I remember being in preschool and watching our teacher play the piano. I was amazed and wanted nothing more but to make it sound that she could. Fortunately for me I had parents that recognized their 4th child was different to the rest of their 6 children and put me into piano lessons.
Over the years I learned guitar, drums, bass, French horn and my parents encouraged me to get a job at the local music studio in the small town of Owensboro, KY where I began training with their videographer at age 14.
I say all this because this is where my passion for everything digital media began and I love inspiring young artists to follow their dreams! Because of that I started a live show at Tribeca Flashpoint College where I sit down with experts in the field of Recording Arts, Graphic Design, Animation and Film to bring you tips to not only help you create something awesome but of quality.
Last week I sat down with our recording arts chair Yuri and RA student Jerimiah Douglas to talk about some of the best techniques to micing a guitar! The following is what I learned.
1. How a Guitar Makes A Sound
Before micing a guitar it is necessary to understand how a guitar makes sound. A common mistake is thinking the sound comes from the hole. However, I learned that the sound resonates from three main spots of the guitar:
-Higher tones and finger movements: Where the neck meets the body
– Mid tones and full sound: From the bridge down.
-Muddy lower tones: The hole.
2. The Spaced Pair
Yuri then set up two Nuermann KM184 mics with space between them each about a foot away from the guitar.
-First mic: Pointing where the neck meets the body
-Second mic: Pointing at the bridge
Yuri stressed that there is no gospel to micing a guitar. These are only good starting points. You must rely on your ear. That is where training your ear and understanding the science behind sound can really help a sound engineer and the musician.
3. Near Coincident Pair
With this technique, Yuri brought the mics closer together where the part of the mics that bottom of the mics were touching and creating a 90 degree angle. However, the mics were still pointing at the same place as the spaced pair. Yuri prefers this method over the spaced pair.
4. Single Mic Technique (Mono)
Yuri explained that recording in stereo (using two mics) you get a full sound of the guitar which is what he prefers when micing a guitar only song. However, if the guitar was one instrument of many then the single mic would be his choice. That way he would have more control of where to place the guitar in the mix and it won’t be so overbearing. When micing this way Yuri starts by pointing the mic where the neck meets the bridge to start. Again, it is all about relying on your ear to find the best sound.
5. Al Schmitt technique
With this technique Yuri switched to a Gefell M930 condensor mic and explained that Al Schmitt makes it really simple. Point the mic where the sound resonates from the guitar. Which, as we explained earlier, is the front of the guitar. When we tried this Yuri noted that you have to be careful not to point the mic at the arm/hand because you could block some of the sound. Also don’t point directly at the hole unless you want a super muddy sound. But again, you must use your ear to find the best sound to fit you and the musician.
6. Recording on a budget
This was a bonus. If you have a small to no budget but have a smart phone Yuri recommended a few options of mics that you can plug straight into your phone or iPad.
–Apogee MiC 96k
But even if you just have your phone, use any of the starting points above and your ear to find the best sound possible!
This is only the tip of the iceberg. To truly understand sound, it takes years of practice and hard work! My encouragement to you is to start recording now with what you have. The more you do the better you’ll get.
Another way is to find experts, like Yuri, and ask to work with them for free! Our students have the opportunity to watch professionals in action all the time and it’s the students that choose this in their free time that will become unstoppable in the business.
To get an in-depth look/listen check out the full show at:
Go do and stay inspired!
So what’s the next step?
Finding a college curriculum that mimics the real-world is the best way to help bridge the gap between college and a career.
At Tribeca Flashpoint College, our faculty of industry professionals assign projects that encourage collaboration, hard work, and professionalism. Each student walks away with real-world, client experience to add to their resume, as well as the key skills they need to land a job that will springboard them into a career in film!
If you’re interested in learning more about the journey from student to film professional, download our guide, Film: From College to Career.