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mic placement for studio DB recording

Discussion in 'Amps, Mics & Pickups [DB]' started by Les Fret, Dec 12, 2011.

  1. Les Fret

    Les Fret

    Sep 9, 2009
    Sorry if this has been asked before.

    This weekend I am going to record my double bass for a solo cd from a flamenco guitar player. I do the recordings at my home.
    I have two mics: a Rode NT1000 and a Sennheiser MD421-U.

    I have a few questions:
    1) What is the best placement of the mics? How far away from the bass etc.? I have read that you shouldn't place it for the f-holes?
    2) How should I align the two mics from each other?
    3) How do avoid phasing?
    4) Is it better to use two mics or one for DB?

    all tips are welcome.
  2. Marc Piane

    Marc Piane

    Jun 14, 2004
    I usually just use one large diaphragm condenser like your Rode (I have a Rode NTV and a CAD that I like) about a foot out from the bridge. I even prefer that sound (though I use a Neuman U87 when they have it) in a big studio.

    This recording was done all in my home studio with the CAD. I used it because it has a little tighter pattern than the Rode and we were all in one room sans cans.
  3. MR PC

    MR PC Banned

    Dec 1, 2007
    using one mic is simpler, and can yield great results, ime/imo. if you are going to use both mics, i'd think the 421 would be best used for the fundamental punch of the tone (low), and the Rode for the articulation (high) sound. phasing is about using your ears and moving the mics around until you like the sound......there are software plug ins for mic phasing in mixing, as well as as stand alone units (Radial Engineering) that offer the ability to adjust the phase to your liking after the fact,..... on a live piano trio session recently an engineer used 3 mics on my bass, all close, AKG 414, B and K shotgun, and Shure SM51.....i was skeptical about using that many mics, but he really got a great sound by putting up a baffle, listening as I played, and moving the mics around before the group cut tracks
  4. nicechuck


    Jul 9, 2007
    I use a large condenser a bit less than a foot from the treble side, about as high as the top of the f hole. Works for me anyway
  5. dukeorock

    dukeorock Owner BNA Audio Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2011
    Nashville, TN
    Authorized greenboy designs builder/Owner of BNA Audio
    With what you have, I'd try putting them both about a foot from the bridge...place the 421 upside down (using it just for lows) and the LDC right side up, directly about the 421, and tweak it for the highs...done many a session where the engineer does that placement, except with a FET 47 on the bottom and an M49 on the top, but that's a whole different ballgame :)
  6. Bobby King

    Bobby King Supporting Member

    May 3, 2005
    Nashville, TN
    Try aiming your 421 at the end of your fingerboard on the G side, about 8 inches away. I've gotten good results like that, espeicially for gut-string bass. If you want it a little bassier, just below the bridge is a good spot.

    I've gotten a good jazz, steel string sound with a 421 right on the bass side F hole and a Neumann condenser at the bridge about a foot away. Always check for phase cancellation when using 2 mics.
  7. Clearwave


    Sep 29, 2011
    The Future
    I like to at least 2 mics on a bass. One on the bottom near the bridge/f hole area and one up high, about as high as your head but on the other side of the finger board. Of course no two basses or bassists are the same.
  8. Les Fret

    Les Fret

    Sep 9, 2009
    Thanks for the great input guys. This gives me a lot of ideas.
    I have made recordings of DB at my home before, using only the RODE NT-1000. But I was never happy with the results.
    The sound was too boomy. I like a very clear sound where you can hear every note but still have the fundamentals. Like Christian Mc Bride's or Avishai Cohen's sound. I know it is in the fingers but I am talking about the sound quality of the recordings.

    So how can you avoid the booming sub bass sound? put the mic more away from the bass or more away from the f-holes?
    I record in a pretty small room so that can maybe also cause the boomyness?
  9. Marc Piane

    Marc Piane

    Jun 14, 2004
    Indeed keep the mic away from the f-holes. They are boomtastic. Ideally at least a foot straight out from the bridge is great for my bass and my playing though the sweet spot is different for every instrument. Ideally you actually have someone put move their ear around to find that sweet spot though I know that is hard when you are the engineer and the bass player. The other trick is in mixdown you can use a hpf to tame the boom. I also sometime find it helpful to put a small bump in the mids to bring out growl and up top for finger noise.

    The success of the one mic technique though IMO is in the acoustic sound you are getting. Really any mic technique for that matter however with more signals the engineer can 'manufacture' a sound. With one mic you get what you get.

    I'm not sure that Sennheiser is going to add the articulation you want. It sounds to me like you want a small diaphragm condenser (like the ones used for drum overheads) or you could even use the dreaded direct. If used judiciously you won't even know it's there but you'll have a cleanish signal to work with to support the mic. I don't generally do that for myself but I have worked as an engineer in various studios and I've done that if I am not getting something I want from the mics in my closet.
  10. Bobby King

    Bobby King Supporting Member

    May 3, 2005
    Nashville, TN
    If you are just using one mic, I'd agree, not in front of the F-hole. But in combination with another mic, the F-hole mic can work well, adding attack. Don't ever use a condenser on the F-hole, use a dynamic like the Sennheiser, RE-20, or D112.

    There are a lot of different types of bass sounds that people go for. An old school gut bass may require a different recording approach than a sustaining, steel string bass. I've found that for gut or for a darker old-school sound, one mic works best, and the dynamic mics or ribbon mics are my favorites. Usually, the best place is either is in the vicinity of the bridge, at the end of the fingerboard, or with a ribbon like an RCA 44, just a foot or so in front of the bass. These type of mics keep the bass focused without boomy overtones.

    That said, for a more modern tone, you do want to capture more overtones, and a two-mic approach can work well. I've seen some people mic by the bridge and then also put a mic up higher in the neck area. As mentioned before, I recently recorded a Spiro-strung bass for a jazz project, using a 421 on the F-hole, and a Neumann FET-47 at the bridge and it sounded fabulous.

    I will say that there are many approaches and mics that can work, so you just need to experiment.
  11. Jake deVilliers

    Jake deVilliers Commercial User

    May 24, 2006
    Crescent Beach, BC
    Owner of The Bass Spa, String Repairman at Long & McQuade Vancouver
    Try several different positions for the mic and don't be afraid to rotate it so the capsule's at an angle to the top. We were in the studio recently and a U87 about 18" in front of and slightly outboard of the treble f-hole at around 45 degrees gave the best sound.
  12. Michael Glynn

    Michael Glynn

    Feb 25, 2004
    The small room could definitely have an effect on the boominess. Unfortunately, this could make moving the mic further from the bass--usually good to reduce boominess--less effective as you will be getting more of the boomy room sound the further you get from the bass.

    I think the MD421 has a 5-position bass roll-off control. You could try that out to see if it helps. I'd worry that you would lose too much good bass information that way, though.
  13. Marc Piane

    Marc Piane

    Jun 14, 2004
    Good call on the room. You could also try to deaden the acoustics of the room. Hanging blankets on the walls, stacking pillows in corners, and putting throw rugs on hard surfaces will help. You could also try putting a baffle behind the mic. I just use the frame of a small bookshelf with a comforter thrown over it. Great acoustics can really add to a recording, bad ones can cause all kinds of problems.
  14. Michael Glynn

    Michael Glynn

    Feb 25, 2004
    Indeed. Time spent improving the room sound might be even more valuable than time spent working on mic placement. I have a few decent mics, but I've noticed by recording in different rooms in my house that the room makes at least as big of a difference as the microphone. And especially when the mic is not super close to the bass.
  15. Greg Clinkingbeard

    Greg Clinkingbeard

    Apr 4, 2005
    Kansas City area
    KC Strings
    Yes, that works really nice. I like an AKG 414 also.

    I tried something completely different yesterday, my ATM 35 which has been on the bass for live use. Suspended between the feet about an inch off the top and near 90 degrees, with a bit of pickup gave me the best sound yet. I just wanted to try it but was dumbfounded that it beat out the U87.
    There are a lot of variables in play and some unexpected things just work.
  16. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

    Jul 7, 2004
    Been doing this regularly for a few years now with good results. Sounds nice mixed with a Neumann, too! You can hear this combo with a bit of Stat-B on Mark Colby's new album, "Yesterdays Gardenias".
  17. MR PC

    MR PC Banned

    Dec 1, 2007
    the advantage of the Nuemann, or any good large diaphram is that you can get it in front of the bass, where the sound has larger complexity. but you have to have a good room....and a good engineer whose focus is 100% on capturing your performance.....

    edit: using a clip on mic and pickup is often better when the room is less than optimum....and in that situation it isn't as critical for the clip on to be a the super cardioid model that works for gigging

  18. Marc Piane

    Marc Piane

    Jun 14, 2004
    Though I recall taking a recording class years ago and the teacher's motto was "you can't polish a turd". His point being if the sound sucks going in there ain't much you can do to 'polish' it.
  19. Les Fret

    Les Fret

    Sep 9, 2009
    thanks again for all the tips. I will doing some experimentation this weekend.
    Is there any difference in mic placement between capturing the arco or pizz sound?
  20. what the pluck

    what the pluck

    Oct 13, 2010
    But you can roll it in glitter.

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