During one of my classes at the Miami Guitar Festival, I was pleasantly surprised by the insight of some of the questions from the players on the subject of amplifying an instrument. One student observantly asked about the difference in recording in the studio versus amplification of the guitar during a live performance.

When recording in the studio, I tend to go with good microphones and, to some degree, leave it up to the recording engineers to determine proper microphone placement. There are many scenarios that work well to create different types of sounds. For example, some artists prefer a full room sound, while others might prefer more of a mono directional sound and these preferences are achieved by the strategic placement of the microphones. Even the placement of the musician’s chair (or feet if a band is recording while standing) are marked on the floor with tape to make sure that the placement of microphones and players remains consistent during the recording process.

I generally combine a condenser microphone with my LR Baggs passive M1 guitar pickup during a live performance, primarily to allow for a final mix from two separate channels on the soundboard. One channel is for some special effects, which I run exclusively through the pickup system, such as a delay, chorus or occasionally some reverb. The other is the microphone picking up the natural sound of the guitar. I am currently using Fishman AFX Delay and AFX Chorus units that, when used at a minimum, let the music shine through without burying the notes in too much of a wash.

Regarding my choice of microphones, I have been thrilled with the results I have been getting for years with Audio-Technica’s Artist Elite Series AE 5100 condenser mic which allows my guitars to, simply put, sound like a giant full range of guitars in the room. During my sound check at the festival, my friend, Mir Ali, was so impressed with this pure natural sound that he ask to borrow my microphone for his performance.

I did notice, which is really exactly what I expected, that the positioning of the mic during our performances varied greatly with the two of us. Playing a nylon string, Mir chose to place the mic approximately 3 feet in front of his instrument, while I, playing a steel string guitar, placed the mic at an angle toward the sound hole about 6 inches from the fingerboard in front of the 14th fret. I also realized that Audio-Technica’s voice mic, the AE 6100 mic, seemed to make my jokes funnier. Perhaps it was the clarity and range of the microphone.

My friends at Audio-Technica joined in the team effort during this event by sending boxes full of audio-headsets for all the students. With many of the students using portable music players, the AT headsets will deliver their music with a clear sound. For me, it is important that listeners receive the full results of the professional work of the musician, recording engineer, and the sound engineer during the making of a CD, whether it is a live or studio recording.

The Miami Guitar Trio enjoying a break during the Miami Guitar Festival.

 

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Originally posted 2010-07-29 19:34:16.