Acoustic guitar: less pick noise/attack?

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high five
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Acoustic guitar: less pick noise/attack?

Post by high five » Fri Oct 27, 2006 8:14 pm

I have a Martin dreadnought that I always have a hard time recording. I haven't found a mic placement that isn't too boomy or doesn't pick up too much string smacking sounds. I think moving the mic back to about 2 feet helps thin out the bass but it gets too trebly, still working that out.

Anyway, I have a recording to illustrate what I mean: here. Can this be fixed with compression? Maybe by using different strings or picks? The strings are medium gauge and kinda old (I don't like the bright metally sound of new strings), and I'm using the red (thinnest?) Dunlop picks. Maybe I'm just hitting the strings to hard?

Oh yeah, I tried recording the bass through a guitar amp (Vox Pathfinder 15R) and I really like the way it sounds with the treble on the amp all the way down. I also used some heavier compression and could actually hear the difference! :)

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Post by lacquer_monkey » Fri Oct 27, 2006 8:49 pm

Use a heavier pick. Thin picks are way noiser than thick ones. Thin picks are like the old (I'm showing my age here) playing cards in the bicycle spokes trick....
uh... what??

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Post by thethingwiththestuff » Fri Oct 27, 2006 10:33 pm

i liked that tone a lot....but to answer your question, have you tried pointing the mic away from the pick?

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Post by drumsound » Sat Oct 28, 2006 1:22 am

I'm on the laptop so this comment comes without heating your cut...

Have you tried using your thumb instead of a pick?

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Post by ??????? » Sat Oct 28, 2006 7:41 am

I hate to give the old guy answer, but guitar technique has lots to do with it.

Experiment with pick angle... angling your pick 30-45 degrees will change the sound and give you less of that 'rasping' pick attack sound. By angling I mean actually curing your thumb so you hit more with the edge of the pick than with the flat-on surface. Also, a thicker pick will give you less of that sound, as someone else said.
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Post by drumsound » Sat Oct 28, 2006 9:51 am

brad347 wrote:I hate to give the old guy answer, but guitar technique has lots to do with it.

Experiment with pick angle... angling your pick 30-45 degrees will change the sound and give you less of that 'rasping' pick attack sound. By angling I mean actually curing your thumb so you hit more with the edge of the pick than with the flat-on surface. Also, a thicker pick will give you less of that sound, as someone else said.

Finally, you could always get a parametric, boost a band with a narrow q, and sweep around til you find the 'click,' then cut that frequency slightly. It will ahve minimal effect on the overall sound, probably, but you will get less click. But this is a last resort.

It's always better to 'get it right on the way in,' and that starts with the player.
Don't apologize for your answer. Technique is very important and more players, and recordists need to keep that in mind.

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Post by high five » Sat Oct 28, 2006 11:20 am

Thanks for all the tips everyone! I think brad347 is probably right about technique, because I don't practice using a pick often enough. Also, I can hear more of a 'scrape' (rather than a 'smack') with the pick angled, which is what I've been hearing on recordings that I'm trying to emulate. Thanks for that, even if it was "the old guy answer"!

I'll get some thicker picks to try out, because I think lacquer_monkey's right... the pick is kinda flapping around too much. And about using my thumb/fingers - that's how I usually play and I like the way it sounds, but my recordings sound too muddy/boomy. It kinda gives me a headache to listen to it. That's another issue though, and I'll post another recording sometime.

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Post by joeysimms » Sat Oct 28, 2006 11:55 am

Another vote for the old man answer..

If you spend some time with a mic up and headphones on as you play, you'll find the best way to adjust for the result you're looking for.
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Post by rolandk » Sat Oct 28, 2006 1:55 pm

I agree with trying a thicker pick. I have a D18 and learned over the years it likes brand new strings, a heavy pick, and strumming chords lightly. If you hit the strings too hard (even what I would consider moderate) the sound will distort.
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Post by KennyLusk » Sat Oct 28, 2006 2:30 pm

Also, when strings get old and flat they have a tendency to make the guitar sound boomier and more bassy. You lose the mids and high's. Change those strings man, come on. You'll never get any kind of lively response from the soundboard with old strings and until you do, instead of hearing a lively, projective voice from the soundboard, all you're going to hear is boomy-bass and pick attack. Let that guitar breathe and resonate.
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Post by cooksie » Sun Oct 29, 2006 1:17 pm

Holding the pick "sideways"--so that one of the two more rounded points of the triangle, rather than the sharp point, is what strikes the strings--helps reduce clackiness. In other words, point the business end of the pick so that it's parallel to the line of your thumb.

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Post by inverseroom » Sun Oct 29, 2006 1:57 pm

KennyLusk wrote:Also, when strings get old and flat they have a tendency to make the guitar sound boomier and more bassy. You lose the mids and high's. Change those strings man, come on. You'll never get any kind of lively response from the soundboard with old strings and until you do, instead of hearing a lively, projective voice from the soundboard, all you're going to hear is boomy-bass and pick attack. Let that guitar breathe and resonate.
Ooooo, I love dead strings though, they're like ALL mids. This is on a Gibson. It's like, instant Robert Johnson. Unless you're playing America covers.

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Post by mjau » Sun Oct 29, 2006 5:09 pm

cooksie wrote:Holding the pick "sideways"--so that one of the two more rounded points of the triangle, rather than the sharp point, is what strikes the strings--helps reduce clackiness. In other words, point the business end of the pick so that it's parallel to the line of your thumb.
I like the term "the business end of the pick". I might use that in the future, if you don't mind.

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Post by ??????? » Sun Oct 29, 2006 5:38 pm

cooksie wrote:Holding the pick "sideways"--so that one of the two more rounded points of the triangle, rather than the sharp point, is what strikes the strings--helps reduce clackiness. In other words, point the business end of the pick so that it's parallel to the line of your thumb.
Hmm not my experience at all. I might be misunderstanding you, but it sounds like using your way, more surface area of the pick will contact the string, making it "clack" more. I tend to use one of the wider angles of the pick when playing certain styles of rhythm guitar; helps get a little more transient and 'noise' on the front end that makes it pop better if you tend to (like me) get a darker, rounder sound. Seems like the opposite thing our friend here needs though.

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Post by tommy » Sun Oct 29, 2006 9:36 pm

Often you cant preach right hand technique to someone whos been playing the way he or she has been playing since day one so what do you do when changing a players technique or changing a players plectrum is not an option?
Ive been recording such a player recently. (thin pick user and hard up and down strummer producing LOTS of click clacks over actual tone). For this player, it took quite a bit of mic placement finagalling to get it to sound good. One constant in all the various placements was simply that the mic was aimed below the strings. Lucily, we had about 5 acoustic guitars to choose from and a bit more time in the studio that I am usually afforded so getting very good usable acoustic guitar tones wasnt a problem given his thin picked right handed technique.

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