Helpful ReplyBeatles Acoustic Guitar Sound - How to...

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jmasno5
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2017/06/23 15:40:49 (permalink)

Beatles Acoustic Guitar Sound - How to...

Admittedly, I am a huge fan.  One thing that continues to puzzle me us how to get that chime/bell sounding acoustic guitar heard in many of their songs.
 
Left channel on Hey Jude
Opening chords to Polytheme Pam
I'm only Sleeping - very noticeable
We can work It Out
The list goes on.
 
How do I get that?  I've seen videos on what people have observed as mic placement via photographs. 
 
Has anyone here ever achieved that sound?  I love the way it punches through the mix.  Maybe I'm romanticizing the sound but since I've been mixing and listening to the individual parts of songs,  the acoustic has always stuck out.  A very forceful tone. 
 
I read in "Beatles Gear," that they use to plug their Gibson J-160's into a mic'd amp but I do not think that is what I'm hearing.
 
Thanks.
 
John

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bitflipper
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Re: Beatles Acoustic Guitar Sound - How to... 2017/06/23 16:40:40 (permalink) ☄ Helpfulby ArcRex 2017/06/23 17:42:14
This isn't much help for the bedroom producer, but the unfortunate answer is: really good microphones in some of the world's best rooms. 
 
The challenge of recording acoustic guitars is that they're, well, acoustic. As with violins and celli and hammered dulcimers, the room is half the equation. You need the difficult-to-achieve combination of a reverberant space that lacks discernable resonances. You can't get that in a small or square room, and you can't get it in a room with lots of acoustical absorption. IOW, the typical home studio.
 
What you can do is start with a microphone that does well at high frequencies. An SM-58 won't cut it. Ideally it'd be a small-diaphragm condenser, but any high-quality condenser microphone will work, preferably a multi-pattern model that will let you set it to omnidirectional mode. That eliminates the proximity effect while allowing more of the room reflections in.
 
Avoid some of the guitar's own uneven resonances by avoiding the "sound hole". The desirable sound of an acoustic guitar emanates from its top plate, not the hole. That's why most miking techniques have you pointing the mic somewhere between the neck and the hole. Experiment with how far away you can get the microphone before it starts sounding thin and nasty. The better the room, the farther you'll be able to place it. 
 
Because your room probably doesn't sound like EMI studios (and whose does?), use acoustical absorption to dampen reflections and make your room sound more neutral. It's a meat-axe solution, but the only option available for most of us. You'll just have to make up the lack of ambiance with artificial reverb.
 
Oh, and one more thought...fresh strings make a huge difference on steel-string guitars. Yeh, you'll have to constantly re-tune it but they'll be much brighter.


All else is in doubt, so this is the truth I cling to. 

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ampfixer
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Re: Beatles Acoustic Guitar Sound - How to... 2017/06/23 18:49:05 (permalink) ☄ Helpfulby jmasno5 2017/06/24 15:26:49
I've been recording a lot of acoustics lately and Bit is on the money. I use a combination of a small and large diaphragm condenser mic's. It took a while to get really good sound, mostly because we have a large room and had to try different locations to find the sweet spot.
There are a lot of variables. Room location, mic direction, mic distance and strings all contribute. Strangely enough, I've found that the guitars record best once the strings are really broken in. It seems to cut down on stray harmonics and provide a more balanced sound. The Neuman KM184 is a real good small diaphragm mic for acoustics.

Regards, John 
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AndyB01
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Re: Beatles Acoustic Guitar Sound - How to... 2017/06/23 18:57:28 (permalink) ☄ Helpfulby jmasno5 2017/06/24 15:26:58
bitflipper

Oh, and one more thought...fresh strings make a huge difference on steel-string guitars. Yeh, you'll have to constantly re-tune it but they'll be much brighter.


I agree with the first part, but if you take care to fit and stretch them properly they'll stay right on pitch. Check the re-stringing video on YouTube by Taylor Guitars, there's more to it than you might think. Andy

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Re: Beatles Acoustic Guitar Sound - How to... 2017/06/23 19:09:48 (permalink) ☄ Helpfulby jmasno5 2017/06/24 15:27:09
Seems like maybe y'all left out another element.
 
Playing style.
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Jeff Evans
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Re: Beatles Acoustic Guitar Sound - How to... 2017/06/23 22:39:06 (permalink) ☄ Helpfulby jmasno5 2017/06/24 15:27:17
Something else everyone has failed to mention is the guitar itself.
 
I have a friend who has two Martin guitars both very expensive.  One has this huge big jangly sound to it. Massive tops and lows. Records like a dream. The sound cuts through a dense mix. The other one he has has this super light delicate sound to it.  Perfect for up close micing of finger picking styles.  Beats the other one hands down.  But for big solid rhythm chords the first one I mentioned kills.
 
Every brand of acoustic is going to sound a little different.  I bet the one Beatles recorded just had the sound built right in you are talking about.
 
Remember get right back to the source and the source is the guitar itself.  New strings every time as well.  No question there.
 
You can talk all day about rooms and microphones but if what you are recording does not have the sound you are after, no amount of that stuff will help you.  Get it right at the source!  An SM58 can sound fabulous if the guitar does.  Most microphones have an amazing ability to capture very accurately whatever they are put in front of.

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Re: Beatles Acoustic Guitar Sound - How to... 2017/06/24 01:42:01 (permalink) ☄ Helpfulby jmasno5 2017/06/24 15:27:29
Jeff Evans
Something else everyone has failed to mention is the guitar itself.
 
I have a friend who has two Martin guitars both very expensive.  One has this huge big jangly sound to it. Massive tops and lows. Records like a dream. The sound cuts through a dense mix. The other one he has has this super light delicate sound to it.  Perfect for up close micing of finger picking styles.  Beats the other one hands down.  But for big solid rhythm chords the first one I mentioned kills.
 
Every brand of acoustic is going to sound a little different.  I bet the one Beatles recorded just had the sound built right in you are talking about.
 
Remember get right back to the source and the source is the guitar itself.  New strings every time as well.  No question there.
 

 
You can talk all day about rooms and microphones but if what you are recording does not have the sound you are after, no amount of that stuff will help you.  Get it right at the source!  An SM58 can sound fabulous if the guitar does.  Most microphones have an amazing ability to capture very accurately whatever they are put in front of.





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Re: Beatles Acoustic Guitar Sound - How to... 2017/06/24 13:12:55 (permalink) ☄ Helpfulby jmasno5 2017/06/24 15:27:34
As well as the guitar, room and mics there's something else to consider.

Abbey Road studios used their valve REDD51 desks to record pretty much everything the Beatles did, prior to the solid-state TG12345 desks being introduced in the late 60s. EMI's engineering dept. designed and built their own desks and a lot of the other hardware used through the Beatle's period. The equipment had a very distinctive sound and "feel" and was anything but the transparent, or almost transparent, ultra-low distortion "ideal" that came along later with Neve and SSL designs. Everything went to Studer tape decks of course, with quite a lot of bouncing down sub-mixes to free off tracks for re-use.

It might be worth trying the Waves Abbey Rd REDD and TG12345, plate reverb and J37 tape deck emulations if you're after "that sound".

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jmasno5
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Re: Beatles Acoustic Guitar Sound - How to... 2017/06/24 15:52:53 (permalink)
Thanks to everyone.  All the input here is great. 
 
There are some submitted ideas I can try short of renting time at EMI.  Moving forward I'll experiment with new strings, test both my acoustic guitars, experiment with mics, mic positioning and playing in different parts of the house.  I will use my notebook computer to record if I find a sweet spot elsewhere in the house.  At mix level I could try using an effects AUX track.  Maybe if I blend in some sort of EQ curve I could come close.
 
I do feel the guitar is probably the biggest ingredient.  I remember now that a buddy of mine had a jumbo Guild.  It played with ease and had one of the richest tones I had ever heard.  I guess because it was so big.
 
Yes, I am a sucker for Waves Abbey Road plugs and have them all except for the vinyl one.  There is no doubt that the console desk and whatever other preamps they went through contributed to the sound I'm after.
 
Once again I thank you all for giving me your feedback.

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Re: Beatles Acoustic Guitar Sound - How to... 2017/06/24 16:09:32 (permalink)
FYI - The Beatles acoustic recordings are usually attributed to the Gibson J-160E, but many of those iconic tracks were recorded using an Epiphone Texan. As Jeff points out, the guitar is central to the sound. The guy I work with is a collector of vintage Gibson acoustics and they all sound different, even within a model. All J-45's are not created equal. If you have Waves Abbey Road Plugs, the j37 tape emulator works great on acoustics with the tape delay feature. It's a bit of a gimmick, but a good one.

Regards, John 
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#10
soens
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Re: Beatles Acoustic Guitar Sound - How to... 2017/07/16 08:30:46 (permalink)
Type of strings make a difference too.
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interpolated
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Re: Beatles Acoustic Guitar Sound - How to... 2017/07/16 10:19:49 (permalink)
Not that anybody will ever endorse it, if Abbey Road allowed engineers to measure and record impulses from their studio; then packaged it as a convolution like the UAD Ocean Way studio plug-in then it will sound closer. There is one by Waves which models the microphones used by the Royal family. Perhaps they could extend that to other microphones. 
 
In fact East West have a collection of Beatle-esque samples now that I come to think of it.
 
P.S. I have Abbey Road vinyl and apart from the turntable slowdown everything is not as gimmick as I thought it was going to be.

I have computer stuff.
 
https://soundcloud.com/sigmadelta
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Re: Beatles Acoustic Guitar Sound - How to... 2017/07/16 13:23:01 (permalink) ☄ Helpfulby pilutiful 2017/07/16 20:43:24

Rimshot 

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Re: Beatles Acoustic Guitar Sound - How to... 2017/07/19 20:35:59 (permalink)
Just for the record (ba-doom-tish!)....
 
If you check the soundsonline  website and look at Fab Four, they have a list of instruments and corresponding like track names for the patches. That will give you a better idea what to do. That's a thing East West hasn't created yet. A virtual guitar.
 

I have computer stuff.
 
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pilutiful
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Re: Beatles Acoustic Guitar Sound - How to... 2017/07/20 21:31:42 (permalink)
Just to throw in another song..the best in my opinion: A day in the life
 https://youtu.be/usNsCeOV4GM

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pentimentosound
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Re: Beatles Acoustic Guitar Sound - How to... 2017/07/21 13:30:00 (permalink)
As I come up on my 54th anniversary as a pro guitarist, I'd add humidifying your guitar will change the tone a lot. I hadn't thought about it, but England must be "fairly humid" (LOL) and I suppose that affects their mics, too.
 
I don't believe that strings "stretch" at all. I find they SLIP and therefore I secure the ball ends right up against the bridge plate, before I tie them on to the tuner posts. I tug/pull them, till they stop slipping and enjoy my new fresh strings. This is bothersome in terms of time installing or removing them, but the benefits are pleasing to me.
 
Also, some guitars just sound way better with certain strings, so that'll be an area to explore, too. I use GHS, D'Addario, Elixir, Martin SP, Savarez Corum Cristal and hope to buy a set of LaBella flatwounds for my Schecter Hellcat VI! ($50?!?!)
Steve Tibbetts spoke of how folks assumed he had great mics because of his acoustic guitar tones (ca Safe Journey). He explained that he just kept moving his inexpensive mic till he found what he liked.
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pentimentosound
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Re: Beatles Acoustic Guitar Sound - How to... 2017/07/22 12:00:07 (permalink)
@ RimShot    Thanks for those links. I really enjoyed the Ken Scott article. I'd read it before but I still seem to get a buzz from any Beatles stuff! And I'd forgotten about the AKG d19c.
Michael
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Re: Beatles Acoustic Guitar Sound - How to... 2017/07/22 15:12:04 (permalink) ☄ Helpfulby pentimentosound 2017/07/22 20:05:06
Thanks Michael. For the last month, I once again have been watching the old videos of the Beatles recording sessions and their live concerts. The documentary Ron Howard did about their touring "Eight Days A Week" is also highly recommended.
 

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Re: Beatles Acoustic Guitar Sound - How to... 2017/07/22 20:09:14 (permalink)
Cool, RimShot! I go there myself periodically.
   I haven't seen the Howard film yet, but am really looking forward to that. I had the Anthology DVDs and always found myself steering toward any of the studio bits vs live. I did go see them in Chicago August 1966, but can't really say I remember hearing or seeing much of anything, other than watching them drive up in a white Ford wagon after the kids all ran after the limousines! LOL
Michael
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jude77
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Re: Beatles Acoustic Guitar Sound - How to... 2017/07/25 17:56:44 (permalink)
Rimshot
This
 
This:
https://www.premierguitar.com/articles/Interview_Ken_Scott_Part_1_Recording_with_The_Beatles_Inside_the_Studio
 
Here's a good thread on the subject:
http://forums.stevehoffman.tv/threads/beatles-recordings-of-acoustic-guitars.252463/
 

 

 

 



These pictures are an education in themselves.
In the first it looks like the guitar I being mic'ed by a U47(?) at the 12th fret.
In the second it looks like the guitar is being mic'ed by a small condenser aimed straight at, and right up on, the sound-hole.
In the third looks like the same setup as #1.
In the fourth it looks like a U47(?) aimed at the middle of the body about at the top of the sound-hole.  
 
Looks like there are a lot of ways to mic a guitar and get a great sound.

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Re: Beatles Acoustic Guitar Sound - How to... 2017/07/26 13:56:15 (permalink)
That pic with the Ovation is not Beatles' era ..... must be Double Fantasy or perhaps Imagine.
 
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Re: Beatles Acoustic Guitar Sound - How to... 2017/07/26 14:32:49 (permalink)
pentimentosound
That pic with the Ovation is not Beatles' era ..... must be Double Fantasy or perhaps Imagine.
 


Looks "Double Fantasy" to me. 

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Re: Beatles Acoustic Guitar Sound - How to... 2017/07/26 18:27:00 (permalink)
That was my first thought, too jude77.
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Re: Beatles Acoustic Guitar Sound - How to... 2017/08/03 01:10:48 (permalink)
From my 'Recording the Beatles' book... Hey Jude was mixed on 5 Dec 69 in room 4 in abbey road studios.  Other equipment used was the RS56 UTC Curve Bender EQ used by Ken Scott to salvage some the mix that was recorded in the recording room in Trident Studios on 31 Jul-7 Aug 68. The AKG D19c was used on early acoustic guitar takes of the song, and on many other recordings.  Mixed using Tannoy speakers in Lockwood cabinets.  Lots of stories in the book associated with the studio speakers and the recording/mixing using the first Trident 8 track mixer in London at the time, including how they were fighting with EMI to use their first 8 track recorder, but used Trident because it became available for their use first.  Took quite some time just to look up the details for this one song... tried to summarize the info, but the mixing and recording details are so convoluted I may not have relayed it properly.  

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Re: Beatles Acoustic Guitar Sound - How to... 2017/08/03 01:10:48 (permalink)
sorry, double clicked it, delete this  

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chuckebaby
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Re: Beatles Acoustic Guitar Sound - How to... 2017/08/09 14:48:41 (permalink)
I happen to be very meticulous about project notes. Along with score sheets, track notes, exc.
I even created my own abbreviation system (if your interested you can read this)
http://forum.cakewalk.com/Orginizing-Labeling-Audio-and-Midi-Tracks-m3448904.aspx
 
I was remixing a song a few months back and I couldn't believe how sparkly and chiming the acoustic guitar sounded, I went back to my project notes and saw that it was nothing more than brand new strings. 
Never under estimate the power of new strings my friend.

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Re: Beatles Acoustic Guitar Sound - How to... 2017/08/10 11:37:47 (permalink)
jmasno5
Thanks to everyone.  All the input here is great. 
 There are some submitted ideas I can try short of renting time at EMI. 



At least you could use their mouse pad.  It might help!
https://shop.abbeyroad.com/*/*/Vintage-Logo-Mouse-Mat/5H3N0000000

SPLAT on a Home built i3 16 GB RAM 64-bit Windows 10 Home Premium 120GB SSD (OS) 2TB Data Drive.  Behringer XR-18 USB 2.0 Interface. FaderPort control.
#27
anxiousmofo
Max Output Level: -84 dBFS
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Re: Beatles Acoustic Guitar Sound - How to... 2017/08/10 17:52:20 (permalink)
Thumbs up for a great thread, folks.
 

Tangled roots perplex her ways.
 
Focusrite Saffire Pro 24 DSP, Windows 10 x64, i7 5820k, Asrock X99 OC Formula, 16 GB Corsair DDR4, Asus STRIX GTX 970,  SSD's for OS and samples, Akai MPK61, and myriad VST's.
#28
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