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Recording Bongos & Such

Rock'n Johnny

I have a session coming up that is percussion based music.
It will be acoustic guitar, bass, bongos and etc.
What are some good micing methods for percussion instruments such as bongos?
I have a wide array of mics that I could use.
Should I learn more towards dynamic or condensors?
Is it best to capture each individual drum or to capture a overall stereo sound?
I also have some Cole's ribbon mics, I don't know if they would be usefull or not?
Thank You,
August 14, 2004 @06:46pm

Do a close mic and then a far mic (or stereo pair) and blend them as desired. I have always miked close in from the top, almost always a directional mic anywhere from 5" to 18" from the drums. Then, I might add a distant mic or stereo pair in any number of positions. It really depends on the music, whether it's densely-packed latin with lots of other percussion going on, or whether the bongo track is more on its own.
In other words, you'll need to experiment to find what works for you.
The close mics are anything from SM57's to Sennheiser 421's to Beta 98's to AKG 414's. Some mics are better than others, but you're looking for something that captures the midrange punch and high-end attack well. Mics that work on snare drums also seem to work on bongos.
When I use a distant mic or mics, they're almost invariably small-diaphragm condensers. I'm not sure why I always gravitate to them, given my preference for large-diaphragm mics for drum kit overheads.
I've never tried ribbon mics on bongos. I'm pretty sure that they would be too dark for the close mics for my taste, but they might be nice when placed further away and combined with a brighter close mic. Experiment, and report back with how you liked it.
From the sound of your instrumentation, if it were me, I'd start with either just a 414 one to three feet away, or a combination of a 421 close and a KM84 or 4041 or two distant. The preamp would be one of my Buzz Audio pres. That'd be my starting place.
August 16, 2004 @10:37pm