Electric Bassoon strategies part 2

Notice:  Sorry, some of the audio clips got cut off in the encoding process and I didn’t notice until I had already deleted my original files.  You get the idea anyway.  Moving on:

Things have come a long way since my last post.  I did a little house cleaning of the thread and the first post’s links have now been fixed.  I have more or less completed designing my new pickup, and have had a chance to show it to a few important individuals that approve of it and say it has potential greater than the Telex.  If things go well expect it to be available at Forrests as an option to go along with the Telex.

Anyway, my hypothesis of using two microphones and a pickup is validated by the standard practice of Michael Rabinowitz.  Many people got to see what he was doing at the conference.  He uses a combination of the Telex pickup and two microphones developed by AMT.  I have slightly different equipment, but want to show the variables involved for anyone that cares to hear them, and to also hear my new pickup in action.

First, my original idea of using the microphone on the bell was well founded, but a little misguided.  The sound was too distant and didn’t pickup the sound evenly, and the way I had done it before left the lowest Bb and B completely out.  With two microphones I am able to get a more even and louder sound (with less feedback).  One placed at the bell and one mounted at the balance hanger.  This is exactly what Rabinowitz does.  I had to come up with my own way of mounting though, since I have different hardware.  The bell I mounted the same way as in my first post, so refer to that post, with the slight change that I angled the microphone so that it was more up and over the top of the bell.  This meant that the Low Bb was too strong, but that was the only problem note.  I found a way to mount the GLM-100 using the supplied mount to the balance hanger as shown in these pictures:

This won’t work for everybody, so you’ll have to be a bit creative.  Notice that I’m using a little paperclip to keep the wire slack contained.  Here is what just the microphone mounted at the balance hanger sounds like:

You can hear it completely loses the lower 5th of the bassoon.  Everything else is pretty good though.  So let’s hear just the bell mounted microphone in it’s new placement:

You can hear it has pretty much the opposite effect.  So when they are blended together the sound is pretty even:

If you want to hear exactly how different they are, here is a sample with one microphone panned completely to the left and the other completely to the right, so you can adjust your speakers or headphones to isolate one microphone if you are so inclined.

Now to me this sound is still lacking in power and body, and if you’re reading this you are probably looking for power and body in the sound of your amplified bassoon.  So here is my newly designed bocal pickup, which I am calling the “Little Jake”.  This pickup benefits A LOT from a preamp.  The one I am recommending that is easy to get your hands on is the L.R. Baggs Gigpro.  Another that is excellent and much cheaper is available through a hobbyist that lives in Chicago.  For purposes of this I am using the Gigpro.  This pickup also needs a certain bit of EQ tweaking, most of which can be handled by the Gigpro itself, so little needs to be done at the mixer-board end of things.  I still have in this recording just to get a slightly brighter sound – this pickup has loads of bass though, if that’s what you’re after.

You can hear this is quite an improvement over the sound in my first post.

It’s a bit tricky to get the balance right when trying to mix both microphones and the “Little Jake” just because the bocal pickup is so much more powerful.  Here is a sample of all three being used in conjunction.

If you want to hear the panned version, this has the microphones to one side and the bocal pickup to the other.

Now, the original idea behind my pickup wasn’t to sound as natural as possible (although it does sound more like a bassoon than the Telex, I think) but rather to work better in conjunction with effects.  Here are a couple off-the-cuff snippets with some basic effects.  Only the “Little Jake” was used in these samples.

Simple distortion

Added lower octave

Distortion and Auto-wah

Distortion and Flanger

All of the samples linked to in this post were recorded directly from the mixing board.  The Microphones were plugged directly in to the board, the “Little Jake” went to the preamp, then through my effects pedals (in bypass mode when effects were not being used) then into the mixer.  I recorded the Tape Out of the mixer directly into the Line In of my computer.

Leave a comment

1 Comment

  1. Kelly Detter

     /  January 8, 2023

    There are no images and no sound recordings. 1/2023


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s