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Author Topic: Recording jazz upright bass w/dynamic mic  (Read 7181 times)

Jim Easton

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Recording jazz upright bass w/dynamic mic
« on: January 25, 2009, 11:17:08 am »

I use two mikes on upright bass. I usually use a u87 at the bridge but I was wondering if any of you are using a dynamic like a sm7b?

Reason for asking is that I track in "one room" and the u87 picks up everything although I like the sound of the double bass with an ldc. On the neck I use a 480 with a hypercard pattern. The 414 is the only other ldc mic I have with a hyper pattern.

I was thinking of using a dynamic, more for isolation properties.

Is anyone in similar one room tracking environment? I have dynamic: 441, re20, 421, sm7, sm57, M201

Thanks!
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Barkley McKay

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Re: Recording jazz upright bass w/dynamic mic
« Reply #1 on: January 25, 2009, 12:43:48 pm »

In a live recording situation where spill control is needed, I have had good results with a Sennheiser MD 441 as it has a very tight hyper-cardioid pattern, and overall good fidelity.
The biggest issue was keeping the bassist "On Axis" as they have a habit of moving a bit!

Also had useable reults with a D112 too though it sounds a bit voiced to me (bass drum!)

I have had good results using a Sony C-48 LDC in Fig8 mode, with a gobo to isolate the other side.

Cannot comment on the SM7 I'm afraid.

hope this helps

barks
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compasspnt

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Re: Recording jazz upright bass w/dynamic mic
« Reply #2 on: January 25, 2009, 04:04:36 pm »

Part of your problem is the resolution of the 87.

Many high quality LDCs just have better resolution than other microphones, especially compared to dynamics.

How many times have you put someone on a great LDC for their first time, and have them comment on how much they can hear in the room (compared to what they've been used to)?

I agree about the 441. That microphone has good quality close sound, a very tight pattern, and good off axis sound quality. They sound more like a condenser "up close" than most dynamics, but also give you many of the benefits of dynamics in this type situation.


In an overdub situation, I would still prefer the LDC though.
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Derek DiFilippo

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Re: Recording jazz upright bass w/dynamic mic
« Reply #3 on: January 26, 2009, 01:08:46 am »

Hi Jim,

I've done a lot of all-in live playing  "one room" upright bass recording and here are my experiences.  These include traditional jazz sessions, "americana" sessions, and sometimes flat out chaos.

I have personally played many big band shows as an upright player and have my own preferences for dynamics in those (kind of similar to the "one room") situations.

At the bridge position, of the dynamics you've mentioned, I would rank them in the following order: RE20, 441... tied for first place.  Then the SM57 (because you can get it closer), SM7, M201.  I don't have experience with the 421 on acoustic bass.  The M201 is absolutely positively *not* the mic for this application in my experience.  The low gain and proximity boost of that mic make for a lethal combination with acoustic bass.  (Aside: I love the M201 for many other applications though)

The RE20 and 441 have the best balance of "condenser-like" properties with some rejection.  The RE20 bleeds more but it's a tolerable bleed.   As a player, I'm content when I see these mics on stage.

The SM57 and SM7 are tighter but tend to make the upright sound very muddy and indistinct, without attack, without tone.  Post-EQing of the SM's only makes matters worse.

Here's where taste, experience, etc., etc. may diverge.... I'll forge ahead anyways.  

Bridge position has not been successful for me.  Everyone seems to do it and my ears just can't accept it.  So I started experimenting at home and on some more casual sessions with friends.

After many attempts at multi-micing acoustic bass (bridge and neck) I have discovered a single mic technique that has worked well for my bass and the others I have recorded in "one room" situations.

Use one and only one good condenser mic, even if there is a drummer in the room.  No dynamics allowed.  My options are a Gefell UM70s, Shure KSM44, Shure KSM32 and I prefer them in that order.  Use in cardioid.  Bring the mic in from the G-string side and get it close (within 3 inches) of the point of contact where the particular player attacks the G-string.  This will be somewhere near the bottom of the fingerboard.

I usually engage the pad if going into a good preamp and use the low-end roll off if the bass is particularly boomy.  My bass is a bit delicate in the low end so it's flat all the way down for me.

Get the bass player in position so that the null of the cardioid is pointing towards the loudest HF source in the room, usually the drums.  That tends to work well because it allows the bass player to face the drums.

With this single mic technique I've found that I do not need to baffle off the bass.  Everyone is happier because they can hear the bass acoustically and there's less recording "stuff" around.  

The bass players are happy because this position captures much of the nuance and attack from the right hand without sacrificing any low end.

I can post an MP3 of a rough session I did yesterday and you can see what you think.


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Jim Easton

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Re: Recording jazz upright bass w/dynamic mic
« Reply #4 on: January 26, 2009, 06:33:16 am »

Derek- thanks for taking the time to post an example. I really appreciate all the help-!!

I do have the umt70s. I love this mic but never thought to put it on upright.

I want to thank the rest of the guys for steering me away from a dynamic...

Thanks,
-jim
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Fig

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Re: Recording jazz upright bass w/dynamic mic
« Reply #5 on: January 26, 2009, 01:59:38 pm »

I was taught to use an omnidirectional dynamic and wrap a foam wind sock around it - stuff it into the "U" shape of the bridge, against the soundboard on the front of the instrument.

Mics of choice are RE50 from EV (or a 635A in a pinch), SM63 from Shure.  If the player moves about, he is always on mic.

Since then I have used UMT70 from Geffel (in omni) and other LDCs.  If the drums are in the same room though - a dynamic is sometimes yer best bet due to lower sensitivities.

$0.02,

Fig
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The easiest thing to do is the thing most easily forgotten.

bilco

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Re: Recording jazz upright bass w/dynamic mic
« Reply #6 on: January 27, 2009, 05:55:41 pm »

I got okay results with an SM7B, but the mic that I tried as a "what the hell" experiment that really surprised me is the Shure Beta 52.  It captures a nice blend of the lows and the attack of the fingers on the strings on my upright.

bilco
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itsapleasure

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Re: Recording jazz upright bass w/dynamic mic
« Reply #7 on: January 28, 2009, 11:17:36 pm »

I've had great results w/ a 441, blended w/ a pickup though..


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hargerst

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Re: Recording jazz upright bass w/dynamic mic
« Reply #8 on: February 04, 2009, 04:38:22 pm »

And don't forget the lowly $35 Behringer ECM8000 Omni Measurement mic; it can be really surprising on upright bass.
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Harvey "Is that the right note?" Gerst
Indian Trail Recording Studio
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