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Microphone Month

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Recording Bongos

Rock'n Johnny

I have a session coming up that involves acoustic guitar,bass, and bongos and alot of other percussion based instruments.
What are some micing methods for bongos?????
Is it best to capture the individual drums or to get a overall stereo image?????
For close micing would it be best to use a dynamic mic that you might use on a tom?
I have plenty of condensor or dynamic mics to choose from.
What would be a good start for picking which mic to use
and mic placement????
Thank you,
August 14, 2004 @07:02pm

It depends on what you wanna do with the bongos.....if they're just going to be laying in the background then a single LD condensor about a foot or two off above them would work fine.
If the bongs are going to be the "star" of the track....then you might want to do something a little different.
Say a pair of SD condensors in ORTF or similar fashion about a foot or so above them, a LD condensor just under them to pick up the lower end, then a room mic for some natural verb about 3ft back or more. I'd recommend getting a really really good room for this....
Of course the best thing is always moving mic's around to find the sound you need....
August 14, 2004 @08:38pm

I wish i had a picture I saw once of 7 U87s micing a pair of timbales.
What Randy said first works. You can also use 2 mics and get in a bit closer. Don't be afraid to try dynamic mics either. Bongos don't really need to be bright to be bongo-riffic. I do like to keep the direct sounds narrow, so if you use stereo techniques, do it more to capture the room than to get a stereo spread.
And strap the bongo player to his chair so he doesn't move around much. They don't tend to get as out of hand as Gene Frenkle playing cowbell, but, uhmm. Sorry, i just wanted to say cowbell. Bongos played in the traditional sitting position lock the player into a fairly static posture, unless they are big toe tappers. Let the player get comfortable, then set the mics up to his position.
Not sure what you are doing, but where there are bongos, there is usually a clave. That instrument is the real trick ;)
August 14, 2004 @09:41pm

I make a living recording bongos because that is what I do. Total latin jazz and salsa. I never stereo image because in my case the bongos is just part of the ensamble and usually gets panned either left or right at 5 or 8 o' clock in the mix. Akg 414 all the way baby. If not then a AT 4033 will do. Place the mic about 1 to 1 1/2 feet away and pointing a bit more towards the "macho" (the smaller drum). The "hembra"(the bigger drum) is usually very resonnant and if the mic placement is in the middle, you can lose most of the bright sounding "macho." Tunning is also a big factor. For salsa I use a very high, tight and bright tune. I don't know what type of music you are doing but if you need any recommendations I am glad to help because I am a latin percussionist(congas,bongo,timbal,guiro,maracas, bata, quica, cajon, panderos, barriles and regular old rock and roll drums.)
August 14, 2004 @11:56pm

I was hoping you'd add something, conguero. I know you live this sort of thing.
Played by the bongocero of course ;) Its all coming back now.
Macho means man, hembra means woman. Don't think about it too much, or you might start thinking you hear how they balance and interact with each other.
August 15, 2004 @03:05am

yes it is sort of the yin yan balance of the universe.LOL
August 15, 2004 @03:41pm