SM57 for recording an acoustic guitar?

Discussion in 'Recording Studio' started by LiveSimply, Dec 19, 2017.

  1. LiveSimply

    LiveSimply Senior Member

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    I am very inexperienced at recording. However, I made some purchases a while back to record myself at home in order to gauge my progress. The equipment I purchased was:

    Apogee Duet 2 going into my Mac
    Sterling ST55 condenser to mic my acoustic guitar
    Shure Beta 57A mic for my voice (when playing acoustic)
    Shure SM57 to mic my electric guitar amps

    This weekend I was having a real frustrating time getting a good quality, clear sound from the Beta 57A's recording of my voice. Even with the mic really close and the recording volume almost maxed the sound still was relatively weak it seemed.

    After a while I decided to change the above set up to have the ST55 mic up my voice and decided to experiment with the SM57 to actually mic my acoustic guitar ( about 2 inches away from the bottom of the fret board, right at the edge of the sound hole).

    The ST55 did a much, much better job than the 57A picking up my voice, but what I was most surprised about was how good (to my inexperienced ears) the SM57 sounded mic'd to the acoustic.

    I had never read of an SM57 used for acoustics?

    Anyone else get a good result from it on an acoustic guitar set up?
     
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  2. TheWGuitar

    TheWGuitar Senior Member

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    I think you could record the exhaust of a rocket booster with an SM57 and it would beg for more. They can handle some intense sound levels, being designed to be stuck on the grille of a cranked guitar amp. I have never tried an acoustic with one though, I usually find myself having to turn the electric guitar amp up to a pretty good level before I get a good level of signal (without having to crank the mic pre-amp, or do something like adjusting gain on that track in my DAW). It just seems like it would be a weak and quiet signal with an acoustic, but I might have to play with that to see what it sounds like with my equipment. Most of what I've ever read, people talk about using various condenser mics on acoustics, not dynamic mics.

    There are also legends (different web sites and forums) that talk about people like Tom Petty, Paul Rodgers, Robert Plant, and acts like Hall & Oates that used an SM57 for vocals in the studio. Not quite so much of a stretch though, other than frequency response differences, it's not super different from an SM58.
     
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  3. LiveSimply

    LiveSimply Senior Member

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    Thanks TheW. I agree with all your thoughts- that's why I was so surprised by how good it sounded.

    I had purchased the SM57 strictly to mic my amps. It wasn't until I started running into difficulty that I decided to take it out and experiment with it and was so surprised by how good it sounded. Looking at my notes I certainly did have to dial the recording volume up much higher relative to the condenser I had been using. I didn't have to max it, but I did go to about 92% of max recording volume (and moved it much closer to the sound hole of the guitar).
     
  4. mmd

    mmd Senior Member

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    If it works, it works. That the cool thing about mics, your application, and experimentation. Anything goes as long as your signal is clean enough.

    Personally, I am a soft acoustic player. A dynamic alone is never enough. I tend to use a ribbon and a dynamic. Placement changes every time. It's easy too forget there are no real hard rules when it comes to mics and their placement.

    While we have "standards" based on iconic methods, some of the COOLEST things I have recorded were more from experimenting when I was not able (gear restraints, space limitations, etc) to follow the accepted "norm". For example, some of the BEST drum tracks I have ever done were with a SINGLE SM58 in front of a 1958 Ludwig with no front bass head....
     
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  5. TheWGuitar

    TheWGuitar Senior Member

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    I was about to say that I wouldn't be surprised to hear that a lot of engineers try a combination of large diaphragm condenser, and a dynamic, and blend them later while mixing the song to get the balance of tone they're lookng for. The Glyn Johns drum technique does that with the snare drum. Two large diaphragm condensers are hanging overhead and picking up everything, but there's also a closely placed dynamic like an SM57 on the snare, and it is blended in for some extra thwack, or to make the snare stand out more.
     
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  6. yeti

    yeti Senior Member

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    Just to clarify:
    All dynamic mics can handle high SPL, there are no active electronics involved, hence no distortion other than mechanical limitations. Nothing special about the 57 in that department. The 57 was NOT designed to be stuck on the grille of a cranked guitar amp, it just happened to be very useful in such applications. The Glyn Johns drum technique does not include a snare mic, even though the man himself sometimes adds a snaremic.
     
  7. TheWGuitar

    TheWGuitar Senior Member

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    Fixed it. After enough digging this morning, I did finally find an article that stated that he used 2 overheads and a close kick mic, and sometimes adds a close snare mic. Apparently the whole internet is suffering from the Mandela effect, every other article and website I've ever seen explains it as always 4 mics.
     
  8. kfowler8

    kfowler8 Senior Member

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    The key to the Glyn technique is just the placement of the two “overheads”. Everything else is supplemental. I think it sounds really good with a snare and kick mic. It’s a very easy technique to setup.

    FWIW, the SM57 is the Swiss Army knife of mics. It rarely sounds great but rarely sounds bad either. I’ve never cared for it when mic’ing guitar amps but love it on a snare.

    Try the transformerless mod if you want. Takes some of the “honk” out of it.
     
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  9. mmd

    mmd Senior Member

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    I use the Glyn technique a lot - with 3 mics. My band recorded our entire EP 100% live in the rehearsal room. No overdubs. All I did was some sweetening during the mixing process. The drum tracks were 3 mics - an Audix H6 inside the kick (suspension mounted), and a pair of Audix pencil mics as overheads. I prefer to add tom mics and a snare mic, but for this live session it created way to much bleed. We ended up with just the 3 - it sounded the best.

     
  10. mmd

    mmd Senior Member

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    Oh, and while we are discussing dynamic mics, the vocal tracks were live in the room, and recorded with the Sennheiser e835. That mic rejects A LOT!!!! The singer was standing near the PA cabs. His track needing NO gating. The bleed from the other instruments was so minimal that when his track was solo'd it was like we were all in a different room, not 6-8 feet away from each other. It's one of the reasons I prefer the Sennheiser over the Shure.
     
  11. Sp8ctre

    Sp8ctre Senior Member

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    I'll have to try mine out on acoustic. I have never used it on anything other than my amp cabs.

    For acoustic I've been using a AKG C214 and it works great, but I always like to try new things!
     
  12. WhiteEpiLP

    WhiteEpiLP Senior Member

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    Gimmie 10 Sm57's my makie board and a roll of duct tape and i can record anything.
     
  13. Joeydego

    Joeydego your mom is a nice lady V.I.P. Member

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    Daryl Hall can sing thru 100 year old clogged plumbing and sound amazing.
     

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