How To Record Acoustic Guitar

The starting point for an excellent acoustic guitar recording is a clean input stage on your audio interface. Focusrite Scarlett interfaces have clean, uncoloured gain and high-performance analogue-to-digital (A-D) converters so that you can capture your tone, your way.

Best microphones for recording a clean acoustic guitar sound

To benefit from the clean sound of a Scarlett interface it’s important to choose a quality microphone, and there are various suitable types. A dynamic microphone is often the cheapest option and will give you acceptable results. A condenser microphone, however, will offer greater clarity and is usually the mic of choice for professionals recording acoustic guitar, although more expensive than its dynamic counterpart. The CM25 MkIII condenser microphone included in the Scarlett 4th Gen Solo and 2i2 Studio is perfect for capturing your acoustic guitar in rich detail.

Acoustic guitar recording tips

You can record acoustic guitar in mono or stereo. Mono gives you a direct and full sound; stereo can give you a much wider feeling with more dimension, but you can run into phasing issues if you’re not careful. When recording acoustic guitar in mono, a good starting point is to place the microphone a few inches away from the bridge, facing the guitar top. Stereo requires the placement of two microphones around the guitar, and a good baseline is to place one near the bridge and another around the 12th fret. If you want an open sound that captures some of the room, experiment with moving the mics further away from the guitar.

Before you start recording, you should always monitor the sound being captured using a pair of headphones, ideally while you move the mic around when the guitarist plays through the track. If you’re recording yourself, you can make a test recording with different mic positions, calling each new placement out so you can recall the one that sounds best on playback.

For some extra magic, try using the Air feature, unique to Focusrite interfaces, which gives a high-frequency lift and can really make acoustic instruments shine. Air has been re-engineered for Scarlett 4th Gen and offers two distinct modes, Air Presence and Air Harmonic Drive, both adding a unique effect to make your guitar and vocals shine. 

Monitoring your acoustic guitar while recording

Focusrite interfaces are perfectly suited to recording acoustic guitars with their transparent converters, low-noise preamps, and excellent A-D/D-A performance. Also, hugely beneficial recording acoustic guitar are the clean and powerful headphone outputs, used in conjunction with custom mixes in Focusrite Control. With just a few button clicks, you can set up a mix with a unique balance of guitar and backing track from your DAW — which might differ from what the engineer wants to hear — and send it to the interface’s headphone output. You can even control Focusrite Control 2 using an iOS device, so your guitarist can take control of their own mix, without need to ask the engineer for “more me”! 

Other acoustic guitar recording considerations

Aside from recording a clean sound, you need to make sure your guitar is in tune, the acoustics of the space are complimentary to the guitar sound, and background noise is kept to a minimum: even the quietest road noise, chair squeak, ventilation and equipment noise will be picked up, especially when using condenser microphones.

So hopefully this provides you with a good starting point for recording acoustic guitar. Rest assured, with Focusrite Scarlett interfaces, you’ll be in good company: millions of music makers around the world trust their Scarlett interfaces to make great recordings.