Guitar sounds strange

Hey all,

Very new to working with Cubase, and don’t have any experience with any DAW’s. So I assume this is an easy fix but I just don’t know what I’m doing.

Basically my issue, other than not really knowing what I’m doing is that when I record acoustic guitar, whether it’s plugged directly into the interface or recorded onto a mic, it sounds like a harpsichord. Very strange. Any voice I record sounds totally fine, so I know it has to be a setting in Cubase. I know issues like this might potentially have many variables, so please let me know if there is any info I’m missing. I’ve tried using the acoustic guitar + voice premade template, as well as creating my own track in an empty template.

For what it’s worth, I’m using a Steinberg UR22 and a Rode NT1-A.

Thank you very much.

recording a guitar is a science in itself. (However a steel string is pretty close to a harpsichord). There are a lot of videos on youtube on how to do it. Groove3 is selling tutorials how to do it. It can be summarized:

  • Choosing the right guitar for the job
    Choosing the right mic (or preferably TWO mics)
    Placing of the mic(s)
    Recording in the right environment (the room)
    Setting the input levels right (are you sure you do not distort the signals?)
    EQing and reverbing the guitar in the mix

Hello Joubin,
I fully agree with Rumdrum. This is a pain i the a… ! Some years ago we used a pretty expensive borrowed accoustic guitar (I can’t recall what product it was) for recording that had a piezo bridge as well as two built in condenser microphones. The piezo was catching too much finger noise (specially when sliding up and down the neck) and the microphones were not crisp (the two condenseres were inside the body). Since we did not have any real good microphones (only the ones for stage) we recorded the guitar on 3 tracks and tried to mix the full sound of the condensers with the crispness of the piezo. We found a compromise that we had to live with. It still did not sound too well in solo mode but in the full mix with all other instruments it was somewhat OK.

So if you want to record professionally, you will have to rent or buy very expensive gear (and maybe an experienced person who could set the whole thing up and teach you the basics) or live with compromises. This is NOT a Cubase issue.

Sorry for not having better news for you. But maybe someone else knows a magic trick



You should be able to get a good guitar sound with an NT1-A.

Why don’t you post a recording of what you’re getting?

My experience is that a Rhode NT1a is quite bright. I borrowed a friends and for me it was all about positioning the mic.
If you are using the piezo as well as the mic you are probably getting some comb filtering owing to the waveforms not aligning. You might have to move the Piezo wav back until it lines up with the mic wav. This is because the piezo signal arrives fractionally in front of the mic signal. Two mics can cause the same problem if one is further away than the other.

Mic position facing the neck is brighter with more fret sounds - Level and above the sound hole is bassier and below is slightly brighter. A piece of plywood or hardboard under your chair if the room has a carpet can add a useful amount of presence.

The further away the mic the more room ambience which can be good in a larger room and not so nice in a smaller room.

Unfortunately, like anything, it takes a lot of experimenting with positioning and eq to get where you want to go.

Yeah post some recordings and also write some of public accessible music that is your desired sound. Forgot to mention in my last post that is also important:

  • How you hit the strings
    With what you hit the strings (Fingertips, nails or plectrum)
    The quality and shape of with what you hit the strings (Nails sound different, plectrum hardness and size matters)
    And as mentioned in another post here: How the left hand is moving as you play.

If you are not used to recording guitar, you will normally find sounds in your recording that is not wanted. When “just” playing the ear disregards a lot of sounds. When listening to a playback your ear will pick up everything. Playing live in a band or around the campfire is very different to doing a recording. How firm your grip is and if you are able to let all strings ring is of great importance when recording. You will find that both hands influence the sound very much. I can get pretty close to a harpsichord if I want to.

I agree that you should be able to get a decent sound out of your mic. However you will not get the sound of a professional studio with that mic. But then again I guess that the room you are recording in is also limited.

Watching videos, reading theory and doing it over and over again a zillion times is what makes improvements.

Wow! So much help here! You guys are awesome, thank you all.

I will try to get a recording tomorrow, as I’m on my way out to work right now. I’m 99% sure it’s a Cubase setting, because I created an empty template and configured my busses manually, and I was able to record a normal guitar sound! So, it’s only when I use the Acoustic Guitar + Vocal pre-made template. It’s not as big of a deal now, but I would definitely know what/how was causing the guitar to sound like that. Again, I will get a recording tomorrow, maybe later tonight.

Thank you all very much for being so willing to help a nooby. <3

I am in agreement with most of Rumdrum’s comments, but beg to differ regarding “you will not get the sound of a professional studio with that mic”. This is purest nonsense. Rode mics such as the NT1a are well up to the job. There are many variables in play however and all will have a bearing on the recordings that you make.

Do definitely check that you don’t have any unwanted plugs inserted in your recording input or audio channels.

Good luck. Enjoy all of your recording and the learning process.

Well, let us agree on that we disagree on the capability of the Røde mic. It is one of my own mics. Although a pretty good mic, it is not “up there”. I have tested and it failed. I never use it on guitar. I do not know of any studio where it is used on guitar either, but please enlighten me. I use my Røde for field recordings in rough environments not to risk expensive mics and if the sound source calls for the use.

I have done blind tests with NT1a against U47, U87, AKG 414 and various other ‘up there’ mics for vocal recordings. Objective results were a surprise!

True, Rode are certainly not the the very best mics for all applications, they are a budget general purpose mic, but the OP is starting out. I feel that sending him on a goose-chase to buy a top microphone is not the priority. He’ll get very satisfactory results with Rodes.

I find that the most pleasing acoustic guitar recordings I have made over the years have not been with large diaphragms anyway. A coincident pair of Neumann KM84s or similar are hard to beat. Their phaze accuracy and even frequency response works better than two large diaphragms in my opinion. Even cheap PZMs can sound stunning, for essentially the same reasons.

If everything else is good, ie. player, acoustic space and guitar. Then NT1a will do a fine job of getting the audio as far as the AD and hence intoCubase.

I see what you mean, and yes there is a risk of starting a “spending more money” race, but if the OP gets frustrated that he does not achieve the sound of his favourite record, there are several reasons, mic one of them. I agree that most of the “possible problems” lie outside the mic (I have mentioned several in my posts), but the mic also counts, and he mentioned the make of the mic himself.

I do agree on the smaller diaphragm for many guitars, most actually. However strumming a dreadnaught might do with a large diaphragm, depending of the woods and the bracing.

In my first post on this tread I said that recording guitar is a science in itself (as most instruments). You cannot expect just to buy Cubase, a low end mic and do recordings in the bedroom and end up with pristine sound. There are many ways to get “put off”. One is to trying to achieve something out of reach without understanding why. There are however, and as mentioned, a lot to do to improve sound before buying a new mic. But still… it should be mentioned IMHO. Practice to get experience is however by far the most important thing. You can never compensate by buying better studio equipment.

No argument with any of that Rumdrum.

Experience is the key and enjoyment each part of the process, also very important. Once OP knows that his signal path into Cubase is pure, then the next steps will gradually fall into place and the relatively subtle differences between mic types, positioning and so on will show themselves clearly. Don’t let’s get started on monitoring systems!

It’s a long, long learning curve and I am happy to admit that I am still on it…here is a clue…I went pro the same year as the end of the Vietnam war and Maggie Thatcher became leader of the UK Conservative party. I’ll leave you figure it out.

We may be close in age then.

Replying to the OPs original post here…

I believe I understand that you have an acoustic/electric guitar that sounds like a “harpsichord” when recorded either through a mic or plugged directly in. To me, that dismisses the (starting to get off-topic) discussion about the crappy/good mic.

So please, as suggested, make sure you do not have a vst sound assigned to the guitar audio track or, less likely, the stereo out channel. A simple reverb vst sound can easily make your guitar sound like what you describe. And some vst sounds purposely make it sound like that.

It seems like you are recording your guitar to the templates track that was set up for vocals which probably has a reverb active on it.

Please report back and we will continue to assist if we can.

Regards. :sunglasses:

So it was all your fault then? :laughing: I was at Art School during the three day week - Ted Heath. I went primarily to join a band.