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Recording double bass (arco) with limited equipment.

Discussion in 'Bass' started by jordan_nalley, Dec 29, 2010.

  1. jordan_nalley

    jordan_nalley Active Member

    May 5, 2009
    Marietta, Georgia
    I'm planning on working with a group soon that has a double bass player, so I'm looking for suggestions on a good mic setup for recording a double bass. However, I have very limited equipment at the moment.

    **By the way, I don't have many microphones because most of my equipment is more focused around electronic-sounding modern heavy rock. At the time, it seemed more effective to have guitars and tube amps and midi controllers and such... I'm just getting a little tired of that style, and I'm trying to do some classier music.

    These are the only mics I have:
    -Rode NT1A
    -Two SM57's
    -DR VX1 (really cheap mic, but I sometimes prefer it over the 57).

    I have two great sounding rooms. A large room and a small room. The small room does not have any noticeable reflections. The large room doesn't have much.

    The bassist has a quality instrument, so I shouldn't have issues with the instrument itself.

    The group is like a modern folk-ish sort of genre. They have acoustic guitar, electric guitar, double bass, and vocals. The bassist plays arco.

    When I looked this up on Google, I couldn't find much about folk.. It was mostly jazz, and what I did find is a lot of people saying opposite things.. Like.. "Mic the f-hole." "Don't EVER mic the f-hole." I'm possibly more confused now than I was before I looked it up...

    By the way, this isn't one of those "What's the BEST way" threads. Of course I'll have to try it for myself, but I just want suggestions or ideas of where to start so I'm not micing aimlessly when they come in to record.

    I'm willing to look into another microphone if it's a significantly different kind than what I have and will benefit me in recording a variety of things. I don't have a price limit, but I'll be making my decisions based on a price:usefulness comparison.
  2. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Staff Resource Member

    Mar 20, 2000
    Prince George, BC
    Home Page:
    You sound like me.

    I'm really getting into DPA mics for both live and studio work. If you are thinking about using something for both, take a look at DPA mics. Sting was how I become interested in them. Boomyness is what you want to avoid. I haven't had the opportunity to mic a double bass but the time will come.

    See this page: Others will surely chime in with more info.

    DPA Microphones :: Miking a double bass with condenser microphones in the studio or live
  3. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Moderator Resource Member

    Mar 20, 2008
    currently Billings
    Of the three you listed, the NT1 is the only option in my opinion. It wouldn't be my first choice but you don't have a large mic locker. You will want to place the mic about four-ish feet away from the bass and pointed down towards the bass at perhaps 60ish degree angle. And yes, I'd point it towards the f hole but you won't be right up on it. This will be your starting position. Walk around the room and find the spot the bass sounds best to your own ears. If that is across the room it doesn't matter. Put the mic there and at the level of your ears pointing towards the bass f holes. If it gets muddy then rotate it around until you find where the pressure waves are reflecting from. Is this a little time consuming? Yup. But it is the only solution to recording a great sounding acoustic instrument in a good room. As your mic locker grows there are different things to try too.
  4. BobRogers

    BobRogers Distinguished Member

    Apr 4, 2006
    Blacksburg, VA
    The big thing to think about when micing bass is whether you want to maximize or minimize fingerboard sound. For arco it's minimize (for my taste). The DPA positioning of taking a small diaphragm condenser in the bridge pointing up at the finger board is standard for maximizing fingerboard sound. What John describes will minimize it. With the mics you have you are pretty much stuck with the method John describes, but it's probably going to be good for you anyway. The NT1 is probably the best bet, but I would give the other two a try. I've used an RE20 for folk piz.
  5. jordan_nalley

    jordan_nalley Active Member

    May 5, 2009
    Marietta, Georgia
    Thanks for the replies. All very helpful.

    I don't think I really need the DPA mics.
    John's method sounds like a great place for me start. Thanks.

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