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Thread: How many mics does it take to record a uke?

  1. #1
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    Default How many mics does it take to record a uke?

    Just a quick question to all of you who record your work: how many mics do you use to mic your ukulele? I was talking to a guy in a music shop who told me that i should have two mics on the instrument (because without the second mic, it would be like listening with only one ear) but i'd only need one for vocals. Then he started giving me some tech talk involving a lot of acronyms that made me think he was just reading liscence plates outside the window. I think my eyes glazed over at that point and i started looking for a book on recording for dummies. Any tips or advice on the number of mics? (I was just going to purchase a simple USB interface with only 2 inputs but now i might have to purchase one with 4 inputs and a second mic)

  2. #2

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    I really thought this was going to be a joke.

  3. #3
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    hahaha. yeah, i guess it does sound like the beginning of one!

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by deach View Post
    I really thought this was going to be a joke.
    Me too, lol.

    I've only ever used one mic to record- but I'm of the "good enough" school. I have a Zoom H2 which is a pretty handy digital recorder that doubles as an input. Hasn't given me any trouble yet.

    Mary-Anne

  5. #5
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    You can honestly do it both ways. I usually just use one mic on an acoustic instrument (ukulele or guitar), about 6 inches from the instrument @ about a 30 degree angle. Position is straight out from the end of the fingerboard (by the sound hole). This gives a pretty good direct sound.

    Multiple mics let you have more control over the sound when mixing. So if you did the first mic as described above (there are other ways to do it), and then placed another mic a few feet away, angled in the other way off the bottom of the instrument, you'd be able to blend the direct vs. indirect sounds during mix down. Basically controlling attack vs. ambiance.

    The best way to see way you like is to play around with different techniques. If you're going to put reverb on the instrument anyway, you can "fake" the second technique with just one mic (close).

    -John

  6. #6
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    That's some great advice. Maybe I'll just use this as an excuse to buy some new toys!

  7. #7
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    Since I got my Zoom H2 I use that for recording my ukes, and not the build-in pickups. The reason is the "natural stereo sound", which really sounds better.
    Two mics IS the right answer.

  8. #8
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    I use an SM57 for recording just the uke (about $60 used/ebay)



    I use this B1 for vocals and/or both (about $100 used/ebay)



    and run them to the computer with a Firebox interface (about $175 used/ebay)


    The firewire interface (faster throughput than USB) connects to my old laptop (2Ghz Centrino x 1G RAM) running UbuntuStudio using a realtime kernel, and latency is non-existent. This gives me a pretty flexible and mobile setup on the cheap using a minimum of components.

    You could go with one or both mics -- I use the SM57 to isolate sounds (can be noisy around here sometimes) and the B1 to capture the whole room (vocals+uke at the same time, drums/djembe or just 'everything'). So if you want to do one track at a time, you could start with something like the SM57. If you want to grab it all in one shot, maybe something similar to the B1. This may not work for everybody, but it's what I use.

    Have fun!
    Last edited by NotoriousMOK; 06-11-2008 at 07:00 AM.

  9. #9
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    The whole recording issue can get both impossible complicated and expensive. If you're just having fun and want reasonably good fidelity, the portable solutions (Zoom, Edirol, Tascam, etc.) with built-in condenser mics in X-Y configuartion do a credible job. No hassles - usb right into the computer.

    Notorious' set-up is the next step up from this and offers better fidelity and flexiblilty. Not too much more complicated but more expensive.

    The other ingredient in recording are studio monitors, which really are a necessity if you want to mix and correct levels. Headphones don't really do it. You don't need to spend much on these, but again, they can get ridiculously expensive, as can good condenser mics.

  10. #10
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    There's many ways to do this. I record myself at home using the M-Audio interface. I just plug my ukulele into that and it connects into a USB port into my computer. From there I just fine tune it and EQ out the mix and add a little reverb to give that room sound. Back in the day, I used to just plug it in straight to the 1/8" mic jack on the computer. I would get a 1/4" to 1/8" converter and plug my ukulele straight to the comp.

    On the album however, I recorded it using 3 mics and also a DI. One mic was in front of my ukulele (about 6" away) and the other two were on the left and right side of me. This created that natural sound, almost as if how it would sound like if we were in the same room. The DI that was connected to my ukulele through the 1/4" jack; that was for whatever effect I wanted on my ukulele (mainly just reverb) SO on the mix down there's actually two main ukulele tracks, one from the mix down of the combined mics which was brought more out, and one that was from the pick up. Bringing out the mics and keeping the effect one in the back made it sound like the ukulele in right in front and the other instruments were behind it.

    Experiment. It's all about finding out what sound comes from what combination. Just keep in mind that when you do a recording, every note stands out so you're gonna want to pay attention to detail.

    Hope that helps :3
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