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Tracking Double/Upright Bass

Discussion in 'Bass' started by Vox71, Apr 6, 2014.

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  1. Vox71

    Vox71 Active Member

    Hey Guys,

    I have never tracked an upright bass before.

    What are the best type of mics to use on it, and what would the placement/set up be? It has a pick up as well so I can also get a DI/Amp signal to mix in with the mic'd track/s

    Thanks in advance for the input.

    Cheers,
    Alfie


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  2. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Whenever I think acoustic music, DPA comes to mind first. No compromise but $$
    http://www.dpamicrophones.com/en/Mic-Guide.aspx?segment=15&use=90&ddlIndex=7

    They have the 4099 series for live and studio. http://www.dpamicrophones.com/en/Mic-University/Application-Guide/Bass.aspx
    DPA high end SDC are stellar.

    Jeff has plenty of experience on upright bass, I'm sure once he see's your thread, he'll have some suggestions .


    View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1FC2K8y5Q_k
     
  3. Paul999

    Paul999 Active Member

    I've recorded plenty double bass tracks. To get a natural tone many mics can work. I have used sm57’s, wunder cm7, sm-81, Tlm-103, u-87, km84, 414’s, the list goes on. They all work reasonably well. Where it gets tricky is if you are recording it in a band or if you want good sustain to plucked notes. Here is a cool trick I learned. Add a pickup to the bass and plug it into a bass amp and then mic that. It can be really natural sounding but have sustain that rivals an electric bass.
     
  4. Vox71

    Vox71 Active Member

    Thanks, guys. @Paul999 the bass does have a pickup so I was going to record a DI signal, as well as a mic'd bass amp, just to have options and to maybe blend them in with an acoustic mic'd signal. More concerned on best options of capturing the natural sound. Specifically, mic placement. It won't be a full-band setup. It will be sparse percussion (not a full kit---shakers-handclaps etc.). Mostly other acoustic instruments (guitar, banjo, mandolin), and maybe one clean electric guitar slide track, so it shouldn't be too hard to get it to sit in the mix.


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  5. Paul999

    Paul999 Active Member

    If your tracking all instruments at the same time be careful of spill in the bass mic. If you have some good gobo's I'd use them.
     
  6. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    The trick with spilling, try to choose a mic that make the bass sound right and also the spilled instrument. So when you open the bass mic in the mix it won't screw up the perc sound ;)
     
  7. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    Wrap up an Electro-Voice, 635 in a soft sponge. Stick that into the bridge of the up-right, double bass. That's your failsafe, direct sound. Use a small capsule condenser microphone on the body, so as to eliminate any off axis gobbledygook trash one can pick up from a LDC. Anyone's.

    Get that double bass
    Mx. Remy Ann David
     
  8. thatjeffguy

    thatjeffguy Active Member

    I usually track bass in my treated live room with no other instruments playing. I use a large diaphragm condenser, (usually my M-149). I place the mic facing the bass from the treble side about 18" away and placed above the "F" holes, nearly even with the point at which the performer's right hand plucks the strings and pointing slightly down. Vary up or down based on how much 'pluck' you want.
    I normally track bass through my LA2A compressor with a fair amount of gain reduction, this is how you get your sustain. Even then, more compression may be needed in mixing.
    Results on this instrument can vary dramatically with both the quality of the instrument and the skill of the performer. I had one session with a performer whose instrument had very poor resonance and who also had poor playing technique. The resulting tracks proved mostly unusable and had to be re-recorded using a different bassist.
    I have also tried the technique that Remy mentioned of wrapping a SDC in foam and sticking it in the bridge. This was supplemental to the LDC, was not used as the main track.
    Jeff
     
  9. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    I recently did a session with a bluegrass band; I used a 414 above the F Holes, along with the pickup that the player had built into the bass. I then ran it (the mic) through a Grace compressor, with some pretty substantial reduction settings, too.... in fact, it bordered on limiting...more than I would have normally used, but it worked.

    However, this situation was different, in that we tracked the bass on it's own with no other instrumentation playing.
     
  10. Vox71

    Vox71 Active Member

    Thanks for all the tips, guys. I will try out those ideas. All instruments were tracked separately. The bass will be tracked individually as well so that should keep things nice & tidy. I was most concerned with mic placement. I have also heard of using an LDC at the bridge in a figure 8 pattern angled up towards the f-holes and the other end towards the ground. The purpose was to pick up reflections off the floor. I don't know about that one, but I will try it to see how it sounds. Thanks again, guys


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  11. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    That all depends on good it sounds with those reflections as part of the track. You might be better off recording it as isolated as you can, without those reflections, and then ad them artificially through delay or verb - if it's something you feel is needed.
     
  12. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    Well if you're doing this, by yourself, in an isolated room? Along with those tight in mics, why not cop, some of the real low-frequency, warm resonances of the room? With a couple of room microphones? You need cubic footage for the proper transmission and propagation of the low-frequency resonance of the double bass fiddle. So by all means, take advantage of the room tone when playing that double bass track, all by its lonesome. SDC (small diaphragm condenser/capacitor) might be your better bet? Since they don't give you crappy off axis sound like the LDC's, do. Then ya get that solid center with that open resonant, room. Nothing finer for a double bass to be. It's not just about the tight up. It's about the width and the girth then move the earth. Can you say 4 tracks? Or how about the room microphones being a pair of MS? Yeah doggy! Now you're cooking with gas!

    It takes some wit to be whacked
    Mx. Remy Ann David
     

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