I’ve been recording acoustic guitar with one mic for as long as I remember, and I’ve been figuring out my process mostly by trial and error. Fortunately, it’s not quite as difficult as you would think, especially with a few tips that could go a long way.
This post is a guide on recording acoustic guitar with one mic. Let’s jump in!
Assuming a typical rectangular room, you want to sit facing away from one of the shorter walls, parallel to the longer walls. Place yourself at around 1/3 of the length of the room. Refer to the handy diagram I made on the left. If your room isn’t perfectly rectangular, do your best to mentally visualize a rectangle and fit the shape of your room into it, then apply the same principle.
When it comes to acoustic treatment of your home studio, the usual guidelines apply; flat, hard surfaces are bad. Big empty walls are bad. Thick studio carpets and curtains are good, bookshelves and other furniture are also good.
Place the mic roughly 12 to 16 inches in front of the guitar neck, aimed at the 12th fret. That’s the sweet spot, but don’t be afraid to experiment. Moving the mic closer to the soundhole makes your recording sound boomier, while moving it away makes it sound thinner.
If you have the time for it, try playing softly and then gradually move the mic closer until you reach a good balance between string sound and room noise. It’s not a bad idea to experiment with moving the mic around to get just the right balance of tone and clarity for your particular guitar in your particular room.
More than the cost. Personally, I believe you be can recording acoustic guitar with one mic, and make it work with any equipment you already have in your home studio. You certainly don’t need an expensive microphone, but the type of microphone does make a difference. For acoustic guitars, I strongly recommend going with a condenser microphone.
To be even more specific for recording acoustic guitar with one mic, check out my review of microphones for acoustic guitar.
I can hear the more tech savvy readers already wondering calling this out for not producing as wide of a sound compared to when using stereo microphones for recording guitars. Well guess what, there’s a simple mixing trick that’s going to give you an even wider sound!
After you’re done recording acoustic guitar with one mic, simply record the same part again on a separate track in your DAW. Make sure to use headphones to avoid the sound from the previous take bleeding into the microphone, and try to match the timing and rhythm of your second take as close as you can to the first one.
Finally, go to your DAW and pan the first track hard-left, and the second one hard-right. That means 100% left and right, respectively. Now give it a listen and have your mind blown!
Whether you record for fun or for profit, recording acoustic guitar with one mic can save you time and money in the process. You do not need an expensive microphone either, you can just use the microphone you’ve got lying around, but it does help if it’s a condenser microphone. Don’t forget to record a separate track and use panning to achieve a super wide mix, it’s a lot of fun!
All that is left is for you to put in the hard work, like putting in the time and developing your skills as an acoustic guitarist!