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Whats best for a double bass?
Old 6th February 2009
  #1
Here for the gear
 
🎧 10 years
Whats best for a double bass?

Hi there,


I am recording a double bass in a couple of weeks and i need to know what mic to use out of a specific list of mics available on the day and why you are choosing these. I have never miced up a double bass before but it is also going to be played in a slap style as its a rock a billy band. The double bass im using also has a pick up on it but i want to mic it so i get a good slap sound.

Here are the list of mics

Shure SM58 x 5
Shure SM57 x 2 (possibly 1 isn't working?)
Sennheiser MD 441 x 2
Sennheiser 421 x 1
EV RE-20 x 2
AKG D112 x 1
Neumann U87 x 2
Neumann TLM 103 x 1
Neumann M147 x 1
AKG C414 x 4
AKG C1000 x 2
AKG C300 (Cardioid) x1
AKG C300 (Omni) x2

any help would be much appreciated

cheers
steves
Old 7th February 2009
  #2
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1 Review written
🎧 10 years
i don't know but with all these mics you don't know which one?

i would say a 441 'cause i love it.. and th e u87 for ambience and low end.
but maybe the 441 is enough.
Old 7th February 2009 | Show parent
  #3
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TheRealRoach's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 10 years
Hey Steves,

Is it live off the floor? Iso booths? Live show?

As a standard I always set up a LDC wedged between the legs of the bridge with a piece of foam wrapped around it. Note: be careful doing this... it's not all that fragile but just be mindful not to apply any sort of lateral pressure to the bridge. A U87 would be a great choice, and depending on the player, instrument and room you'll want to experiment with card vs omni. Bass players have a tendency of moving around a lot too, so this is a fool-proof setup.

If the U87 in the bridge was the only mic option I had I would be ok with it, but for something extra you can place another LDC or SDC at the end of the fingerboard (the body side, not nut) and a few feet off. Not too much sound will come from this in the mix, but it's nice to add some space and finger action.
Old 7th February 2009 | Show parent
  #4
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loujudson's Avatar
 
2 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
In studio I use an LDC about six inches to a foot directy in front of the bridge. I'd only wedge it into the bass for live.

But try different mics and positions until you are happy. Every instrument and player are different!

Lou
Old 7th February 2009 | Show parent
  #5
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lord_bunny's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
U87 a foot off the bridge, to the right if you want more of a "woody" sound

SDC on the fretboard to catch slap/articulation

take a D.I. if possible
Old 16th February 2009 | Show parent
  #6
Here for the gear
 
🎧 10 years
RE-20

I've heard that EV RE-20's do a good job with this kind of instrument.
Old 16th February 2009 | Show parent
  #7
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Rick Sutton's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
What lord Bunny said with an emphasis on grabbing a DI.thumbsup
Old 16th February 2009 | Show parent
  #8
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surflounge's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
this is what we use on all acoustic instruments instead of mics:
Advanced pickups and electronics for guitar and other stringed instruments | L.R. Baggs
Old 17th February 2009 | Show parent
  #9
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lord_bunny's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
D.I. and Mic blend

The theory on using a D.I. and a mic is that when the body of the bass resonates the most, it projects less as the energy of that note goes toward making the body vibrate, and thus the d.i. will give you a stonger signal for that note, notes that are more efficient and project more and vibrate the bass less, are captured by the mic on the bridge... so it's a good way to get the playing even rather than relying on fader moves/compression alone.
Old 18th February 2009 | Show parent
  #10
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trompetfreak's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
The best double bass sound I've ever heard came from a MBHO mic.
It's a germain brand by a Schoeps engineer, who took his own schematics and made this wonderfull Lollipop stile microphone out of it. With two elastics, you can hang it perfectly in the bridge.
In live situations, it gives a lot of overspill...

The hall I work in, owns only one, and nearly every bassplayer that comes there doesn't trust it at first sight, but after hearing it, most of them buy 'em!


A bit late, but it's really worth trying!
Old 22nd February 2009 | Show parent
  #11
Here for the gear
 
🎧 10 years
Keep in mind that double bass pickups are basically piezos. That might not sound weird in itself, but would you ever stick a piezo to a grand piano, guitar amp, trumpet, or somebody's throat, and use that on a recording? Would you even think about sticking some sort of a piezo to a trumpet and blending that with mic sound?

The pickup sound was used a lot on '70s and '80s acoustic jazz recordings and that sound has, arguably, ruined that era of jazz recordings. While there are tons of reissues from the 40s 50s and 60s, I personally think that bass sound is what keeps the bigger (and even smaller) labels from reissuing a lot of music from the '70s and '80s - it just sounds bad!

Engineers all over the world basically use the double bass DI as a cop out. It never sounds good.

Double bass is pretty difficult to mic, especially if the bassist will be in the same room as the drummer. As always, spend some time actually listening to the bassist play, so you know what it should sound like on record - any bass player that comes into your studio has hopefully spent a lot more time working on his sound than you have! It always amazes me when I go into a studio and the engineer basically sets up the mics without listening to the bass first!

Anyways, here are some ideas:

Foam/mic in the bridge will mute the sound of the bass - the top of the bass is the "resonator" of the instrument, and jamming foam up against it will cause a loss or alteration of sound/harmonic characteristics. If you want a mic in the bridge, use a pair of elastics to hold the mic in place, and then tape (masking tape) the mic cable to the tailpiece to hold the mic in the position you want. A DPA omni mic in the bridge in this way is among the most effective I've found at accurately capturing the sound of my bass, and doesn't involve as much drum bleed as you might think. I have a loud bass, though. A KM183 can also work good in this situation, and I imagine Earthworks mics are great in this situation, althrough I've never tried them. I haven't tried any other omnis, but I'm sure there are others that can be great.

Close miking the fingerboard, to me, is kind of like close miking a pianist or trumpeter's fingers - yes, the sound of their fingers is part of the instrument's overall sound, but emphasizing it is in a way pretty ridiculous. A couple large diaphragm condesors or ribbons, placed where your ear tells you the sound of the instrument is best, are a great way to go. A couple different placements give the bassist the option to choose which he thinks is most representative to what he's going for.

The instrument has a complex sound that's best appreciated from a distance of a couple metres away, but that's of course usually not possible in most studio situations. That's where hunting for proper placement comes in. It's worth spending a bit of extra time on, and as always, get input from the musician!

Don't mic the f-hole of the bass. While you might get the most signal, the air pressure and tonal quality definitely WON'T be what the bassist is going for. It will be "woofy" and very much out of balance harmonically with the overall sound of the bass.

Also, iso booths can be very dangerous, as the sound of the bass needs space to move, and if the box is too small, it will probably significantly alter the sound of the bass that the player intends. Mic placement in smaller boxes can also be difficult, to say the least.

Anyways, there will always be a bleed issue with double bass, unless the bassist is in an iso booth or playing solo, and it's generally the sign of a good engineer if they can deal with it, without detracting from the musical comfort of the bassist. I've done a lot of recordings standing within 3 metres of relatively loud jazz drummers, and they all have turned out great. A baffle or two, and proper use of the directional characteristics of a microphone, can really do wonders.

Of the mics you have, I've had success with 414s, TLM103s, M147s and U87s in different tracking situations. Try them all out in your space, and see what works!

The Re20 is great in live concert situations, but I've never liked it in studio situations.

Also, keep in mind that if you figure out something that works on one bass, chances are it won't be the ideal on the next bass that you encounter! They're all pretty different and they can have radically different setups, when compared to other instrument types... That means that the focus, size, and shape of the sound from one bass to the next will tend to be much different than say, one acoustic guitar or trumpet or vocalist to the next....
Old 23rd February 2009 | Show parent
  #12
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trompetfreak's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
And for exactly that reason, I say MBHO!
It's a cardioid and because it's a small preamp pipe with a LD on top, you can hang it in the bridge and point it to the body. If the band/drummer is loud, I add DI and get the bass on the right level. If the bass is soloing, I use the mic only and have a beautifull sound
Old 23rd February 2009 | Show parent
  #13
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Rick Sutton's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Phlegm ➑️
Keep in mind that double bass pickups are basically piezos.
The Schertler is an exception.
Old 23rd February 2009 | Show parent
  #14
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Piedpiper's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 10 years
I would use the 414 a foot off the G string over the fingers at the end of the finger board. I would never use a pick up nor would I wedge it in the bridge for the scenario you describe(or any other).
Old 23rd February 2009 | Show parent
  #15
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Rick Sutton's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Piedpiper ➑️
I would never use a pick up nor would I wedge it in the bridge for the scenario you describe(or any other).
because the bass is so prone to bleed the scenario where another instrument needs to be replaced for a couple of notes here and there can be a nightmare without the pickup on the bass to fall back on. Besides, there are times when a little pickup added to the miced sound helps the center of the note to poke through in dense mixes. With that said, I much prefer a good mic sound on the stand up bass.....it's just that reality requires options!
Also, like the piper i have never had any luck with jamming a mic into the bridge.
Old 23rd February 2009 | Show parent
  #16
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Piedpiper's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 10 years
no question that doing what you need to do to get the job done can factor prominently but I can't help but be driven by my purist nature, and the results that that gets me (when it doesn't get me into trouble).
Old 21st March 2009 | Show parent
  #17
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NetworkAudio's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheRealRoach ➑️
... it's not all that fragile but just be mindful not to apply any sort of lateral pressure to the bridge.
It really depends on the instrument in question.
There is no way someone with an old english or italian pedigree instrument would let you do that. If you have someone with a top instrument, be prepared to have an alternate solution.

The compact DPA series with their suspension that hangs from the strings on the tailpiece side of the bridge, is a great option. Schoeps has something similar for their ccm series, if I remember correctly.
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