Old 09-29-2019, 05:42 PM   #1
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Default Favorite place to stick a contact mic?

I just put my ear against the headstock of my tele whilst playing unplugged and it blew my mind! Now I'm attempting to capture that sound with a contact mic I had lying around, collecting dust, and wondering what else I might use it for.

You guys use these for recording much? I only ever used it for live melodica, but what other interesting things can I do with it?
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Old 09-29-2019, 06:29 PM   #2
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musicradar had a few ideas in this article about creative mic approaches.

https://www.musicradar.com/tuition/t...-making-627533

It should also be good for a (possibly lo-fi?) home made foot stomp box :
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yKEbkbu6P-I
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Old 09-30-2019, 03:55 AM   #3
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One thing that sticks out in my memory(maybe from an old Joe Gore article in Guitar Player) was sticking a contact microphone on top of an amplifier.

Tucked that one away in the back of my mind, but I don't recall ever trying it.
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Old 09-30-2019, 08:20 AM   #4
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How close is that to having a piezo bridge in your electric? I'm not interested in buying an acoustic guitar, but am thinking about those piezo systems once in a while - price and a need for additional gizmotronics in the guitar are a bit discouraging though.
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Old 09-30-2019, 09:07 AM   #5
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How close is that to having a piezo bridge in your electric?
I've always despised those things. They sound tinny and fake and gross. Maybe it's ok for blending with other mics but on it's own I can't stand it.

But the sound up at the headstock is way different than at the bridge; more "woody" and balanced. At least when my ear is acting as the mic. Not sure if my cheapo piezo is gonna be able to capture it tho.

The main issue with the mic is that it's hard to use without a lot of extra handling noise if the cable moves etc.

What do you guys use to stick them in place? Just some masking tape or so?

One thing's clear; I need to do some more experimenting with this one. Lot's of interesting stuff I probably wouldn't have thought of on martinfingers' link.
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Old 10-01-2019, 07:49 AM   #6
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I'm good with "close enough", it's always one sound more from the guitar. I'm looking forward to your findings (tried to find something on youtube, but for amount of content there some topics are infuriatingly sparse or reeealy badly executed).
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Old 10-02-2019, 02:33 PM   #7
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I've always despised those things. They sound tinny and fake and gross.
Not completely arguing, but I think it’s usually exacerbated by severe misuse of the onboard active EQ that usually comes with them. You can get decent sounds out of the things if you’re a lot more thoughtful about the EQ curve.

As far as raw piezo elements, a couple things to keep in mind:

1) They generally want to see an extremely large load impedance. Like usually more than a magnetic guitar pickup would even want. The 1M typical “Instrument” input is sometimes a bit low. It’s like the opposite of a magnetic pickup in that a too low impedance causes low end loss rather than the magnetic’s high frequency “tone suck”. There are DI boxes out there with ultra high impedance specifically for these things, but you can buy those exact preamp modules that come in those acoustic-electric guitars for pretty cheap nowadays.

B - These things work by squishing. The harder you squish them, the louder they are. If you just stick it on a surface, it kind of doesn’t have anything to squish against except it’s own inertia. They work much better when they’re squished between two things - like between the bridge saddle and bridge plate. I’ve heard of people putting them in the neck pocket with interesting results. When you stick it on a body or headstock or other surface like that, it can make a real difference both in volume and tone (low end especially) if you add some weight to the back side. From what I’ve heard, even a coin or two can help quite a bit.

Either way I cant imagine you’ll end up with anything much like what you hear pressing your ear to it, but these are a couple things that might help you get the best possible results. I’d imagine you’re going to get sick of having a cable hanging off the wrong end of your guitar, but it’s worth a shot.
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Old 10-02-2019, 02:52 PM   #8
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B - These things work by squishing. The harder you squish them, the louder they are.
Ok well that's a very useful piece of info, thanks. I had no idea.

Actually I do have a DI/preamp with an impedance switch for piezo, I've just discovered, so that's what kinda made me want to try recording it again. I'd just always thought it was a crappy pickup because the sound was so thin and so I never used it much.
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Old 10-03-2019, 12:32 AM   #9
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unless impedance matched contact mics act as a high pass filter so can sound tinny. I have used them a bit in projects.
Things like burying them in ant nests and recording the sound of ants biting the mic and making a rasping sound called stridulating. also attached them to trees to record the interior sounds of water flow and the echoing the branches make in the trunk when they bang together in the wind. Cars and appliances, sinks, windmills etc etc
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Old 10-03-2019, 12:42 AM   #10
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Woa, shit. I've got some homework. Fuck the thirty-seven thousand free samples on my hard drive some other schmucks recorded. I need to hear the inside of a tree.
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Old 10-03-2019, 12:47 AM   #11
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Woa, shit. I've got some homework. Fuck the thirty-seven thousand free samples on my hard drive some other schmucks recorded. I need to hear the inside of a tree.
play-doh is a great adhesive to use - non toxic, easy to remove, sticks to most anything. Reusable. Sometimes I have to use velcro ties to take the cable weight so the mic hangs on with good surface contact.

But basically just play around and accept that sometimes you get a good recording and sometimes not.

In a compost heap or leaf litter is pretty good as well

Record at a high sample rate so you can slow down the file and keep a decent bandwidth
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Old 10-03-2019, 04:08 AM   #12
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Eddy, last time I talk to trees... they might be bugged.. dave
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Old 10-03-2019, 04:45 AM   #13
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Eddy, last time I talk to trees... they might be bugged.. dave
😂

......
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Old 10-04-2019, 01:33 PM   #14
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Last time I talked to bugs, they were in trees...😉
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Old 10-04-2019, 02:39 PM   #15
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...a lot of extra handling noise if the cable moves
Yep, got to be careful there.

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What do you guys use to stick them in place?
The type of adhesive has been a big issue for me in getting a good guitar tone with a piezo transducer (and I've used a piezo for hundreds of gigs). I use soft blue putty made for sticking posters on walls. The much harder putty that came with my Dean Markley transducer doesn't sound nearly as good.

The high impedance issue has been mentioned. Yeah, if it's not buffered correctly it'll sound harsh and have a distinct quack to the sound. I've found that every Boss pedal I have works well as a buffer. Just going through the pedal with it powered up but on bypass somehow conditions the signal, and it loses the harsh quack.
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Old 10-04-2019, 04:03 PM   #16
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@Timothy Lawler - Play-doh was mentioned as an adhesive. I've got blutac too, so I'll try that as well.

I actually have a JDV DI with a piezo impedance switch, but I need something I can use with my field recorder, so I gotta shop around.
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Old 10-04-2019, 06:10 PM   #17
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...but you can buy those exact preamp modules that come in those acoustic-electric guitars for pretty cheap nowadays.
Compact, battery powered, there’s one on Amazon with an XLR output for like $12.
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Old 10-04-2019, 06:38 PM   #18
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@Timothy Lawler - Play-doh was mentioned as an adhesive. I've got blutac too, so I'll try that as well.

I actually have a JDV DI with a piezo impedance switch, but I need something I can use with my field recorder, so I gotta shop around.

the jezrileyfrench ones are good for field recording, also those from exploding shed
https://jezrileyfrench.co.uk/contact-microphones.php
https://www.exploding-shed.com/shop-...pecial-cables/

there are a bunch of indie ones made in the USA as well

play-doh works and is nicely visible and if i could attach a photo i would show you
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Old 10-04-2019, 06:39 PM   #19
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You got a link ashcat? I don't know what you mean exactly.
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Old 10-04-2019, 06:42 PM   #20
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@Eddy - I already have a contact mic and field recorder; just need some kind of inline adapter to adjust the impedance if that exists.
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Old 10-04-2019, 06:59 PM   #21
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@Eddy - I already have a contact mic and field recorder; just need some kind of inline adapter to adjust the impedance if that exists.
the most often recommended is https://www.tritonaudio.com/bigamp-pi%C3%ABzo.html

or you can make your own using another often recommended bit of kit http://www.stompville.co.uk/shop/34-...preamp-v2.html
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Old 10-04-2019, 07:46 PM   #22
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You got a link ashcat? I don't know what you mean exactly.
This was the first result I saw. You'd have to get a little creative with this particular one as it's two separate pieces, but it does have the balanced XLR.

This one is $9.99 and even smaller because it doesn't have the tuner you don't need but also a couple less EQ bands and no XLR.


They don't tell us the impedance, but they're meant for use with under-saddle piezos, so...
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