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Any tips for recording/mixing a Sitar? Effects Pedals, Units & Accessories
Old 26th January 2006
  #1
Gear Addict
 

Talking Any tips for recording/mixing a Sitar?

A friend of mine was in India a short while back and came home with a beautiful hand made Sitar.

We tracked it using TLM103-Audio Technica 4033-RNP-Digi 002 in my living room which has fairly high vaulted ceiling.I've gotten some very open sounds in that room.
I did quite a few takes for the songs that we are working on and each take I went up and adjusted the mics.

I set up the 2 mics pretty much the same as an acoustic guitar with 1 mic towards the 12th fret and 1 towards the bridge.(about 6 inches from the sitar) 6 inches led to a harmonics overload so every take I moved the mics further and further away and ended up about a foot and a half back.

The results ended up sounding very cardboardie\thin interspaced with ear shredding highs and it seems almost impossible to fit it in the mix with electric bass, acoustic guitar and drums.

I found recording and trying to mix this instrument very difficult. But at the same time it is such an incredible sounding instrument and if I could make the recording sound half as good as when your sitting in front of it being played live, I would be happy.

Is there anyone who could give some tips to recording and mixing this instrument?

Thanks in advance.
Old 26th January 2006
  #2
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wallace's Avatar
 

I have a Tanbura (Indian drone instrument) that I record from time to time. It's hard because there's a lot of nuance and dynamics with these instruments. You also have to decide what you're trying to convey with the sound if you're trying to fit it into a dense mix. A really roomy sound might night fit in the mix. Or maybe it would, but you have to decide. A little compression might help you get a little more level too. I tend to mic things in mono, but you can do stereo. Also try colapsing the two tracks to mono. It might sit better in the mix that way. Or if you still need some more gain, you can set up a stereo buss compressor on an aux track and buss the instrument to that.

As far as any other settings, you kind of just have to mess with it. Sometimes getting a good sound is like wrestling a wild animal to the ground.
Old 26th January 2006
  #3
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I've never attempted to record a sitar, but I remember reading about this at some point and it was stressed that it's all about room sound with a sitar. Maybe some omnis or LDC mics of some sort several feet (or more) back? A ribbon could be nice if you can get sufficient gain behind the signal. My intuitive first try would probably be an LDC of some sort about six feet away and a bit above the instrument...maybe mixed with some type of mic fairly close. You could probably approach it a lot like micing a violin actually.
Old 26th January 2006
  #4
urumita
 
7rojo7's Avatar
 

Omni close to the instrument, quiet environment, good player, it takes some time.
The bridge is very buzzy, it's not a gtr it's a str, the whole instrument is a resonant cavity
Old 26th January 2006
  #5
Gear Addict
 

I just recorded a solo sitar piece yesterday in a live room. I used two mics:

Schoeps MK62 (omni) about 2 feet from the instrument aimed at the "gourd" slightly to the left of the bridge and above it. The sweet spot with the omni is very precise.

Schoeps MK641 (hypercard) about four feet away and three feet up pointed slightly downwards. Recording is still quite bright but bringing the mic closer makes it base heavy due to the proximity effect of the hypercard capsule.

This player's instrument had a bright tone to begin with so the Omni worked best. At other times, the hypercard has given the better result. Also, if the instrument has a base string (some do, some don't) the omni is the way to go.

Recording a tanpura ... that is a whole another topic.

Hope this helps,
Baithak
Old 26th January 2006
  #6
Lives for gear
I once got a great sound on my sitar using a single oktava mc-012, so I would suggest using SDC's instead of LDC's. or just one mic.

I saw ravi shankar a few months back and they used sm81s on everything. spaced out about a foot and a half like you have it. sounded incredible.
Old 9th January 2007
  #7
Gear Head
 
pahji@yahoo.com's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Baithak View Post
I just recorded a solo sitar piece yesterday in a live room. I used two mics:

Schoeps MK62 (omni) about 2 feet from the instrument aimed at the "gourd" slightly to the left of the bridge and above it. The sweet spot with the omni is very precise.

Schoeps MK641 (hypercard) about four feet away and three feet up pointed slightly downwards. Recording is still quite bright but bringing the mic closer makes it base heavy due to the proximity effect of the hypercard capsule.

I would concur with what Baithak has to say. It is an instrument with lots of sympathetic strings which resonate as the sitar is played. Loads of harmonics. If you need to get those in then a mic with good high freq response is what you are looking for. (have used BK, Schoeps and Km 184's with good results)

The "gourd", big round part of the sitar is the resonator. pointing a single hypercardiod there, slightly to the left of the bridge, will do the trick ( experiment with distance for tone)

Have used a pair of schoeps in an XY 18inches away and 12-14 inches up got an incredible WIDE sitar!!! Doing an MS in such a situation will help you tinker with the highs on the fretboard or the mid-lows on the "gourd" side later on.

going thru a tube mic-pre (used an Avalon AD2022) tends to soften the harshness, if there is a tendency for it.

Lastly having a slightly live but quiet room really helps as it can be a very dynamic instrument, esp in fast passages (jhala). And let us not forget that it takes years of practice to master one of these intruments :-) In the hands of a master it can be a sensual, lilting instrument, which draws you in.

Hope you get the sounds what you are looking for

Cheers
Old 9th January 2007
  #8
Gear Head
 
pahji@yahoo.com's Avatar
 

As for mixing I find that straight delays work well.
The style of your song and the part played should decide which note delay settings to use. Due to its many resonating sympathetic strings it is not "wise" to use a chorus or mod delays on it. Unless of course you ARE looking for THAT effect.

If its recorded in a good live room you can add just a dash of reverb to taste. And if not then use the early reflections to get some tone going along with the delay (with a LPF at 2K)

Happy "Sit-a-ring"
Old 10th January 2007
  #9
pan
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pan's Avatar
 

for the mix...

I cannot believe a phaser has not been mentioned yet.

Swirl on!
Old 6 days ago
  #10
Gear Head
 
rezident's Avatar
 

Point a SDC aimed at the resonating cavity (below the strings) from where the neck joins the body from about 5 inches away. Then eq it so that you HP below 175hz or so but still have some warmth in the 800hz region, point around 1.5k and notch out anything harsh from 5-10k while boosting a little air above 10k to taste.
Old 6 days ago
  #11
Lives for gear
Just curious... does anyone know how the sitar was recorded for the Beatles?
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