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Recording Double Bass

Discussion in 'Amps, Mics & Pickups [DB]' started by paulears, May 20, 2018.

  1. I thought some of you folk might be interested in this - I post a lot on recording forums, but thought it might interest people here.

    Today I needed to record a double bass for a track in the works, but as I had some spare time I thought I'd go through the mic stock and try mics I'd not usually pick, just to see what happened.

    My opinion of the results is that there is one real lemon - I had a few of those really dirt cheap Chinese BM800 mics - being sold everywhere on line for stupid money, and they get talked about because they can use laptop power or real 48V phantom. The first one hummed badly. I opened a second and it worked. The tone of the thing is not very good - even with eq you'd be hard pressed to make it sound nice.

    The others are a mix of old/new and dynamic and condensers, in large and small diaphragm types.

    I even tried using some bass drum mics - the usual SM57/58/beta58, some rather nice Chinese ones I have collected, and a couple of oddities - EV Re-320 and AKG 202 (the one with separate bass and treble capsules) I also used a lav mic - which I fixed to the bass with a foam pad between the bridge feet, and the mic clipped to it.

    The picture in the video is a little misleading - perspective makes the mics look oddly placed - they were looking slightly down, towards the gap between bridge and finger board, from the high string side of the bass - so missing the fingers, and capturing some of the wood near the f holes. A place I have got used to over the years as a good starting place - distance to the strings about 30cm/1ft.

    I played the same piece 8 times, and then simply cut between tracks - I ran out of music by the end, so copied and pasted another chunk - this can be heard as it plays through. The captions change as the tracks swap between mics. They are NOT faded between mics, simply cut - so I thought these cuts would be obvious, but the differences are far, far less obvious than I expected. Some I like lots, others sound a little 'wrong' - but with the exception of that nasty Chinese 800 microphone - I could live with most of them happily - they are all exactly as recorded so with some EQ, 15 out of 16 isn't bad. If you hate any of them, feel free to comment, but I think we've all perhaps spoken about how mics sound and newcomers could assume BIG differences, when these results are clearly more subtle than I figured.

    The only other thing of note was to do with gain - I didn't record these tracks in my studio. I used an older Lexicon Omega into my macbook in my living room, then I took the tracks into the studio, and did the chopping. The condensers were all similar in not needing much more than 40% on the gain knobs, the dynamics needed more - up to about 70% on the controls, and the two bass mics, needed more - about 85%, but the Lexicon isn't too noisy, so not a real issue. I just brought the levels up so when I cut between them, the levels stayed the same. Once I had the audio track, I added the images and captions. Apart from a fade up and fade down - again, no audio treatment at all.

    See what you think. If I never have to play it again, I will be happy. Some bits are even in tune! eagle eyed reader might note a piezo pickup on the bridge - terrible thing. Not even radical EQ can make the bass sound like any of these mics, just nasty, metallic and unpleasant. It was about £40, so I figured worth a go - for live use, the lav mic is what I use in too the mixer, and is surprisingly easy to blend in, and if you knock the top end off - it behaves quite nicely, and you can move the bass about more than with mics - turning and pulling back a bit has a big effect.

    The video is here.
    Povl Carstensen likes this.
  2. Ric Vice

    Ric Vice Supporting Member

    Jul 2, 2005
    Olivette, Missouri
    Thanks for this, what's amazing to me is how little difference there is between the some of condensers you used. Especially the first two, They all sound similar. There seems to be more difference between the dynamics, as they tend to
    that anyway. The Chineese condensers were thin sounding to my ears.

    to pickup more of the string sound or or the body sound. In all fairness both to you and all the time this took you do, we're missing some of the more high end microphones that are typically used for Double Bass

    IME, IMHO. I don't think that was your focus as you are comparing inexpensive microphone options for the instrument. Kudos
    Last edited: May 22, 2018
  3. I think there are lots of people out there trying to record all kinds of things, not just basses, on a shoe-string budget, and I must admit the results were not what I expected. Most did a pretty good job, I think - even the ones that wouldn't;t normally be first pick. Strange!
  4. Ric Vice

    Ric Vice Supporting Member

    Jul 2, 2005
    Olivette, Missouri
    If you have a modest budget the Peluso CEMC6 offers remarkable quality.

    Last edited: May 21, 2018
  5. This is the thing. That Peluso microphone is around £300 or so, and seems popular as a stereo pair. As all the microphones are very similar sounding, irrespective of type and size, I'm simply not sure that differences are that amazing. It seems that EQ is far more effective at subtle changes. I'm just discovering the big differences I expected just are not there. I don't have (and had never even heard of) Peluso as a brand, so I can't quite see a home for them in my collection. I'm left wondering if the differences are much, much less obvious than I'd thought in over 40 years recording. I've just got into the habit of picking X mic for Y job, every time - when perhaps id hound have experimented. The AKG D202 I bought over 30 years ago for radio speech, has never been pointed at an instrument in its life, and it was a surprise to hear it doing ok. The AKG 112 spends its life in kick drums, and the SM86 on thinner voices on stage. I've now got a more open mind to choice, I think, and the cheaper ones do the job pretty well. I doubt in a blind test if I could remotely put them in any order I could repeat?
  6. Ric Vice

    Ric Vice Supporting Member

    Jul 2, 2005
    Olivette, Missouri
    That may be true, my experience is limited to Peluso, which I really loved, Blue Microphone's Blue Bird which I also liked, and is around the same price, and one of the Sure KSM 32's which I really didn't like as much. That microphone is just to big in the mix and I had difficulty monitoring it while recording. That's why I love the Peluso, because I can really hear what I'm playing in real time as we record. The Blue Bird was good for that as well. I got a chance recently to audition the new Xlson "Chuck Israels" Signature Microphone. It was outstanding recording and listening while recording, with the bonus of being able to perform live. I've recorded through the bigger Neumann's and they are beautiful microphones, but you loose so much of the sound in the mix down, I'm not sure I'd ever own one. I am lucky to have a set of Remic's they are excellent for recording and you don't have to worry about facing properly into the microphone.


    P.S. I did have pretty good results with an inexpensive Octava Ribbon Microphone.
    Last edited: May 21, 2018
  7. wathaet


    May 27, 2007
    The Peluso sounds nothing like any of the Schoeps capsules. Rather disingenuously, they try to piggyback on Schoeps excellent reputation. Do not swallow the bait.
  8. Ric Vice

    Ric Vice Supporting Member

    Jul 2, 2005
    Olivette, Missouri
    I'm sure with your experince that's true, however, I really liked the sound of my Mirecourt Bass as reproduced by the Peluso CEMC6. Schoeps
    CMC6 MK41 are among the finest DB microphones out there, probably the best for Double Bass live as shown by Larry Grenadier. Since I invested
    in a pair of Remic's and local studio's own those micrphones, I don't really need to own one, although if a used one came along at a reasonable price
    I'd definitely consider it. After my experience with the Xlson, I'd likely do some recording with that microphone before I ever considered the
    Schoeps. Just my experience though. Everyone is entitled to their perspective. :) :D:laugh:

    Last edited: May 27, 2018
  9. wathaet


    May 27, 2007
    The Peluso is a decent low end mic. Just do not perpetuate the myth that their capsule has anything to do with Schoeps. Peluso likes spreading the fact that he basically ripped off the CMC5 Circuit. What makes Schoeps is their capsules. His capsules are afaik not made in house and is not based on the same idea as the Schoeps capsules
  10. Just to give piezos a little equal time, here's a snippet of an incomplete track that we recorded this weekend in the studio. This is my bass, but it's our band's bass player (I play banjo with this band). We'll be adding voice and probably mandolin this coming weekend.

    Double Bass Equipment:
    !930s Alcoa, repaired and hot-rodded
    SBW Deluxe dirty-gut strings
    Vic's Pickups model C bridge wing and fingerboard Piezo set
    Direct connected into the recording system.

    Ric Vice likes this.
  11. Ric Vice

    Ric Vice Supporting Member

    Jul 2, 2005
    Olivette, Missouri
    You have a PM :)
  12. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    With many years of recording experience under my belt at this point, I've come to the conclusion that recording is like any other craft. A master can create masterful results with cheap tools, while a novice can get awful sounding results with the most expensive gear on the planet.

    For most of us, this is good news if we will only let it be good news; it means that beyond a very low bar, we should focus more on our craft and less on our gear. While an experienced pro might be able to squeeze out a few more drops of sonic goodness by using gear that costs 10-30 times as much as the basic entry level "prosumer" recording gear, a musician who spends their time practicing their instrument won't gain much by spending a fortune. What good is a Ferrari to a person whose reflexes are not programmed for high speed racing and who can only drive under city speed limits? Better to hone the craft of driving and get the most out of our Hondas and Toyotas. As always, EEMMV, and EEMWCB.
    zeytoun, dan1952, dhergert and 2 others like this.
  13. Yeaaaaaaa!

    levitt-0218-PHXT-11835. swift-hearn.
    Ric Vice and Chris Fitzgerald like this.

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