A Microphone Rental Query

[I'm copying and pasting this post from the recording.org forums.]

Hello there- I'm looking for some advice on which microphones to rent for a musical that I'm working on. We need two good condensers for guitar/bass, two for random percussion, and one for a cello.

Our current thought is:

2 Sennheiser MD421's on guitar/bass.
2 SM 81's on percussion
AKG 451 on cello.

We have a bunch of SM57's and 58's, as well as a 5 piece drum mic kit (I'm not sure what it is- I'm basing this off of a sheet that the music director gave me saying what we borrowed from the music dept.)

We are thinking of using 57's on the woodwinds and brass sections, but, budget allowing, it might be nice to rent a mic or two. Maybe Sennheiser MD441's. Probably one, maybe two.

Any advice for mic's around that price range that would be better are greatly appreciated, as well as any thoughts from past experience with the microphones.

Definitely find out what is in that drum mic kit, you might be able to use some of those mics for other things.
Yes, of course, but we will still need to rent mic's as the kit will probably end up on drums. Do the mic's mentioned sound like good selections, though? I've got to call the place today or tomorrow.
Those sound fine to me. While they are a standard, the SM81's are kinda overkill...the SM94's work well in my opinion, we used them at a music festival that I worked at, for overheads on all of the drum kits. They sounded just fine. I always try to reduce costs like this.
A 57 on a guitar amp is pretty standard, I don't see why you'd need to rent a condenser for it, unless it's an acoustic without a pickup. As for the bass, DI it with a passive box, it'll sound better than if you mic the cab (imho anyway) and you keep an active mic off stage which increases your headroom.

And I echo soundlight's comment on the 94's.
FYI, the MD421 is a dynamic. Also, it's much more commonly used on percussion and wind/brass instruments, not really a common choice for guitar/bass, although you can certainly see how it does--and please let us know if you use it and how it works out.

I'd also recommend looking at different mics for bass and guitar, as the frequency ranges of these instruments are quite different, and mics are often much better suited to one or the other.

And then there's the possibility of a DI; a lot of times, especially in theatre, we just DI the bass and don't mic it, or blend the DI with a mic. DIs can make for a much cleaner pit sound, since there's one less open mic to get bleed from. You can do this with guitar, too, but much more of the guitar sound is influenced by the cab since guitar relies heavily on (among other things) distortion and overdrive effects that are created in the amp/cab. It all really depends on the application.

Again, though, there are no hard and fast rules. I've seen some really weird mic choices work out really well. (For example, the only way Barry Manilow's FOH guy has been able to get a decent sound that his percussionist is happy with the placement on is to use a shotgun as an overhead. I would never have thought of it, but it works perfectly in that situation.)
Hey, yes, over the past week or so I've had a very quick and thorough education about some of the mic's that I've been talking about.

Thanks for the advice. I'll let you know how the 421 sounds on guitar, though we just ended up going with a 57 on it. I'll test it out one day, though. It's going on the Sax/Clarinet.

The final list ended up being (rentals and mic's that we had/that I'm bringing from home):

Rhythm section-
-3 Shure Beta 98's on percussion (1 OH, 2 Perc.)
-Audix D6 on kick
-Either a 57 or an Audix i5 if we need to reinforce the snare.
-SM57 on guitar
-e609 or e906 or something similar that a guitarist is bringing in
-Blue Kickball on Bass
-DI (3)
Horns (Oboe/Horn player, Flute/Piccolo player, French Horn player)-
-1 or 2 Crown CM700's

For lav's, we're using eight Shure ULX's and four Sennheiser ew100's. All with Countryman elements. E6, I would assume- we got an incredible deal from a really cool guy. The ULX's for three weeks with the countrymen for $500. We're also getting the Beta 98's, a wireless telex system, two wired telexes (so we'll have a total of 10 with the ones we already have) and the Crown CM700(s?) for about $400. It's pretty incredible.

So, the way that this ended up panning out-

-Drums: one Beta 98 as on OH, and an Audix D6 on the kick.
-Percussion: two Beta 98's. The area of the pit was set up in such a way that the two mic's picked up a nice even spread of the whole area.
-Guitars: one Sennheiser e609, and one sm57
-Bass: Blue Kickball
-Keys- DI's
-Sax/Clarinet: Sennheiser MD421, which sounded unbelievable.
-Cello: AKG 451, which also sounded great.
-Flute/Piccolo: Beta 98
-Oboe: sm57
-French Horn: Crown CM700. Another excellent mic.

In the end it sounded pretty good. I'd definitely recommend the MD421, Beta 98, AKG451, and CM700.

The wireless systems weren't quite as kind. They were rather annoying, as a matter of fact. Frequency issues were popping up all over the place, which we determined was more of a problem with weak ew100 transmitters than with the actual frequencies.

We also had some nasty problems with the elements. The place that we rented the ULX's and Countryman elements from had the lightweight wires. Four of them broke over the run. We replaced them with heavy duty wires, and they worked well. Excellent elements, though. So easy to work with. As long as the actors don't try to bend them, that is. Tends to happen a lot.

haha manillow's FOH guy is now tom jone's FOH guy. great guy and a brilliant engineer. taught me alot in the month and half i was with him.


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