Basics Of Recording: Strings
Updated: Feb 19, 2020
Strings are a fantastic addition to music. Practically any and every genre can be improved with a string section (....Ok, maybe not punk music!) So here's some thoughts on capturing strings
If you're recording a string quartet for example, the best way to go about that is all together! If you have two inputs then a spaced stereo pair will capture the general sound for you. However if you have 3+ inputs you can start to get creative!
The 'mid-side' technique can be great for capturing overall sound. It involves 3 microphones- two pointing away from each other and one pointing straight in front (picture a clock with microphones close together pointing at 9, 12 and 3 o'clock). You can capture a great ambiance with this technique
Any condenser microphones will do the job here, so use what you have! If you have two of the same microphone that will help bring the sound together a little.
The trick when capturing ambiance is to think through how you want the stereo sound to spread out. Generally you want bassier instruments in the centre of the stereo field and lighter ones out to the side- so for example putting the cello (or double bass) in the middle of the group will naturally help you record a better sound.
Single Instrument Recording
But what if you don't have a string section? What if you only have 1 musician and you want to layer parts? Well that's an even simpler job!
With any string instrument of these types, mic them a few feet away from the body, pointing the mic between the sound holes and the fingerboard, it will get a nice balance for you.
With cello's and double bass, use a large diaphragm condenser or a ribbon mic, aim this mic at the bridge of the instrument, microphone a few feet back.
With violas and violins a small diaphragm condenser between sound holes and fingerboard will capture a nice balanced tone.
Remember, if you're unsure, experiment with your equipment and get the best sound you can, then stop messing about and record!
If you have any other suggestions for this series I'm happy to continue, however next time I will look at building a good collection of microphones for band recording - getting bang for buck and a variety of tone!
What are your thoughts? Is there anything I missed you consider essential? Comment below to let me know!