How to Play an Acoustic Guitar During a Recording Session

Recording an Acoustic Guitar

When recording an acoustic guitar, the quest for the perfect sound can be a frustrating one. This is because unlike electric guitars, artists still need to use a microphone when recording an acoustic guitar. However, guitarists can use certain tips and tricks to get the best sound when playing an acoustic guitar for a recording session.

Choosing the right guitar and gauge of string

An amazing acoustic guitar recording begins with choosing the right instrument. Invest in or rent a high-quality guitar from a reputable brand. After getting your instrument, choose the right gauge of string. A light gauge string is very easy to play and bend. On the other hand, a heavy gauge string produces a bigger sound. If you choose the heavier gauge string, get a professional to set up your guitar to accommodate the thicker strings.

There are three types of strings used in acoustic guitars, namely nickel wound, phosphor bronze and bronze. Each type of string produces a slightly different sound. It is important to choose the type and gauge of string that perfectly matches the type of music you want to record.

Tune your guitar

Start by tuning your guitar correctly before recording. You can use an electronic tuner or smartphone apps that help you get the right sound. Keep your tuner close when recording to tune up your guitar between song sessions.

Play in the right environment

The sound of an acoustic guitar is greatly influenced by the environment you play it in. Acoustic guitars produce the best sound in live acoustics. However, when recording in a small studio, there may be insufficient natural reverb, which affects the quality of the sound. To liven up the sound when recording in a studio, play the guitar close to reflective surfaces such as doors, solid furniture, and hard floors. The sound bounces off these surfaces and creates an audible reflection.

Getting the right pick

The thickness of the pick can have an enormous impact on the sound of the acoustic guitar. Thicker picks are ideal for layering sounds, and thinner picks can be very useful when strumming.

Choosing the right microphone

The right microphone can make a difference between an excellent acoustic recording and a terrible one. A dynamic microphone, a ribbon microphone, a small condenser and a large condenser all produce different qualities of sound. A small diaphragm condenser microphone produces the sound of the guitar more accurately. Large diaphragm condensers are ideal if you wish to include the sound of the room you are recording in. Since condenser microphones are very sensitive, you can place them a few inches from the acoustic guitar to get the best sound.

Dynamic microphones are not as sensitive as condenser microphones. Therefore, they have to be placed nearer to the guitar to produce the right volume of sound. When using a ribbon microphone, you may have to use a microphone pre-amplifier to boost the mic’s signal.

Positioning the microphone

While microphones are placed very close to the acoustic guitar during live performances, it is better to get a good microphone and set the guitar a few inches from it when recording in a studio. You can position the microphone between the body and the neck of the guitar. You can angle the microphone backwards in the direction of the end of the fingerboard, but it should not point towards the sound hole. This position is good, as it helps you balance the sound generated from the strings with the sound from the neck and the body of the guitar.

Before you start recording, try experimenting with different microphone positions. Put your headphones on and look for the sweet spot. Leave the microphone in the position where it produces the best sound.

Get lessons on microphone positioning and acoustic recording

Capturing the perfect sound with an acoustic guitar is possible with the right information. There is so much to learn, and you need a lot of practice and experience. This is why it is better to seek help from professional acoustic guitarists. These guitarists have a lot of technical know-how and expertise in all the things you need to do to produce great sound. They have experimented with different microphone positions, microphone types, picks, and guitar types. They can pass this knowledge to you through acoustic guitar recording lessons so that you can know how to prepare, set up and record beautiful music on your acoustic guitar.

Invest in High Quality Guitar Lessons

I don’t think that this can be under estimated at all. I hear so many times, guys coming into the studio who are self taught and they understand chords and what sounds good but they lack proper technique. There is a way to hold the guitar, to position your fingers and also a proper way to strum the guitar for rhythm. Anyway, I don’t want to go into too much detail but I suggest checking out for guitar lessons is you need them. They will even do Skype sessions, if you aren’t able to meet up. Also check out their Yelp and Yellow Pages listing for reviews and what not.


It is important to take the time to get the environment, pick and microphone right before recording the acoustic guitar. This ensures that the entire recording goes perfectly and that the sound is natural and accurate.

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