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RECORDING ACOUSTIC (UPRIGHT) BASS


Working with Ron Carter was a great thrill and honor. Ron picked up on my obsession with microphones and capturing the true sound of instruments, and we discussed acoustic bass at great length. Professor Carter explained that the BRIDGE was the key, and even brought in literature about how as acoustic stringed instruments are played more the bridge will wear in and resonate in a more musical manner. That is one of the reasons why older stringed instruments (good ones at least) sound much better than new ones.

Although I had recorded bass many ways prior to working with Ron (one mic, two mics over each side, mics wrapped in foam stuffed into the f-holes, etc) I changed how I recorded bass on that day.

I mic'ed the bridge (from below, pointing up at about a 45 degree angle), and although I loved the sound, I wanted more attack and "finger" sound. I added a mic over the neck, about a foot above where the hand plucks the strings.

When I later worked with Buster Williams, he told me to use just his pickup. When I recorded him using my mics (with just a HINT of the pickup to fill the midrange) and played it back to him, he smiled and told me to just do whatever I felt was right.

All of the songs in the "Jazz" section of the MP3 page contain basses recorded with this technique. Click here for the page.