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Hot Club in the studio; working a single mic live show

Archtop EddyArchtop Eddy Manitou Springs, ColoradoModerator
edited January 2005 in Archtop Eddy's Corner
How did Django and the Hot Club record in a studio, and does or doesn’t this apply to us today 70 years later. 

To expand this thought: Fapy has been known to use ribbon mics in the studio to get the original Hot Club sound. I enjoy the way Django's Tigers use a single mic to capture their sound during live performances. And I understand that old timey bands and bluegrassers often "work" a single mic. What do you think of this sound (say vs using Bigtones, AERs, Schertlers, etc.) Is it worth the effort during live performances? Also, is it useful to try to mimic Django and the Hot Club's setups while recording in a modern studio?

Any thoughts, anyone?

Comments

  • JackJack western Massachusetts✭✭✭✭
    Ch'top,

    I'm not sure if this is what you're after, but here goes. I think there is something to be said for going after the sound of the QHCF recordings, but not necessarily the sound, if you know what I mean. That is, the way they were recorded has a certain appeal (to me, at least), but I don't think we should still be aping every last chord form or riff. And a bunch of folks could certainly stop adding reverb to every last track to no ill effect.

    Best,
    Jack.
  • Josh HeggJosh Hegg Tacoma, WAModerator
    I for one can not stand reverb. It just kills me. I have some recordings from France that would be great if the reverb was not at 10! I like a dry recording so you can hear the the instruments. Any way.... My 2¢

    [/code]
  • AndoAndo South Bend, INModerator
    Hola Archtop, I have a little digital recording set-up at home (on a Linux computer) and am facing exactly this question of how to record a group. One mic? Ten mics? I'm going to try the one-mic approach first, with a simple electret condenser signal-boosted by a pre-amp. Cursory reading suggests that having someone in headphones listen to the mix as someone else moves the mic around as the band plays a sound-check is crucial. I guess you'd want to bias the input in favor of the soloist, but what happens if you have more than one soloist?
  • Ted GottsegenTed Gottsegen Rowayton, CTModerator
    Hey Ed,
    How did Django and the Hot Club record in a studio, and does or doesn’t this apply to us today 70 years later. 

    They recorded the way most bands of the era (depending on which era) did, strategically positioned in the studio around one mic - there is plenty of photographical evidence to support this.
    To expand this thought: Fapy has been known to use ribbon mics in the studio to get the original Hot Club sound. I enjoy the way Django's Tigers use a single mic to capture their sound during live performances. And I understand that old timey bands and bluegrassers often "work" a single mic. What do you think of this sound (say vs using Bigtones, AERs, Schertlers, etc.) Is it worth the effort during live performances?

    Let's not forget, it's not just the use of the ribbon mic, but also the board into which the mic is going which is also part of it. To recreate a particular sound, you need to have all the same elements in place which were originally used to make that sound. It's like a vintage guitar - it's not just one element of the construction which makes a vintage guitar sound special, but all of the aspects that went into making the instrument as well - in addition to someone who understands that. This is why none of the contemporary archtop builders whose instruments I have tried can even begin to approach recreating the Epiphones and Gibson from the early to mid 1930's because they are not thinking about the sound of the instrument in the same way.

    As far as playing live goes, I don't know how many bands out there have the guts to do this - people rely too much on electronics these days, IMHO. If you put a guy used to plugging his Bigtone into an AER and put him in front of a mic in front of an audience, I bet they'd freak because it's really a different way of playing - and those guys out there who are complaining about loud rhythm guitarists....guess what? You'd better learn how to dig in because you need to project in order to reach the mic - while still playing over a rhythm guitar and bass which is also attempting to be heard.

    To play the other side of the coin, back in the 1930's, players like McDonough and Kress were known to have voiced positive about the early forms of amplification saying "That's great, we finally won't have to fight to be heard" so I guess it's a matter of what you want to sound like.
    Also, is it useful to try to mimic Django and the Hot Club's setups while recording in a modern studio?

    Sure, if that's the sound you want. But like I said, understand the way things were record circa 1935 and find an engineer and studio capable and interested in focusing on that sound or it won't work. Another option would be to go to a studio which is designed for classic music, with an engineer who understands acoustic instruments. But I doubt it will sound the same anyway.

    There is a studio in Los Angeles which is built to the specs of the Capitol studio from the 1950. Bascially the studio itself is built over a huge natural reverb talk. My pal Jonathan Stout from the swing band Campus Five records there and his CD sound is very old school. No layering, no overdubs, nothing. You can tell that every member of the band is the in same room blasting away. A killer sound from some great players, for sure.

    Best,

    Ted
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