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I play the acoustic guitar. I've noticed a problem with my strumming. I tend to hit the body of the guitar too much when I'm strumming with the pick. It's not very noticeable when I'm not recording. But in recordings it's very noticeable. How can I correct this ? Any tips on mic technique or strumming would be great!

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I think that the problem you are having is not strumming parallel to the body of the guitar. If you can imagine the black line being the guitar body and the yellow line being the strings.

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You don't want you strumming to be in a arc but rather in a straight line. Imagine the silver line being the pick while you strum. You would want it to be more like this...

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and less like this.

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This will help you play all the strings you want clearly while you strum and not dig into the last strings while you strum.

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    Good diagrams! The asker is probably going in a curved line that also slants closer to the body on the pickguard side. In terms of how to strum more in a flat line or plane, as I mentioned in my other comment I would try swinging from the elbow and keeping the wrist as relaxed as possible while still keeping it from moving. – Todd Wilcox Sep 25 '15 at 12:13
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Neil has a great answer regarding strumming in a flat plane, and whether you make that happen using your elbow or your wrist doesn't matter, that will not only keep you from hitting the body, it will improve your tone.

I'll talk about microphones and acoustic guitars, then: Capturing an acoustic is a big challenge. You want the right balance of rich string tone, low end, and percussion without getting fret noise, boominess, or too much pick scrape. It's also important that the mic not get in the way of the player.

Two placements are popular and have worked for me in the past:

  • For one mic, putting it around the 12th fret, or near where the neck meets the body, usually gets a good balance. Hopefully the player strums more over the soundhole so a mic at the 12th fret shouldn't get in the way. Start with the mic about six inches away and pointed right at the guitar and experiment with the angle and placement to get the best sound. Moving it or angling it more towards the neck should give a brighter tone, more towards the body should give more low end. This mic position is more forgiving of player movement because usually the guitar pivots around the 12th fret when the player moves, although sideways movement of the player and/or guitar can change the color. Ideally, the player will be as still as possible while still giving a good performance. This is a great position to put a high quality omni mic.
  • (My personal favorite) If you have two mics, then one up near the headstock pointing down along the neck towards the soundhole and the other just below the lower bout a little forward of the plane of the top and pointed towards the sound hole can provide a great balanced sound that has interesting panning options. Exact placement is a little more critical with this technique and also the player really has to stay more still since the sound can change a lot with small motions. Moving the mics more in front of the guitar is more forgiving of movement and gives a less dramatic sound with more room tone.

As with any instrument, the quality of the recording increases dramatically with better players and/or players who have their parts down cold.

As you've noticed, the microphone hears differently from our ears. I don't know of a way to make the noise of hitting the body with the pick less intense on a recording. I think you'll just have to work hard on not hitting it at all and make several takes or punch-ins to get a clean recording.

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Well in the case of your strumming, I'd say perhaps try using more of your wrist and less of your arm and perhaps try and shorten the amount your arm moves past the strings.

With mic technique, I'm not sure how you do it now but I record a DI track (mine's electro-acoustic), I mic near the sound hole with a large diaphragm condenser and I mic at around the 14th fret with a small diaphragm condenser to capture the harmonics. Really with mic positioning, it's dependent on what equipment you have and how well you set it up as well.

As Dave said though, it's hard to give you any more tips without hearing or seeing the problem!

  • Weird... I was going to say less wrist and more arm... I use my elbow as a hinge and that keeps my strumming in a flat plane, so if I keep the plane parallel to the strings and the top I hit the strings evenly and don't hit the pickguard. – Todd Wilcox Sep 25 '15 at 12:11
  • haha very strange, I find I strum much more fluently and easily when I use more wrist than arm! Perhaps it's a case of part preference and part technique? – Jamie Brace Sep 25 '15 at 12:12
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    And part body geometry and part guitar style and construction? It has long seemed to me that everybody has to find their own way when learning an instrument, more or less. – Todd Wilcox Sep 25 '15 at 12:14
  • yeah it makes sense, that's probably why everyone also eventually develops they're own style due to the way they've adapted to the instrument! – Jamie Brace Sep 25 '15 at 12:17

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