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Udu drums - recording tips?
Old 16th June 2006
  #1
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reid's Avatar
 

Question Udu drums - recording tips?

Just found out I'm recording some Udu drums this weekend - can anyone pass on some do's and don'ts about getting the best results from these things?

Ta!
Old 16th June 2006
  #2
Gear Head
 
MichaelJoly's Avatar
 

I have one with a drum head that I've recorded a lot. Conceptually, the callenge is to capture a balance of deep bass "dooong" and tabla-like finger play on the skin and body.

You can try either a single, dual or three mic set up:

A single LDC about a foot back aimed at the area between the neck opening and the skin;

or an LDC placed near the neck opening off to the side to capture the huge base sound but avoid the strong lowpresure wave. Balance this with a SDC closer to the skin / body playing area. This might require...

a 3rd room mic to restore overall balance. Haven't tried it yet, but I'll bet a single ribbon would give a great balance of bass power, top end transients and overal room sound with careful placement.

The bass out of these things is phenomenal - really really deep and clear note around A = 55. Can totally drive a track like an old Motown kick drum or you can lay off the bass and let the mid-range tabla tones rule. Oh, a thought about tuning. These things can be filled with water a bit to sharpen them and bring them up to pitch if nessesary, sloshing the water around does nice modulation effects.

My UDU seems to be a bit sharp for A-440 tuning so I usually have to drop the pitch of the track to match it.

Just a wonderfully organic and earthly instrument players really commune with because its technical simplicity allows quick access to the earth-groove thing. Made out of clay, filled with air = Earth/Sky elements at play in this instrument.
Old 16th June 2006
  #3
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I recently recorded a small dumbek part with a Beyer M160 several feet back and above with a mix of reflective and absorptive panels around the player. I used this same setup for all the auxiliary percussion stuff we did on the project; tambourine, shaker, etc. The M160 with some nice opto compression seemed to be the ticket for this kind of stuff.

A thought occurred to me though on that udu drum. What about using a kick drum mic like a D112 or something on that order close and under the drum with a distant mic, ribbon or otherwise. Could be interesting...
Old 16th June 2006
  #4
Gear Head
 

An AKG414 works very well. If you have bleed problems (recording more instruments at the same time), I've recorded live udus with a single DPA4061 dropped inside. You can easily get nice sound from that mic in the studio as well. A multiband compressor helps to balance the bass tone with the finger attacks if you have problems with the players internal balance..
Old 17th June 2006
  #5
TML
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Ask Brian @
uduboy.com
Old 17th June 2006
  #6
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lofi's Avatar
 

Quote:
The bass out of these things is phenomenal - really really deep and clear note around A = 55.
absolutely true...when i first tracked one of these i thougt something was wrong !

amazing coincidence ! im tracking one tomorrow...i will use stereo pair SDCs and maybe one omni near fingers...its impotant that performer doesnt wear "noisy" clothes while playing heh

its basicly a clay vase with a defect (a hole) but in the right hands -- wooohooo heh !
Old 17th June 2006
  #7
AB3
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I just recorded tablas with a pair of E22s mics. Picked up the best bayin sound (the deep drum) the best yet. Also smooth and accurate for the tabla drum (the higher sounding drum). I have tried MANY mics, and these were the best. Tabla player thought so as well. And I have been recording him for almost 20 years.
Old 17th June 2006
  #8
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Paul Vnuk Jr.'s Avatar
I am actually an Udu player...I know I know there's one in every crowd.

Anyway I have been recording mine for years and tried every combination you can think of.

Mine is the all clay dual hole non head variety (LP actually).

Although the lp ones have a small hole in them which fits a shure sm-98 perfectly...its sounds too close, metalic and boomy...

My best results ever were with an AT 4060 placed about 2 feet up from the drum while the player is seated on the floor. I find mono actually the best way to record these drums (actually most hand percussion really). It allows a much more focused and tighter sound which you can pan and place in the mix.

Since I am equal parts percussionist and studio engineer I will actually "play to the mic" much like a singer would. The bassy boom comes out of the top "bottle shaped" hole as the side hole is struck. If it is a true vase style udu which traditionally only had the one hole it will have much more of a slap sound.

When I say play to the mic, I will play the higher pitched slap tones with the mic 2 ft away angled at the middle of the drum, I will then control the boom and volume of the bass notes by turning the the mouth of the drum toward the mic as needed... of course this takes practice and understanding on and off axis mic techniques while playing helps.

Ok so assuming your player is not an audio engineer I would consider 3 mic set up choices.

Each choice will be based on where the drum will sit and how important it will be to the mix.

If the drum is the main and central percussion part of the song, as I said a single mono LDC Tube mic works great. The bass is surreal.



If however you are going for a more "traditional" world sounding recording a stereo set of either you favorite LDC's or better yet a set of something like sm-81's or KM 84 / 184s in an x/y pattern about 3-4 ft away will be more even giving a better balanced clay tone (but much less exagerated bass).

Lastly you can also try a combination of LDC over the bass sound hole and a SDC over the players hands by where the neck and the body meet. This will give you a good up close balance of highs and lows.


Of course this is what works for me and your miliage may vary....plus one word of advice...dont drop a mic pre on the udu. I now have a wonderfull decorative re-glued planter thanks to a cheap mic pre falling off of a shelf and onto the drum which I set on the floor while looking for mic shock mounts on said shelf


Good luck...

Paul
Old 17th June 2006
  #9
Gear Maniac
 
valleysound's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by xj32
I am actually an Udu player...I know I know there's one in every crowd.

Anyway I have been recording mine for years and tried every combination you can think of.

Mine is the all clay dual hole non head variety (LP actually).

Although the lp ones have a small hole in them which fits a shure sm-98 perfectly...its sounds too close, metalic and boomy...

My best results ever were with an AT 4060 placed about 2 feet up from the drum while the player is seated on the floor. I find mono actually the best way to record these drums (actually most hand percussion really). It allows a much more focused and tighter sound which you can pan and place in the mix.

Since I am equal parts percussionist and studio engineer I will actually "play to the mic" much like a singer would. The bassy boom comes out of the top "bottle shaped" hole as the side hole is struck. If it is a true vase style udu which traditionally only had the one hole it will have much more of a slap sound.

When I say play to the mic, I will play the higher pitched slap tones with the mic 2 ft away angled at the middle of the drum, I will then control the boom and volume of the bass notes by turning the the mouth of the drum toward the mic as needed... of course this takes practice and understanding on and off axis mic techniques while playing helps.

Ok so assuming your player is not an audio engineer I would consider 3 mic set up choices.

Each choice will be based on where the drum will sit and how important it will be to the mix.

If the drum is the main and central percussion part of the song, as I said a single mono LDC Tube mic works great. The bass is surreal.



If however you are going for a more "traditional" world sounding recording a stereo set of either you favorite LDC's or better yet a set of something like sm-81's or KM 84 / 184s in an x/y pattern about 3-4 ft away will be more even giving a better balanced clay tone (but much less exagerated bass).

Lastly you can also try a combination of LDC over the bass sound hole and a SDC over the players hands by where the neck and the body meet. This will give you a good up close balance of highs and lows.


Of course this is what works for me and your miliage may vary....plus one word of advice...dont drop a mic pre on the udu. I now have a wonderfull decorative re-glued planter thanks to a cheap mic pre falling off of a shelf and onto the drum which I set on the floor while looking for mic shock mounts on said shelf


Good luck...

Paul
I know it is low tech, but have you ever tried a contact mic inside to get the low end on the clay, vase type Udu, used in conjunction with an LDC or SDC outside to capture the "slap". A percussionist I know swears by it. Just wondering.
Old 17th June 2006
  #10
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audioez's Avatar
 

The sony ecm77 lavalier(omni) commonly used in broadcast, and uncommonly used inside an udu drum.
Old 17th June 2006
  #11
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reid's Avatar
 

Great responses, guys.

The session went well - ended up borrowing a U87ai so as to be able to double mic with my c414. Worked best with the 87 off axis for the bass tones, and the 414 catching the body sound - not the greatest room to record in, but a very useable result, nonetheless.

Would have been a stressful couple of hours without all the friendly advice - thanks to all!
Old 22nd June 2006
  #12
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Paul Vnuk Jr.'s Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by valleysound
I know it is low tech, but have you ever tried a contact mic inside to get the low end on the clay, vase type Udu, used in conjunction with an LDC or SDC outside to capture the "slap". A percussionist I know swears by it. Just wondering.

Hmmmm will have to try this thanks,

Paul
Old 22nd June 2006
  #13
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audiothings's Avatar
 

i look at the udu drum sort of like a sax... the sound is coming from two distinct areas... i hate to multi mic these things because phase and placement always become a problem (for me)... i try to find one place where the overall balance of the instrument is acceptable and go with that... 2+ feet in the case of the indian udu (ghatam) does it for me. Of course it is possible to get richer bigger sounds by using two close mics, but a single mic averaging out the sound of the instrument does it for me.

And i avoid contact mics an dpiezo electric pick ups (for acoustic guitars) like the plague... nothing sounds more unnatural to me.

.02,
self.
Old 18th December 2016
  #14
Here for the gear
Udu recording technique

I've been playing the Udu since I bought my first one on a whim from my friendly neighborhood music store in 1992, and since then I have accumulated a collection of over 15 different versions of this subtle but expressive instrument from Africa. I have put together an Udu set, consisting of five to six of these instruments, mounted in a semi-circular arrangement each producing a slightly different tone, and I continue to discover the myriad sounds which can be obtained from these instruments. I'm in the process of researching the possibilities of collaborating with a professional ceramics expert to bring to fruition some radical ideas for Udus which will revolutionalize the use and application of this instrument. As a sound engineer, I have experimented with lots of configurations to capture the wonderful tones of this instrument and the best set-up is with a button mic placed in the hole in the neck (all Udus should have a hole in the neck) leading to the mouth from which the sound is projected. I have flush mounted these button mics so that they could capture the rush of air from the body of the instrument to the outside world and this arrangement picks up the most complete range of sounds produced by this instrument. External sound reinforcement involves the use of two carefully placed dynamic (for outdoor performances) mics or an omni-pattern condenser mic (for studio recordings). This latter arrangement does a decent job of capturing the sounds but, in my opinion, falls short of the sonic qualities of the button mic mounted in the neck configuration described above.
Old 26th May 2020
  #15
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I need to mic an LP udu utar for a live band setting and need to isolate the udu sound as much as possible (details below). This is with a full band including keys, elec guitar and bass, etc. I can't be picking up the rest of the band. I need to record some udu loops live as well as play along with prerecorded content, which means the sound needs to be as isolated as possible so that the live audio matches the prerecorded content. I can't use a mic at a distance and I certainly can't stick the udu in a foam box. So far, for rehearsals I've been using an SM57 an inch or so from the long end of the drum (this is the saucer-shaped udu with a neck at the side having an opening with lavalier port on the side). Live-recorded stuff picks up too much ambient stuff. Has anyone had experience with a moderately-priced lavalier on a utar?

I have a fairly comprehensive hand drum rig (congas, bongos, etc., plus tongue drum, udu, and an assortment of hand held percussion, running through a submixer). The rig also includes an Electro Harmonix 95000 looper (precise timing, 6 live tracks plus a stereo mixdown track, massive storage and as many loops as I desire, plus MIDI control). I use this to simulate live loop recording, while jumping between loops with various mixes per loop, plus playing along live.
Old 27th May 2020
  #16
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Poopypants's Avatar
 

I drilled a hole in my udu(an LP, I think; haven't played in a while) and put an inexpensive AT lav mic in the hole and closed the hole up with something, but can't recall what. It worked excellently for my purposes, which was playing it live, very rarely, on one or two songs a night. I bet it would not go over for udu purists, but as an alternate texture in a roots rock band, it was pretty cool.
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