tracking harmonica

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aaronaustin
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tracking harmonica

Post by aaronaustin » Fri Oct 24, 2008 11:20 am

I'm having a hard time coming up with a good harp sound. I'm using a blues harp and I've tried out a bunch of mics and preamps and can't come up with much. My ADK TC through the OSA L3 is accentuating a little too much high end in the wrong places. A Heil PR20 or Cascade Fathead are getting a little honky. The ADK A51 is close, but still lacking. Anybody got any suggestions? This isn't a blues riff or anything. It's Americana kinda stuff. Anything to get unstuck. I'm gonna go track vocals.

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Post by Mix413 » Fri Oct 24, 2008 1:30 pm

How close to the mic is the instrument? Try backing away and/or slightly off axis.
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aaronaustin
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Post by aaronaustin » Fri Oct 24, 2008 1:51 pm

I may try off axis. I was about 4-5 ft. out from the mic. Thanks.

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Post by jmiller » Fri Oct 24, 2008 10:46 pm

I've had good results on folky Neil Young-ish harmonica with an SM-7.

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Post by b3groover » Fri Oct 24, 2008 10:50 pm

Best harmonica sound I've gotten was with a Shure 330 (re-ribboned by Marik) through a JLM 99v preamp. I didn't need any EQ at all. Sat right on top of the mix.
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Post by firesine » Fri Oct 24, 2008 11:29 pm

I liked the sound of a Sure Beta 52 on a harmonica in a Folk-Americana song a friend of mine did. That was through a Mackie pre.
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Post by JGriffin » Sat Oct 25, 2008 7:37 am

I have generally double-miked harmonica: one mic is the "clean" mic, an AKG 414 or Shure KM44, or sometimes an EV 667, and right next to it a "dirty" setup-- Shure SM58 or 545 running into a small guitar amp, which is then miked with another 58 or 545. Print to two tracks and blend to taste.
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Post by losthighway » Sat Oct 25, 2008 9:10 am

This sounds dumb, but I've never had problems getting a decent mic sound when I leave up the condenser I was recording vocals with, with the pop filter in front of it. I record the harp in front of the popfilter about a foot away from the condenser. Sounds like what it sounds like. Not the most character, but a straight delivery.

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Post by heylow » Sat Oct 25, 2008 9:25 pm

losthighway wrote:This sounds dumb, but I've never had problems getting a decent mic sound when I leave up the condenser I was recording vocals with, with the pop filter in front of it. I record the harp in front of the popfilter about a foot away from the condenser. Sounds like what it sounds like. Not the most character, but a straight delivery.
Absolutely! That's all I've done anytime it's just straight harp....it's all over my record as well. In my case, the SM-7 and the RED B7 did a stellar job. When I record myself this way, I actually do NOT use the pop filter and I'll even rest my pinky on the capsule and just *slightly* cup for just a taste of vibe.

Sounds great!



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Re: tracking harmonica

Post by percussion boy » Sat Oct 25, 2008 11:24 pm

aaronaustin wrote:My ADK TC through the OSA L3 is accentuating a little too much high end in the wrong places.
It seems like some of the other suggestions are either for mics with a more inconspicuous upper range (e.g., ribbon) or a real pretty one (vocal condenser).

I like the tc but it isn't either one of those things. Its best feature (that big bottom it can get) is pretty useless for the frequencies where the harmonica lives, I would think.

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Post by JGriffin » Sun Oct 26, 2008 9:07 am

losthighway wrote:This sounds dumb, but I've never had problems getting a decent mic sound when I leave up the condenser I was recording vocals with, with the pop filter in front of it. I record the harp in front of the popfilter about a foot away from the condenser. Sounds like what it sounds like. Not the most character, but a straight delivery.
Not dumb at all. Most of the time when I use the setup I described above, the only thing that changes from a/the vocal tracking setup is the addition of the "dirty" mic, the one through the amp.
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Post by aaronaustin » Sun Oct 26, 2008 5:00 pm

thanks for all of the responses. this really helps. There are some great ideas to try here. Also, percussion boy, thanks for the info on the TC. I guess I should have realized that by now, but I haven't had a decent monitoring setup for very long. I've been spending a lot of time tracking drums with them and they work great for that. I guess I just picked up the most expensive mic I had and figured I should use it for vocals *gasp*. So, I was actually just trying to use my vocal setup for the harp. I guess this has helped me see that I really need to change out vocal mic, cause the problems with the harp have made me realize how much vocals are lacking. I've been thinking about trying out a heil pr30 or 40, but the cash isn't there right now. I figure that's more along the lines of the SM7.

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Post by cjogo » Sun Oct 26, 2008 11:28 pm

Usually direct in front of the pop screen -- An AT 4033 aiming slightly above the harp ---running through a Manley DVC
whatever happened to ~ just push record......

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Post by centurymantra » Mon Oct 27, 2008 6:15 am

I've usually found an off-axis mic to help out - usually aiming from above...sometimes slightly off to the side. I do really like ribbons on the harmonica. An M160 can be good and found the Crowley & Tripp Naked Eye to be kind of a magical harmonica mic. I like using two mics, one of them being a condenser quite a ways off...like 6-8 feet away. I'll just move around the studio with the condenser until the blend with the close mic clicks. Oddly enough, I've gotten some of the best results with a close mic and a SDC way off to the side and near to the floor.

One mic I like to point out and suggest for harmonica is, believe it or not, the AKG D112. Kinda drab on a kick drum (IMHO), but it gets an awesome retro kind of tone on harmonica. Try it out if you have one.
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Post by Babaluma » Mon Oct 27, 2008 7:04 am

i recommend micing up a small tube guitar amp, fender champ or such, with a crystal mic, if you want that kind of bluesy distorted tone. if you want clean then don't go there!

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