This article assumes you have some basic recording equipment (mics, sequencer/multitrack recorder etc).
1. Stereo recording
If you have the equipment for it you can record straight to a stereo track in one take. You’ll need 2 mics and preamps though but you will only need one take so there won’t be the same problems with timing variances. There are a lot of different techniques for stereo recording (We’ll be dedicating an in depth article on that soon) but the simplest technique is to use a spaced pair of mics in front of the recording source (acoustic guitar or amplifier).
Space the mics roughly a couple of feet apart with one aiming at the neck and the other aiming at the join of the neck/body or at the base of the guitar body. Try to avoid aiming a mic directly into the soundhole as although you will get more volume, it can sound really boomy and boxy.
Try experimenting with different mic positions – what works for one guitar or style may not always work for another.
A simple (and cheaper!) technique – record the guitar part twice and pan one track left and one track right to get a nice stereo effect. Immediately, the guitar will sound bigger and much more pleasing.
Things to watch out for – you’ll obviously need to make sure your timing is good. Any major timing variations will sound messy and ruin the effect. Also make sure you check mono compatibility (most desks have a mono button). Sometimes if sounds are panned hard left and right and then made mono they can cause phase cancellation which can make it sound weak and tinny.
An interesting variation on this technique is to use a capo and record one of the tracks further up the neck using different inversions of the same chords. This technique can really add some texture to a guitar part – especially acoustic guitars.
3. Move around
The position you record in a room can have a direct affect on the sound you capture. The reflections from walls and ceilings can either enhance or degrade your recordings and noise from equipment or traffic can make it sound unprofessional.
Try recording in different positions within the room but try and keep away from corners and the dead centre of the room. Standing waves (room modes) can interfere with the recording and make it sound excessively boomy or thin.
Too many reflective surfaces (e.g. bare walls and ceilings) can add unwanted reverb or ambience to your recordings. If you have a problem with the sound of the room try adding some sound deadening materials (a duvet over a frame works well) to absorb some of the reflactions.
If the room is too dead and you have a carpeted floor, try recording over a piece of hardboard (e.g. a 4 foot square bit of MDF) to add a few reflections back in and liven up the sound.
If you have problems with noise in the room (e.g. a noisy computer fan) you can minimise this with careful mic placement. Using a cardioid mic (picks up sound from the front but rejects sound from behind) position yourself so that you are facing the noise source but the mic has it directly behind it. You can further reduce the noise by hanging a duvet or other sound absorbing material behind you. This will reduce any of the unwanted noise bouncing off the wall behind you and being picked up by the mic.