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Micing Classical String Bass

Thinking of solo classical string bass- I’ve had this come up twice this year. What do you all do for accent micing? Any success stories for Mains positions?

My best success has been with a stereo 414s in fig 8, aimed at the lower portion of the front panel, with the null on the bridge- from about 2ft out. https://soundcloud…

I’ve got:

  • a good acoustic room
  • 2 Schoeps CMC62s
  • 3 AKG 414s
  • 2 MBHO omni/cards
  • 1 AEA r88


to work with, as well as a DMA bass student who is willing to be my test subject

I’ve previously read a forum story about someone Micing an orchestral bass section from behind/above the section with good results… Also the forums and DPA suggest an omni stuffed under the bridge of the instrument! (that one will take some convincing)

Comments

Boswell Mon, 01/21/2013 - 04:32
You say "solo classical string bass", but the microphones you would choose and where to place them all depends on the conditions under which you are recording and the purpose. If you are tracking solo in your good acoustic environment you would likely use very different miking from either orchestral spotting or stage miking for PA/recording.

Under studio conditions, there is no harm in taking many more microphone tracks than you are going to use, including a bridge mic or pickup. At mixdown, you might use the room mics to determine the overall sound you want from the instrument, and then you can blend in the pickup to give you a little more attack. However, be sure to delay the bridge channel by a millisecond or so relative to the channels from the microphones on stands so that it reinforces but does not form the leading edge of the resulting sound.

In performance, an omni under the bridge of a bass can work well for jazz and the like, especially where the main aim is an attacking rhythmic sound when pizzicato. The other stories you mention about unusual orchestral miking may well have had their origins in the difficulty of isolating a bass section in the acoustic of the particular venue.

RemyRAD Mon, 01/21/2013 - 19:54
I would never stick a microphone in the bridge of a double bass for any symphonic recordings. And I rather like SDC's since you're not going to have one on every double bass. And therefore some of those double basses will be slightly off axis where your LDC's will sound like crap. And I wouldn't use but just a couple SDC highlights on the double basses. I mean if this was a jazz recording with just shallow and double bass, that would be a whole lot different than the sky would be the limit. And that low-end on the SDC's can actually sound more powerful than the LDC's. And if you want a little more meat, that's why God created equalizers. Besides, some of the low-end on those double basses doesn't develop until you're at least a few feet away as it travels through the air and blooms through the room. Which is why we generally hang our microphones a few feet out in front and above the orchestra. So you've got your stereo center pair flanked on the left and right by those outriggers. And one of those is pointed right at the double bass section. Everything else is just a highlight microphone. But how many microphones are you going to use for the entire shebang? What you're talking about, sounds a little lopsided to me already? So what are you going to put on the violin section to make them sound lush and full instead of thin and squeaky? Got any ribbon microphones?? He wants meat but he doesn't know about ribbon microphones? There's your meat.

It's all in the mix actually...
Mx. Remy Ann David

LorenS Tue, 01/22/2013 - 07:33
Hi Remy,

I'm fine with orchestral spots- I just find that in a solo or duo situation with bass my accent mics need to add tone rather than articulation. Since all of my bass spot micing experience has been in an orchestral context, I was wondering how someone would spot for a solo bass sound.

I do have a ribbon! AEA r88. Love it.

RemyRAD Tue, 01/22/2013 - 15:28
Well I would go with that 88. It's great that you have that. Especially if you already have those SDC microphones on that section. That's all you need. Ribbons when you really want to get that sweetness out of a bowed stringed instrument. Nothing finer. All of that hyper articulation just makes it sound like these people are sawing their instruments in half. That might be state-of-the-art but it's a disappointment in my book. And where, I really think people have lost what true warm audio can really sound like without all that hyper hyped high end. It's tragic. I think this all stems from too many guys with hearing losses creating the equipment? I'm proud at how I have protracted my hearing through the rears.___I SAID... I'M PROUD OF HOW I HAVE PROTECTED MY HEARING THROUGH THE YEARS.

Let's just be smear about that.
Mx. Remy Ann David
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