Sometimes an opportunity presents itself that’s just too good to be missed! I had one such opportunity recently…
Back in October I was recording with Sanguine Hum at Evolution studios in Oxford laying down the core band performances for ‘The Weight of the World’ album. On previous recording sessions I’ve usually opted for a two amp rig, using either my Trace Elliot Bonneville 100 watt head running through a vintage Marshall 4×12 loaded with four 25watt green back Celestion speakers in combination with my Fender hotrod deville or my Fender champ 600, which is a great sounding 5watt tube design. The idea being that having recorded the darker sounding 4×12 I can then control the tonal qualities of the guitar in post production by blending more or less of the brighter fender sound with the darker tone.
In a one amp setting I have previously obtained similar results by using a combination of dark and bright sounding mics, my favorites being with a Sennheiser MD421 on the rim of the speaker, slightly off axis and a Shure SM57 on the speaker cone, again slightly off axis. This provides the same post production advantages of being able to alter the balance between the bright and dark sounding mics.
I opted for a one amp rig on ‘The Weight of the World’ sessions and here’s where I got a nice surprise!
As Nick (studio owner and engineer) and I made our way round to micing the guitars Nick whipped out a couple of SE R1 ribbon mics. Now not having had a spare £700 sitting about I’ve never invested in a ribbon mic for my own mic collection, having favored investing my money in quality condensers and dynamic designs but I got a nice surprise when listening back to the guitar tracks recorded with the SE R1 ribbon. It has a beautiful dark timbre with a very natural top end, slightly raised @ 5k and with a pronounced roll of from 6k it also exhibits a slightly exaggerated bottom end. With the mic placed on the rim of one of the deville’s 12″ speakers about 3″ back it sounds superb. In combination with a Shure SM57 on the centre of the speaker cone at the same working distance the effect is fabulous! Loads of timbral scope and superb balance of bottom, mid and treble tones.
Here are some samples of the guitar recorded on ‘The Weight of the World’ session from the track Cognoscenti. I’m using a 1977 Telecaster custom and a Fender hotrod deville 60watt 2×12.
Here’s an example of the SM57 and SER1 blended together and processed with EastWest’s Spaces convolution reverb plugin. Again I’m using my Telecaster but this time running through a Fender Champ 600 5watt. Massive sound for such a small amp!
After enjoying the sound of the R1 so much I went hunting for a bargain and to my great surprise found a pair of R1’s at digital village down from…wait for it £699 each to £289 for the pair!!! That’s right £289 for two, with the shock mounts thrown in…wow. I dove right in and ordered them straight away.
I’ve been using them on my guitar overdubs for ‘The Weight of the World’ along with other soundtrack recordings and they have performed amazingly well! Apart from guitar they also put in a great performance when recording bright percussion such as tambourine or shakers as they manage to naturally control the top frequencies producing a much less shrill and more rounded recording.
SE have now discontinued the R1, replacing it with the VR1 and VR2. I firmly believe that once the remaining R1 stock is cleared and they become harder to find on the second hand market the R1 will become something of a collectible. The mics that replace it have an extended frequency range and whilst this may seem appealing its the R1’s natural roll off that makes it such a useful mic.
Grab yourself a bargain before you’re paying top dollar for one on ebay!