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Microphone for Upright in an Americana Trio

Discussion in 'Bluegrass [DB]' started by pablomago, Aug 3, 2019.

  1. What do you folks use to mic a double bass in an acoustic setting? If the bass also has a pickup, does it make a difference? I'm thinking a Sennheiser MD 421, but open to suggestion.
  2. AlienNed

    AlienNed Supporting Member

    Jun 20, 2018
    Rural Fort Worth, TX
    I use the pickup with a direct box to the PA. It makes sound men happy. At festivals I've seen two different types of setups using mostly SM58. one is wrapped in foam rubber and tucked behind the tailpiece, the other is a trapeze apparatus fabricated with round steel rods wrapped in shrink wrap or something with a SM58 on it hooked in the G side ff hole.
  3. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Augusta GA
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Well, it's not bluegrass, but I use a Sennheiser MD 409U. I like it pretty much. Wrapped in foam, shoved up between the bridge feet. My German bass has a Full Circle, but if the room's good and PA is good, I just use the mic for front of house. The few times I've played large, outdoor venues, it's the pickup through the amp and a direct out to the PA. Of course in those venues, they're miking the hell out of everybody else too. Amp/pickup is for stage volume only, I let the PA push everything else out front.
    unbrokenchain likes this.
  4. BobKay

    BobKay Supporting Member

    Nov 5, 2012
    Estero, Florida; USA
    I see many players using the DPA4099-B. See my recent post about Masontown band I heard in Helena MT. He used the DPA4099 and a Lfeline pickup blended through a Grace Designs Felix. Sounded great, but significantly more expensive than using an SM58.
    DrMole and LaFaro01 like this.
  5. dhergert

    dhergert Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 17, 2018
    Blue Zone, California
    I've seen other people on stage at bluegrass festivals using standard mics under the tailpiece, and also I've seen pickups being used.

    For me on stage at festivals: for a mic I'll use an Audix OM2 in a wind muff in a black sock under the tailpiece, or, I'll use my on-board Vic's Model C pickup plugged into an on-board K&K Dual Channel Pro ST blending pre-amp.

    It's nice having a choice, but most sound crews prefer to use the pickup/pre-amp. That said, most sound crews using the pickup/pre-amp do not do a very good job of making it sound like an acoustic double bass. Fortunately I do have some control through my pre-amp, although sound crews really hate that.

    If you know the sound crew and what they can do, you can judge which method you want to use, if they give you a choice. Otherwise they will probably plug you in, and then you're at their mercy unless you have installed some method of control in your signal chain.
    pablomago likes this.
  6. The soundman’s job isn’t to make you happy with your sound. His job is to play God for $50 and some chicken wings, maybe, if his luck holds.

    The soundman works for the booker so his job is to get your set over with as quickly and as painlessly as possible. You think you have a say but you’re wrong.

    The soundman mostly does rock gigs so bring a magnetic pickup and an SVT to your gig backing an African folk band.

    You can get away with an Underwood if it’s feeding a Countryman, because technology hasn’t progressed since 1978.

    Yes, your soundman hears your objections, but he isn’t being paid in chicken wings to care.

    Whatever you do, don’t put an SM-58 on a mic stand in front of your bass. They’ll zero you out for laughs.
    DrMole likes this.
  7. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    I don’t use mics any more, but have used the AMT and DPA in the past, along with various mics wedged in near the bridge and also using an H Clamp. A year or so ago I wrote a review on the Ear Trumpet Labs Nadine mic. If I were to go back to using a mic, that would be the one.
    pablomago and unbrokenchain like this.
  8. AlienNed

    AlienNed Supporting Member

    Jun 20, 2018
    Rural Fort Worth, TX
    Gigs where we furnish sound, I use a David Gage woodtone pickup through a sansamp to the PA. We mix to get as close to an upright sound as possible. I don't have a fantastic bass because my livelihood doesn't depend on it but it holds its own acoustically. This is a discussion that has been on-going for YEARS. My dad played in and won Texas fiddle contests where all the instruments were 'acoustic'. He had my oldest brother bring his small amp and Gibson electric to a contest once. He was disqualified. His argument was that everything went through some sort of amplification anyway - microphones at that time - that an electric guitar shouldn't make any difference. He resigned his membership in the Texas Fiddler's Association and didn't play anymore sanctioned contests. He won the first national championship in Nashville in 1972. He was inducted into the Texas Fiddler's Frolic hall of fame in 1992. I agree with him. I play an upright because, even amplified or mic'd, it is still sounds different and is closer to 'that sound', amplified, than an electric bass, either an electric upright or guitar. I use a pickup when possible because it seems to be easier on the sound guy. My job is to play the best I can. His job is to take that signal and make it sound the best possible. We've been lucky enough to work with some fantastic sound crews. We've also been at their mercy. I'm not trying to convince you either way. I found what works for me, you do what works for you. Good luck.
  9. Jon Mush

    Jon Mush

    Jun 3, 2015
    Winnipeg, MB
    My background is in live sound. I’ve consistently used microphones when mixing when I could. I’ve even taken a supplied pickup signal, and added the best mic situation I’ve had at my disposal. (Usually an ATM-350, or PRO-35. Something that hopefully does not interfere with a player’s situation.)

    When musicians show up with a micing solution I always try my best to make it sound as natural as possible. I assume they’ve done their time in the trenches, and have had good and repeatable results. I try to do the same. I’ve spent a lot of time and money trying to come up with the best, most natural, repeatable way to feed a PA with the various groups I play with. I also try to have a ‘throw and go’ friendly situation. Festivals can be stressful, sometimes.

    My opinion for mics is seek a good clip on type, the ATM, DPA, and Nadine are good choices. I’d really like to hear what a REMIC can do as well. Feeding a stage amp for monitoring is quick and easy with a pickup.

    That being said, a lot of sound people don’t run across uprights all that often, and a lot of players are still in love with the 30 year old tech that is laid bare by modern PAs. The pendulum swings both ways in my experience.
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2019
    unbrokenchain and LaFaro01 like this.
  10. LaFaro01


    Aug 27, 2018
    For some time now I use a Remic and a Felix instead of my Ehrlund and I'm really happy with this solution. It sounds really good and natural and is very easy to use. But I'm not quite sure, how it would work in "real loud surroundings"..:p
    Jon Mush likes this.
  11. unbrokenchain

    unbrokenchain Supporting Member

    Jun 8, 2011
    Black Mountain, NC
    You could do better on mics than what's pictured here (CAD CM 217), but I've had a few theater and listening room gigs (i.e. low stage volume) where I didn't use the pickup at all and this produced a much better sound. It'll do until I get a Nadine.

  12. Thanks everyone. Back when I was a touring sound guy I worked with a band called "Trapezoid." The bassist, Ralph Gordon used some kind of pickup into a DI and a little Polytone amp for stage monitoring and an AKG D-12 microphone. Both went to the board and I would blend them to get the best sound in the room. Luckily, we had a great PA for the time.

    That's been a few years and I was wondering what the current technology was like as I'm starting an acoustic trio with an upright bass in the mix.​
    dhergert likes this.
  13. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Finally back from vacation and on a computer instead of a phone. Here's the link to the review of the Nadine Mic, with sound samples. I thought it was a really great product.
    LaFaro01 and unbrokenchain like this.
  14. AGCurry

    AGCurry Supporting Member

    Jun 29, 2005
    St. Louis
    I am a proponent of using a good omnidirectional mic, because you can place it as close as you want to the instrument without introducing boominess from proximity effect. I use an Electrovoice RE-55, which is widely considered to be the best omni dynamic mic ever made. Unfortunately, they haven't been manufactured for decades - but you can pick one up on eBay. I'm sure there are omni condensers which will work fine.
  15. turf3


    Sep 26, 2011
    Thing about the Ear Trumpet Labs mikes (a friend of mine has some) is that they have a very large working distance. They sound great, but I think you need to have a pretty quiet stage, or you'll pick up everything that goes on.
    dhergert likes this.
  16. dhergert

    dhergert Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 17, 2018
    Blue Zone, California
    Yup... I love both LDCs (Large Diaphragm Condenser mics) and SDCs (Small Diaphragm Condenser mics) for their remarkable power and covered area and for their ability to reproduce acoustic sound, but the majority of stages -- especially at outdoor bluegrass festivals -- are little more than an acoustically live wooden box-construction platform with huge advertising banners hung in the background. Wind, traffic noise, aircraft noise, the sounds of nature and the sounds of anything else you can dream of just pour through these stages, rendering LDCs and most SDCs unmanageable.

    In my early microphone days I picked up a number of modest but nice LDCs and SDCs... After doing a lot of outdoor, stage and studio work, my observation is that these wonderful mics are at their best in the studio environment. For normal outdoor work and even all but the most sound controlled indoor stages, I go with dynamic mics all around, my favorite for general purposes being the Sennheiser e 935 (NFI).
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2019
  17. AGCurry

    AGCurry Supporting Member

    Jun 29, 2005
    St. Louis
    Agree with everything except the microphone recommendation. The e935 is a vocal mic, designed for close use and with response curve to enhance the human voice.

    If we insist on directional mics (see my earlier post), the tried-and-true Sennheiser 421 or the kind-of-like-an-SM57-but-good Beyerdynamic M201 would be my choices.
    dhergert likes this.

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