Recording Acoustic Guitar 01

  January 6, 2015

Understanding how and how not to record acoustic guitar is critical knowledge for a producer in any field of music. First let us say that an acoustic guitar almost always sounds better through a microphone, but noise, and other culprits can often force a producer to plug directly into a hi-z input. Thus, Hit Talk’s first guitar recording tip deals with plugging the guitar directly into your interface or mixer. This tip applies to guitars that are equipped with a pickup. There are essentially three ways to connect a guitar directly to your interface, multitrack or mixer.

Using a Patch Cable:

Often musicians attempt to record by connecting their guitar pickup directly to an input via a 1/4″ patch cable. (Though some guitars, like Taylor, use a balanced XLR instead of 1/4″.) If the pickup is passive - that is, if it does not use a battery - the signal gain will be too low to extract an adequate signal. An active pickup - one that uses a battery - is the solution to this. Too many guitarists mistakenly assume that an active pickup

means they can record directly into an input, but their overlooking vital piece of knowledge: even good active pickups transmit harsh high frequencies into the guitar signal. That’s because the purpose of an active pickup isn’t inputting directly into a mixer, their purpose is inputting into a guitar amplifier. The harsh high frequencies disappear when they come out of the amplifier speaker. So even good active pickups will sound often electronic and unnatural. So what’s the solution?

Using a DI Box:

DI boxes are simply a tool to convert a high impedance (hi-z) signal from a guitar, to a low impedance (low-z) signal, so you can plug the guitar into a microphone input. DI boxes typically contain a hi-z input and a low-z output, and a transformer in between. A plain DI box is prone to the same harsh high-frequency edge as a direct connection to an active pickup is, so it’s important to consider boxes that are designed specifically for acoustic guitar, like the LR Baggs Para DI(street price: $135). A solid acousic DI will definitely sound better than a standard DI, or a direct connection to an active pickup, but for the sake of recording, fishman has devised a third option.

Fishman’s Aura Imaging System:

The Fishman Aura (street: $200) is a new class of signal processor that takes the signal from a passive pickup and makes it sound like an acoustic guitar through a microphone in a pro studio. In noisy surroundings, like those in most home studios, this fantastic gizmo saves much producer heartache - zero noise, perfect recording quality.

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6 Responses to “Recording Acoustic Guitar 01”

  1. Uche on October 26th, 2008 10:47 am

    I need tips on how to produce dynamic effects.

  2. admin on October 26th, 2008 12:48 pm

    Hi Uche. We’re glad you mentioned dynamic effects. Our new Hit Report that’s being released in a few days will have an explicit focus on effects including compression and post fader reverb tricks. We’re also going to place an explicit emphasis on beat making and dynamic effects in the upcoming tips. Keep your ear to the ground.

  3. G Da SmoothOperator on November 6th, 2008 8:42 am

    Responding to the tips on recording acoustic guitar!\

    In addition to the very good tips MB is givingI I would say that a pre-amp before the input would also help with the desired results. Since their are no hard limits to the techniques one could use in the realm of the recording arts, try experimenting with different gear, old and new, big and small. You will be surprised at how great a sound you can come up with.

  4. Илья on February 14th, 2009 9:10 am

    Замечательный пост. Тоже хотелось бы научиться писать. Уже давно была мысль завести свой блог.
    Боюсь только читать никто не будет. Вот объясните, пожалуйста, как у вас получилось набрать аудиторию. Спасибо.

  5. Teo726 on December 25th, 2009 2:31 pm

    I got a question. I got an electric acoustic guitar which has a pickup working with battery (active apparently). So does fishman aura work with active pickups? and do i need an amplifier too or just connect straight to console?

  6. Hit Talk Staff on December 30th, 2009 1:09 pm


    Yes, active pickups should be fine with the Aura system. You can plug into the aura, then into the console.


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