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DO's and DON'Ts of Acoustic Guitar Recording

DO keep your strings fresh (and keep the ends cut short)
DO wash your hands before and after playing
DO listen to the instrument to find the best mic placement
DO wear closed-back headphones to avoid escaping noise
DO find the spot in the room where the guitar sounds best
DO try to breath quietly through your nose (yes this is a problem sometimes!)
DO try to stay in the same position in front of the mics
DO try different thicknesses of picks for different sounds

DON’T forget to tune often
DON’T place your mics close to the sound hole
DON’T stop if you make a mistake
DON’T assume the built-in pickup actually sounds anything like your guitar, not to say it can’t be useful at times
DON’T forget to empty your pockets of keys, change and cellphone
DON’T rush through the recording, take your time now to get it right.


  1. Riley
    Riley July 18, 2011

    DO consider where acoustic guitar will fit in mix before hand.. for a dense pop mix you probably want to record thin

    DONT use dadario strings, they are dreadful even new

  2. Simon
    Simon August 7, 2011

    @Riley no d’addario? Which brand do you suggest?

  3. Jon Ferriss
    Jon Ferriss September 8, 2011

    “Keep the ends cut short”

    I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen someone struggling with gigantic looping strings popping everywhere from the end…that thing is a health hazard! Get a pair of pliers and chop them off leaving just a couple of inches out from the end.

    @Riley: I use Martin, though I can’t say anything bad about d’Addario. Perhaps I’m partial to Martin because my guitar is a Martin as well.

  4. William Erasmus
    William Erasmus November 6, 2011

    @Simon, Elixir Strings nanoweb are excellent. As a general rule of thumb, though, you get what you pay for.

    I personally would suggest avoiding Dunlop strings. Even new, they don’t always have a strong sound.

    In regards to keeping the ends cut short, with the gold wound strings you can twist the slack in a circular motion and the friction will quickly cause a nice clean cut.

    I would definitely add here DO experiment with mic positioning and blending signals. The more you try, the more options you have when you want to get a certain sound. 🙂

    DO recheck the tuning after applying a capo. DO remove the capo when retuning. (It won’t break your guitar, but will rapidly reduce the life of your strings.)

  5. Allan
    Allan November 10, 2011

    “DON’T stop if you make a mistake”

    Want to explain this one?

    • Jon
      Jon November 10, 2011

      Keep going! Find the click and finish the song. Keep the momentum. I’d rather comp from two good takes than punch in a few notes or record a section at a time.
      Basically, if you can’t play it cleanly all the way through-You’re not ready to record.

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