I am playing in a bluegrass band (guitar, banjo, mandolin or fiddle and bass) and we are struggling with getting a better sound. I am considering a condenser mirophone for the vocals and instruments and perhaps a removable pickup for my guitar to give it a little boost for lead work. Can you recommend condenser mics in different price ranges? Any thoughts on amplifying my guitar?
I'd recommend these Crown condenser mics:
miniature omni mic for instruments.
cardioid mic for vocals.
GLM-100 mic techniques:
Acoustic guitar: Tape or clip the GLM onto the guitar body by the bottom edge of the guitar sound hole.
Banjo: Tape the GLM onto the bridge or onto the drum head about 2" from the edge of the banjo.
Mandolin: Tape the GLM onto the mandolin body near an f-hole, or use the supplied clip to position the GLM near an f-hole.
Fiddle: Rubber-band a small foam windscreen around the fiddle-mic cable about 1.5 inches from the mic capsule, and stuff the foam into the fiddle tailpiece. Position the GLM midway between the tailpiece and bridge, with the mic "floating" over the body, facing the body of the fiddle.
Bass: For best gain-before-feedback, tape a GLM-100 near an f-hole and roll off the excess bass on your mixer. For best sound, tape a GLM-100 cable to the bridge.
As for the CM-200A vocal mic, put on the foam windscreen, allowing a little airspace between the windscreen and the mic grille. Sing with lips touching the windscreen to reduce breath pops and increase gain before feedback.
Roll off some bass (low-frequency EQ) on each instrument until the sound is natural. Same for the CM-200A if you want a little cleaner sound.
Some bluegrass bands are miking the entire group with a single cardioid mic, such as the Crown CM-700. For details see this article.
If feedback is a problem with the acoustic guitar, you could search for acoustic guitar pickups in Google. Good luck!
I would like to record a bluegrass group live. Is the PZM mic a smart move. Also would like to use the same mic in a PA system. Any ideas?
Reply: By "recording live," do you mean recording a live performance with monitor speakers on stage? If so, a PZM on the floor would pick up too much monitor sound. It would be better to get a 4-track recorder, record the house mixer signal on two tracks, and record two PZMs at the Front-of-House position on the other two tracks. Each PZM should be on a 2-ft. x 2-ft square plexiglass panel, with the panels touching on one edge to form a V. Aim the point of the V at the group. Or tape the PZMs to the ceiling.
Mix the four tracks after the concert. The house-mixer tracks provide clarity, while the PZMs add bass and room acoustics.
If you plan to record your group playing all at once in a studio or in your house, a PZM or two could work well. You could tape two of them (for stereo) on a wall at mouth height about 3 feet apart. Gather the group close around the mics, and
record. Listen to the playback, then move each band member toward or away from the mics until you get a good balance.
Since a PZM has a half-omnidirectional pickup pattern which can cause feedback, it is not recommend for PA except in a kick drum.
Crown's best-sounding PZM models are the PZM-6D and PZM-30D. They sound the same. The PZM-6D is smaller and lighter, making it easier to tape onto walls and ceilings.