash?
1975 Calatayud y Gisbert, Yamaha CG131S.

Andrew Pohlman
Posts: 1358
Joined: Tue Nov 10, 2015 8:24 pm
Location: SF Bay Area

Re: Best mics for recording classical guitar

Post by Andrew Pohlman » Thu Nov 16, 2017 3:36 pm

Andrew Fryer wrote:
Thu Nov 16, 2017 1:25 pm
Arash Ahmadi wrote:
Sat Nov 11, 2017 11:54 am
best affordable mic
Peter Frary wrote:
Thu Nov 16, 2017 7:53 am
I use a matched pair of Neumann KM-184
So, how do you define affordable, Arash?
:D Ahem, yes! I asked this question, sort of, earlier. Paraphrasing, Arash stated he listened to a Blue Yeti USB mic and it sounded acceptable. So I don't think we're talking Neumann products here!

Otherwise, we will entering the NASA mode where you spend 10K% more to get 2% performance improvement. :D
2013 Rodriguez FF Sabicas blanco
2015 Trevor Gore custom Neoclassical
- redwood top, Palo dorado B+Ss.

User avatar
Peter Frary
Posts: 251
Joined: Tue Aug 22, 2017 8:40 am
Location: Honolulu

Re: Best mics for recording classical guitar

Post by Peter Frary » Thu Nov 16, 2017 4:21 pm

Well, those Neumann are the only mics I have actual experience with during the digital age. I used Shure SM57/58 on a Tascam 8-track back in the day but hated the presence peak in the lower treble. If you're going to use a inexpensive mic maybe try the built-in mics of a Tascam DR series or Zoom H5/6. A little edgy in the highs (a wee bit of lower mid EQ fixes it) but super fast to set up and easy to carry to performing venues compared to component gear. I often just mount my DR-100 MKII on a tripod on stage for live performances and used the remote to trigger it and get very decent sound with a wee bit of processing.
I play a Cordoba Mini so I look taller on stage!

User avatar
Andrew Fryer
Posts: 3235
Joined: Mon Jan 30, 2012 9:13 pm
Location: London SE5

Re: Best mics for recording classical guitar

Post by Andrew Fryer » Thu Nov 16, 2017 4:39 pm

Yeah, I see the Neumann is mentioned on page 1, but I didn't bother Googling then.
You get the same with cars. Someone asks what you can get for 2000 and someone says they drive a Ferrari.
1975 Calatayud y Gisbert, Yamaha CG131S.

User avatar
Peter Frary
Posts: 251
Joined: Tue Aug 22, 2017 8:40 am
Location: Honolulu

Re: Best mics for recording classical guitar

Post by Peter Frary » Fri Nov 17, 2017 4:11 am

A $300,000+ Ferrari vs a $2000 used car is a bit out of scale. A Neumann KM-184 or TLM 102 MT are about $700 each stateside. While not inexpensive, they're affordable enough to be found in plenty of amateur musician studios. I paid $400 for a funky AT stereo mic that fell apart in a couple years of light use (internal stereo capsules supported by foam) and that was $400 wasted. I should have bit the bullet and went with the better mics.

The Shure SM81-LC is worth a listen. They were at the top of my list along with the KM-184 and are highly regarded at half the price of the KM-184. When I tried one at my friend's studio I decided it was too long for my cramped spaces and I went with the pencil style Neumann.
I play a Cordoba Mini so I look taller on stage!

User avatar
Arash Ahmadi
Posts: 465
Joined: Thu Oct 05, 2017 7:38 pm

Re: Best mics for recording classical guitar

Post by Arash Ahmadi » Fri Nov 17, 2017 7:09 pm

Andrew Fryer wrote:
Thu Nov 16, 2017 1:25 pm
Arash Ahmadi wrote:
Sat Nov 11, 2017 11:54 am
best affordable mic
Peter Frary wrote:
Thu Nov 16, 2017 7:53 am
I use a matched pair of Neumann KM-184
So, how do you define affordable, Arash?
Well, by affordable I meant something below 500 euros and it seems it is quite possible according to the posts.
To send light into the darkness of men's heart, such is the duty of the artist. (Robert Schumann)

User avatar
Arash Ahmadi
Posts: 465
Joined: Thu Oct 05, 2017 7:38 pm

Re: Best mics for recording classical guitar

Post by Arash Ahmadi » Fri Nov 17, 2017 7:22 pm

Peter Frary wrote:
Fri Nov 17, 2017 4:11 am
A $300,000+ Ferrari vs a $2000 used car is a bit out of scale. A Neumann KM-184 or TLM 102 MT are about $700 each stateside. While not inexpensive, they're affordable enough to be found in plenty of amateur musician studios. I paid $400 for a funky AT stereo mic that fell apart in a couple years of light use.

The Shure SM81-LC is worth a listen. They were at the top of my list along with the KM-184 and are highly regarded at half the price of the KM-184. When I tried one at my friend's studio I decided it was too long for my cramped spaces and I went with the pencil style Neumann.
Unfortunately, I suppose there are some pricey but useless mics out there. Shure SM81-LC sounds quite similar to Rode NT5 Matched Pair.
To send light into the darkness of men's heart, such is the duty of the artist. (Robert Schumann)

John Stone
Posts: 358
Joined: Fri Jul 18, 2014 5:32 am
Location: Ohio, USA

Re: Best mics for recording classical guitar

Post by John Stone » Sat Nov 18, 2017 2:31 am

Arash Ahmadi wrote:
Fri Nov 17, 2017 7:09 pm
Well, by affordable I meant something below 500 euros
The Neumann KM 184 goes for $700-800 in the USA -- 590-680 euros.

Not cheap, but not that far out of range. I wonder if you can get one for less in Europe since they're made in Germany.
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."

User avatar
sxedio
Posts: 1373
Joined: Sun Aug 12, 2007 10:18 pm
Location: UK / Cyprus

Re: Best mics for recording classical guitar

Post by sxedio » Sun Nov 19, 2017 8:08 pm

Andrew Fryer wrote:
Sun Nov 12, 2017 11:48 am
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.
You basically need to do this :
split stereo to mono.png
Audacity screenshot, but the software of your choice should have equivalent functionality.
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.
(Gr) (En) (very little Fr)

quavers
Posts: 82
Joined: Thu Mar 17, 2016 10:39 pm

Re: Best mics for recording classical guitar

Post by quavers » Sat Nov 25, 2017 7:57 pm

I use a zoom 3. It's not just a microphone - it's a self contained recorder. It does everything and does it well. It's the only device you need to record and it is very easy to operate.

User avatar
Arash Ahmadi
Posts: 465
Joined: Thu Oct 05, 2017 7:38 pm

Re: Best mics for recording classical guitar

Post by Arash Ahmadi » Sun Nov 26, 2017 7:12 pm

quavers wrote:
Sat Nov 25, 2017 7:57 pm
I use a zoom 3. It's not just a microphone - it's a self contained recorder. It does everything and does it well. It's the only device you need to record and it is very easy to operate.
Are you happy with the quality of the recordings? I think the basses are not recorded very well on zoom 3 and 5, it would helpful if you could share one of your recordings with us.
To send light into the darkness of men's heart, such is the duty of the artist. (Robert Schumann)

quavers
Posts: 82
Joined: Thu Mar 17, 2016 10:39 pm

Re: Best mics for recording classical guitar

Post by quavers » Wed Dec 06, 2017 5:59 am

My playing needs a considerable amount of work. That's why I use the recorder in the first place. The quality is adequate-it's not a piece of studio recording equipment.

I will try to submit a recording soon. But I use it mostly for study.

If you're looking for a studio quality recording, that captures the full tonal spectrum, you will really need to go to a studio. Microphones, that is to say good quality microphones are important, but you will need to control ambient noise, have an observer or engineer monitor the sound, both analytically by measuring levels and by actively listening.

While a studio recording is a little pricey but, if you feel that you are ready to distribute or sell recordings of you music, it may be time to make the investment.

User avatar
Peter Frary
Posts: 251
Joined: Tue Aug 22, 2017 8:40 am
Location: Honolulu

Re: Best mics for recording classical guitar

Post by Peter Frary » Wed Dec 06, 2017 8:40 am

I briefly owned a Zoom H6 to use at my life shows and when traveling light. It wasn't well suited for solo guitarists: couldn't read the meter levels with the mic end pointed at me and the preamps didn't have enough gain for finger picking or classical styles. Somehow similarly priced Tascam units have more sensitive preamps. The built-in TAscam mics aren't great but my KM-184 and TLM-102 MT sound great jacked into the Tascam. An outboard mic preamp would be nice but then then it wouldn't get carried out of the house...
I play a Cordoba Mini so I look taller on stage!

Return to “Classical guitar recording and amplification”