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Classic microphones—what to keep an eye out for?

Discussion in 'Amps, Mics & Pickups [DB]' started by keyofnight, Apr 1, 2013.

  1. keyofnight


    Jun 3, 2011
    Seattle, WA
    Hey folks! I'm back with another oddball question. :bag:

    I've been on a old-school kick lately; I'm learning to use my father's '65 Pro Reverb, using old film cameras, etc. Older tools have a sound/look all their own I think—and I think they take on new life when paired with newer tools. The cherry on top: sometimes you find awesome things for cheap at garage sales, thrift stores, and online auctions.

    I've been in the market for a microphone lately, and I've seen them at estate sales especially. I'd like to pick up one or two to mic my cab, but I have no idea what I'm looking for. Can any of you give me some suggestions for old microphones that have good bass frequency response?

    (Thanks in advance!)
  2. chicagodoubler

    chicagodoubler Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2007
    Chicago, that toddling town
    Endorsing Artist: Lakland, Genz Benz
    Unless you have a chance to thoroughly test it, never buy a used mic save from a reputable source. Old mics are beyond worthless if they haven't been maintained properly. You might find something that sounds a little funky, but that funkiness could be indicative of a necessary repair like re-ribonning, which is a huge pain.

    The dominant market for "antique" mics is for the visual, not the sonic.
  3. Hi.

    IME that only holds true if the price is near the market price.

    For a few bucks they might be goldmines, even though You may have to overhaul 'em.
    Even as shells, some can bring quite a bit of money from a right buyer.

    That said, the dynamic mics I'd keep my eye on would be:

    AKG D12
    Sennheiser MD421
    EV RE20

    In no particular order.

    The EV is obviously a classic that most people recognise, and it's pretty big, so little or no chance of finding one cheaply.
    All the parts are AFAIK still available.

    The AKG however resembles a block style electric razor, and some have actually bought 'em as one :).
    The definitive downside of that truly exeptional mic is that there's no way one can repair it feasibly.
    Once it's gone, it's just a display piece, or a housing for another capsule.

    The Sennheiser was almost as standard with speakers as was SM58 and SM57, so at least over here they were plentiful.
    I like the white ones better, but they're mostly the same.
    Still in the production, so spares are also available.

    Any old Shure mic is also a safe bet, but people tend to recognize the brand and price it accordingly.

    I left the carbon can, ribbon and condenser mics out on purpose, I don't know enough to offer any advice on them.

    Except that if it says Neumann or Telefunken on the side and it's less than $100, BUY IT.

    If You can get any vintage mic for $10 or so, it's IME worth the gamble.

    Good luck in Your hunt.

  4. Mark Gollihur

    Mark Gollihur Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jul 19, 2000
    Mullica Hill, NJ
    Owner/President, Gollihur Music LLC
    If you're more into the sound than the look, you might take a look at http://www.oktavamodshop.com/ - Michael Joly has long done modifications to Oktava and other relatively common/inexpensive microphones. Many of the cheaper Chinese-made (MXL, Nady, etc.) have good bones and good diaphragms, by improving their internal circuitry with better components, and sometimes removing excessive grille resonances and such, he turns cheap mics into vintage-sounding powerhouses. He even sells occasional short runs of mics that he buys in quantity, then modifies. Or you can get a (working) mic cheap on eBay, then send it to him to be modified.

    I just spent a not-insignificant sum to have several mics done by him, and I'm very happy with the results.

    Might be an interesting option...
  5. Edvin


    Feb 25, 2010
    i have an beyerdynamic m88TG and it's great!! I have it for recordings, live gigs and rehearsals.
  6. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    What's the bass response on something like a Shure Super 55? It certainly has the vintage look.
    But KeyOffnight, I have to ask since this is in the DB section, why are you miking the cabinet and not the bass itself? When Jesse Murphy first got here and was just playing straight ahead stuff on upright, he was using an old ribbon mic on a gooseneck taped to his bridge, check out some of these images...
  7. GrowlerBox


    Feb 10, 2010
    Nude Zealand
    Check the profile -- poor boy's lost.
  8. keyofnight


    Jun 3, 2011
    Seattle, WA
    I made my post here for strategic reasons. :) After lurking for a while, I've gotten the impression that this particular sub-forum is a better place to ask about mics in general. I also have an acoustic bass guitar (ABG), and it comes with this very twangy, bland, fishman piezo pickup. What comes out the soundhole is a lot nicer than what ends up on the recording. I figure your suggestions would be a good starting point for this application.

    I also plan on micing my cab as well, but—again—I'm banking on general microphone knowledge. :)
  9. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Hmmm, not too sure about that, the amount of air getting pushed out of the ff holes of a DB is a lot bigger than that coming out of the soundhole of an acoustic bass guitar. Maybe ask some recording guys what SPL you're most likely dealing with.
  10. If the bass doesn't have electronics, you probably should try an impedance matching preamp. All the acoustic bass guitars I have recorded, I often used an EV ND868 and combine with a pencil condenser usually a at4051 for the clack. On amps, the 868, at4033, B52, RE20 and others. All depends on the sound of the accompanying instruments.
  11. chicagodoubler

    chicagodoubler Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2007
    Chicago, that toddling town
    Endorsing Artist: Lakland, Genz Benz
    Just for context, fellas... I bought a used Earthworks for what the body cost, sent it back to the factory for service, and they essentially told me I had to buy a new mic. Ouch. This was a relatively modern mic, too. It's a crapshoot and for every story you hear about someone finding that needle in a haystack, there's a few thousand blades of hay. Old mics may look cool but they don't typically sound better unless of course they've been properly maintained. Properly maintained mics are going to cost more, because they've been *maintained.* Micing a cab? Buy a 57. Micing an URB? This is Alice's rabbit hole. I use an SM7B at home, which is fantastic, bullet-proof, and great on vox as well. Recently we did a shootout at a pal's fancy pants studio with a 67, 47, and a Gefell pencil mic. The pencil destroyed the competition. The standard technique is to use a condenser with a huge diaphragm. The tiny pencil diaphragm moves quicker, captures the nuanced transients, and just sounds more like a real bass. This doesn't mean that you're going to get superior results with a cheap pencil, and sure as hell not with some beat up crap from grampa's attic with rust on the connections.
  12. Can't agree more. I have a mic that needs servicing. Thanks for reminding me :)

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