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Banjo mic'ing

GUEST,Howard in Florida 27 Feb 02 - 09:48 AM
Rick Fielding 27 Feb 02 - 10:00 AM
mooman 27 Feb 02 - 10:15 AM
JedMarum 27 Feb 02 - 10:21 AM
JedMarum 27 Feb 02 - 10:51 AM
X 27 Feb 02 - 01:50 PM
X 27 Feb 02 - 01:51 PM
X 27 Feb 02 - 01:54 PM
JedMarum 28 Feb 02 - 12:57 PM
GUEST 28 Feb 02 - 01:00 PM
JedMarum 28 Feb 02 - 02:35 PM
cobber 01 Mar 02 - 07:24 AM
GUEST 09 Feb 11 - 02:29 PM
treewind 09 Feb 11 - 02:50 PM
GUEST,Bruno 09 Feb 11 - 02:53 PM
Jeremiah McCaw 09 Feb 11 - 11:59 PM
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Subject: Banjo mic'ing + compression?
From: GUEST,Howard in Florida
Date: 27 Feb 02 - 09:48 AM

Any suggestions on which mic(s) to use to get an optimum, clear reproduction of a banjo with a skin head, set up for Scruggs-style picking?

Was thinking of a C-414 or similar, aimed between the X and Y positions on the head, with a second, perhaps electrolet, aimed at the neck-body junction. Or am I naive in assuming this is done like an acoustic guitar?

Would you recommend using a small amount of compression, post-mic?

I know I need to experiment, of course, but thought you all might have some tips...

thanks much Howard


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Subject: RE: Banjo mic'ing
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 27 Feb 02 - 10:00 AM

Well, J.D. Crowe always said that an SM 57 pointed at the neck/pot joint got HIS sound out there. Saw Scruggs on the Opry two nights ago, and his banjo sounded awful...well actually it just didn't sound like "Scruggs".

I haven't seen or heard much info on banjoists going the "two mike" route. It couldn't hurt though.

Cheers

Rick


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Subject: RE: Banjo mic'ing
From: mooman
Date: 27 Feb 02 - 10:15 AM

I use the setup similar to that mentioned by Rick above, i.e. a single SM 57 but with the mike centred a little closer on the pot. Mine's a tenor but the sound is fine. I don't use any post compression or other processing.

Best regards,

mooman


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Subject: RE: Banjo mic'ing
From: JedMarum
Date: 27 Feb 02 - 10:21 AM

The good news is that banjos seem to mic pretty damn well. I've tried a few different mics (never more then one at a time, except for recording). I've used the Senhausar 855, the Shure AXS 4 (a condenser mic), and Audix OM and the Shure 57. These are each good mics and for my money the best sound is the Shure AXS - BUT this usually proves to be impractical for stage use. The condenser mic picks up too much and increases sensitivity to feedback. So the next best choice was the Shure 57. The 57's are great mics. They have a really true and accurate freqency range and they are dynamic mics, so they do NOT add much to the feedback and stage noise issues.

I do close mic; no more then 3 inches normally, and I place it low to keep the mic out of my way while I'm playing. It mics pretty well, below your right hand - though perhaps not optimal.

The final thought I have is that all the different mics I used actually worked out pretty well (the 57 was best for the reasons I stated) but the real key are having a good sound system to reproduce it, and someone with a good ear to EG and mix it.

In the studio - they used three mics and the pickup for my banjo. They placed the large powered mic they use for vocals at a distance of three feet dircetly in front of me. They used two lipstick style condenser mics; one at my left hand point toward the pot, and the other much at the joint of the pot and the neck (close in). As I said, they also used the signal from my banjo pick-up. They placed each signal on a separate track (believe it or not) and mixed the final sound into one during the mix session. Seemed like overkill to me, but I have to admit it sounded great.


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Subject: RE: Banjo mic'ing
From: JedMarum
Date: 27 Feb 02 - 10:51 AM

wow - my typographically challenged fingers strike again! I left out a word now and then, misplaced a letter or two and just all 'round screwed up the text! I hope it makes some sense, though!

The one point I might not have made clearly because of a typo was that I believe it is MOST important to have someone with a good ear doing the mixing. The EQ (not EG) for the banjo mic channel is crucial. This is like the spices in the soup. Good mics, critical mic placement, good sound system are all major factors - but the EQ (tonal adjustments) on the banjo and the overall mix make or break the sound.


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Subject: RE: Banjo mic'ing
From: X
Date: 27 Feb 02 - 01:50 PM

SM-57 just behind the bridge if you're looking for volume and your fingers don't hit the mike.


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Subject: RE: Banjo mic'ing
From: X
Date: 27 Feb 02 - 01:51 PM

SM-57 just behind the bridge if you're looking for volume and your fingers don't hit the mike.


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Subject: RE: Banjo mic'ing
From: X
Date: 27 Feb 02 - 01:54 PM

SM-57 just behind the bridge if you're looking for volume and your fingers don't hit the mike.


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Subject: RE: Banjo mic'ing
From: JedMarum
Date: 28 Feb 02 - 12:57 PM

It's surprising to me that SM57 has such a great sound! I've used mics that are two or three times the price and not been able to beat the SM57 - especially for banjo. I think the dynamic properties and the frequency response of the SM57just happen to match banjo beautifully.

Again, in a studio situation where you've control over the whole sound environment with a good condenser mic you can pick up more of the dynamic range and sublties of banjo playing - but for stage purposes the SM57 really is a gem.


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Subject: RE: Banjo mic'ing
From: GUEST
Date: 28 Feb 02 - 01:00 PM

Thanks Rick, Mooman, Jed, and Banjoest!

Agreed on the 57 for live.

Well Jed your typing was clearer than my question --- I was actually asking only about recording, not reinforcement. But it's good that you all mentioned this, as I hadn't thought of using it in the studio.

The combined mic'ing technique laid out on separate channels makes sense as you can control all the parameters for each mic --- the phase problems of two or more mic's are not as easy to deal with live as at they are in the studio.

The 855 is great for acoustic sounds generally, btw.

Agreed on needing a good ear for placement - after, if it's garbage in, it'll be garbage out.

A couple more questions:

Rick, did you happen to see how close they mic'd Scruggs on Opry? (and btw, to show out of touch I am with the Banjo community - you're reply answered for me whether or not Scruggs is still alive! (Or was that an OLD Opry reply?) The Good Man must be getting on 80 + ??)

Jed, I'm in the backwaters of North Florida ... all of folks at the few music stores around here kind of screwed up the faces when I asked what kind of pick ups for banjo's they had, "you want to do what?" DOH! Any sites that describe pickups... what kind do you have?

thanks again, really do appreciate the assist. Keep on pluckin'

- Howard


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Subject: RE: Banjo mic'ing
From: JedMarum
Date: 28 Feb 02 - 02:35 PM

I am currently using a "Pick-up the World" pickup. It works pretty well for me. You can find more info about them here.

When I used the banjo pick-up for my last record project I was using a Fishman pick-up. Fishman has a new product for banjo that looks pretty good, and I like the Fishman products, generally.

Good luck!


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Subject: RE: Banjo mic'ing
From: cobber
Date: 01 Mar 02 - 07:24 AM

I started using a Fishman violin pickup a few years ago and it works really well. The Fishman is a little fold of copper that slots into the fiddle bridge. I accidently squeezed mine too hard and it snapped on the fold and I had to replace it. I triewd using the broken one by sitting it under one of the feet of the bridge and it worked really well. I'm using an old Stewart with a pigskin head and it gets that clunky old bullfrog sound that the Stewarts have. It should work just as well with a plastic head.


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Subject: RE: Banjo mic'ing
From: GUEST
Date: 09 Feb 11 - 02:29 PM

For recording you probably want to use a condenser mic. Banjos have a lot of fast transients (basically peaks in the volume) so they are similar in many respects to drums. Dynamic mics, such as the Shure SM57 aren't fast enough to reproduce transients faithfully. Nothing against them they are great general purpose mics but a condenser will do a better job.


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Subject: RE: Banjo mic'ing
From: treewind
Date: 09 Feb 11 - 02:50 PM

Jed: "I think the dynamic properties and the frequency response of the SM57just happen to match banjo beautifully.

Maybe something about skins - SM57 is a classic snare drum mic too.
It is a good mic to have around the studio - not always the very best, but a good all-rounder.

We use a Microvox M500 on a banjo for live sound and it works well, especially after rigging up some strain relief for the cable so it doesn't pull the mic off the skin.

Anahata


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Subject: RE: Banjo mic'ing
From: GUEST,Bruno
Date: 09 Feb 11 - 02:53 PM

The above description on where the SM-57 falls short is completely correct.
People have this 'image' of how a banjo sounds, and that is loud and piercing with lots of high-mid.
That is what you get when using a SM-57.
It is unbeatable when working in sound wise bad environments (noisy, lots of hard reflections).
Even with a mediocre quality of amplification, the banjo still cuts through.
But it is nowhere near HiFi.
My first step up from the dynamic mikes was a Neumann KM-84 condensator.
When properly equalized, surprizingly high sound levels can be reached without problems.
The KM-84 is very directional, so proper positioning is all.
I aim for the spot in the middle of a straight line from the lower end of the bridge to the tension hoop.
Most of the finger pick noise will be shielded by the hand.....
The next step was the cheaper Audix SCX-25A large membrane.
It requires less EQ and works geat at a distance of 80 cm (3' 6"), capturing the entire instrument, especially the lower part of the spectrum. This generally is suppressed when close miking to a single spot on the head.
The Audix gave me the best results over other large membrane mikes like Rode, A T and even Neumann.


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Subject: RE: Banjo mic'ing
From: Jeremiah McCaw
Date: 09 Feb 11 - 11:59 PM

Tangent for a banjo joke (for the record - love the instrument, particularly frailing style, but I love the jokes just as much) . . .


Talking to a sound engineer friend the other day. Said they were experimenting with sound for an old tyme group and had discovered the best pick-up to put on a banjo   -   a Ford F150!


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