Lesson 46

Recording Difficult or Unusual instruments

Regardless what instrument you are recording, the concept is the same. The instrument produces sound waves, and the microphone captures them. It really is that simple. Almost any type of microphone Dan be used to record almost any instrument, especially with good placement. Choosing the most optimal microphone depends on the sound that you want to achieve. 
Check out lesson 1.10 on microphone types to know the different types and how they sound.
Once you’ve decided on a microphone type based on the sound of the instrument and the type of microphone that complements its sound, you will need to decide on placement. This is a bit challenging because you need to place the microphone as close to the instrument as possible in order to get the best signal to noise ratio (lesson 1.3.3 signal to noise ratio). But different parts of the instrument might produce different sounds, which only blend nicely together with a little more distance from the instrument. 
Another consideration is to avoid unwanted sounds. Some examples are a guitar rubbing on the players legs, wind noise from a shaker, pedal noise from a piano, foot tapping, . So ask yourself what unwanted noises are being produced, and if there’s anything you need to do to minimize it.
A good trick is to get some sound isolating earbuds, the type that act like an ear plug that blocks outside sound. Put them in, and wear construction or shooting type sound isolating ear muffs on top. This provides excellent isolation of the ambient sound, and lets you hear only what the microphone is picking up. Listen to the microphone signal through the earbuds, and move the microphone around until you find the sweet spot. 

Here’s a few examples of various instruments,