Does anyone have any experience recording an accordian? I know it's going to be a stereo recording, but not sure about the type of mic and mic placement. I have 2 U87's, 2 Shure KSM44's, 2 AT4060's, and 2 SM81's. The room is a midsized room. Any suggestions?
I've done 'em a number of ways - With Jeff Taylor, a couple of KSM44's worked great. I think I used more or less the same setup on Jeff Lisenby's accordion. Joey Misculin, on the other hand, didn't want to be in stereo; we just used a U-47 a foot or so in front of the instrument.
If you record in stereo, be aware that you'll need give the accordion some room - on the button side, since that'll be moving around, and on the key side, since there's more mechanical noise (including fingernails) than you think....
Well I'm sure your mics are fine. I'm from Scotland, UK and there are loads of accordions here. The biggest problem is, the left hand end moves but generally the top moves more than the bottom. Therefore, I'd suggest keeping the left hand microphone quite low so the effect of movement is minimal. I'd normally point the right hand microphone into the 'grill' near the right hand keys but not too close as the reeds stretch from the top to the bottom and if you mic too close, you'll find that a certain area (group of notes) gets picked up more than others. Soundwise an accordion is like a harmonica with bellows instead of 'lung power'.
Depending on the overall production, I often wish accordionists would only play the right hand because they are limited to the chords they can play with the left hand. This can cause clashing with other instruments.
Some accordions suffer from noisy mechanics - clattering when the keys are released. A good instrument will be better but the worst scenario is when you record a 'light' player. The clicks can be as loud as the notes. In such a situation, encourage the player to play louder so that the background noise is a smaller percentage of the overall sound.
Thanks for the info. I ended up using the KSM44's spaced apart with the right hand mic'd on the grill. The player was not using the buttons on the left hand so that was not an issue. Again, thanks for the advice!
I did a session a couple months ago and the guy used 2 AT mics, hypercardioid, not sure what model, on the right and left hand. The hypercardioid pattern really did a nice job of separating the right and left hand. Then he had another AKG mic way back in the room somewhere to ad some overall air and breath to the sound. I was very impressed with the results he got.
Re: playing chords in the left hand being limited: not nearly as limited as one might think if you know your theory. Most players don't know the left hand very well, but many many chord types are available apart from the chords that are made available. For instance, there are no major 7th chords on an accordion left hand, but, if you want a c Maj7, you play a C bass note and the E minor chord. To get a A7 flat 5 chord, A bass note with Eb7 chord.That's just a couple out of many examples of chord extensions available with the left hand. Hahaha, probably nobody cares, but I had to throw that in due to the post above.
I've used a stereo ribbon, the AEA R88 I believe, and had great results. The accordion was in a great room (the piano room at the Tracking Room.) It gave you a great feeling that you were right next to the player in the control room.
depending on the music- and of course the accordion ;) this is what has been working for me-
i work with Jeff Taylor also- just had him here friday- the music stylings are more in the Counting Crows sonic range-
we put up a Mojave ma200 (Royer's large diaphragm tube mic)- through a 1081 (i have also used my lawson with the tlm251 capsule)- lots of open top.
the Accordion really sits nicely behind electric guitars and for the most part stays out of the way of the B3- if you just put the mic level with his shoulders you player will find the placement that sounds best to him. i am guessing that the u87 is probably a wonderful option especially if you have some warm pre's- if you find it a bit bright you may want to hit it with a 2254 type vintage compression- that will take a bit of the edge away and fatten it up just a bit-
i just started recording accordions in the past few months and it is a wonderful color for all types of music in the hands of a great player!!!