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carol m

Which Mic for a Nylon String Guitar?

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carol m    64

I have only a cheap dynamic mic for recording on my nylon string guitar. It needs to be about 1cm from the strings and at exactly 90 degrees to give enough volume. This is distracting when I try to record on that guitar.

I thought I would consider getting a pick-up mic instead of a more expensive stand-held type mic - at least I think that's what they are called - those mics you see attached to the sound-hole on classical guitars.

I thought Jomi said he used one of those but I can't find his post about it. If anyone has any suggestions that would be greatly appreciated. Tomorrow I'll phone around a few local stores to see what they have, but in the meantime, a few tips would be great.

I wouldn't really be able to justify spending more than about $100 or so - I have no idea if that is enough, or whether the money would be better spent on a better quality standard type mic. It's the idea of not having to worry about keeping the guitar closely aligned with the mic while I'm playing that appeals with the pick-up type mic.

Any info would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance.

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carol m    64

Thanks Doug, that looks good, but a quick search for Australian stores/search came up zero. I see now that there is a difference between a soundhole pick-up and a soundhole mic. From what I've read, the pick-ups don't reproduce the natural sound, but add/change it in various ways - I haven't listened to any yet though. Also most are for Acoustic guitars (and they mean steel string) and not nylon classical type. Also, they seem to start at around $200 australian and go up from there.

I may have to look at getting a good ordinary type mic. Thanks for finding that one - it set me on the right track. I'll report back when I know more info.

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Doug    12

I agree that you'd be better served buying yourself a reasonable condenser mic and preamp with phantom power. The value is very good for some of these inexpensive Chinese made mics - MXL603 has great reviews for about $100.

Acoustic guitar pickups are improving but they're still pretty bad. I really don't like the piezo sound - although it's so common on recordings that people are starting to think it's an authentic acoustic guitar sound. There are sound hole mounted pickups for acoustic guitars - but you're right - these only work with steel strings.

There is a new breed of acoustic pickups where they glue a series of transducers to the underside of the sound board. This brand has very good reviews:

Pure Classic - K&K Sound

But a mic is pretty versatile.

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carol m    64

Yes I saw that one on an Aussie store site - it's $199 and you have to drill a hole. I know I've seen classical guitarists with what lools like a lapel type mic hooked over the bottom of the soundhole - probably very expensive, but I couldn't find one in my search. I'm going to phone a couple of the stores and see what they say/recommend.

I actually have my old Tascam (PCI Interface not a pre-amp) with phantom power on it, so maybe a condenser mic is the way to go. I saw in your other thread that you placed your mics about 1 foot from the strings - that would work fine for me, so I'll check out condenser mics too.

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eddiez152    129

Carol m

Here is one I started with, it is an excellent mic.

SameDayMusic.com: Marshall Electronics MXL.006 USB Mic

I also have the K&K pickups in my Gibson Montana Model, as doug mentions they have good reviews. They are good and easy to install but I still had it done by a pro.

Here is another great mic as well.

Buy MXL MXL 990 USB Stereo Condenser Microphone online at Musician's Friend

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carol m    64

They look good Eddie. I wasn't really looking for a USB mic because then I can't use it through my Tascam interface. I could use it direct into9 the mac, but I'd like the flexibility of a non USB connection.

To cheer up you guys over there with your sub-prime woes, the 006 costs $249 here, so it's not all bad to be living in the USA!

Thanks for doing some research for me Eddie. It's appreciated :)

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carol m    64

After a bit of research into mics for the nylon string I think I'll be going for a condenser mic. I learned that a Shure SM57 or 58 are dynamic mics, not condenser. (Aussie price $309 and $369!)

At the bottom of the price range here, the main choices are

Behringer C3 condenser mic with dual diaphragm (don't know if that is better or why) for $119

Samson The new C05 condenser mic for $129

A home brand 'Behringer copy' for $90

I'll probably go with the Behringer or the Behringer copy.

Question: does the condenser mic give better volume (because of the phantom power - or whatever),

or is it the sound quality that is better? Or both?

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Doug    12

It's the quality of the sound rather than the volume - they may even be quieter (not sure). I imagine that all of the chinese made condensers are comparable in quality (which is very good for the price).

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thodwris    1

Hello Carol...

I wish you find the best choice for the best microphone!You are right about the Shure mics,they are dynamic.But still,I am surprised to hear about the prices that you mentioned.I found the SM58 at 95 euro from Thomann,that would be about 125 american dollars.Here is the link :

SHURE SM58 LC - U.K. International Cyberstore

The best of luck with the mic...

All the best,

Theo

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Stratrat    0
...Question: does the condenser mic give better volume (because of the phantom power - or whatever),

or is it the sound quality that is better? Or both?

It's my understanding that condenser mics give better sound quality because they (generally) pick up a wider frequency spread. They'll get the lower bassy notes and higher overtones that a dynamic mic will miss.

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Tekker    1

Condensers are more sensitive than dynamics so as Stratrat mentioned, they pick up a wider frequency range and are typically "brighter" than dynamics. They are not necessarily louder as you can have quiet and loud condensers, it just depends on how it was designed. The phantom power doesn't affect the volume, basically, you can think of the phantom power button as the "on" switch for the condenser mic.

See if you can get the Studio Projects B1 ($120) in your area, if you can, then that's the one I'd go with.

-tkr

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Doug    12

A dynamic mic is basically the opposite of a speaker. In fact you can use a speaker as a microphone. As the sound waves hit the diaphragm, it causes a coil of wire to vibrate over a cylindrical magnet. This induces voltage on the wire which is then amplified.

A condenser (condenser is the same thing as a capacitor) is made up of two charged plates separated by a very thin dialectric (non-conductive material). One of the plates is attached to the diaphragm. As sound waves hit the diaphram, it causes the two plates to compress and relax. This changes the capacitance and either cause more electrons to be sucked into the capacitor or ejected from the capacitor. This flow of electrons is then amplified.

An analogy would be to have a plastic bottle filled with water with a plastic tube coming out of the top. If you squeeze the bottle, water flows out of the tube. When you release the bottle, the water flows back in.

The phantom power is used to supply the charge across the two plates. It is also used to supply power to the internal preamp within the microphone.

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carol m    64

Well, thank you one and all! I do like to understand how things 'work'.

Apart from anything else you can talk to sales people in a language they (sometimes) understand.

Theo, that site looks great, I'll check out what they have. Thanks.

Doug and Tekker, great info! I'm not shure I want a 'brighter' sound I think I would be aiming for warm/mellow for the nylon :dunno:

What mic do you use for your acoustic (nylon string?) recordings Doug - your recordings always sound rich and clear.

Maybe I'll pm Jomi and ask him what he uses - he hasn't been around for the last 2 weeks, but his recordings are great too.

Thanks for taking the time to educate me :winkthumb:

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Lcjones    8

However, not all condenser mic's OR dynamic mic's are suitable for acoustic instruments, whether nylon stringed or steel string.

The point of, and those who know more than me please jump in, the point of mic-ing up an acoustic instrument is to gather the absolute best tone from the instrument you can. With acoustic guitars, mic's are "pointed" to specific areas of the guitar to get the optimal or desired tone of the instrument.

Each microphone is designed to collect certain frequencies. Such as vocal frequencies are much more dynamic than an acoustic guitar frequencies. Although it can be done, you wouldn't want to use an optimized vocal mic for an acoustic instrument. Like wise, you wouldn't want to use an optimized acoustic instrument mic for vocals. Of course there are many "general/catch-all" mics on the market, I would highly recommend finding the right mic for the right job.

And as a personal favorite for my particular acoustic situation and needs I prefer my EV Cobalts. Co4 - Electrovoice

As always, it's "your" ears that make the call.

**

LC

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carol m    64

Thanks for the info Les. The research continues.......

some mics don't have switches! And those that do, are much more expensive - eg, for the shure SM58 with switch is $369 - one outlet having a sale is sacrificing them for a mere $246. But the Shure SM58 LC (no switch) is a paltry $199. How can anyone want a mic with no switch???? I suppose if it's a condenser mic you can use the phantom power switch which would be OK.

For those interested in exchange rates etc, $246 (the sale price on the Shure 58 with switch) = 129 euros, 105 pounds, or US$ 166. For the rrp price of $369, the comparisons are 194 euros, 157 pounds, and US$ 247.

I have already tripped up on the vocal versus intrument subset of difficulties in choosing. Of course I want a really great sound that can be used for nylon string guitar and vocals and costing about $120 max...........:)

the research continues.......

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Lcjones    8

None of my mic's have switches. All of my mic's are XLR based. My condensers use XLR(mic) to XLR(mixer) cables and my dynamics use XLR(mic) to 1/4"(mixer) cables.

These are the mic's I have..

1 - MXL 990 - condenser

2 - EV Cobalts4 - dynamic

1 - Audio Technica Pro61 - dynamic

1 - Nady CM88 - condenser

**

PS....

Buy Electro-Voice Cobalt CO 11 Condenser Microphone Buy One, Get One FREE!

PSS...:)

Bavas Music City : EV ELECTROVOICE COBALT CO4 [COBALT 4] - $219.00$149.90

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carol m    64

Well well! Les has come to the dark side (Aus) - that Bava store is where I found the Co4 too after you recommended it. They are the store that had the Shure SM58 on sale for $246 as well (that I mentioned above).

I've was thinking about the switch thing for dynamic mics - then the light dawned - it's the Record button on your computer which 'turns it on' when you are recording, not the switch on the mic :blush:

Do you use the dynamic mic for vocals? I don't need an instrument mic for my steel string guitars (because they are acoustic/electric or solid body electric and I don't have an amp) - only for the nylon string for the guitar and if possible a better vocal mic than the dynamic Optimus mic I have already.

I was thinking of getting a pair of mics that were on special at a store here during the week - good for stereo or mic-ing 2 positions on the guitar I thought, then realised my Tascam interface only has one XLR mic in (it's supposed to have 2 but it was a real cheapy ebay special and the sound on one of the inputs has almost no sound). I won't knock it though, half of it works and it has phantom power and it was all I could get to work with Windows 2000 (what I had at the time).

I must check again why I had problems with getting vol on the guitar recording with the mic I have, and I suspect it was actually because of that darned interference I was battling with a couple of weeks ago - had to turn down the mic vol on the Tascam to keep the interference down enough to be able to hide it with Noise Removal after recording.

Time for some recording experiments.........

Thanks Les for taking the time to help me out. :winkthumb:

Hopefully the help I'm getting with this thread will be useful for other members as well.

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Lcjones    8

In most cases I use the MXL 990 condenser for vocals. But it really picks up *all* noises in the room. Even the clock ticking on the wall 15 feet away. So I have to do a room sweep before recording. Frogs "Open Aire" Studio! :D

I might use the AT Pro61 for a harmony lines.

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Lcjones    8

Also regarding mic'ing up an acoustic guitar . This link is kind of a general practice or perhaps a "rule of thumb". Of course rules are meant to be broken, but these configurations will probably give you the best acoustic guitar recordings.

Acoustic Guitar Recording Techniques

If you are single mic'd, make several test recordings with your mic with these samples....

Mic pointed at 12th fret at a 90 degree angle from the fret board

Mic pointed at the bridge at a 90 degree angle from the bridge

Mic pointed at 12th fret at 45 degree angle facing the sound hole

Mic pointed at bridge at 45 degree angle facing the sound hole

Pointing the mic directly at the sound hole will almost always create too much *boom* in your recording.

**

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Doug    12

That's what I tend to do - have one mic pointing at around the 12th fret and the other at the lower bout near the bridge. I don't close mic - my mics are usually back 18" or so.

I usually use a Josephson C42 and an AKG 451B for my guitar. And I use an AT4050 for vocals. The AKG451B is probably better for steel string where you get that jangle - it's a very bright mic. The Josephson C42 ($400US) is a very nice mic for the price.

They say that small diameter condensers are better for instruments and that large are better for vocals. But you always have to go with personal preference.

Since a classical guitar has no where near the high frequencies of a steel string, and since you sing as well, I'd go with a large diameter just for versatility. You may want to check out audio technica mics - I think the 2020 or 2021 would suit. Or the one Tekker suggested - it was a large diameter.

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carol m    64

I have news friends and helpers!

Some of you know that I've been battling wireless connection (and dodgy CPU) issues for a few weeks. I solved the wireless connection problem with an ethernet cabel slung between 2 windows (a work in progress). I have also been battling against an interference on my recordings for months.

A couple of posts ago I wondered if the reason I had needed to place the mic about 1/2" from the strings to get enough volume had been in order to keep the mic in vol low to be able to record above the interference blips (I haven't recorded anything for a few weeks)............I just set up the mic about 6" from the strings (luxury) with the mic vol in at a reasonable level and had a quick pluck...... (drum roll please James)........

Only minimal compression and reduce of vol to avoid clipping - and no noise removal.....and no interference - good volume with my cheap mic at a workable distance. I'm still going to get a better mic, but the original problem is solved - although not in the way I expected! I still need to experiment with distance, position, volumes etc but the basics are working again. :yeahhh:

Recording on ethernet.mp3

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Rockerbob    47

I tend to use the best mic I have available for acoustic guitar, steel strings or classical. I don't have a large selection, but I have a couple decent condenser mics that works pretty well. If I was going to buy a new mic just for guitar I might look for a small diaphragm condenser. The ones I have are large diaphragm. I like them, but conventional wisdom usually points to small diaphragm condensers for guitar.

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starsailor    20

Sounded good here too Carol thanks for the thread, lot of knowledge here time to rejig the studio a bit, that recording was very clear, nice one:claping: :winkthumb:

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