Recording vocals and guitar at the same time can often yield great, authentic performances from singer-songwriters, but having isolation between the two gives you way more freedom in the mixing stage for corrective and creative processing. In this blog, we’ll explore a tried-and-true mic technique for maximizing isolation.
The basic idea is that you use two microphones in figure-8 mode and take advantage of the superior side rejection of these patterns to isolate your sources. Figure-8 patterns are most sensitive in the front and back of the mic and least sensitive on the sides.
Check out the video below to see how this mic technique works.
Acoustic guitar microphone placement
Set up the first microphone, set to a figure-8 polar pattern, with the front of the capsule directed towards the 12th fret of the guitar at an angle so that the vocalist is looking down at the top of the microphone.
Vocal microphone placement
The second mic should be set up with the front of the capsule facing the vocal with the side of it pointing down towards the guitar. Again, the edge of the capsule should be directed at the guitar. The second microphone should also be set to a figure-8 polar pattern.
Keep the mics close to their source (5-8 inches) in order to get an adequate direct level relative to the natural ambience of the room.
You’ll need to experiment with mic position to find the sweet spot where you get the most isolation between sources. It’s also important to pay attention to room acoustics since you’re capturing both sides of the capsule. If you’re in a treated room or a room with plenty of soft furniture or carpeted surfaces, then the reflections you capture should be negligible.
With some time to experiment and dial in the placement, it’s surprising how much separation you can get between the vocal and guitar. And you can rest assured you will make your mix engineer very happy.