Upright bass mics

Discussion in 'Bluegrass [DB]' started by tombriarhopper, Nov 19, 2008.


  1. tombriarhopper

    tombriarhopper

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    Christmas time's a'comin'! About mics...is it better to install a pickup, buy a mic to put under the tailpiece, or get a bass mic stand? What mic do y'all recommend? thanks
     
  2. M Ramsey

    M Ramsey

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    The folks who play the biggest instrument, have need of the most options for trying to get their sound out to the listening audience.

    I have pickups on my basses (2 American Standards) and I have bought an Audio Technica ATM35 mic (I clip it on the tailpiece), I have a GK MB150E amp, a Shure Beta 52 kick drum mic (to use on a stand, sometimes), a LR Baggs DI, much too much stuff.

    If I were you, and if you have bass playing friends that are reasonable close by, see if you can try their equipment to see what you may or may not like. This can be quite an expensive travel unless you can try some different gear.

    IMHO, it would be hard for anyone to truthfully come on here and say "OK, this is all you need." It's all subjective to you and what you want your bass to sound like.

    If I can be of any further help, holler. I'm sure others will chime in when they see your post.
     
  3. juuzek

    juuzek

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    Mike,
    How do you like using the Pro35? I have been using one, and it has been working very well for me.
    Jake deVilliers has a Pro35 and the Pro350; I wonder if he has done an A/B yet?
     
  4. MingusAmongUs

    MingusAmongUs

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    It might (or might not) help narrow down your choices if we find out what type of situations you find yourself in most often?

    These days I play with a bluegrass-ish group that has a good PA, and uses strictly mics. And so I do too. I have been using an Audix D2 (I think it is) drum mic, held in place by the H-clamp. Before that I would use a standard SM57 type mic stuffed under the tailpiece with a towel or foam.

    But I also have a pickup installed (the Fishman Full Circle) for just in case. Before playing with this band I mainly had to provide my own amplification and therefore usually went with the pickup. I like the FC, sounds about as good as any I've heard, but YMMV there. Have also used the Realist and liked it ok.
     
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  6. tombriarhopper

    tombriarhopper

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    I am mostly on stage, 50% inside/50% outside. Contending with a Bluegrass Boy at banjo, another one singing, a fiddler playing Chubby Wise's fiddle and a guitar player who are both on the Opry too many times! I have a Swingmaster, two metal strings and two weedwhackers. I mix the standard dum-dum-dum-dum with some jazz runs and some slaps. I do like to spin the bass around, so that might limit me to a bass mic stand (duh...Imma doofus). That was a great question! It narrowed it down!
     
  7. MingusAmongUs

    MingusAmongUs

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    Yep. Spinning bass = mic stand. OR, you can go wireless, but that could get expensive and unpredictable.
     
  8. standupright

    standupright

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    i love my fishman, and was gonna suggest it, until i saw you like to spin.....i guess like the previous poster, stand or wireless.
     
  9. M Ramsey

    M Ramsey

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    I haven't tried the more expensive ATM350 yet. I do like the Pro35. When I use it, I have been clipping it onto the upper end of the tailpiece and aiming for the area between the f-holes. No plosives there and pretty even sounding. Most of the time, when I'm using this mic, there aren't any monitors, so feedback is not something I have to contend with.
     
  10. Jake deVilliers

    Jake deVilliers Supporting Member

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    "spelled Jake's name wrong "

    You're not the first! :D

    I haven't had a chance to A/B the 2 A-Ts directly, I've been crazy busy, but Maiken had the Pro35 on her bass at the Sooke Bluegrass Festival and the ATM350 at a lawyer's picnic we played. They both sound very good but the 350 seems to have a little more definition from the extended frequency response range.

    I'm obviously leaning toward the ATM350 here. It sounds really good all by itself in the studio too. Next time out we'll try the two of them back to back.....

    With one of the tiny A-T clip-ons the spinning shouldn't really be a problem with the mic cable coming off the bottom of the bass.
     
  11. juuzek

    juuzek

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    Sorry about that!

    Thats good info on the mic comparison. I figured that the 350 would have a little more definition. In your opinion, does it justify the added expense?
     
  12. wineaux

    wineaux

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    My setup is almost exactly like the one Mingus talked about above. I use a drum mic and the H-clamp, except sometimes I use a studio condensor mic on a stand. And every once in a while I use a pickup.

    I never spin the bass. I have a hard enough time playing the thing when it is standing still!
     
  13. MingusAmongUs

    MingusAmongUs

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    :)
    +1, same here
     
  14. Jake deVilliers

    Jake deVilliers Supporting Member

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    Bearing in mind that I haven't heard the Pro35 in the studio yet, I think its worth the extra money. :) The 35 is a little more 'boofy', the 350 deeper and more detailed. I figure its easier to roll off the highs than add them to a mic without the spread.

    I think the 350 is much more flexible than the 35, too, and could be used on other acoustic instruments with good results.

    If you were closer, I'd be happy to let you try it..........
     
  15. juuzek

    juuzek

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    Cool. Good info, sounds like a nice mic.
    FWIW, our group uses the pro35 for banjo and mando as well, but I am not sure where you would mount it for a guitar. The guitarist is using a similar type of mic by DPA, but it is much more expensive.
     
  16. tombriarhopper

    tombriarhopper

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    I appreciate all of this, folks. Now, to get my wife to get me a mic for Christmas...mmmm.
     
  17. Nohandles

    Nohandles

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    I've had really good luck using a Carvin wireless and a K&K pickup. Only one incidence "battery died". It's nice to have the freedom to move without steping on your wire.
     
  18. akmusicfreak

    akmusicfreak

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    As a professional sound guy who's been sitting behind the board for many bluegrass bands, having a pick up is a great thing. I've got a BassMax pickup on my Bassfiddle, mics work good if you don't have any monitors and the acoustics are good. I've spent many times pulling my hair out trying to just get any sound that wasn't feeding back through the PA. Usually leaving the band hating me because the couldn't here the Bass.

    And to get technical the the bass frequencies propagate several feet in front of the bass, meaning that if you want to properly get the true acoustic sound of the bass you need to put that mic about 5' in front of that bassfiddle. Placing a mic right in front of the f hole doesn't give you a true sound. Most places you'll play have mics if they have a PA.

    The only time I've seen a mic work great was when we did Ralph Stanley, and the whole band played in a straight line not a horseshoe all about three feet apart from each other and every one had their own monitor smack dab in front of them. The also sound checked for 2 hours straight on $200,000+ PA, A monitor engineer and a Front of house engineer.

    So for the sake of other sound dudes why not pick up a pickup for backup.
    I assume you've spent at least a $1000 dollars on your upright if not a lot more spend a little more money for some peace of mind that you'll be heard in the mix. Just because you have one means you have to use it.
     
  19. Dave R

    Dave R

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    akmusicfreak--its great to get input from an experienced professional. One question, though--what kind of mic will give good sound placed 5' in front on the upright?

    I usually only find vocal mics where I play, and I only own a vocal mic. But I have to be within a few inches of that to get a decent signal to the PA. A foot away and I might as well not have a mic in front of me.
     
  20. akmusicfreak

    akmusicfreak

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    You would not want to mic you bass like that for live.
    That's more for recording. If your using a mic on stage you just deal with the placement and hopefully be able to get a good sound.

    IMHO i think that using a piezo and a mic together gets the best live sound. The pick up gives you the meat and potatoes and the mic is the apple cobbler a la mode on the side of the plate
     
  21. McGryff

    McGryff

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    It's all a compromise anyway... there's practically no way to reproduce the sound of your bass exactly accurately for audiences because of the nature of acoustics, from what I understand. The pickup won't give you a purely acoustic sound, although some of them are very good-sounding for what they are. The open E string's wavelength takes almost 30 feet to complete a cycle, so a mic a couple inches or even a couple feet away won't catch all of the instrument's notes in phase. Obviously you can't park a mic 30' away from your bass & expect much, especially in terms of isolation.

    What's been recommended akmusicfreak is dead-on, from what I know: use a pickup for most (or at least some) of your signal (the clarity of the mids bridge pickups especially tend to grab will help cut through the mix), and use a decent mic a few to several inches away to capture some of the acoustic timbre of the bass. That's about all we can do, at least for live applications!

    FWIW, I use a Revolution Solo II, and have been known to wedge an old cardioid mic in foam in the tailpiece. In the future, I'd be interested in combining the RS II with a SM57 either in an h-clamp or on a stand a few inches away. Something like that's the best of all reasonably possible worlds!
     

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