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Thread: Need mic'ing advice for a cello

  1. #1
    Forum Member curtisstetka's Avatar
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    Need mic'ing advice for a cello

    This past Sunday at church we experienced some nasty feedback issues with the cello. I was in the seats instead of at the board or in the band, so I wasn't able to do anything. Eventually the sound guy found it and stopped it.

    Turns out there was a Shure 58 on the cello. When she'd originally set up, whoever put that 58 there had it far enough away that it wasn't feeding back. But then when the cellist got back up after a break she must have been an inch or two closer to the mic.

    I sent out an email to the sound team and asked them to use a 57 on the cello (currently all we have are 57s and 58s) in the future.

    Meanwhile, I want to find a better solution in terms of mount and mic. If some of you guys with live sound experience could chime in, it would be greatly appreciated. Here are the requirements:

    - I'd like something that mounts to the instrument to eliminate the feedback and variations in volume as the cellist moves.

    - I'd like something that doesn't bust the bank. Most likely I'll just be buying this personally and donating it to the church. $300 tops? If you tell me that there's nothing good in that price range, I'd rather not waste money on something crappy.

    - If I can't afford a proper, dedicated cello mic, how about some advice on how best to set up a 57 for the cello?

    Much appreciated!
    s'all goof.

  2. #2
    Forum Member Rickenjangle's Avatar
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    Re: Need mic'ing advice for a cello

    I'd personally get some kind of lavalier mic - they make mics that clip on the bigger stringed instruments. They have one on the upright bass my son plays in jazz band.

    I haven't been able to find someone who knows what make and model it is, but it shouldn't be too hard to find something on the web.

    I've seen these types of mics used in the studio to capture cellos and string basses too...

    Trying to mic a cello with a vocal mic - well, it's the wrong tool for the job (although of course the sound men at a typical church are volunteers and not pros). I know - I've been there, done that!

    "I'm gonna find myself a girl
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    And we'll fill in the missing colors
    In each other's paint-by-number dreams..."

  3. #3
    Gravity Jim
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    Re: Need mic'ing advice for a cello

    I mic a cello frequently, curtis, but it's in the studio and with a condenser mic. But here's what I would do:

    Rather than search specifically for a mic that mounts on the cello (not a lot of need since the cello doesn't move around much), I'd invest in a good small-diaphragm condenser mic, which can be used on any acoustic instrument with good results. Here are a few to look at:

    http://www.fullcompass.com/product/242495.html

    http://www.fullcompass.com/product/303550.html

    http://www.fullcompass.com/product/247439.html

    I own one of the Shures and love it, BTW... very versatile. (BTW, call Barb at Full Compass for the best microphone pricing anywhere.)

    Then, when you've got the mic, mic the cello low and close... put the mic on a short stand, like, 12 inches off the floor and point it upward toward the lower part of the cello's body. The closer you get to the bridge, the more "bow" you'll get, so placement is really determined by way you want it to sound like. But in this position, you should get plenty of gain-before-feedback, and you won't pick up a lot of bow scrapes (when I mic cellists here, I have to be careful not to pick up too much of their breathing!).

    These mics are awesome on acoustic guitars, fiddles, mando... pretty much any stringed box.

    Like I say, I don't have to work under your conditions, but I hope this is helpful.

    Edited to add: I didn't suggest a lav mic because, while they are small and easy to attach to things, they're also optimized for voice... a cello's richness lies in the low miss and sparkly highs, and not many lav mics are going to give you that. Not to bust RJ in any way, but the SDC's have a a frequency curve designed for instruments.

  4. #4
    Forum Member Rickenjangle's Avatar
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    Re: Need mic'ing advice for a cello

    I didn't feel busted, Jim. That's good advice. I didn't know that about the Lav mics, actually, so I've learned something.

    The reason I suggested the lav was because the cellist might not always be close enough to really get the benefit of a stationary mic. But with a little coaching, I'll bet she'd do fine.

    Here's another wrinkle, however...what if the sound man switches off Phantom power? That could open a whole new can of worms in terms of troubleshooting.

    "I'm gonna find myself a girl
    that can show me what laughter means
    And we'll fill in the missing colors
    In each other's paint-by-number dreams..."

  5. #5
    Forum Member curtisstetka's Avatar
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    Re: Need mic'ing advice for a cello

    Splendid! Thanks, gentlemen! I knew I could count on you.

    This is what I found in my own searches: http://www.musiciansfriend.com/orche...-pickup-system

    That "The Band" thing is kind of an interesting concept. But I like Jim's suggestion better. Having a mic and suitable stand/mount like that would be a lot more flexible. We sometimes have to mic a banjo and/or mandolin too.
    s'all goof.

  6. #6
    Gravity Jim
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    Re: Need mic'ing advice for a cello

    Well, that "Band" thing looks pretty cool. I'm guessing it's modeled after piano transducers.

    Here's one that mounts on the wing slot of the bridge:

    http://www.fullcompass.com/product/331527.html

    But, as a rule, I totally hate the sound of bridge mounted pickups. Never heard one on an acoustic guitar that I didn't think sounded horrible, and I think SR guys get away with them only because audiences have been conditioned to imagine that an acoustic guitar actually sounds like that. :>)

    Still, the condenser mic would be my first choice.

  7. #7
    Forum Member curtisstetka's Avatar
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    Re: Need mic'ing advice for a cello

    Thanks, Jim. I totally agree - I haven't heard a piezo pickup that didn't drive me batty. I hear them all the time on professional live recordings and just have to wonder if that actually sounds good to some people?!?!?

    I'm going to go with the stand alone mic - probably the Shure you suggested. Seems like a good idea to standardize on Shure. It'll be much more versatile than a dedicated cello setup. What if our cellist leaves the church?
    s'all goof.

  8. #8
    Gravity Jim
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    Re: Need mic'ing advice for a cello

    You'll like that Shure... I use mine constantly. The low cut switch may be a real handy thing for your application.

    Forget what it says on the website. Call Barb Stenson at Full Compass and tell her I sent you. I didn't pay anything like 3 bills for it.

  9. #9
    Forum Member curtisstetka's Avatar
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    Re: Need mic'ing advice for a cello

    Awesome. You're the best, Jim. Much appreciated.
    s'all goof.

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    Re: Need mic'ing advice for a cello

    Curtis:
    Sorry I did not see your post until today. I am a live sound audio engineer by profession. I have done thousands of orchestra type concerts over the years and tried lots of mics on strings. Mics that may work well for recording often suck for live work. The general consensius amoung pro live audio engineers for Cello mics is the DPA 4099C http://www.dpamicrophones.com/en/pro...118&item=24360
    Nothing out there comes close for live sound. But I have had good (as opposed to fabulous) results with AKG 747 mini shotgun (3ft away). You gotta get the mic close to get all of the tone & these do the job without interfering with playing the instrument. Also good GBF.
    Hope this is helpful.

  11. #11
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    Re: Need mic'ing advice for a cello

    Curtis:
    Sorry I did not see your post until today. I am a live sound audio engineer by profession. I have done thousands of orchestra type concerts over the years and tried lots of mics on strings. Mics that may work well for recording often suck for live work. The general consensius amoung pro live audio engineers for Cello mics is the DPA 4099C http://www.dpamicrophones.com/en/pro...118&item=24360
    Nothing out there comes close for live sound. But I have had good (as opposed to fabulous) results with AKG 747 mini shotgun (3ft away). You gotta get the mic close to get all of the tone & these do the job without interfering with playing the instrument. Also good GBF.
    Most anything less pails in comparison. You get what you pay for.
    Micing instruments for live performance is truly an art form and has as many opinions as there are people.
    Hope this is helpful.

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