Micing acoustic guitars for upcoming project

home studio

Building upon the experiences made during my single mic test, I’ve been trying out different configurations for spaced pair stereo micing my acoustic guitars. I thought I’d share my discoveries so far.

Upcoming projects

We have two recording projects coming up, both featuring nylon and steel string guitar. First, we’ll do an overdubbing project where I can use whatever mics I have and then we’ll also do a live recording where I’m going to have to distribute the mics.

Which mics to use?

I left the following mics out of the test

  • Røde NT1-A – didn’t do so well in my single mic test on acoustic guitar, but will be considered for vocals in the project
  • Røde NT5 – Probably could’ve used them (thinking nylon guitar), but am going to use these as overheads instead
  • Sennheiser e935 – Not the sound I’m going for, but will be considered for vocals in the project

The mics I have tested in various spaced pair setups this time are:

  • Sennheiser MK8 (fig 8 pattern, 60 hz roll off)
  • Shure KSM 141 (cardioid pattern, no pad / roll off)
  • Milab DC-96B

The Sennheiser MK8 will likely end up doing vocals during the live recording session, but could be used for guitar in the overdubbing project.

Acoustic steel string guitar

My favorite setup (so far) was very simple; a spaced pair of Shure KSM 141 with one mic about 20 CMs from the 12th fret and the other over the sound hole, but pointing towards the area where the neck meets the body (I refer to it as upper body). The guitar, a Seagull S6 Cedar, is a bit shrill and I find the KSM 141 mellows it a bit while making it sound big in the strumming parts.

Shure KSM 141 spaced pair stereo setup

Just for fun, here’s a comparison of the setup which I (so far) felt worked best for nylon string guitar, replacing the KSM 141 over the 12th fret with a Milab DC-96B.

Milab DC-96B & Shure KSM 14 spaced pair stereo setup

But when it comes to the live recording session, I’m not gonna have two Shure KSM 141s free for the acoustic steel string since I also like that mic for the nylon guitar. So, I am going to replace the 12th fret KSM 141 with the sE Electronics GM10.

sE Electronics GM10 & Shure KSM 141 spaced pair stereo setup

Acoustic nylon string guitar

From the single mic test, I knew the Milab DC-96B loves my Merida nylon guitar. At least I love them together. Whereas I think it was too shrill on my steel string, it suits the softer sound of the nylon strings perfectly. I paired it up with a Shure KSM 141 and I liked the result.

Milab DC-96B & Shure KSM 14 spaced pair stereo setup

Just for fun, here’s what the nylon string guitar sounds like with the setup I preferred for steel strings (two KSM 141s). To me, this demonstrates just how different nylon and steel string guitars are in a micing situation.

Shure KSM 141 spaced pair stereo setup

I am reasonably satisfied, but I could do a little more testing on finding the best partner for the DC-96B in my preferred configuration. I stil have to try the Røde NT5 in this position. The NT5s will be tied up in the live session, but not for the overdubbing session.

Alternative setups

dc-96B & mk8 over shoulder
DC-96B at the 12th fret and MK8 over the shoulder favours nylon guitar

Stereo recordings with the Milab DC-96B and the Sennheiser MK8 worked for best for nylon with the Milab on the 12th fret and the MK8 covering the soundhole/bridge or looking over the shoulder. However, it wasn’t clear to me if it was better with the MK8 than the KSM 141 and it’s a little harder to work with which is why I ended up preferring the KSM 141 to the MK8.

DC-96B at 12th fret and MK8 over shoulder for nylon

The DC-96B & KM8 setup that worked best for steel strings was MK8 over the 12th fret and the DC-96B pointing at bridge or over the shoulder. This made the guitar sound really big.

MK8 at 12th fret and DC-98B over shoulder

So that’s my take. What do you think?

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