Recording acoustic guitar
August 10, 2017 12:33 AM   Subscribe

How do I record acoustic guitar into Garageband without spending a fortune on mics?

I like making crude demos in Garageband. No problems recording electric guitar via iRig HD, but what's a cheap solution for recording acoustic guitar? The phasing and overloading from my laptop's built in mic is too lo fi even for me, but I don't want to spring for a bunch of serious condenser mics as everyone seems to recommend, or for the preamp/DI box I'd presumably need to get too. (NB my acoustic doesn't have a pickuo.)
posted by Mocata to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (10 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
So are you ruling out buying a microphone entirely?
posted by thelonius at 3:13 AM on August 10

posted by Mocata at 3:57 AM on August 10

you can buy pickups that clip on to acoustic guitars for this very purpose. You'd need to then pair that either with an iRig to get the sound into your mac/ipad or stand your ipad's mic next to an amp/speaker.
this thread has some recommendations.
posted by 5imon at 4:10 AM on August 10

Soundhole pickups are good for this situation, and relatively cheap. I've done pickup into iPad as track one, and then mic into iPad as track two, for some very crude (but surprisingly not awful) results, using a pickup I've had for 20+ years.
posted by okayokayigive at 4:14 AM on August 10

What's your budget? I've used the non-USB version of this mic on acoustic guitar, and it's fine for what it is (a really cheap mic). The USB connection gets you a built-in preamp and DAC so you don't need an interface. There are tons of other USB mics available, and honestly, they're all probably "okay," if that's all you're after.

(You will probably want to budget for a cheap boom stand, though, to get the mic into the right position.)
posted by uncleozzy at 4:19 AM on August 10

Can you give us an idea of your actual budget? You can get perfectly reasonable mics for less than £100 for example, which is cheap compared to a lot of the "serious condenser mics", but not as cheap as a guitar pickup.
posted by greenish at 5:49 AM on August 10 [1 favorite]

I've been using a Blue Snowball to record acoustic guitar, and it's acceptable. $70.
posted by entropone at 6:36 AM on August 10 [2 favorites]

Thanks everyone. I got a USB mic cheap off eBay. Glad to learn it doesn't have to be as complicated as I'd thought.
posted by Mocata at 6:40 AM on August 10 [1 favorite]

The USB mic seems like a good solution! For other people who come across this in the future:

I spent more than 10 years trying to record acoustic instruments into GarageBand and other DAWs, but for some stupid/stubborn reason I kept avoiding spending the money on a proper digital interface (I think mostly because it's not a terribly exciting thing to spend a non-trivial amount of money on, compared to other music gear) and I was pretty consistently frustrated by every combination of microphone/preamp that I tried to record via analog line-in. A few months ago I finally ponied up and bought a Steinberg UR-12, and it's hard to overstate the improvement in sound quality/lack of lag, etc, even with a super cheap condenser mic like a Neewer NW-800. So totally worth it, and a mic/DI combination is more versatile in the long run than an acoustic guitar pickup (which always sound thin and fake to my ears.)
posted by Funeral march of an old jawbone at 8:38 AM on August 10 [2 favorites]

Indeed. Pickup mics, imho, even ones that are the most expensive, still don't sound very good to me. Even the ones that come built into the best acoustic guitars. I like using two room mics, one sorta pointed at the neck, and the other somewhere towards the body/soundhole. If you only use one mic, then you don't have to worry about phasing (google for details), but you can still do a pretty decent job. The room design, guitar design, and placement of everything will of course affect the overall sound, just use your ears and see what sounds good to you, one mic or no. : )

I also often like to double track acoustic guitar, where possible, though you can try duplicating this with plugins or just nudging a duplicate track a bit off from the original.
posted by bitterkitten at 11:58 AM on August 10

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