One of the easiest setups for acoustic guitar recording is the XY miking technique. Not only is it one of the quickest setups you can do to capture acoustic guitar in stereo, it also is one of the few coincident miking techniques that minimizes phase issues, as it allows sound to arrive at both microphone diaphragms simultaneously.
Phase issues can be one of the trickiest problems to avoid when your are fine-tuning your mic placement for a stereo recording. If two microphones are set up at different distances from the source, sound waves will arrive to the mic capsules at different times, increasing the potential for phase cancellation, which results when two out-of-phase sound waves of the same frequency cancel each other out fully or partially because the peaks of one sound wave are overlapped with the troughs of another. (To the listener, this results in dampened or missing frequencies.) The XY technique greatly reduces the possibility of this happening by positioning the mics at the same distance from the source.
Because of its simplicity, the XY technique is excellent for people just getting started out on recording acoustic guitar, but it’s just as useful in the recording studio when the panning of the mics in the mix is not yet determined during the recording stage. After recording, the mics can be summed to mono or panned wider without fear of comb filtering, preserving flexibility for your mix.
So how exactly do you set up your mics to record acoustic guitar with the XY miking technique? In the two-part video series below, recording specialist Todd Atlas demonstrates how to zero in on the best mic placement for XY recording on acoustic guitar. You’ll get tips on what type of mics to use, how far from the guitar to place the mics, and where to angle them for the best sound (spoiler: avoid pointing directly at the sound hole!).
For more miking and recording techniques for acoustic guitar, including classical guitar, check out our full Guitar Recording Techniques YouTube playlist. Two videos in particular that further highlight the usefulness of the XY technique are our video using the Peluso P84 SDC Mic Stereo Kit in an XY configuration on mandolin and slide guitar and How to Mic an Acoustic Guitar Recording and Choose Your Preamp.