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Thread: PRs SE Angelus for recording - custom or standard?

  1. #1
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    PRs SE Angelus for recording - custom or standard?

    Hi y'all

    I'm looking at buying a PRS SE Angelus for my home recording projects.

    Seeing as Denmark is not exactly riddled with shops carrying PRS guitars, I have to buy sight unseen (the return policy is good, so no worries there).

    But I was wondering which of the two (Custom or Standard) that might be best suited for recording?

    I am thinking rock and ballad stuff, as well as texture on top of electric guitar mostly. When listening to the various demos, I like the sound of the Custom best (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a1n-mz4vB48) - but I am worried it might not translate too well in a mix etc., as people have described them as being bass-heavy, which is not always ideal for this kind of stuff.

    Having next to no experience with recording acoustic, I now turn to you guys for some input :-) Can you help med with some input?

    BR,
    Michael

  2. #2
    I do a lot of recording professionally.

    Here's the deal: There are no hard and fast rules one way or the other, it's all a matter of taste and preference. There are a ton of recording artists who play a rosewood back and sides model for everything. That's just how they roll. Just see how many cats go into the studio with something like a D-28, etc.

    There are also tons who prefer the sound of mahogany. And some like small bodied models for recording, so there's that niche that PRS hasn't got anything for.

    My experience with both woods in this body size is that for layering and texture stuff, you're going to roll off a significant amount of bass either way. And that's especially the case with an acoustic with a larger body like the PRS acoustics.

    So whichever way you go, there's going to be an EQ involved, and I'm going to say that mics and mic placement will make more of a difference than the wood choice.

    So if it's me - and I realize it isn't - I'm going to go with the model that sounds best to your ear when played and recorded as a solo instrument. Whichever guitar that is (you say you prefer the Custom version), that's what I'd go with. EQ will take care of the rest.

    Every DAW comes with an EQ. Learn how to work with it, and with mic placement, and you'll be in business.
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  3. #3
    Senior Member MOBirds's Avatar
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    I bought the Custom because it sounded fuller to my ear for live settings even though I use it more for home recording like you describe. One thing you can do when layering with electric guitar is use the internal preamp (if it has one) rather than mic'ing it. If you really want the full sound of the guitar, then a quality mic is going to capture that. If you're just layering in an acoustic background track, then the internal can be flat enough to shape more easily within the DAW. I'll go straight into audio interface if I'm just looking for a bit of texture behind the electric guitar track(s). I use a decent condenser mic if I'm recording the acoustic as the main guitar track. - although I do get a bit of background noise sinceI haven't fully treated the room yet. Since I'm not recording professionally for clients or anything, that's not much of a problem for my demos or simple experimenting/goofing around.
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    Hi guys

    Thanks your your input.

    Even though I probably have no business doing so, I'm aspiring to self-record and release my first album this year (it's a brave new world where a questionable talent such as my own can reach the masses so easily - well, at least be secretly available to millions of unsuspecting people ;-)). So I will definitely be using a mic (probably not very high quality, but hey... At least I'll have some acoustic treatment soon, once I get around to finishing it :-)).


    Anyway, what seems to be the prevailing opinion is that hog guitars are easier to record than rosewood guitars. So from that aspect alone I should probably go for the standard over the custom, as I have pretty limited experience with both recording and mixing so far. I have done what I can to learn the stuff through reading and listening to podcasts, but that only takes one so far.

    For texture, if it is merely a matter of how radical a HPF you slap on it, great - that I can do :-). I guess where he real challenges arise is for songs that feature the acoustic as more of a main instrument.

    What I read, though, is that the PRS Custom is quite tonally balanced, and quite suited for strumming. I think I will do more of strumming stuff than finger style - although that may change once I get it in my hands, of course.

    For now, I'm leaning towards the custom, and keeping my fingers crossed that I can figure out how to record it well. I figure that I should also pay a lot of attention to what INSPIRES me the most. And my lack of experience might well be as much a limiting factor with a mahogany guitar that (allegedly) should be more forgiving when recording.

    I hope my thinking stand up to reality! :-)

  5. #5
    I think you're right in deciding that what inspires you the most is the thing to get.

    Incidentally, I don't share the opinion that mahogany guitars are easier to record at all - and I've recorded many, many acoustic guitars over the past 25 years! There are several reasons for this:

    First, regardless of the generalizations folks might make, every guitar of the same model sounds a little different. Second, a lot depends on the mic choice and placement. - an inch makes a huge difference! A bright sounding guitar might be too bright combined with a bright mic, while a darker guitar might be perfect for it. Et cetera.

    Then there is the entire matter of one's creative vision, how one achieves a sound consistent with that.

    There are so many, many variables in recording, here are just a few--

    The strings are a variable. The pick will affect the sound.The room is a variable (including how the guitar sound reflects off the floor, ceiling and walls; I much prefer recording acoustic guitar in a bright sounding room with a hard flooring surface, to recording in a heavily treated room with carpeting, though I prefer recording a loud amp and often a vocal in a treated room, etc.). The mic is a variable. The player is a variable. How hard the instrument is strummed or picked is a variable. The wood is a variable. Even whether it's a dry or damp day can be a variable. So you get the idea. The wood on the back and sides of the guitar are only a part of the picture, except insofar as they affect your ability to get what you want out of the instrument.

    And that's where personal preference and personal vision comes in and makes the most important difference.

    My favorite acoustic guitar to record has a maple back and sides, because that's what I like to play. In fact, I had PRS make a PS that way so I could achieve my own sonic vision. It was worth the wait and the expense.

    I will also mention that my two maple Collings guitars recorded differently from each other, and differently than my maple PRS does. The Blue Mouse mic I used to use to sound best with the Collings guitars didn't sound great with the PRS, that I think records better with a Neumann TLM102.

    Finally, as you will soon discover, it's easy to record acoustic guitar and get a decent sound, but devilishly tricky to record one and get a truly great sound! So it's always going to be wiser to start off with the guitar that has the basic tone you like best, because that way you start out with the tone you hear in your head.
    Last edited by LSchefman; 01-07-2014 at 04:31 PM.
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  6. #6
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    What Les said. There is no "easier" to record - you may develop preferences, and certain guitars may sit in or jump out of a mix better, but it's something you have to learn and get better at. Find the instrument that speaks to you, and then learn to record it.

    And as MOBirds said, don't be afraid to record the pickup if you get one that has that option (and the PRS SE pickup is pretty good - pretty transparent to my ears). I wouldn't want it to be the only thing I recorded for a solo acoustic piece, but it's something nice to add to the mix.
    Alan

    "I watched approximately 45 seconds of 'Rock Of Ages'. It was like getting punched in the soul." - Abby Krizner

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    Hi guys

    I think I "got it".

    Thank you, it makes perfect sense the way you put it, Les. I think decent sound is what I aspire to at this point, not great sound (realistically, at least).

    Order's placed for the guitar that will hopefully be a big inspiration. Looking forward to learning!

  8. #8
    Good choice, Michael! And we will of course need a tone report on the guitar when it arrives!
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    Well, I should be able to do not just a report, but an audio demo, to show off my, erm... Capacity for future improvement in the recording department...? :-)

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    Senior Member MOBirds's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael_DK View Post
    Well, I should be able to do not just a report, but an audio demo, to show off my, erm... Capacity for future improvement in the recording department...? :-)
    LOL did I mention "experimenting"???? I've yet to post anything I've completed since I've completed so little. "One of these days" I'll have something together enough to offer up... hmm sounds like the title of my yet to be finished record.

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    heh heh :-)

    I've decided that THIS year I am going to do a full album. I have dabbled (dallied?) since around 2002, but 2013 was a turnaround for me in terms of writing songs. I am starting to learn how to mix as well (subscribed to dueling mixes.com, which I highly recommend - I've learned a ton there, at least).

    I am now in the beginning stages of pre-production - maybe more like getting the arrangements sharper. Actually, making the songs suck less, I guess :-) Reading up on what elements make up good songs.

    I've just read a couple of books on songwriting that are geared toward professional songwriters (guns-for-hire type stuff). Even though I'm not doing country, pop or radio stuff, the things I've learned from this is solid gold. So I'm getting ready to really polish 12 songs/45 minutes before setting out to tracking them. It's been such a great experience so far. I'm really liking my songs, but it would be great if other people (my mom?) did too ;-)

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    GOT IT!!!!!

    Really liking it so far.

    I have only played a bit, not really looked it over critically or anything. Seems to be very well setup; no buzz, quite comfortable action (again, haven't gone over it critically yet).

    The bindings are not that pretty upon closer inspection. People have described the stark white plastic as looking cheap, and I agree somewhat. Furthermore, the edges where bindings meet are not that well done, and the nut seems relatively crudely cut.

    None of these points are deal breakers to me in any way, as long as the guitar plays well - which indeed it seems to do. Although my shoulder needs to adjust to playing an acoustic :-)

    I really like the neck shape on this too. Would anybody happen to know if this is shaped kind of like a pattern neck, or some such? Or entirely its own beast?

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    Okay, here is a very rough demo for your (dubious) listening pleasure (i.e., no trying out different mic placements or anything - just plug in and go).

    It is recorded in a room with no treatment other than an armchair from IKEA (I have rock wool lying in my basement I need to build my basstraps, 1st reflection panels etc from).

    I placed a Røde NT1-A large diaphragm condenser (with the chair behind) at about the 15th fret, maybe a foot away. That went into my Focusrite Saffire Pro interface, and I have added a high pass filter (80Hz) and then a compressor with a low ratio and fast attack, knocking off 2 dB of most peaks.

    Anything else I need to mention? Oh yeah, I used a V-pick - a thick and very hard pick, and strummed right around the edge of the sound hole (bridge side). I find that different picks make a HUGE difference on acoustic, much more than I have been able to hear on my electric. I strummed pretty lightly, too.

    Anyway, here's the link: https://soundcloud.com/michael_dk/pr...s-custom-quick
    Last edited by Michael_DK; 01-16-2014 at 12:34 PM.

  14. #14
    Senior Member Duffy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael_DK View Post
    Okay, here is a very rough demo for your (dubious) listening pleasure (i.e., no trying out different mic placements or anything - just plug in and go).

    It is recorded in a room with no treatment other than an armchair from IKEA (I have rock wool lying in my basement I need to build my basstraps, 1st reflection panels etc from).

    I placed a Røde NT1-A large diaphragm condenser (with the chair behind) at about the 15th fret, maybe a foot away. That went into my Focusrite Saffire Pro interface, and I have added a high pass filter (80Hz) and then a compressor with a low ratio and fast attack, knocking off 2 dB of most peaks.

    Anything else I need to mention? Oh yeah, I used a V-pick - a thick and very hard pick, and strummed right around the edge of the sound hole (bridge side). I find that different picks make a HUGE difference on acoustic, much more than I have been able to hear on my electric. I strummed pretty lightly, too.

    Anyway, here's the link: https://soundcloud.com/michael_dk/pr...s-custom-quick

    Very mellow and melodic. Not bad at all. Is that a good representation of how the guitar actually sounds when sitting there just playing the guitar only? The bass sounded very nice.

    I'm thinking of getting one of those.
    "Now all the things that use to mean so much to me has got me old before my time." G. Allman, "Old Before My Time", Hittin' The Note cd.

  15. #15
    You did a good job with that, Michael! The guitar sounds nice and present, and you can hear the crisp pick attack, etc.

    Sounds like a really nice guitar should sound. And yeah, you're right about the difference picks make -- I just switched my acoustic playing to a Blue Chip pick. Wow, makes a very noticeable difference, and I like the warm but crisp tone I get with it on my PRS acoustic quite a lot.

    Les
    I saw ten thousand talkers whose tongues were all broken...

    Website: http://www.elfxi.com

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    Quote Originally Posted by Duffy View Post
    Very mellow and melodic. Not bad at all. Is that a good representation of how the guitar actually sounds when sitting there just playing the guitar only? The bass sounded very nice.

    I'm thinking of getting one of those.
    I would actually say it sounds a bit lifeless to me when comparing to how it sounds to my ears while playing. I will try to make a recording with the mic right at my ear and see if that gives a better representation. There is definitely not a lack of low end with this guitar (at least in my mind, and take that with a grain of salt - I don't have much experience).

    I guess conventional wisdom would dictate that I record with a small diaphragm condenser for this, but I don't have one, unfortunately.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LSchefman View Post
    You did a good job with that, Michael! The guitar sounds nice and present, and you can hear the crisp pick attack, etc.

    Sounds like a really nice guitar should sound. And yeah, you're right about the difference picks make -- I just switched my acoustic playing to a Blue Chip pick. Wow, makes a very noticeable difference, and I like the warm but crisp tone I get with it on my PRS acoustic quite a lot.

    Les
    Thanks, Les. I would say, though, that while playing the guitar it sounds much different - much more present and crisp to my ear, actually :-) I think the recording sounds almost kind of choked in comparison.

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    OK, new recording with the mic over my right shoulder this time, angled downward just a bit. Different position in the room (not in front of the armchair).

    https://soundcloud.com/michael_dk/pr...-custom-demo-2

    This to my ear sounds much more like in real life - although there is some low-note ringing in the room disturbing a bit. I've also added a part in the end where you can hear how a different pick sounds (0.91 mm Gibson heavy pick) WAAAY more mellow. I think I like the V-pick (4mm) better overall, but maybe something in between would be the best tone to my ear. The sound of the pick striking the strings is too present with the V-pick, and maybe a bit too present overall, whereas the gibson pick has a really nice attack to my ear, but lacks a bit of brilliance (I'm throwing around what is probably the wrong words for the various frequencies I'm trying to convey, but I'll let you listen and sort it out yourselves ;-))

    Enjoy. And feel free to chime in with your opinion and experience!

    Edit: no compression this time, just the HPF @ 80Hz. Saw no reason to bring up the horrible room in the "mix" :-)
    Last edited by Michael_DK; 01-17-2014 at 01:19 PM.

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by Michael_DK View Post
    Thanks, Les. I would say, though, that while playing the guitar it sounds much different - much more present and crisp to my ear, actually :-) I think the recording sounds almost kind of choked in comparison.
    There could be a lot of factors. Mic choice is one, mic preamp another, learning how to position the mic to find the spot where it comes into focus yet another, really the list of variables is endless.

    Also, your ears hear in stereo, you're recording in mono with a single mic.

    There's a reason that people spend thousands of dollars, and countless hours, on mics, preamps, processors, and experimentation.

    I'm not a big fan of the way lucite picks sound, or even celluloid. It's why I've spent months experimenting with picks, and settled on the Blue Chip (and in certain situations, Ultex) picks. The lucite plays well, but sounds clinky.
    Last edited by LSchefman; 01-18-2014 at 08:42 PM.
    I saw ten thousand talkers whose tongues were all broken...

    Website: http://www.elfxi.com

  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by Michael_DK View Post
    OK, new recording with the mic over my right shoulder this time, angled downward just a bit. Different position in the room (not in front of the armchair).

    https://soundcloud.com/michael_dk/pr...-custom-demo-2

    This to my ear sounds much more like in real life - although there is some low-note ringing in the room disturbing a bit. I've also added a part in the end where you can hear how a different pick sounds (0.91 mm Gibson heavy pick) WAAAY more mellow. I think I like the V-pick (4mm) better overall, but maybe something in between would be the best tone to my ear. The sound of the pick striking the strings is too present with the V-pick, and maybe a bit too present overall, whereas the gibson pick has a really nice attack to my ear, but lacks a bit of brilliance (I'm throwing around what is probably the wrong words for the various frequencies I'm trying to convey, but I'll let you listen and sort it out yourselves ;-))

    Enjoy. And feel free to chime in with your opinion and experience!

    Edit: no compression this time, just the HPF @ 80Hz. Saw no reason to bring up the horrible room in the "mix" :-)
    It's hard to tell what's what without hearing the guitar. I might have liked the other recording better.

    Do remember that when you're recording, you're creating something that doesn't exist in nature. You can buy the best record in the world, made in the best studio, with the best instrument, mics and equipment, put it on a very high end hi fi system, and you're still not going to be fooled into believing that there's a real, live band in the room.

    So recording is all about sculpting the sound to achieve the results you want, and not necessarily about duplicating reality. People think "Oh, I'll record this and it will sound like my instrument/amp/voice."

    Well, it doesn't work that way.

    Recording is an art form all its own, and will be unless the technology of recording so improves that a three dimensional replica of what we truly hear can be replicated. I know I won't live to see it.

    There is no way on Earth that one inexpensive mic is going to capture the complex sound that enters your ears and is interpreted by your brain. No way.

    Why do you think that people have spent decades experimenting with surround miking techniques, Neumann heads for binaural recording, mid-side techniques, stereo techniques, etc.? It's all in an effort to re-create what's happening in the room. And it's still not there yet.

    If I can use EQ, compression, miking techniques, the right gear choice, and so on, to get the sound closer to what I want to hear, why wouldn't I do that? And if a little room noise is the by-product, it's still worth it.

    My two cents.
    I saw ten thousand talkers whose tongues were all broken...

    Website: http://www.elfxi.com

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