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Unusual upright bass micing technique
Old 12th March 2010
  #1
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Jimbo's Avatar
 
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🎧 15 years
Talking Unusual upright bass micing technique

Several years ago one of my bands recorded a demo/promo with an unusual (to me) mic setup for the upright.

The engineer used an RE20 setup:
- four or five feet in front of the bass
- anchored on a short stand, about six inches off the cement floor
- pointing up towards the bridge at a slight angle

The bass track sounded good and mixed perfectly -- just the right combination of string, bridge, and boom.

Has anyone approached micing an upright this way?

Thanks.
Old 13th March 2010
  #2
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Don S's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jimbo ➑️
Several years ago one of my bands recorded a demo/promo with an unusual (to me) mic setup for the upright.

The engineer used an RE20 setup:
- four or five feet in front of the bass
- anchored on a short stand, about six inches off the cement floor
- pointing up towards the bridge at a slight angle

The bass track sounded good and mixed perfectly -- just the right combination of string, bridge, and boom.

Has anyone approached micing an upright this way?

Thanks.
Sounds pretty close to the sm57 in washcloth in the tailpiece technique. Which I must admit surprised me a little when I saw it then heard it.
Old 13th March 2010
  #3
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Barnabas's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jimbo ➑️
Several years ago one of my bands recorded a demo/promo with an unusual (to me) mic setup for the upright.

The engineer used an RE20 setup:
- four or five feet in front of the bass
- anchored on a short stand, about six inches off the cement floor
- pointing up towards the bridge at a slight angle

The bass track sounded good and mixed perfectly -- just the right combination of string, bridge, and boom.

Has anyone approached micing an upright this way?

Thanks.
That's how I usually do it, both on stage and in the studio. The only difference is that I use a RE27.
Old 13th March 2010
  #4
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pkautzsch's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jimbo ➑️
Several years ago one of my bands recorded a demo/promo with an unusual (to me) mic setup for the upright.

The engineer used an RE20 setup:
- four or five feet in front of the bass
- anchored on a short stand, about six inches off the cement floor
- pointing up towards the bridge at a slight angle

The bass track sounded good and mixed perfectly -- just the right combination of string, bridge, and boom.

Has anyone approached micing an upright this way?

Thanks.
Seems a logical way to do it, if bleed isn't an issue. It's one of the typical ways to spot mic double bass in an orchestra, except for the mic type (typically TLM 170, U89, C414, or any clean SDC cardioid).
Old 13th March 2010
  #5
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🎧 15 years
Yes, when bleed is not a concern, this is a tried & true technique from the last 60 years!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jimbo ➑️
Several years ago one of my bands recorded a demo/promo with an unusual (to me) mic setup for the upright.

The engineer used an RE20 setup:
- four or five feet in front of the bass
- anchored on a short stand, about six inches off the cement floor
- pointing up towards the bridge at a slight angle

The bass track sounded good and mixed perfectly -- just the right combination of string, bridge, and boom.

Has anyone approached micing an upright this way?

Thanks.
Old 15th March 2010 | Show parent
  #6
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soypancho's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
This is essentially how I did it last time I did upright bass but I used a figure 8 ribbon. Everyone involved was quite please- I'll post the results as soon as the product is available!
Old 15th March 2010 | Show parent
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim vanBergen ➑️
Yes, when bleed is not a concern, this is a tried & true technique from the last 60 years!
Well, I'm only forty, so perhaps that explains it! heh

pkautzsch wrote "Seems a logical way to do it", but the following two aspects of this approach don't make much sense to me:
1. using a dynamic mic in the far-field (4/5 feet out)
2. putting a mic so close to the floor, thus introducing early reflections

These two aspects of the approach seem inconsistent with my sophomoric set of recording "rules". I'd love an explanation if anyone can assist.

Also, is this approach generally preferred for certain musical genres or recording circumstances, and, if so, why?

Thanks a heap!
Old 15th March 2010 | Show parent
  #8
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Don S ➑️
Sounds pretty close to the sm57 in washcloth in the tailpiece technique. Which I must admit surprised me a little when I saw it then heard it.
can you expand on this? haven't heard this before.

thanks, jeremy
Old 16th March 2010 | Show parent
  #9
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by passivepeter ➑️
can you expand on this? haven't heard this before.

thanks, jeremy
You just take a SM57 and wrap a towel or foam around it and the cable and place it in the tailpiece so it points up at the bridge. Its a very close sound but usually not boomy.
Old 16th March 2010 | Show parent
  #10
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🎧 10 years
Here is my variation of the 57 config mentioned...
except I put it in the bridge, with an M149 a couple of feet away, time aligned.

Brent Averill mounted 1272 on the 57, Avalon vt737 for the m149.

I should say that if he had been finger picking and not bowing his bass, I would have gone with the classic configuration of the 57 in the tailpiece, but It seems to shorten the natural decay of the instrument fairly significantly when placed up against the lower body (in the tailpiece).

It's fun to experiment, give it a try!
Attached Thumbnails
Unusual upright bass micing technique-14231_1283088043190_1409762202_808230_7656160_n.jpg   Unusual upright bass micing technique-14231_1283087843185_1409762202_808229_7702449_n.jpg   Unusual upright bass micing technique-14231_1283087203169_1409762202_808228_4066872_n.jpg  
Old 16th March 2010 | Show parent
  #11
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pkautzsch's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jimbo ➑️
Well, I'm only forty, so perhaps that explains it! heh

pkautzsch wrote "Seems a logical way to do it", but the following two aspects of this approach don't make much sense to me:
1. using a dynamic mic in the far-field (4/5 feet out)
2. putting a mic so close to the floor, thus introducing early reflections

These two aspects of the approach seem inconsistent with my sophomoric set of recording "rules". I'd love an explanation if anyone can assist.

Also, is this approach generally preferred for certain musical genres or recording circumstances, and, if so, why?

Thanks a heap!
1. The part about the RE20 was the interesting thing about it. I guess with a little more gain, you'll still get a nice sound, and probably the bleed will be less obvious (read: less bright) than in condenser mics.

2. Theoretically, you do get a reflexion from the floor. But I've never encountered audible comb-filtering or other reflexion effects.
When the mic is quite low and pointing up, the reflexion hits the mic at 90Β° or more, therefore being attenuated by at least (-)6 dB with a cardioid. As the time difference between direct sound and reflected sound is quite small, the first notch will be at about 5 kHz, assuming a point source at the bridge or the f-hole. In fact, the instrument is quite large, and even from a few feet away certainly isn't a point source.

I've only used this technique in classical spot-miking so far. In jazz, there's usually a drum kit next to the bass, and I'm certainly not placing a mic sort-of in front of the bass drum, and pointing just past the cymbals. The best sound I ever got in that situation was a cheap but lightweight SDC in the bridge, heavily attenuated bass to eliminate proximity effect and drum bleed, plus a bit of pickup DI.
Old 17th March 2010 | Show parent
  #12
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Barnabas's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jimbo ➑️
Well, I'm only forty, so perhaps that explains it! heh

pkautzsch wrote "Seems a logical way to do it", but the following two aspects of this approach don't make much sense to me:
1. using a dynamic mic in the far-field (4/5 feet out)
2. putting a mic so close to the floor, thus introducing early reflections

These two aspects of the approach seem inconsistent with my sophomoric set of recording "rules". I'd love an explanation if anyone can assist.

Also, is this approach generally preferred for certain musical genres or recording circumstances, and, if so, why?

Thanks a heap!
The mic is close to the floor, and the bass waves are very long, so early reflections are not really a problem.

For live work, the reflections, if any, are not noticeable. In the studio, I'm recording bass on carpet, which eats the reflections.
Old 17th March 2010 | Show parent
  #13
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Barnabas ➑️
The mic is close to the floor, and the bass waves are very long, so early reflections are not really a problem.

For live work, the reflections, if any, are not noticeable. In the studio, I'm recording bass on carpet, which eats the reflections.
That must be some phenomenally expensive carpet if it can absorb bass waves.
Old 17th March 2010 | Show parent
  #14
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The reflections will be coincident with the direct sound for all frequencies shorter than the distance from the mic to the floor. This will give you gain in those frequencies and eliminate the floor as a source of non-coincident reflections, just like how a PZM works. The closer to the floor the better. Given the size of the floor, the bass frequencies are particularly enhanced compared to away from the floor.
Old 17th March 2010 | Show parent
  #15
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Great explanation, Piper.

Thanks to all!
Old 17th March 2010 | Show parent
  #16
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Thanks. Another angle on this discussion is that you can "remove" a good portion of your room sound by putting the mic against a wall, floor or ceiling. You can double this and the other effects by putting at the juncture of the floor and ceiling, or even more so, in the corner.
Old 18th March 2010 | Show parent
  #17
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Piedpiper ➑️
Thanks. Another angle on this discussion is that you can "remove" a good portion of your room sound by putting the mic against a wall, floor or ceiling. You can double this and the other effects by putting at the juncture of the floor and ceiling, or even more so, in the corner.

What you do is reducing "problems" with early reflections/combfiltering but OTOH you increase (by a great amount) the problems with the standing waves (room resonances/eigentones) in the room.

For that reason the best place to put your bass absorbers (bass traps) is in the corner where all modes terminates.


/Peter
Old 18th March 2010 | Show parent
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Audiop ➑️
What you do is reducing "problems" with early reflections/combfiltering but OTOH you increase (by a great amount) the problems with the standing waves (room resonances/eigentones) in the room.

For that reason the best place to put your bass absorbers (bass traps) is in the corner where all modes terminates.


/Peter
Indeed but it can work in some instances.
Old 18th March 2010 | Show parent
  #19
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weezul's Avatar
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mixedupsteve ➑️
You just take a SM57 and wrap a towel or foam around it and the cable and place it in the tailpiece so it points up at the bridge. Its a very close sound but usually not boomy.
Just wanted to say , I recorded a house concert on tuesday night using this set up and the bass is really rocking, it was only him and an acoustic guitar player / singer and the character it gave was amazing, I whole-heartedly recommend trying it
Old 19th March 2010 | Show parent
  #20
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teleharmonium's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Barnabas ➑️
The mic is close to the floor, and the bass waves are very long, so early reflections are not really a problem.
An upright bass produces sound up to and including high frequencies, and really not that much fundamental. It is not accurate to say that the bass is producing long waves. It's producing all kinds of waves.
Old 23rd March 2010 | Show parent
  #21
urumita
 
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🎧 15 years
putting a mic so close to the floor, thus introducing early reflections

I think it's already been explained but you actually eliminate the reflections being close to the floor

Path length is the terminology

I'd use a nicer mic though

I'd use an omni in the bridge and mounted on rubberbands, not in a piece of foam that will dampen the bridge (mute)
Old 24th March 2010 | Show parent
  #22
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🎧 10 years
Great! I have to check this out some time!

I always use a side-adress cardioid condensor mounted in the bridge with rubber-bands, aiming to the body. Works great for me, but who knows what this method will change in my daily habbits!
Old 24th March 2010 | Show parent
  #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by trompetfreak ➑️
Great! I have to check this out some time!

I always use a side-adress cardioid condensor mounted in the bridge with rubber-bands, aiming to the body. Works great for me, but who knows what this method will change in my daily habbits!
You may like the sound very much but there is a lot that will be missed with this technique, for better or worse. Viva la difference!
Old 24th March 2010 | Show parent
  #24
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🎧 15 years
Mics near the floor are hit and miss for me.

I've been happy with my DPA 4099 on my bass, both for live sound and live recording.

I also like the omni suspended in the bridge with rubber bands. I've also used mics in the little SE Reflexion filter thing in live settings. With the right mic, that can work great if you don't mind the visual distraction.

Never cared for the mic wrapped in foam thing.
Old 24th March 2010 | Show parent
  #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by leddy ➑️
Mics near the floor are hit and miss for me.

I've been happy with my DPA 4099 on my bass, both for live sound and live recording.

I also like the omni suspended in the bridge with rubber bands. I've also used mics in the little SE Reflexion filter thing in live settings. With the right mic, that can work great if you don't mind the visual distraction.

Never cared for the mic wrapped in foam thing.
omni yes; side address cardioid this close, questionable.
Old 24th March 2010 | Show parent
  #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 7rojo7 ➑️
I'd use an omni in the bridge and mounted on rubberbands, not in a piece of foam that will dampen the bridge (mute)
I tried this once with a live jazz trio using an Avenson STO-2. It worked great until the player rotated his bass just a few degrees. Then that omni mic became a spot mic for the ride cymbal. The track was completely unusable, and I had to roll with the DI -- which sucked.
Old 24th March 2010 | Show parent
  #27
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recordinghopkins's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Piedpiper ➑️
omni yes; side address cardioid this close, questionable.
Questionable? Maybe. Unusual, definitely.

I failed to mention that with a little bit of gaffers tape, the 57 in the pic was converted to a "poor man's omni".
Old 24th March 2010 | Show parent
  #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by recordinghopkins ➑️
Questionable? Maybe. Unusual, definitely.
Questionable, in that it brings up questions for me, like, "How and why would that be optimal?"
Old 24th March 2010 | Show parent
  #29
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🎧 10 years
well, as cardioid, we're not talking about side address. It's pointing at the fingerboard.

EDIT: I realize that you were not talking specifically about the pics I posted, but they are a lot like how trompetfreak described his technique, except I think that he points his toward the floor....
Old 24th March 2010 | Show parent
  #30
urumita
 
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🎧 15 years
I see how that could be a problem! I think with any technique you would lose the track if the performer is not aware.
The Shoertler omni is good but you would have the same problem with any mic, cardioids don't completely cancel sound from the rear
Omni because the proximity effect of a card is difficult to eq around, My fav was a KM56
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