Acoustic guitar session tracks
Recording acoustic guitar. It’s a challenge, but done well it’s just amazing and one of my favourite things to do. Unlike electric guitar, which often exists in a somewhat limited frequency band, acoustic guitar can be big, delicate, and hugely dynamic – all at once. The room that you record in plays a big role – low background noise is crucial and often the saboteur of man a home or semi-professional recording.
Instruments really do matter. On most sessions I primarily use a vintage Martin J-40 acoustic and a Webber handmade OO-style. The J-40 has a nice, open vibe and is brilliantly balanced, and the Webber a slightly more focused and rounded voice which is wonderful for RnB-type arpeggios, altered tunings and anything vaguely in the realms folk or singer-songwriter. I also use a Japanese, rare and confusing Nashville-tuned guitar (that’s the upper octave strings from a 12-string acoustic, on a 6-string guitar), which can add a magical jangle to a song. Oh and I can get by on ukulele, if that’s of interest – I have a 1955 Gretsch uke sitting right here. (I’m constantly tuning the thing.)
My acoustic guitar recordings are nice and clean (thanks to good mics and preamps, and my acoustically treated room) and I play close attention to consistency of mic placement (or rather my placement, it’s me that tends to move between takes). When the session calls for gentle, intimate playing I really try to get nice, natural sounding performances. When it’s creating a bed in a more dense arrangement it’s about getting the timing really tight and smooth slick chord changes that don’t pop out. Handling and string noise can be a problem when recording quiet parts and I’m attentive to that.
High quality, professional-sounding acoustic guitar tracks seem to be something that people find hard to get. A lot of acoustic guitars – particularly cheaper and mid-range acoustics – don’t record that well, or only fit a certain type of style. When you factor in the cost of quality microphones and preamps, a good room, and of course great, well-maintained instruments, it does mean that it’s not the most straightforward thing to do well. I’m extremely happy with the quality of my acoustic guitar recordings and I hope you will be too.
In playing terms I’d hope to have you covered. I take the same musical and creative approach to acoustic guitar sessions as I do any other session – trying to serve the song, support the vocal or lead line, played nicely and with feeling, resulting in a professional-quality track that elevates your song and mix.