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Recording an upright bass for rockabilly. Hints? Tricks?
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danmaier
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3rd January 2007
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Question Recording an upright bass for rockabilly. Hints? Tricks?

Doing a demo for a rockabilly group next week. They have an upright with a pickup, and have said they want an amp sound mixed with acoustic. Any thoughts?
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I recorded a Rockabilly band a while ago.
And his contrabass had two pickups. I´m not sure about the terminology here (it was my first and only rockabilly session), but the other pickup was only there for the really hard "slap" sound. It didn´t pick up any tone, just the "crack/slap",
like a distorted clock. I think he called that pickup "fisher"something...
As I said, I´m totally a newbie about contrabasses, but the band made very clear that the "slap" sound needs to be really present.
Maybe you can investigate a bit about this pickup if you find it interesting...
It was pretty easy to work with the bass sound since the two sounds were separated.
I think it turned out pretty cool, check it out! =)

http://www.bornofsin.net/studiomt/Justine_Master.mp3
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Fingerboard slap is a big part of the Rockabilly sound. If you have a decent room, I'd mic it about 2 feet away pointing at the bottom of the fingerboard. The "amp" part is easy (DI from the players amp)

If you want a real vintage sound (or at least what used to be done live), wrap a couple of sponges around a 58 and put it under the tailpiece with the mic pointed straight up at the bridge and fingerboard.......



-tINY

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The absolute best sound I've heard for rockabilly URB is an AEA R84 about 14 inches from the 'g' side f-hole slightly off axis, with another ribbon (I used a cheap octava) up near the pegbox pointing down toward the fingerboard. Depending on how good the bass sounds, you might also take a line from the pickup for extra definition in the lower registers...

cheers
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I'm assuming you will put this in an iso room. If you're not, it's a whole different ball game.

Looking at your mic selection, I would put a U-87 in front of the bass 1 to 2 feet away about where the players fingers are. Then I would put a SDC, which seems to missing from your mic closet at the moment, by the neck, a little above where the neck meets the body.

I hate pickups!
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Here's a tip for recording rockabilly bass: back the mics off a bit so when the bass player starts spinning his bass around, setting it on fire and doing crazy stuff, they don't get hit!
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Quote:
Originally Posted by danmaier View Post
Doing a demo for a rockabilly group next week. They have an upright with a pickup, and have said they want an amp sound mixed with acoustic. Any thoughts?
I have recorded upright a few times but more for country and rock and roll. Anyway I did it this way. Bass was in main room with band with his amp. I put an RE20 on the amp and split the pickup signal so it went to an RNP direct and also to his amp. The RE20 was right up to the grill on his 12" speaker.

Those two sounds together gave me a pretty nice range of options.
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Hey Danmaier -

For all the Brian Setzer trio stuff we take 3 inputs.. RCA 44 out front just above the bridge, a couple of inches off center. We put this mic a little closer than standard double bass micing - only about 7 or 8 inches out. If you don't have a ribbon, any LDC, or RE-20 kind of thing will work.
#2 is a neck click mic - a 57 , or a 451/km84 between the left and right hand of the player pointed slightly up towards the left hand. Don't try to get any real sound out of this mic - it should sound like a drummer playing the rim of a snare.
#3 is a DI with a little growl on the amp.
Record all three seperately if you can, - when it's time to mix, 9 times out of 10 I'll
use 100 % of the front mic, 20 % of the amp compressed to shit, for nastiness, and 15 % click mic.
The 58 in foam stuffed under the bridge is classic, and serves the same purpose as an amp if you don't have one.

hope this helps - happy new year - Dave Darling
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Another i've heard of, but never had the chance to try, is like tiny's suggestion, but with your 87 instead of a 58. you'd still want that fingerboard 'click' mic, though methinks.
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I just finished recording a rockabilly band and I didn’t have any trouble capturing the click sound I actually had pull some click out because it was so overpowering. What I did have trouble with was the lack of low mids. My mic setup was a large diaphragm condenser about 16” from the bridge a small diaphragm condenser in the bridge wrapped with foam pointing at the fret board and a sub–kick about a foot from the F-hole. Any tips?
Chris
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I am an upright bass player as well, and did some testing last night. The r84 has the best woodie vintage sound, but I have gotten great tone from a u87, a little tighter punchy sound, and probable one of my favorites. With both of these mikes, use them about 18" away from the g side f hole or at the bridge.
Like someone above said, also get that sdc pointing down the fingerboard.
I have also heard about another technique using a sdc omni mic wraped in foam placed up between the feet of the bridge for players that like to move around alot.
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hey NowandThen -

I use the amp for low mid presence. That's also why I put the front mic a little closer.
If the mic is out too far 12 inches plus, it makes (for me) a lovely sound that doesn't work in the mix very well.
When you say sub kick - do you mean an ns10 kick mic in front of the bass ?
Never tried it - sounds interesting.

Dave Darling
danmaier
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Thanks so much for all the great replies. Should keep me busy. I'm DL some Rev Horton Heat stuff to reference.

Cheers!
Dan
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