Good mic for bluegrass band into one mic?


I have a gig in a musical about the Carter Family. We need to gather a 5-man band around one mic and it needs to pick up the guitars, mandolin, banjo, and vocals for a 150-seat theatre. Since I'm also the producer, I've gotta come up with something that looks kinda old and also works well. Main thing is that it works well. All suggestions welcome.



I've actually had the opportunity to see and hear this type configuration recorded many times on a wide variety of gear over the last 30 years. The best I've heard was an RCA 77D through an Altec 1567a. I was so floored by the combo I took a copy to my studio and tried to duplicate the sound with several different ribbons and hi-end pre's. Never got close.

The RCA will give you the old look for sure, it's what you see in most pics back in the day. 150 seats is not hard to cover with a quiet, attentive crowd if sending a single mic to FOH. The AT822 is a mic you don't hear about much in pro circles but I've heard it with my own ears do the job better than some of the more expensive condensers in circumstances more challenging than this. For the $$ I don't think you can go wrong and you should get excellent results.


I was on a Del McCoury gig a few years ago & they were using AT4050's or 4033's... I can't remember which.

Shure VP88 would be a great choice too. Stereo mic with a built-in MS matrix. Doesn't look "old" but its low-profile, sounds great and is bone-headedly simple to setup.

I don't know if I'd try a ribbon mic for sound-reinforcement... they typically need a lot of gain & aren't very predictable in terms of polar patterns. Sounds great for recording though.


Doyle Lawson,when I saw him a few years ago, used two mics, one lower for instruments and one higher for vocals. The mics were AT4033 or 4050 and they went into a 2 channel Drawmer mic pre, a 1969 IIRC.


You might be able to rent an old RCA mic and the necessary vintage gear. There are some good places in Nashville.

I have a close friend with some Altecs, but I don't think he'd loan or rent them out, but I can ask.


Word. For live shows I'd stick to something a little cheaper (SOMEBODY's gonna knock the thing over). The AT's would be a good match I think.


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When I saw Alison Krauss and Union Station a few years ago, during one part of the show when they gathered around one mic.......that mic was a Shure KSM32. Sounded great!


Hello, I was running the web and came accross this forum. I enoyed the input and I am a "first time caller", so to speak. Although I am a little late to this specific subject (about 3 months), I thought I might add our experiences regarding the one mic set-up. Our Bluegrass band has used this technique successfully for some time now and for most of the reasons mentioned in the previous statements. We have learned the techniques from well established and known grassers. We actually use a two mic set-up too. If it is a house system we use our mics, if the sound guy don't like it, we walk. We have played inside, outside, small clubs, and large halls.
We use an Audio Technica 4033, the standard of many bands for years. Pre-amped (tube type) before the mixer. We have used a feedback eliminator at times depending on the size of the venue. We use another condenser mic at mid level mounted on the boom stand, whereas the vocal mic is extended forward 18 inches and approx 48 inches from the floor. Could be higher but it is around mid chest of our members. For smaller venues inside and out, we run two sound powered 15 inch speakers mounted on stands at least 2 feet higher than the mic on either side of the band and forward of the mic stand facing out. Twelve inch speakers don't handle the stand-up bass tones as well as 15's. We now use a sound powered spot monitor directly behind the mics on a short stand. (Galaxie, Mackie or Nady) depending on your budget; It really has helped with our balance. Mackie sells a boom stand that will mount mics, monitor on the same stand as well as a sand filled weight placed around the legs of the stand for support. I have not tried that yet but I may. Most of the real pros now use in-ear monitoring but quite expensive.
All 5 of us stand in a semi-circle in front of the mic approximately three feet back from the center and choreograph the lead and vocals stepping in accordingly. The hard part initially was learning to strum, chop or whatever lighter if singing as to not overwhelm the balance. The mixer main level is up a quarter and each mic level is up until feed back occurs, then back off to match the room. Controling your own sound is the point of this set-up so experimentation during rehearsal or sound check is the key; as they say practice like you play. So use the mic for rehearsal too. Everything is trial and error but it works for us. The plus is a quick in and out and easy carry to the trailer.
Thank you for the time and hope it offers some short cuts for someone else.

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