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Looking for suggestions on treating acoustic guitar - the real thing!

randyman

Experienced
Today is a NGD for me; my first Gibson – a J-15 dreadnought – arrived. It came with an LR Baggs Element pickup built in, and I spent the last few hours playing and dialing in some simple patches.

Man, those high-quality reverbs are worth the price of admission all by themselves. The main thing I'd like to do is ask the acoustic players out there to feel free to offer any hints about what you've discovered while using the Axe-FX with your acoustic guitars.

The only direct question I have involves using parametric EQ to try to minimize that characteristic piezo sound. I don't want to call it "quack," because the pickup does sound pretty nice… any hints about frequencies, cut/boost amounts, etc. would be appreciated.

Other than that, I'm open to anything that's worked for you, and made you happy with the sound/effects you're getting with your acoustic. I've searched the forum and found some interesting things I haven't tried yet, but it never hurts to ask; since I'm starting from square one I'm very open to suggestions. Thanks!
 

Eaglion

Member
Hi randyman,

I am new to AFX and i really looking forward to see the replies as well. Having said that, here is a few things i figured out so far.

I have two Ovations and a Godin with piezzo. No matter what quality the preamp is a piezzo sound is a piezzo sound. It only works for me if i bury it to the background.I started to believe that the EQ and gain on the guitar is not meant for tone shaping but to avoid feedback from insulting frequencies. So i usually leave them flat and do adjustments in AFX.

To achieve a fuller sound i sampled my Ovations with various settings like; sound hole closed/open, close and in room mik'ing etc, with SM57 and SM58 (I do not have a condenser set). I use these to tone match not only with piezzos but also with mags as well. The outcome is much better that the piezzo itself. I do not have cab lab so i also tried to merge a few of them in DAW to try different tones. I am sure it would be much better with condenser and cab lab.

. My presets chain is compressor> PEQ> tube pre>TM> chorus>delay>Reverb.

Have not tried AFX with my Godin yet. It has both piezzo and mag outputs which i have to make I/O adjustments.
 

aziz

Power User
My acoustic preset ended up being the longest effect chain in any of my patches... Anyway, I highly recommend using a proper mic preamp and condenser mics, (beg, steal of borrow them for a day), and doing a live(!) tonematch of your guitar with them. (Live mode makes a better result than offline mode.) It will get rid of the piezo tone quite effectively, much more efficient than tweaking EQ's yourself. My Lr Baggs Lyric -quack was around 400hz, for what it's worth with different systems.

Other than that, it depends on the style you're after. For chord strumming, I use a preamp sim from the cab block and multiband compressor to even out the levels a bit.

Here's my first and only rought test with TM block off/on:
 

Rex

Legend!
To minimize that piezo sound, hunt down the offending frequencies (usually around 7 KHz) and knock them down a good bit.

To really sweeten your plugged-in sound, make a dry miked recording of your guitar, and then tone-match your peizo to that.
 

Patzag

Fractal Fanatic
Tonematch all the way. But the secret to this is to mic your guitar and listen to the sound through headphones (so it blocks out the acoustic sound) and place your mic where it sounds most natural and pleasing to your ears. THEN tonematch. You won't believe the results.
 

barhrecords

Axe-Master
I also recommend a live tone match.

If you are not familiar with mic'ing and recording acoustic guitar, you probably should spend some time with that before doing the tone match as the tone match is going to improve if your micing skills are good.

You mic the guitar and use that signal as the "reference".

You plug the output of your builtin pickup into front input 1 and use that as "local".

Set the tone match block to "Live" mode.

I just use first position chords to do the matching. G -> D -> Am -> C

It will probably take some trial and error to figure out how the tone match block works etc. But the results are really good.

Once finished, the tone match block can be used in your preset to steer the tone towards a mic'ed sound and get rid of the piezo sound.

The rest of the preset for me really depends on what I'm doing. If it's an acoustic gig or a duo where the guitar needs to be big an prominent, my preset would be something like:

Comp -> Phaser -> Filter -> Filter -> Tone Match -> GEQ -> MultiComp -> Delay -> Reverb

I use two filter blocks in series for makeup gain. The type is set to null so its not affecting the tone. It's just pure clean gain.

I use two because I needed more that 20db of gain. So the first one is maxed and the second one is for overall preset level.
 

randyman

Experienced
Tone match it is! I'm experienced with studio recording and have some nice Neumanns and preamps… this is great info; just what I was looking for. Thanks!
 

barhrecords

Axe-Master
Tone match it is! I'm experienced with studio recording and have some nice Neumanns and preamps… this is great info; just what I was looking for. Thanks!

In that case you should get stellar results.

- Use Live mode
- Set smoothing to 0 while you are matching but I like to add smoothing to taste after to get rid of harshness. Just be sure to reset to 0 before taking another match :)

I use the graph display in AxeEdit to judge if the match was okay (and my ears). If the graph is too spiky I re-shoot the match.

Also play with the tone match block mix afterwards. I mix in a little pickup and don't do 100% the tone match block.
 

randyman

Experienced
Well, once again… I'm just agog at what this magic box will do. I spent about an hour and a half playing around with Tone Match, and it really is just ridiculous.

The first thing I did was a live match, using a Neumann TLM 103 on the guitar itself. I played with it a little while, and it sounded pretty good… but I couldn't really tell, because my open Grado headphones let a lot of sound through. So I recorded a little doing an A/B between the Tone Match block off and on, and when I played it back (sans live guitar…) my jaw dropped. The piezo sound was gone, and the Gibson sounded like… a Gibson that had been well recorded, using a Neumann microphone.

I mean, I knew intellectually that's what was supposed to happen, but that it was so easy – and worked so perfectly well – well, maybe I shouldn't be surprised at this point, but… it's still just amazing.

So, mission accomplished – but then I started just fooling around. I went back to my main computer and grabbed a bunch of sound bites: a couple YouTube clips of a Guild and a Gibson, and then some snippets from a few CDs. Leo Kottke, Steve Howe, even some very produced Cat Stevens guitar. I loaded them up, one by one, as the reference sample. I made no effort to match what they were playing; I just strummed some open chords as the live source, and when I pressed the magic match button, I got some really cool results!

Were they clinically accurate replications of the recorded guitar sound? No, of course not… just some interesting frequency spectra that I can save to play with. What a fantastic feature.

Thanks to everyone for your comments… everything suggested was very helpful.
 

barhrecords

Axe-Master
One other thing I did that I loved was using my fishman aura pedal as the reference and the direct piezo as local and matched the fishman.

It doesn't sound as good as a microphone as reference, but worked really cool for a couple of SST solid body acoustics I have where the mic'ed sound is really not available.
 
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