General Recording Question

Discussion in 'Amps, Mics & Pickups [DB]' started by us_soccer, Jul 2, 2008.

  1. us_soccer


    May 16, 2007
    upstate ny
    Here's my situation: I play in a jazz trio (piano, bass, drums) and we're about to record. I have a KK Bass Max on my Shen SB100 and in live gigs, I run this through my amp (not a very powerful amp for bass -- actually a Roland keyboard amp, but my budget doesn't allow me to purchase something at this point - that's another discussion altogether).

    For the recording session, I wonder if I can mainly use a microphone near the upright to get a nice acoustic sound on the recording. At the same time, because the band will want to hear the bass, I was thinking of still plugging in the pickup through the amp, but turning the volume just high enough for the pianist and drummer to hear.

    Do you think this sounds reasonable? Should the amp then be far away from the microphone and the bass so the recording doesn't pick up as much sound from the amp (which sounds okay, but is still as nice as just hearing the bass acoustically)?

    Of course, I also don't own a nice small bass microphone -- only some vocal mics. Perhaps that wouldn't be good to capture the upright's sound? (I'm not thinking of purchasing more equipment, so I'm trying to deal with the hand I have..)

    Any suggestions would be appreciated!
  2. tito mangialajo

    tito mangialajo

    Feb 1, 2006
    yeras ago I recorded live at the Auditorium of the Italian Swiss Radio in Lugano. I had my GK MB 200 just to let hearing my sound to the other musicians (drums, clarinet, string quartet) and the engineer recorded the bass with a Neumann KM 184 in foam placed in the bridge legs. the sound on the record was OK.
    I hope this helps.
  3. mdiddium


    Jun 21, 2004
    Philadelphia, PA
    Do I assume correctly that this is a home recording? What kind of isolation do you have? It won't be preferable to mic the bass with the amp nearby (not only with phase issues between acoustic signal and amplified signal, but with bleed going into the drum and piano mics), so what kind of monitoring system will you be using? I'd probably recommend putting a mic on the bass as you say, but not plugging into the amp. Give everyone a pair of headphones and turn up the bass in the foldback so that everyone hears you.

    Any more details as to your recording and room setup would be helpful in evaluating the situation. Good luck!
  4. kraigo


    Jun 21, 2007
    Minneapolis, MN
    Typically they'll want to mostly take room mics for traditional jazz recordings. If I were engineering and had the channels available and mics available I'd probably put a RE-20 on the bass and grab the pickup just in case I needed to push the bass a bit in the mix.

    The classic jazz recordings were pretty much great rooms, with very good mics and electronics (old, analog, probably tube to nice wide tape, two tracks), but not worried too much about number of channels because they were really recording the room anyway. In most situations you won't have nearly as nice a room and digital has taken over.

    Given what I envision you encountering, it sounds reasonable. My chief concern would be how experienced the engineer was with acoustic Jazz trios. You can get good results in relative modest studios available in most cities.

  5. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Columbia SC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Just say NO to direct pickup sound. Also to recording your amp.

    Even if this is an "everybody set up in the same room and blow" session, your bass will have a mic on it and everybody will have headphones. If you're recording a multi track session everybody will be in separate rooms and be mic'ed and will have a separate headphone mixes.

    If you're in Tito's situation, i.e. a gig that somebody is recording, THEN just set up the way you usually do and play.

    As far as buying a microphone, well if you want to. But generally studios have a surfeit a mics, including a number that cost more than cars I've owned....
  6. Bobby King

    Bobby King Supporting Member

    May 3, 2005
    Nashville, TN
    If you are using headphones during your recording session, the other players should be able to hear you from the mic. Otherwise, it shouldn't hurt to run the amp as a "monitor" for the others. If you get a decent sound from the amp and there's a little bleed into the mic, no big deal, but probably aim it away from the mic.

    There are many choices for bass mics and if you read through the threads you'll get lots of recommendations. The Audio-Technica 4033 is a great all purpose condenser mic. Two dynamic mics that I like for bass are the EV RE-20 and the Sunnheiser 421. All of these mics run around $400.
  7. us_soccer


    May 16, 2007
    upstate ny
    Thanks for the suggestions --
    more specifics: yes, this will be a "home" recording, so I'm not expecting a really professional quality, but just as good as possible.
    We're not planning on going to a studio, but will record in my home, because I own a decent piano (an upright Yamaha U1). The living room has one opening that can't be closed off (not a door, but goes directly into the front entrance). The room is carpeted, and is about 225 square feet.

    Though I do play bass, in this session I'm actually playing piano.

    btw, if any of you want to hear a poorer quality recording of a live gig of ours (loud conversation in background), check out:

    I'm on piano in this recording --it was done with one small hand-held mp3 player microphone. In this instance, the bass was put through my Roland keyboard amp.
  8. I 2nd Ed F. here. Assuming you have 3 good mics and 3 sets of headphones, you shouldn't have a problem if each instrument is miked and there is a nice mix going into each set of cans. You may not even have to mic the drums. Avoid the amp at all costs. If necessary, the drummer may have to just lighten up a bit. IME, in a relatively small room the bass should not be difficult to hear, especially if the drums aren't drowning out the piano. The bass shouldn't be that much quieter.
  9. mdiddium


    Jun 21, 2004
    Philadelphia, PA
    Thanks for giving more specifics. Since it will be a "home" recording and you know that it won't be of commercial quality when all is said and done, you have to ask yourself which is more important: trying to get the best audio quality when you don't have amazing gear in the first place, or, trying to get the best performance regardless of audio quality. I'd probably recommend the latter. If you agree, then everyone hearing each other is the most important thing. I know a lot of jazz guys don't like to fuss with headphone mixes and are even inhibited when they have to wear headphones. If this is the case with your group, you might want to try and make the recording element as transparent as possible. That is, just setup the way you normally play and just focus on the performance aspect. This way, your group won't have to wear headphones and you can just worry about playing tunes (the only difference is that you'll be "rolling tape" the whole time!).
  10. Marc Piane

    Marc Piane

    Jun 14, 2004
    I think you can get a pretty pro sounding recording with much of the home audio gear that is out there. You just have to know what you are doing. I've recorded the last two Chris Greene Quartet (a group I play in) records with my computer, firepod, and some decent mics.

    Gotta work but more later.
  11. Mic on the bass + amp in the room can work well. You will get some bleed. I don't like to play music involving improvisation with head phones, personally.
    Having said that, being able to play with cans on is something I need to get better at!
  12. Marc Piane

    Marc Piane

    Jun 14, 2004
    cans or not you need to first learn the balance a bit. If you ahve a drummer bashing away in the same room as a DB you are screwed.

    Here's the way I mic stuff. In my case the Firepod is an 8 channel interface.

    4 mics on the drums
    -2 overheads (small diaphram condenser pair-I use AKG C-1000s ~$400/pair)
    -1 snare mic (sm-57 or 58)
    -1 bass drum mic (beta 52)

    2 mics on the piano
    -I use AT2020s.
    With the U1 I like to mic is from the soundboard. Either that or completely take off the front. That piano gets a really boxy tone if the box itself is allowed to resonate.

    1 bass mic
    -I use the Rode NTV. It has been replaced in the Rode line with the NTK. It is a large diaphram tube condenser. I position the mic about 6" straight out from the bridge and I made a little baffle out of 2x4 and fiberglass insulation to baffle the bass mic a bit. You can also just use furniture or pillows or whatever.

    The when you are mixing work WITH what you've got then trying to work AGAINST it. What I mean by that is there is going to be bleed. Embrace what you have in the mixing process by trying to bring out the good parts of each sound with eq rather than trying to get rid of stuff that you don't like. That doesn't mean always boosting the eq. Just gotta play.
  13. Marc Piane

    Marc Piane

    Jun 14, 2004
    If you go here and click on the first track called 'Amalgasantos' it is from our latest record was recorded with this method.
  14. Yes, you are. Regardless of the recording set up.