langejanLast weekend I was recording acoustic guitar for a friend. He was having trouble getting a good recording of his guitar, so he asked me to give it a shot.

It was a beautiful Langejans guitar. I had never heard of the brand, but this was a gorgeous guitar with rosewood back and sides. The guitar had a huge bottom end, but was also surprisingly bright as well. I loved the sound of it.

I decided to stereo-mic the guitar. However, rather than use a spaced pair of microphones – one up by the neck, one down around the bridge – I decided to place the mics closer together.

Then I remembered getting a stereo mic bar months ago. I had actually never used it. After some digging around, I finally found it and put it to work.

What is a stereo mic bar?

A stereo mic bar is a simple device designed to allow two microphones to be mounted to a single mic stand. It has various threaded points along the onto which you can mount the microphones’ threaded shockmounts or mic clips.

To be completely honest, one of the main reasons I chose the stereo mic bar is that I didn’t want to spend a lot of time setting up two microphones with separate mic stands. Adjusting each stand, picking the right height for the microphone, determining the best position for each microphone, all these things take time.

Secondly, because the stereo mic bar keeps the microphones fairly close to each other (as opposed to a spaced pair of mics), I didn’t have to worry as much about phase issues.

As you can see from the picture, the microphones are roughly 3-4 inches away from each other, each angled outward. When recording the guitar, I pointed the center of the stereo mic bar at the guitar’s sound hole, aiming each mic to the left and right of it.

In addition to avoiding some of the phase issues of a spaced pair, I found that the sound of the recording seemed a bit more balanced. Rather than one microphone picking up primarily low frequency material and the other picking up mostly the high frequency information, each mic in the stereo mic bar configuration captured a more balanced recording.

This allows me to pan the mics fairly wide to the left and right in the mix without one side becoming bass-heavy.

I’m pretty impressed.

I have to say I was very pleased with how the recording turned out. Not only that, my lazy side is pretty happy to have a new technique in my arsenal that requires very little effort to set up!

Here are a few audio examples for you to check out. I’m posting them as-is, with no EQ or processing of any kind. Typically I would roll off some of the lows and do a cut around 250 Hz to smooth out the boominess.

In first sample, the microphones are about a foot away from the guitar. In the second sample, the microphones are roughly six inches from the guitar.

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You can download the mp3 files here and here.

As you can hear, there is a bit of bottom end, but with a little EQ these tracks sound great! Here’s an example of a stereo mic bar, if you’re still unsure as to what they look like. What do you think? Leave a comment!

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  • Hi Joe! Great accoustic tone, for the first one. There are some boominess, maybe the sound hole close positioning the reason for this. Do you attempt to place the center of the stereo mic to the classical fretboard 12th fret position?
    The second one seems to me a bit closed and some claustrophobe feeling has to it, i feel I'm closed in the body of the gutar.:) which is good or bad depending on the song,
    Regards!

    • I believe I placed the mics centered on the soundhole.

  • WILLIAM JONES

    I’m listening to the samples again. That guitar does sound worth every penny spent!

  • Does the stereo mic bar allow you to adjust the angle? Or is it preset?

    • I think the one that I linked to does. The one I own is actually a single bar with three holes in it, one for the mic stand, two for the mics. The bar has markings on it that let you choose the exact angle you want the mic to be, but the bar itself is straight.

  • WILLIAM JONES

    Those guitars sound great!! Too bad they cost about 3 or 4 times what I paid for my Larrivee!!

    • It really did sound great.

      • WILLIAM JONES

        I think they actually cost about 5 or 6 times what I paid for my Larrivee. I think I got mine for under a grand. But it is the best acoustic guitar I’ve ever had despite some flaws. If I ever buy another it would have to be a Martin or a Taylor with a cutaway. Which could get pricey since I am Left-Handed. I’d probably buy a cutaway Larrivee, too. Larrivee does make fine guitars. Looking forward to the stereo mic bar and that Pre I compulsively bought. Actually, both purchases were compulsive. I think the mic bar will probably be more useful than the latter. Time will tell.

  • WILLIAM JONES

    I think I may have to buy me a Stereo Mic Bar. Very Cool!!

  • John W

    You almost had an ORTF arrangement going there (diaphrams 17cm apart, angled out 110 deg). Give it a try next time.

    • You’re right, John. Definitely very ORTF-ish.