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Recording upright...not happy with output from Realist OR Mic...

Discussion in 'Amps, Mics & Pickups [DB]' started by zandar, Oct 27, 2005.

  1. zandar


    Jul 8, 2005
    Seattle, WA
    I'm doing some recording and I'm having a really hard time getting the sound I want from my upright. It's a Shen SB150 (hybrid) with D'Addario Helicore Hybrids and a Gage Realist mounted under the E side of the bridge. I'm recording to a stand-alone Korg DAW and have tried various settings on the analog compressors it offers. I am currently leaving them off. The room is about 20'x15', hardwood floors, 8.5' ceilings...natural reverb abounds.

    First of all, I'm really unhappy with the sounds I've been able to get direct from the Realist. If I adjust the trim on the input up to an acceptably hot level, I get high-pitch squelchy noises, so I am forced to trim it down and take a hit in signal to noise. Then I'm left with a dull, lifeless tone that really doesn't inspire. Since the pickup was only a backup plan, and I'm happy with it in live scenarios, this isn't the end of the world but I'd welcome any tips that would make it a more viable option.

    My first choice was to mic the bass. After extensive googling, the consensus seems to be aiming a large diaphram condenser at the G-side f-hole, situated about 18" away. The nicest large diaphram condenser mic I have is an Audio Technica AT3035. In general I am quite pleased with this mic, but what I capture off the bass is slightly boomy and the natural room reverb is quite noticeable. Basically, using this mic I am getting a sound that is more honest than what I am looking for, which is a very modern, hi-fi sound, complete with fingerboard noise and growl. I know that some purists here are going to be against that sort of thing, but I've been listening to some recordings with that sound lately (Jacqui Naylor Live East West, for example) and I need to know how they did it.

    So...a few things occur to me. I might have better results with a condenser mic that supports a hypercardioid pattern, reducing the amount of room noise I pick up. Perhaps running the Realist through a tube pre-amp would warm things up, though I am doubtful. It really seems like I would have better luck with a different type of pick-up.

    What do you guys think? :)

  2. Tbeers


    Mar 27, 2005
    Chicago, IL
    When I played at Lincoln Center once (and probably the only time in my life I ever will lol), the guys there used a large microphone and centered it right in front of the strings, just above the bridge, and several inches away. It sounded fabulous.

    Be open to placing the mic at different locations in relation to the bass, the strings, and your fingers. It's certainly cheap and easy to try that in comparison with buying new gear.
  3. jazzbassnerd


    Aug 26, 2002
    The best results that I have ever had recording is with a Marshall 603 in between the bridge legs facing up towards the Fingerboard. The mic is like a slightly omni-directional condenser mic. So it picks up the table, the fingers, the strings. It just sounds really good.

    To hear an example of how it sounds, you can go to the thing that says "my website" and go to the music section. "Cloud 8" and "Saving Grace" both have this recording method.

    Good luck.
  4. zandar


    Jul 8, 2005
    Seattle, WA
    Thanks guys, I'll try moving the mic around. Scott...great stuff!
  5. Jeremy Allen

    Jeremy Allen Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2002
    Bloomington, IN
    Listen to Tbeers. This is a good way to mic the bass--as compelling as the f-holes look, that isn't where the sound comes out of! Right in front of the bridge, or as close to the top of the bass in the center (slightly north of the bridge) is where I've heard the best results on my own bass.
    But hey--you're talking about a home recording set-up. Part of the fun of that is experimenting to find out what works best! Mess around, see what works, and give the studio engineer some insight on how your own particular axe works next time you go into a studio.
  6. Hi Alex,

    Welcome to talkbass.com - lots of nice folks, and a great place for getting lots of good information!

    This question has been dealt with a number of times - much information can be found by using the search function - there's one particular thread here (I remember this one because I started it…) - there are various others - try putting "Wil Davis" into the "user" field and "bridge legs" into the "key words" field.

    Good Luck -

    - Wil
  7. Touch


    Aug 7, 2002
    Boulder, CO
    I like an AKG 414 for recording... but that's just me ... for your situation, try getting the mic as clean as you can (i.e. no eq) and dink around with some good headphones (again... I'm partial to AKG).

    Try running the tape/disk with some different mic positions. Since you have a PU try it with/without, with different blends. Experiment with the mic at different positions... for example.. do 30 sec on tape at each position...note where the mic is (you may have to take notes).... I have found that sometimes it may sound the best off to the side or (believe it or not) around the back). Don't be afraid to move the mic all around... just note where you are when you record. Listen to the playback and decide which sound/position... sounds like you.

    If there are not too many other folks playing at the same time I find than an omni pattern works well on upright... if there are others you may find that a hyper or cardioid gives better rejection. The key (IMHO) is to record different settings and then listen... and decide which you like best... that is if you are paying for the session... if it is on someone else's nickel then they will get what they like.


  8. Hey Touch: Since you like AKG, have you tried the AKG c419 clip on? I've been looking at the Audio Technica ATM35. I have yet to try either one, but my past experiences with mics make me lean towards AKG, or am I splitting horse hairs?
  9. larry


    Apr 11, 2004

    I do a lot of recording. Here's my $.02

    1) Pickups generally do not work well for getting a natural sound. It's fine if you want to blend a small amount in with a mic, but don't kill yourself trying to find "the sound" from your pickup. It's probably not there.

    2) You mentioned that you can "hear" your room in the sound more than you like. That's the critical thing. Best sound = omni mic in a good sounding room. You can try to find mics that will sound good in a bad room, but it's a challenge. Can you try some other rooms? Try a large closet if you have one. Properly treating a room can be done cheap, but it requires some effort and knowledge.

    3) If you can't change your room situation, go with small diaphragm condensers, or possibly a good dynamic mic. Large diaphragm mics are generally more suited to good sounding rooms. You should "hear" the room less with a small diaphragm. A cardioid pattern would probably help. By the way, small diaphragm mics are generally less "colored" and more natural sounding anyway.

    4) 18" away is probably too far in an untreated room. Experiment with moving it closer, possibly within an inch or two. The suggestions for small, clip-on condensers are good ones. I have success with that. First, try your own mic closer (but not in front of the f-hole) and see what that does.

    5) Upright bass is probably the hardest instrument to record well. So much low frequency well below what most stereos are designed to play. Take it out and it no longer sounds natural, leave it in and it does not reproduce well on playback. Your Korg DAW may or may not have good enough EQ and compression to really dial in the right sound you want to hear. Explore the possibilities of exporting wav files to your PC and learn some of the software options you can use there.

    Recording is a huge subject, and experience is your best teacher. Experiment. Lurk around at http://homerecording.com/bbs/.

    Good luck.
  10. Touch


    Aug 7, 2002
    Boulder, CO
    It would appear that the c419 frequency response isn't nearly as flat as a 414.

    I haven't tried it one however. The size and clip on look nice.