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Steve Weiss Mallet Workshop


So Joe Doubleday has been talking about Mics and Pics on Facebook to me. So I thought I'd start a discussion.

I think they both have there place and both are useful. For me mics come first, pick-ups second. The sound will dramatically change with pickups. It's a different beast all together just like the Mallet Kat is totally different But both good weapons to own (not sure why I used that analogy). I do think though after you have the mic thing down pick-ups are the next step, for the really loud gigs.

I have both and use both for different purposes. But I would master volume on the instrument before you get the pick-ups.

That's just my 2 cents and I posted this to get other opinions so fire away.


John Keene Sun, 12/06/2009 - 20:52

I was originally attracted to (and purchased) pickups because of Mike Mainieri's sound on the first Steps record ("Smokin' in the Pit") because it was new and exciting and I had never heard anything like it before. Now, that sound (which is a Roland Jazz Chorus 120 amp with the chorus and reverb on) is so overused on records that it fails to catch my interest anymore. I haven't been playing vibes outside of my basement for the last couple of years due to my interest in standard keyboards, but when I get back into it I'm going to try the condenser mic system that Steve Shapiro recommends. He swears that I can even use the motor and not get motor noise. This link should take you to that discussion:…

tonymiceli Sun, 12/06/2009 - 21:46

In reply to by John Keene

there are 2 possibilities, one makes me money one doesn't. (full disclosure!)

steve shapiro's set up sounds cheaper and good. if there is a drawback maybe it's micing underneath only.

the amt mic set that i sell, is 2 above and 1 below and it's really really great. i think amt is going to sell a 2 mic set also. which is easy cause all they have to do is leave one mic out of the box.

on the link john keene sent you you can see the amt.

not a big hustle here, so do your thing. joe locke and mike m get a great sound out of the pick up system. i too bought them after hearing mainieri on the album 'pools' (which if you don't have you should get).

Tony Miceli (new)
s k y p e: tjazzvibe

Jdoubleday Sun, 12/06/2009 - 17:03

I know I need mics. I really just dont like the idea of hauling mics and mic stands to my gigs. My dream is to have Nico's Midi pickups, I'd just have to save up all my money for a year or two. haha. I guess you gotta do what you gotta do. I'm curious as to how gigs work in other places. Do people generally mic everything up? I know when I went and saw Ahmad Jamal at the Blue Note, everyone was micd up. Seems like here in Oklahoma, everyone just plays acoustically. I always felt like everyone should be mic'd up and balanced out so that it sounds good.

-Joe Doubleday

vibraman Mon, 12/07/2009 - 16:29

In reply to by Jdoubleday

well i think you play jazz let´s be honest for the most of us we play jazz in front of ca. 3 up to 50 people in a small club. the other gig at least i have are at weddings or gala dinners where i have to play soft and quiet. so at least in all this settings you don´t need any of this cause you can all do by the hardness of your mallets and your attack. but i would recommend microphones also, cause if you want to record you got much more possibilitys for the sound. my biggest dream would be 2 neumann u87 or 2 neumann km184. you could use them in the studio or for live playing and i know they sound great for nearly everything. unfortunatley they cost as much as they sound good :)

pickups or malletkat or everything like this is no real must have for me BUT it´s a big WANT to have...which is sometimes bigger and more important than the things you really need :). i found out that these phases pass away after a while, which is good for my bank account and to make my girlfriend more happy...but this thoughts come back i need a malletkat...SOON...

Holger Wed, 12/09/2009 - 11:49

i had a long conversation about this topic with Tom van der Geld. He told me that he had it all: motor, pick-ups, electronics, midi and overhead microphones. After going through all those stages he is now (in his mid 60s) back to the pure sound. He doesn't even have a motor on his vibraphone. But he told me that he met his sound ideal best by using a microphone with a "ball" carateristic, that he attached to his belly : ) The first picture that comes into your mind is probably worth a smile but his approach does make sense! The microphone is always close to the point your playing on the vibe. In Detmold we experimented quite a bit with microphones. The belly microphone does work, however the cross talk - especially from the drums - is still a problem. The best results plus the least x-talk can only be achieved by very good directed microphones and A GOOD AMP. The amp has to have 100 hz at least and a good equalizer. This point is even more important when using pick-ups. If you save money to buy pick-ups don't forget the amp!
In the end it is a bit like it is with the frame - it is a big deal for everyone and there's just no perfect solution. NASA needs to do some research on vibes I think

John Keene Wed, 12/09/2009 - 13:14

In reply to by Holger

Jerry Tachoir uses something similar - he clips a small PZM microphone on to his shirt or coat and it picks up directly in front of him as he plays up and down the keyboard.

tonymiceli Fri, 12/11/2009 - 01:45

In reply to by John Keene

now the only thing is the distance from the sharps and the naturals.

the note C is right by the mic, but C# is twice as far away. i wonder if that matters?? is the sound affected.

of course i like the amt's everyone knows that, but my next favorite is steve shapiro's version.

Tony Miceli (new)
s k y p e: tjazzvibe

Philippe Fri, 12/11/2009 - 05:35

When I bought my vibraphone from Nico, I asked him to equip it with a bar (or rail) running from end to end underneath, and with 2 shure SM57 mics mounted on it (+ a small Yamaha mixer). That worked fine for the type of gigs I was doing at the time(mostly bar gigs and wedding cocktail gigs) The advantage was that the system was all set, and I didn't have to carry mike stands or cables. When I really needed it, it plugged direct from the mixer into the PA. But now I'm not doing that many gigs, so I have removed the whole system.

steve yeager Fri, 12/11/2009 - 18:14

i've used them all (pick up's)
and sold them all
not that they didn't work, i just can "hear" a pick up, and it's not pure vibe