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Recording acoustic bluegrass - advice sought Virtual Instrument Plugins
Old 3rd September 2007
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boojum's Avatar
Talking Recording acoustic bluegrass - advice sought

I freelance out in NW Oregon and have a commission to record a local bluegrass group in the leader's home. They are Dobro, guitar, bass, mandolin, violin and sometimes washboard. All acoustic, no amps at all.

I have a pair of Schoeps CMC 6's with Mk4 caps feeding an SD 722. I figure that 24 bit, 48KBps would be a good format. I am guessing that having the guys in a semicircle with the bass in the center of the arc and the mics at the point of the radius at the center of the circle described by the semicircle would be good. I would use ORTF the array. At least as a starting point.

As this will be in the leader's living room I am assuming carpets and curtains and furniture, even though he is a long-time bachelor.

What advice can you guys offer me to help limit my mistakes??

Thanks so much.
Old 4th September 2007
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Jim vanBergen's Avatar

You should ask how they normally perform. Is any one instrument lead all the time? What consistencies or inconsistencies do they have?

Many bluegrass groups I have dealt with are used to dealing with a SINGLE mic center, and they move in and out of the semicircle as they take solos, the lead line, or a harmony line.

A lot will depend upon how they are used to working. I think your plan is solid, and allows you flexibility. It's every bit as valid as close-miking the group if they know how to play together, and can be a lot easier for you if they like what they REALLY sound like.

DO go visit the room in advance, and get an idea of what you need to do, how he envisions setting up, etc. Find out how the power is (measure & test it!) in terms of proper wiring and voltage. See where you can set up, and what surfaces you may need to cover. Remind him in advance about shutting down phones and quieting anything else- I once found a thermostat that was a HUGE annoyance for a classic living rooom demo, until it was wrapped in Sonex. heh You might also ask him to move furniture or a TV out of the way, so visiting in advance can be useful.

I always bring a couple of packing blankets and spring clips with be to cover open doorways or sliding glass doors, or the floor in a tough instance.

Good luck! Let us know how it turns out!
Old 4th September 2007
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gainstages's Avatar
i'd say the last comment had lots of good advice. one more thing - i'd record in 88 or 96 unless you have killer converters. with all of the acoustic instuments, it may help you to better capture the complex overtones being generated.
Old 4th September 2007
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boojum's Avatar
I have recorded these guys lots of times as I worked my way up through mics and then to the rig I currently have. Power will be no problem: they are pure acoustic and I will run on batteries. The SD 722 does not draw much.

They play in a semi-circle: washboard, Dobro, guitar, bass, mando, violin in left to right order. They are usually seated so no one is stepping up to any mic. Having the bass in the middle is good as both playback speakers can carry the bass line. They are used to playing this way so they will no doubt want to keep it this way. If they work in a circle I will go for an overhead ORTF.

As for 24/96, wow! That's pretty high, but I am asking for advice because I do not know so I will go with that. ;o) More fun to learn from your mistakes than mine.

They know what they sound like. I have taped these guys a lot while doing my short apprenticeship. Every gig I did I would pass them CD's of it. Then I got my current rig and they are interested in buying the tracks for a CD they want to release. I asked in an older thread about charging them and how much. As they have put up with my ineptness and pestering them for months now I told the leader I would make him a one-time deal in gratitude for their patience. I will tape them all they want, track, edit and master the music, if they want, find a CD presser, make the covers, write the notes, the whole deal or just hand them the raw tracks. Whatever they want. And they can decide on a flat rate they feel comfortable with, and give me liner credits. It will cost them nothing extra for me to do the work. If they do not like the work, they can throw it away and just go with the recorded tracks. If they do like it, hey, I produced an album. It will not be platinum, but I can put it on my CV.

And I like what I am doing. If I charge, the copyright is theirs and other guys in the area who do this work, one guy, cannot get pissed that I am giving it away. If they ever want another they know what the absolute worst they can get it. I will have hopefully improved my skills in the passing time.


And any other ideas welcomed. I read Eargle and all that, but I need to know some of what you know. Thanks, folks!

Last edited by boojum; 4th September 2007 at 05:24 AM.. Reason: typo
Old 1st March 2008
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Sonic Lush's Avatar
found this through Remoteness' " tag, you're it " thread.

how did this recording turn out?

I've got a pair of cmc64 on the way and am considering a 722 myself.

would love to hear any more of your thoughts on this boojum dude.

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