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  1. #1

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    Hi all,

    I'm excited to learn more from this forum! I'd love to get feedback on this track I recorded:

    This is a rhythm track -- hoping to overlay vocals. Wondering if there's anything I can do to make this sound less like it's recorded in a small room in my house (which it is, ha). I'm trying to achieve the most natural, warm, round, woody guitar tone possible. When I listen back, I still feel like the tone is somewhat underwhelming and 'raw' for lack of a better word? In a word, how can I get this to it's fullest potential (playing aside! I'm clearly not a jazz player, ha.)

    My set-up is a smallish room (see below) which I've semi-treated with bass traps in two corners. I recorded this through a Silvertone 1481 amp set against one wall. I miked it with an SM57 and AT4033, pointed at the edges of the speaker cone, about 6-8 inches away. I only blended a little bit of the 4033 for a room sound. Unfortunately I did not think to mic the archtop itself -- a Gibson ES120T.

    Pre-amp is a black-lion auteur, which is run through Scarlett 4i4 and then into Reaper. I then added some plugins to shape tone: SSLChannel, EQ, CLA-76 compressor, and delay/reverb, pretty much in that order. Any help much appreciated!

    Looking for Feedback - Recording of solo archtop guitar-img_1994-jpeg


    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
  3. #2

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    My two cents: Place your (excellent recording amp!) near the center of the back wall, and turn it until it faces the far corner. This will effectively enlarge the room sonically, allowing the sound waves from your amp a greater distance to travel before changing directions. Remember, angle of incidence is equal to angle of reflection, and what you want is multiple reflections traveling as many different directions. It may take a few tries to get it just right, but it will be worth it. Good luck!

  4. #3

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    My view on this generally is that picking technique (rather than gizmos etc) has a big effect on tone.

    For a fuller, rounder tone, pick the strings close to the neck. On my ES175 I tend to pick right over the gap between the end of the fingerboard and the neck pickup.

    Also consider the angle of attack of the pick as it passes through the string. If it hits the string all at once i.e. 90 degrees ‘flat on’ to the string, you get a thinner sound. If the pick goes through angled to the string, you get a rounder sound, because the profile of the picking tip is rounder and takes longer to pass through the string.

    Anyway that’s how I manage to get a good jazz sound. The amp, guitar etc. don’t seem to have as much effect on it, as far as I’m concerned.

  5. #4

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    Although I do LOVE your sound and your playing, crafting tone seems to be specific to each instrument.

    I think this Troy Grady craze has convinced everyone in the guitar playing community to approach the string with the edge of the pick shoulder, however you want to call it.

    I've had some exquisite teachers show me elsewise. I approach the string flat on, and I'm experimenting with NOT picking so close to the neck of the guitar. Actually, there's a certain member from around these PWC parts who plays closer to the bridge and his tone sounds pristine--in my opinion.

    Approaching the pick flat on with a slight downward angle (maybe Troy Grady made this pick business easier to talk about) and ensuring that the entire width surface of that part of the pick makes contact with the string has allowed me to get a way fuller and complex tone out of my guitar. That said, my guitar is strung with round wounds and is a thin carved top.

    That is to say, every guitar reacts different--so it's worth it to experiment until you get THAT sound on THAT guitar.

    Graham, not dismissing you at all. Love your playing. And the advice about the amp placement is something I might try myself. But each guitar is a different beast, even the same model and make.

  6. #5

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    If recording an acoustic archtop I would definitely mic the guitar as well. So maybe one mic on the guitar, one mic on the amp, and I would try to find the ideal distance and angle to make each mic sound the best on its own. (This is easy to do on the amp if you have a looper, have it play while you move the mic listening through headphones. With the guitar, you push the mic stand around).

    Then you mix the two channels in a daw, and you have a lot of possibilities without even touching eq or reverb yet.

    I don't think there can be any rule applied in a small room other than experimentation, because reflections, geometry, resident frequencies, player, gear, etc, create so many variables where anything can sound from mediocre to brilliant. Generally I go with a less is more approach. Also finding a proper reverb plugin you like is important..

  7. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by PickingMyEars

    Although I do LOVE your sound and your playing, crafting tone seems to be specific to each instrument.

    I think this Troy Grady craze has convinced everyone in the guitar playing community to approach the string with the edge of the pick shoulder, however you want to call it.
    Yes I can only say what worked for me and why it seemed to work, tone is a mysterious business really. I was not influenced by Troy Grady though, I made the changes I described to my picking technique about 30 years ago!

    Actually I think I was influenced by classical guitar technique, where I was using rounded nails and plucking the strings almost diagonally, which produced a good tone, it gave me the idea to try angling the pick a bit on the jazz guitar.

  8. #7

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    Truth be told, it sounds great to me. The sound is intimate rather than expansive - but that’s just right for accompanying a vocalist, unless he or she has a truly huge voice. I’m 3000 miles from home right now on our first trip since December 2019 because of Covid. So all I have with me is my iPad, and I might feel different using my home system. But I think the guitar (along with your playing) sounds quite fine -the tone is sweet and crisp. Experiment to your heart’s content - you’ll learn and have fun. But through my iPad, you’ve done a pretty fine job.

  9. #8

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    I'm probably wrong, as I am very much a recording noob, but do you need a preamp in front of the Scarlett? The shorter the chain the better I think.

  10. #9

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    I think your recording sounds really nice!
    To get away from the "room at home recording", you might try experimentation with simple acoustic fixes. A thick rug on the floor (decreases echo between floor and ceiling), a settee (makes a great bass trap), or a bookshelf full of books (works as a broadband frequency diffuser).
    Worth a try if you haven't already!

  11. #10

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    I think it sounds great. Nice playing!

    If I had to nitpick it, I'd probably lie down until the urge passed.

    Maybe the lower strings are a little louder than the higher strings. Maybe some slight harshness in the highs? I'm not sure.

    For my taste, I'd think about some subtle limiter and maybe a bit of reverb (or maybe the room ambience you've got argues against reverb). Or maybe just trying different EQ.

  12. #11

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    Dunno if the OP is still around, but this is an interesting topic. I think the recording was very nice. I like what you're going for - it's intimate and natural. I much prefer this sound over many of the cliche jazz guitar sounds coming out today (won't name names). I do have some suggestions based on a cursory study of recording techniques from the 40s and 50s. Hopefully it will be helpful.

    Here's a recent recording I made just to test out the sound to see if I could reproduce some of the magic of my favorite recordings. This is before I added reverb to the rack, so it's completely dry.

    The most critical component of this was the microphone choice. Specifically, microphones with figure 8 patterns help to get a more natural acoustic/electric sound compared to having multiple cardioid mics. I think the more recent techniques of close-micing, room-micing, and blending produce a less organic sound compared to my favorite recordings. In your clip, because you close miced the amp, that signal is very saturated. It clips at times, but even when it doesn't clip, you can hear that it is very compressed. In contrast, the room sound that you blended is much less saturated and more dynamic. When you blend them, you're combining two sounds of very different intensity, something that could not occur naturally since it would require having one ear on the cab and one ear several feet away. What I do instead, is to use a figure 8 (ribbon) mic between the amp and the guitar. Far enough away that you can also hear room reflections. (If you like, you can use 2 mics in midside or blumlein configurations.) It requires time to find the right placement of the mics, but the result is that you pick up a great and natural sounding signal rather than capturing a number of partially useful signals and trying to construct your desired image in post-production.

    Check out this video. All the demos are rockabilly, which might not be your cup of tea, but the important thing to focus on is the quality of sound and some of the lessons shared by the recording engineer.

    Additionally, check out this clip. I don't know for sure how it was recorded, but given the period and the sound, I expect it was recorded with some of the techniques I described above. Personally, I think this is the epitome of a great small ensemble recording. Perfect organic clarity without the harshness of modern techniques that atomize the sources and then construct and imagined and artificial sound after the fact.

  13. #12
    Hey everyone!

    Thanks for all the great feedback. Omphalopsychos, your recording sounds awesome! Love it.

    Took your advice to heart and made the following changes:

    • Pointed amp at diagonal, so sound has a bit more room to breathe in the room instead of hitting nearest wall.
    • Got flatwound strings
    • Tried to change technique (pick more at an angle, and further away from the bridge-- thanks Graham!)
    • Added a Beyer M160 blended in with the SM57 on the amp
    • Miked the archtop with a beyer mc930.

    Here's the new recording with these changes:

    Feel free to let me know what you think. Thanks again!