Recording an Upright Bass

Recording Techniques, People Skills, Gear, Recording Spaces, Computers, and DIY

Moderators: drumsound, tomb

browndogsstudio
audio school
Posts: 2
Joined: Sat Jan 20, 2007 6:58 am

Recording an Upright Bass

Post by browndogsstudio » Mon Jan 22, 2007 6:28 pm

Hello all, just looking for a little advice / experience on micing up an upright. I would imagine a large diaphram condenser to catch the body. May have a bow used on certain tracks also. Wondering if there is a good position to start from? Suggestions? Thanks for the help!!!

james
www.myspace.com/browndogsstudio

standup
re-cappin' neve
Posts: 620
Joined: Mon Nov 01, 2004 7:04 pm
Location: Washington, DC

Post by standup » Mon Jan 22, 2007 6:55 pm

Lots of things can work. RE20 near the tailpiece. Small dia. condensor 1' away from the fingerboard in between the right hand and left hand. Small omni condensor wrapped in foam in between the feet of the bridge pointed up. Small or large dia. condensor pointed at the bridge or the treble side F hole from a foot (or more) (or less) away.

qball
pushin' record
Posts: 232
Joined: Sat Jan 13, 2007 6:05 am
Location: Central NY

Post by qball » Tue Jan 23, 2007 5:06 am

I play and record upright bass frequently. For a Bluegrass and Folk styles, the typical starting point is 18" out pointed in the area between the f-hole and bridge & about half way between the bridge and the end of the fingerboard. Personally, I like to have the mic a little higher so that it points at my hand to capture more of the attack of my playing.

My other favorite mic position is 24" out from the neck/body joint, aimed down toward the end of the fingerboard. This allows more of the string sound and attenuates more of the boomy lows at the same time. I use this method most of the time. It works well for classical, bowed and slapping styles too.

Depending on how your room handles bass freqs, use a SD condensor with a tighter pattern since LD condensors typically pick up more sounds from the sides. If the room has adequate bass traps, go for a LD condensor. The larger the room that you can record the bass in the better.

For upright bass, it's hard to beat the ART Tube MP preamp. Sure it's not a Neve or API (I have both), but it just sounds really nice on upright.

For EQ afterwards, I find that I start by using a low shelf and reducing by 5-8db starting at around 150-200hz. Then I'll boost at 70hz to give the bass some more balls without sounding boomy.
I think women should leave the toilet seat UP!!!

User avatar
JohnDavisNYC
ghost haunting audio students
Posts: 3035
Joined: Fri Oct 03, 2003 2:43 pm
Location: crooklyn, ny
Contact:

Post by JohnDavisNYC » Tue Jan 23, 2007 6:20 am

all very good suggestions... one thing to take in to consideration, is how different every bass (and player) can sound, as well as the variances in taste in terms of how the bassist wants to instrument to sound... some people like a boomy sound, others a stringy, somewhat this sound, and some want a clear, natural representation of the bass.

recently at the bunker we had some jazz guys in, and although aaron (my partner's) initial mic choice sounded awesome (I think it was a Geffel UM70 ), the bassist asked for an SM57... and it sounded great! the way he played and the sort of sound he wanted were perfectly tailored to the 57, and it had a great wooly, somewhat distant Paul Chambers thing going on.

also, bass is one of the few instruments that is an appropriate volume where you can get you ears near it without risking damage for the rest of the session. if a bassist who I am not familiar with comes into the studio, I usually ask them to play a bit get down near the bass and listen to different places to see where the most balanced spot is... some basses will boom horribly out of the f-holes at certain notes, while others will remain clear... some basses project beautifully towards the upper bout, while others sound like cardboard.

also, I ALWAYS ask the player if there is a certain place on the bass that he knows sounds particularly good, or bad... I am a bassist, and know where the places that my bass sounds great, as well as the places that my bass sounds bad.

if there will be some arco (bow) playing, make sure to position the mics and stands in such a way that the player won't be hitting them or feel cramped trying to play... sometimes for a combination of pizz and arco, two mics (one up towards the fingerboard and one towards the bottom of the instrument) can work well, leaving a large physical space in the middle of the instrument for whatever bow and arm movements the player makes.

and unless bleed is a concern, or the bass is shite and it is a rock track, don't take a DI... they are generally worthless.

John
i like to make music with music and stuff and things.

http://www.thebunkerstudio.com/

qball
pushin' record
Posts: 232
Joined: Sat Jan 13, 2007 6:05 am
Location: Central NY

Post by qball » Tue Jan 23, 2007 7:27 am

A recordist I know in NYC swears by placing a Neumann KM184 in foam and pint it upwards from between the feet of the bridge. I've heard a few of his recordings done this way and it does sound decent.

The SM57 is a good option. I have used that in the past with good results.

Another technique I like is to have a SD omni pointed up at the bridge from underneath (I use a Behringer ECM8000 measurement mic) along wiith another mic for the upper bout.
I think women should leave the toilet seat UP!!!

kweis7
gettin' sounds
Posts: 121
Joined: Fri Jun 09, 2006 6:34 am
Location: Gainesville, FL
Contact:

Post by kweis7 » Tue Jan 23, 2007 7:30 am

toaster3000 wrote:all very good suggestions... one thing to take in to consideration, is how different every bass (and player) can sound, as well as the variances in taste in terms of how the bassist wants to instrument to sound... some people like a boomy sound, others a stringy, somewhat this sound, and some want a clear, natural representation of the bass.
Man, no kidding!!! I've played with so many different bass players on gigs but it was not till I really got serious about recording jazz that I realized how much acoustic bass players sound varies.

I've been tracking 2 different bass players a good bit for a project of my own (jazz, some standards and some originals) and the bass has been a challenge. One guy has a ~$15000 bass and classical training. His intonation and tone are killer. The other guy, who is by no means a slouch of a player, has a less awesome bass but a really great, swinging groove.

I used 2 mics, a Heil 40 close near the bridge and a Peluso 2251 or ADK51 (I need another 2251) back a couple feet with good results but the players moved when they solo so the close mic levels vary. That makes mixing harder. The guy with the nice bass has been a bit easier to mix but he did some bowing which is WAY WAY louder than the pizzacato stuff. More mixing work.

I feel like I can mic up a jazz drum kit and with minimal tweaking be ready to roll but not so with the bass. Fewer mics but I have had to mess with it a lot more for the bass. I think fairly different mics and placement may be in order depending on the player/bass/room although I like the Heil/Peluso combo.
Last edited by kweis7 on Tue Jan 23, 2007 7:53 am, edited 1 time in total.
you know less than you think you know, I know I do

User avatar
scott anthony
suffering 'studio suck'
Posts: 472
Joined: Mon May 31, 2004 1:00 pm
Location: jersey
Contact:

Post by scott anthony » Tue Jan 23, 2007 7:37 am

qball wrote:A recordist I know in NYC swears by placing a Neumann KM184 in foam and pint it upwards from between the feet of the bridge.
I've had very good luck with this, but using rubber bands as a shockmount to hold a KM84 between the feet of the bridge. It seems to have less impact on the sound of the bass because there is less pressure on the bridge.

qball
pushin' record
Posts: 232
Joined: Sat Jan 13, 2007 6:05 am
Location: Central NY

Post by qball » Tue Jan 23, 2007 7:44 am

scott anthony wrote:
qball wrote:A recordist I know in NYC swears by placing a Neumann KM184 in foam and pint it upwards from between the feet of the bridge.
I've had very good luck with this, but using rubber bands as a shockmount to hold a KM84 between the feet of the bridge. It seems to have less impact on the sound of the bass because there is less pressure on the bridge.
I agree. It seems like the foam would mute the sound some. Here's a clip of a band that I play with. The bass was recorded this way.

http://www.cabinwoodmusic.com/images/02 ... _Blues.mp3
I think women should leave the toilet seat UP!!!

James Chiarelli
audio school
Posts: 7
Joined: Fri Jan 19, 2007 6:14 am
Location: Somerville, MA

Post by James Chiarelli » Tue Jan 23, 2007 8:34 am

I assited on a session in which the engineer used U47 near the bridge and a KM84 on the finger board. It sounded absolutely amazing. It was one of those sounds that stopped me dead in my tracks.

User avatar
LVC_Jeff
gettin' sounds
Posts: 138
Joined: Tue Apr 18, 2006 9:29 pm
Location: Lebanon Valley College, Annville, PA
Contact:

Post by LVC_Jeff » Tue Jan 23, 2007 8:35 am

I helped someone who used a Beta 52, and that sounded alright, just really muffled, not lots of attack (in the case of picking), but lots of nice beefy low end.
Jeff- Music Recording Technology Student at LVC

Skinny Shamrock Recording- http://www.myspace.com/skinnyshamrockrecording

standup
re-cappin' neve
Posts: 620
Joined: Mon Nov 01, 2004 7:04 pm
Location: Washington, DC

Post by standup » Tue Jan 23, 2007 8:42 am

There was a time when I wanted a dynamic that could do kick drum or upright bass in a pinch. I listened to a B52 on upright and it had NO high end. There was no definition of any kind. Audix D4 was much more useable, and I bought one.

If you want solid low end AND the tone of the instrument, a U195 works.

qball
pushin' record
Posts: 232
Joined: Sat Jan 13, 2007 6:05 am
Location: Central NY

Post by qball » Tue Jan 23, 2007 9:18 am

Ribbon mics also sound really nice on upright bass for certain situations.

Many mics will get the job done to satisfaction, but the main ingredient for a good recorded sound (in my experience) is a properly treated room or a large room so that reflections & standing waves of the low freqs aren't so much of an issue. Those reflections will muck up any definition of the bass. I find that basses like more air space.
I think women should leave the toilet seat UP!!!

rydberg
pushin' record
Posts: 283
Joined: Wed Oct 08, 2003 12:55 pm
Location: Illadelph
Contact:

Post by rydberg » Tue Jan 23, 2007 9:30 am

I like to use either a U47 FET or a Lawson L47MP off the bridge/f-hole area and a SDC like a KM84 or AKG480 up on the neck. You gotta move stuff around to get the right tonal balance. Like someone said earlier, ask the player where it sounds best and start there. I've done a ton of jazz stuff and this always works for me.

P.

AGCurry
steve albini likes it
Posts: 300
Joined: Wed May 14, 2003 12:05 pm
Location: Kansas City area
Contact:

Post by AGCurry » Tue Jan 23, 2007 10:27 am

qball wrote:Ribbon mics also sound really nice on upright bass for certain situations.

Many mics will get the job done to satisfaction, but the main ingredient for a good recorded sound (in my experience) is a properly treated room or a large room so that reflections & standing waves of the low freqs aren't so much of an issue. Those reflections will muck up any definition of the bass. I find that basses like more air space.
+1. Few instruments interact with the room as much as a bass. If you really want the sound of the bass, record it outside!

And there is a huge variation in sounds from bass to bass and from player to player, so much so that I would hesitate to say that one approach works for any bass.

For MY bass, I generally choose an AEA R84. I've also used an Oktava MK012, a Beyerdynamic M160, and an Electrovoice RE55. All very different mics. What works for me is to have the mic at least a couple of feet off the instrument, because bass radiates from such a large area. Distance also lessens the "boom" when using a directional mic.

qball
pushin' record
Posts: 232
Joined: Sat Jan 13, 2007 6:05 am
Location: Central NY

Post by qball » Tue Jan 23, 2007 11:04 am

AGCurry wrote:
qball wrote:Ribbon mics also sound really nice on upright bass for certain situations.

Many mics will get the job done to satisfaction, but the main ingredient for a good recorded sound (in my experience) is a properly treated room or a large room so that reflections & standing waves of the low freqs aren't so much of an issue. Those reflections will muck up any definition of the bass. I find that basses like more air space.
What works for me is to have the mic at least a couple of feet off the instrument, because bass radiates from such a large area. Distance also lessens the "boom" when using a directional mic.
This is key for me. Except when using a SD omni, I almost never get closer than 18" in order to capture more of the whole instrument. I usually go out 24" because my room is large and is treated with bass traps. Too much distance in a smaller untreated room might not work so well.

As a general rule, the larger the instrument, the more mic-to-instrument distance. It usually works for me. :)
I think women should leave the toilet seat UP!!!

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 58 guests