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Recording Arco

Discussion in 'Amps, Mics & Pickups [DB]' started by SleeperMan2000, Jan 2, 2003.

  1. SleeperMan2000


    Jul 31, 2002
    Cary NC
    Did my first recording yesterday at home on my Yamaha Md-4 4-track digital. Piece was a Teleman duet arranged for 2 double basses.

    Used a Shure Mic (don't have the model handy) straight into the deck.

    Placed the microphone about 1-foot in front of the bridge, slightly to the left side (g-string side).

    It sounded horrible! There are obviously some things I can do on the equipment side to improve the sound (better mic, preamp), but my technique needs lots of work before I bother with that.

    It's amazing how much "extra" noise there was, from hitting strings by accident, finger noise, and screeching from the bow.

    Listening to each track separately was somewhat pleasing, but the "muddiness" when both tracks were played back was astounding. I think it's what happens when both parts are slightly out of tune.

    All in all an amazing learning experience.
  2. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    From going to classical/orchestral/chamber concerts this doesn't surprise me. So, I think with acoustic instruments you really have to get some of the ambient sound - I can remember being recommended these mics which were fixed to a flat plate and which you stuck on the wall, quite a way away. Can't remember the name...?

    But also at concerts, when I have sat very close to the stage, the sound hasn't been as good as when sitting a little above and quite a way back from the stage.

    I think you really need like 20 -30 feet to let the sound "bloom" - even in chamber concerts?
  3. SleeperMan2000


    Jul 31, 2002
    Cary NC
    For what it's worth, it sounds a whole lot better when I pan 1 track all the way left and the other track all the way right.

    Next I'll install my bass master pro (all hail) and record with that
  4. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Take all of what I'm about to say with a grain of salt since I'm not an arco player. BUT...

    Bass is one of the trickiest instruments to mic, as all basses speak and project differently. A mic that sounds great on one bass might sound like crap on another, and vice versa. That said, there are several things you can do with your setup (I also own an MD4s, although I have since moved up to a higher end recording rig):

    - The mic your are using and the placement of same are the first and most important parts of your recording signal chain. Dramatically different results can be gotten by making minute adjustments to your mic placement. It would be helpful to know what the exact model of your mic is (hint, hint), but for now lets assume it's a garden variety cardiod dynamic mic like the SM57 or 58. With these mics, the pickup pattern of what the mic can "hear" starts very narrow and widens with distance, kind of like a cone. At one foot in front of your bridge (which is a good basic mic technique for DB), you can make some angle adjustments which should change the recorded sound quite a bit. For instance, if you angle the mic UP, you'll get more string, fingerboard, and bow noise. If you angle it DOWN, you are adjusting what the mic can "hear" to exclude the direct sound from the bow and fingerboard (i.e. - pointing it roughly in the direction of the tailpiece or endpin). If you angle the mic so that it's pointing at one of the f-holes, you'll get more boominess. Try making some subtle adjustments and see what happens.

    - The MD4 has decent but not great mic preamps, and very minimal EQ. The next best step to get rid of the boominess that is annoying you would be to patch each track through some sort of EQ that includes a high pass filter, which acts as a cutoff or "shelf" for low frequencies. The nicer ones are adjustable so that you can choose at what point you want to cut the low frequencies. Many of the ones that are preset are set to cut below about 100hz, which can work wonders in cleaning up a muddy bass track. Interestingly, some of the fundamental frequencies of the lower bass notes are actually below 100hz, and yet cutting these frequencies will often improve the sound of these notes.

    Most important, experiment and let your own ears be the judge. I've recorded two home CD's on my MD4, and it's a great little box, with plenty of room to grow on. Good luck.
  5. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Since you have four channels, you might also try recording each part on two channels: one with the mic, and one direct into the board. You can then mix these two signals, letting the mic provide the "wood" of the sound, and the pickup provide the "oomph". Then simply mix to taste.
  6. SleeperMan2000


    Jul 31, 2002
    Cary NC
    Microphone is a Shure A2WS, at least 10 years old.

    Lost the foam baffle for the mic, maybe I want to get another one of those.

    Tomorrow I'll install the pickup (bass master pro), which is the piezo and wing pickup combo with preamp. I think the preamp might help.

    I'll be sure to read all the threads on installing the pickups.

    Thanks for the tips Chris, especially on the mic placement. I've recorded direct and with a mic on BG and mixed them, so I'll try that with the DB.

    I'm doing these duets as part of my DB instruction. When I record them, I'm much better prepared to play at my lesson, and much less annoying to my teacher.

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