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Bowed Saw
Old 9th May 2006
Gear Head
🎧 15 years
Bowed Saw

Hi everyone, I just got a job doing some remote recording overdubs, and the session involves a bowed saw player and a stroh violin player.

Tracking the stroh won't be a problem, but I've never miced a bowed saw, and was wondering if anyone had suggestions.

She'll be relatively iso'd, and I'm thinking a closer mic and a medium distance mic. Mic choices are a bit limited unfortuantely for this session: 2 Royer 121s, 2 AT4047s, 1 421U5, 1 baby blue bottle, maybe a couple earthworks omnis.

I imagine the sound source isn't as streamlined as say, a stroh violin, but the room might not sound good (never been there)...any suggestions? i anticipate some time being put into mic placement experimentation...

Old 9th May 2006
Lives for gear
🎧 15 years
i actually have experience with this, both from the recording perspective and the perspective of playing the saw -- it can sound a lot like a theremin, especially with cool processing -- it can be pretty ethereal and spooky... i highly recommend the 121's (they're smooth and warm in a way that's very good for the saw) -- also, position the mics in places somewhat away from the direct sound of the bow against the edge of the saw -- you rosin the bow to play saw, and that produces a bit of an edgy sound right at the bow and saw connection -- above and away from that and it usually smooths out nicely... have fun
Old 9th May 2006 | Show parent
Lives for gear
PlugHead's Avatar
🎧 15 years
From a "sawyer's" viewpoint, analogjeff is right - don't mic directly facing the bowed side of the saw - scratchy, rosined bowing sounds crappy. However, I'd be a bit wary of using the R-121 unless you have TONS of gain, and can get far enough away to get a substantial signal. The ribbon might 'round' the sound a bit, but will lose some of the brilliance you might want.

IMO, it really depends on the context of the production: if you want it to sound more like a theramin, close(r) micing might be best, but for the most captivating aspect of listening to the saw (hopefully played well - too often not the case...), having it miced a few feet away in a great sounding room is king. I'd do this if the production warrants - using the Earthworks might be the best bet for this - stereo would be awesome! The singing nature of it's pure waveform is often captured best when sounding in an acoustically beautiful place - of course you can do that by adding ambience after the fact, but - nothing can replicate good micing...

best with it,
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