Recording Acoustic Guitar, Violin, Ukulele, Cello & Other Stringed Instruments
Royer ribbon microphones record acoustic instruments beautifully. They translate the body, warmth, and tonality of the instrument with no shrill highs ever. From acoustic guitar, ukulele and mandolin to violin, cello, harp and virtually any stringed instruments, Royer ribbons capture the tone and feel like no other microphones can.
LA session multi-Instrumentalist Andrew Synowiec on recording 9 different acoustic instruments with a pair of R-122 MKlls.
Brighter Recording on the Back Side
With Royer R-Series microphones, the back side records a little brighter than the front if the mic is 3 feet or closer to the instrument. When recording on the back side (recommended for acoustic guitar, mandolin, fiddle, and other instruments that are close-miked), be sure to flip phase at the mic pre to achieve forward-polarity recordings.
Comparison – recording on the front and back side of an R-122 MKll phantom powered ribbon mic.
Comparison – recording on the front and back side of an R-121 ribbon mic.
Ribbon Mics and EQ
Ribbons take EQ exceptionally well. With acoustic instruments, it’s good practice to roll off low end at about 100 Hz to reduce rumble. Boosting at 10-12 kHz adds a nice sparkle that helps an acoustic guitar cut through a dense mix. Even with drastic EQ’ing, Royers will always stay smooth in the highs.
Acoustic guitar and vocal, both recorded on a highly EQ’d R-121.
When single miking an acoustic guitar, a great position is 8 to 12 inches off the 12th fret, with the mic aimed at the soundhole.
Note: Due to proximity effect, the closer to the instrument you place the microphone the warmer the sound will be. For a brighter tone, back the mic off a little, an inch or two at a time until you like the balance.
Here are a few ways to record acoustic guitar using 2 or more mics.
R-122 MKlls on acoustic guitar, in the mix and soloed
Andrew Synowiec recording four different acoustic guitars with his standard two R-122 MKlls on a stereo bar.
Recording Acoustic Guitar (Taylor and Martin)
Recording Nylon Sting Guitar
Recording 12-sting Guitar
Recording Baritone Guitar
One ribbon mic about 12 inches off the body delivers a warm, natural-sounding ukulele recording.
Recording Ukulele on a pair of R-122 MKlls
The violin benefits more from ribbon microphones than almost any other instrument. Ribbon mics record violin extremely naturally, with no shrill highs. Classical violinists generally record at a distance of three feet or more above the instrument. Fiddle players are usually miked closer, 15 to 24 inches from the instrument.
Rachel Barton Pine records Bach using a pair of SF-2s
The Foghorn Stringband plays bluegrass gathered around one SF-24 stereo ribbon mic
Tim Crouch plays Soldier’s Joy on the fiddle with one R-10 ribbon mic plugged into Royer dBooster for additional level.
R-122 MKII on fiddle, in the mix and soloed.
Royer ribbons are unmatched in picking up the gorgeous tonality and texture of the cello.
Ben Sollee playing cello and singing on an R-122
Skylar Grey – All Will Be Forgotten. Multiple takes of one cello recorded on an R-121
Winona Zelenka plays, with recording engineer Ron Searles talking about how he records her using R-122 ribbon mics.
Two R-10s on mandolin, in the mix and soloed
A pair of R-121s or R-122s over a Dobro captures all of the body and the detailed highs without sounding piercing or thin.
Randy Kohrs using a pair of R-122s on Dobro, on a Jim Lauderdale session, soloed Dobro first, then in the mix.
One R-121 or R-122 12 inches in front of the Bouzouki is a good starting position.
A pair of R-122’s is a great multi-miking solution.
Duet & Ensemble
These videos show successful ribbon microphone positioning on two or more musicians.
One R-121 on acoustic guitar, cello and vocal
One SF-24 active stereo ribbon mic with The Foghorn Stringband gathered around it playing bluegrass. This is an old-fashioned recording method that works beautifully.
Darlingside and friends miked up with lots of ribbons and a few condensers. For more technical info
Fab Dupont recording Will Knox and band entirely on ribbons (with a condenser on the vocals)
dBooster Inline Signal Booster
Recording acoustic instruments using non-powered ribbon microphones sometimes calls for additional level to drive your mic pre or DAW. The Royer dBooster is a super-clean, in-line signal booster designed like the front end of a high-end preamplifier. With two gain levels, it’s a great compliment to Royer R-121 and R-10 ribbon mics, as well as dynamic microphones like the Shure SM7 or SM57.
Guitarist Shawn Tubbs shows how the dBooster works