Recording Technique Tips for Banjo Players.

My Digital Audio Workstation of choice is Logic Pro X, I have been using it about two years now.

I had previously used an old Mackie Workstation and then Pro Tools in a few studio projects as well so I was completely new to the recording process.

Some tips I’m passing on gained via experience:

1)When recording banjo (in particular those with resonators that are loud) place the mic about three feet away. After a bunch of experimenting I’ve found this produces the most natural sound and also gets rid of some fingerpick noise.

2)Do not set the levels too hot, I personally record at -12dBs, this leaves headroom for mastering and presents no chance of clipping/too much redzone.  If you record too hot this produces the brittle/hard sound one can get with digital.

3)You should not need a bunch of EQ with a banjo.  At the same time a hi frequency and low frequency cut I always employ.  The low gets rid of floor noise, not to mention the banjo has no real frequencies down in the 40Hz and below range.  The high gets rid of noises like pick attack and annoying overtones.  I often find myself boosting somewhere around 200-400Hz just a little if I need to add anything at all.

4)Practice your parts so you don’t have to do a million takes and piece things together.  You will spend less time editing leaving you more time to practice.  Rehearse your part with a click track if applicable.  The more takes you do the more you will have to shift through to find a keeper.  You want the best take you can do but also you don’t want to overdo it.

5)My go to mics are the BeyerDynamic MC-930 and Shure KSM-27.  The Beyer is a Small Condensor and the Shure is a Large Condensor.  I find for most things I prefer the BeyerDynamic Microphone.  Try a few microphones and see which sounds the best.




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Jody Hughes Written by:

I am a full-time banjo and acoustic guitar teacher, performer and composer. I have performed on the stages of Carnegie Hall, The Grand Ole Opry and The Ryman Auditorium. My interests include developing educational materials for the advancing banjoist and composing Original Music mixing my background in Bluegrass, Jazz, Classical and Latin Music.

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