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Re: need tips on miking my upright for a gig

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Posted by Maestro on February 10, 2002 at 09:33:14:

In Reply to: Re: need tips on miking my upright for a gig posted by Brad Maestas on October 10, 2002 at 18:44:07:

: : hey...i need help and some advice on how i should mike my upright...i dont have a pickup for it which sux...but ive tried to mike it at rehearsals and i cant get nothing....its a 3/4 palladino...thanx

: : The last time I saw Reginald Veal play he was using the EV RE-20 (dynamic mic) with the capsule parallel to the top plate at the treble side f-hole (Since the mic is front-address the body of the mic is 90 degrees perpendicular to the top like an SM-57/58). That was in the Lied Center in Lawrence, KS which is a rather large auditorium where, that evening, sound quickly dissipated and the bass wasn't feeding back at all. He could hear himself just fine acoustically (which is a huge credit to his incredible mastery of the instrument). He did not have any of the mic in his monitor. Just a touch of Michael Brecker's tenor sax and Joey Caldarazzo's piano.

You can control feedback, otherwise known to us as "standing waves" or Heimholz frequencies by starting the mic in the previously-mentioned "on-axis" position and moving it "off-axis" (85 to 45 degrees). As you move the mic off-axis you can attenuate the bass and keep the mid and high-end response. The front end more or less stays in place while the other end where the mic cable comes out moves to create the increasingly-perpendicular angle. This will keep you from changing the character of the sound too much. You can also get more articulation and "string noise" when the mic is pointed up towards the bridge and more mellow as you move it toward the edges of the top (towards the ground). This is especially true if you're using a kick-drum-type mic stand with a very low heighth compared to a boom-stand.

With a combination of up/down, left/right positioning you can get many different flavors and that's just in one position of the mic stand. Trying all the different combinations between the treble- and bass-side f-holes you can get hundreds of tones. Don't forget that the room is a huge factor. Stay away from the corners of the room if you can and stay away from the bass drum! The drums are the killers here. I find it's very hard to find a balance between being close enough to the drums to be able to properly communicate but far enough to keep the kit from completely drowning you out and inducing feedback. All the while having fun and not giving yourself tendinitis and carpal-tunnel! You should be able to move the mic around and find the sweet spot for your bass in most rooms with some effort.

Also depending on the room where you're rehearsing and what you choose to amplify it with I find it can be very useful if not necessary to do some of the fine-tuning with headphones if it's possible. Remember too that when it finally sounds good by itself it often won't cut it when other instruments are in the mix (like electric guitars).

A semi- or fully-parametric equalizer is key here. Once you use one you'll find it so much easier you'll feel very foolish for not having one before. I recommend the Raven Labs True Blue EQ for this task. It's not a balanced design made for microphones but you can make it work. You also can't plug straight into it but it's surprisingly affordable. Much better than any pedal- or rack-type graphic EQ. I've been using the Raven Labs MDB-1 Mixer/Buffer/Direct Box and the True Blue EQ with great success. The MDB-1 is basically a three-channel mixer with effects loop and XLR out. It's inputs don't load pickups with resistance so you hear the true sound of the pickup whether it's magnetic or piezo. This is a big problem with older, quiet Fender pickups. Most amps don't get the most out of the pickup's output while this box ensures you get the best. As an added bonus all the Raven Labs products will run off of battery power (2x9v) and are no more than half-rack spaces wide and a space tall. Get a Steinberger/Gage Realist pickup as soon as possible. You'll want to use that DI/EQ combo for it as well. It'll make things so much easier, trust me.

My rig is:
1998 KC Strings Custom 7/8 violin-corner bass
Realist pickup
Raven Labs MDB-1
Raven Labs True Blue EQ
SWR Baby Blue II
Stewart Audio World 2.1 Amplifier
James Demeter VTBP-201s Tube Preamplifier
AccuGroove El Whappo and Tri 112
Bag End S15D-X
Furman Power Regulators and Conditioners
1994 SWR SM-400s
1991 Ken Smith BT-6
Elrick Platinum Singlecut 6
'64 Reissue Jazz
'59 Reissue Precision
F-Bass BNF-5
F-Bass Studio 5
Surine Regency 6 FL
1970 Hofner 5000/1 Deluxe
DeArmond Ashbory
Røde NTK

: Have fun with the experiment! I hope this was useful.

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