nerd alert

Mic Your Acoustic Guitar Like a Boss
by Chris Dawson

Hi there, acoustic guitar players. I'm sure you have felt a touch neglected over the past few weeks, but this week, it's your turn.

But first, some general discussion. Have you ever recorded yourself?

I have, and the first time I listened to myself play guitar I was literally appalled. It was probably worse than hearing myself speak in an interview. It was so sloppy, out of time, and just a bird's nest of embarrassment. I wanted to apologize to myself, from myself. Not only did I delete the track in my audio interface, I dug through my hard drive and deleted the physical files.

Make yourself a part of the audience by recording your playing. Lesson learned. Recording myself then became a daily occurrence, and a part of my practice routine. Until you record yourself play, you just don't know for sure. You don't know if that bend sounded right, if you dinged a few notes in that chord, or if your timing was on or not. Divorcing yourself from the physical side of playing is the only way to really make yourself a part of the audience. The next step is being objective. Does it actually sound right? Am I comfortable playing this for someone else? I honestly feel like this is a major step that takes you from a beginner to an intermediate player. My world certainly changed, and I now had a discernible way of tracking my improvements (or lack thereof).

So let's do it. Learn how to record your acoustic. And we'll record it "like a boss". This isn't too difficult to achieve, and yes of course we have a lesson for that. First, lets get a little nerdy and at least brief you on some polar patterns for microphones. This is basically entry level knowledge, and will show you the initial purpose of each microphone type.

In a nutshell, a microphone has an associated polar pattern that shows you the sensitivity of the microphone in different directions. This is particularly important for recording an acoustic guitar, since alot of the allure of acoustic tonality is how the sound fills the space of a room. I mention this not to scare you away, but to help you make a bit more sense of this lesson.

Cardioid

Cardioid Polar Pattern

Cardioid means "heart shaped", but we all know it looks like a butt. This pattern allows the mic to pick up sound within 120 degrees of what it is facing. It isn't foolproof though, and will still pick up a bit of sound from all directions depending on the microphone.

Supercardioid

Supercardioid Polar Pattern

This is basically the cardioid pattern with a tigher range, but with a sensitive rear receiver that will pick up sound. Consider this as just a small tail out of the back of the microphone that will pick up ambient noise.

Shotgun

Shotgun Polar Pattern

Shotgun microphones are as directional as it gets, with the tightest range of these patterns. This also has a small tail that will pick up just a sliver of ambient noise directly behind it. This is the type of microphone we use for live events, and performs perfectly for our application.

Omnidirectional

Omnidirectional Polar Pattern

Omnidirectional picks up everything, with no filtering or range restrictions. These are used in various circumstances, and even have their place in recording instruments that fill a room (like an acoustic guitar).

Nerds out there will notice I left out a few patterns, and this is true.. but I am merely trying to educate novices on some terminology you will be digesting in this video. We could also talk about different mic types (dynamic, ribbons, condensers) and diaphragm sizes, but I really am just encouraging people to start recording themselves! All that nerd talk comes after, and I'm sure I will be committing to more technical topics down the road.

Acoustic Guitar Micing Techniques

Taught by Chris Liepe & Jim Deeming

So here we go. Chris Liepe teams up with Jim Deeming to present proper acoustic guitar micing techniques. Chris covers both single and dual micing placements and explains why each position is effective for certain situations.

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Check out this Series on JamPlay

Chris Liepe's Recording and Micing series is one of my favorites on our site, and I also "took" all these lessons myself when starting up our studio. Chris has forgotten more about this subject than I currently know, so you owe it to yourself to dig through this series and use his knowledge to your benefit. I know I have. Create a full membership to access this material, and get moving!

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Introduction and Getting Started

Welcome to lesson 1 of the Recording and Micing series! Here Chris provides some information essential to getting your home studio up and running.

Setting Up Your Space

Setting up your space for optimal audio recording and play back is key to creating a successful home studio. Chris explains how to create the best possible environment in this lesson.

Understanding Microphones

Chris demonstrates how microphones work and how to choose the right microphone for a specific application.

Direct Recording

Chris explains how to successfully record through some direct recording techniques. When done correctly, you can record a clean signal from your guitar with no microphones.

Electric Guitar / Amp Micing Techniques

Chris liepe unlocks the wonders of micing an electric guitar amplifier. He explains how to find a speaker's "sweet spot" as well as the differences in tone between various common micing techniques.

Acoustic Guitar Micing Techniques

Chris Liepe teams up with Jim Deeming to present proper acoustic guitar micing techniques. Chris covers both single and dual micing placements and explains why each position is effective for certain situations.

Acoustic Recording Options

With the help of Jim's playing, Chris has rigged up Jim's guitar three different ways and demonstrates the different qualities of sound you can get by recording with a direct line in, micing the amp, micing the guitar, or by combining any one of the three options together to create a crisp...

Layering Multiple Guitar Tracks

With Jim playing 3 different sequences to overdub on top of one another, Chris will record them using 3 different micing techniques with 2 different guitars to create 1 final track.

Effects Signal Routing

Chris takes a step back from electric and acoustic micing to demonstrate the proper way to route your effects to achieve the best possible sound.

Direct Guitar Recording (Using a DAW)

Chris uses a Pro Tools session to demonstrate not only how to create a solid lead guitar sound within your home DAW, but how the basic tools and tips that he demonstrates can be applied to any software used.

Direct Guitar EQ Basics

Chris Liepe reveals the basics of how to properly understand and utilize EQ tools within a DAW to define and enrich your overall guitar sound.

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Get better this weekend..

Set a goal, improve.

I encourage you all to take a step forward this weekend. Record yourself, be embarassed, and face your playing head on. Set a goal for the next step you are taking with your playing and hold yourself to it. I know it is a difficult process, but the rewards are awesome. Next week? Well, I will figure out next week's topic... next week. Like yourself, I am narrowing my focus and tackling what is in front of me.

Take the hill, Chris Dawson
JamPlay, LLC Co-Founder

Chris Dawson.  JamPlay Co-Founder

Chris Dawson is a JamPlay Co-Founder. He graduated from the University of Dayton in 2005 with double majors in Entrepreneurship and MIS, and shortly after began creating jamplay.com with partners Jeff Booth (Colorado) and Kevin Wimer (Dayton, OH). He first began the development of jamplay.com in 2007, but transitioned to artist relations, video editing, and operating the Ohio production studio from 2009-2013. Chris is now tasked with front-end web development, client-side code, accounting, music publishing, and writing crappy publications such as this. Go easy on him, he's shy.


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