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seth

Ruby Baby

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Jan 21 17 2:46 PM

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After roughly tewlve years (!) being repaired, I finally have my Western Electric Birdcage mic back. Any body use them? What do you like it for?
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scullyfan

Platinum Blonde

Posts: 1,612 Member Since:27/07/2011

#1 [url]

Jan 21 17 6:49 PM

I haven't used one in a very long time, so long that I can't even remember what they sound like. I remember they had both ribbon (figure of eight) and moving coil (omni) motors summed together to produce a cardioid pattern. Very unique design. The ones I remember were branded as a model 639 Altec.

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soapfoot

Ruby Baby

Posts: 7,401 Member Since:04/02/2011

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Jan 22 17 10:20 AM

demiana wrote:
Is it also the same mic as the STC 4033?

It is indeed.

Well, I can't verify that they were made OEM in the same place by the same folks, but the design is the same concept and they perform similarly.

brad allen williams

Last Edited By: soapfoot Jan 22 17 10:23 AM. Edited 1 time.

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seth

Ruby Baby

Posts: 5,634 Member Since:26/01/2011

#5 [url]

Jan 22 17 1:09 PM

It may be similar, I don't know if it's the same. There's a three position switch on the back that gives you the ribbon for figure-8, the dynamic element for omni, and both for cardioid. I haven't had a chance to try it out, but Clarence Kane says it's working great. BTW, the previous guy I sent it to had it for ten years. Mr. Kane turned it around in two weeks. My understanding is that the branding shifted from Western Electric to Altec in 1939 (!). This is a 78-year-old-mic or possibly older:

image

Last Edited By: seth Jan 22 17 1:15 PM. Edited 1 time.

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maarvold

Aqua Marine

Posts: 3,145 Member Since:23/01/2011

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Jan 22 17 3:25 PM

I did an "O Brother Where Art Though"-ish music library project around 5 years ago.  I used a 639... pretty sure it was on a late 30's Gibson acoustic steel string guitar and loved it.  The guitar sounded great and very different from what manufacturers seem to be going for today.  

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soapfoot

Ruby Baby

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Jan 22 17 3:28 PM

maarvold wrote:
I did an "O Brother Where Art Though"-ish music library project around 5 years ago.  I used a 639... pretty sure it was on a late 30's Gibson acoustic steel string guitar and loved it.  The guitar sounded great and very different from what manufacturers seem to be going for today.  

I agree that manufacturers seem to be 'going for' something different now than in the pre-war and wartime era... and I'm not sure they could get there if they WERE going for it!

brad allen williams

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maarvold

Aqua Marine

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Jan 22 17 3:32 PM

soapfoot wrote:

maarvold wrote:
I did an "O Brother Where Art Though"-ish music library project around 5 years ago.  I used a 639... pretty sure it was on a late 30's Gibson acoustic steel string guitar and loved it.  The guitar sounded great and very different from what manufacturers seem to be going for today.  

I agree that manufacturers seem to be 'going for' something different now than in the pre-war and wartime era... and I'm not sure they could get there if they WERE going for it!

 
...which is too bad because I did truly love the sound of it, and not just because I'm bored with modern guitars (which I'm not).  I have no idea if it was a typical example from the era.  

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soapfoot

Ruby Baby

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Jan 22 17 3:42 PM

At the risk of derailing Seth's topic (sorry, Seth!)-- what model/size was it?

There's a 'thing' that happened at Gibson from the mid-1930s to the early 1950s that was really special. I have a late-wartime Southern Jumbo, but all of the jumbos (slope-shouldered deadnaughts) of that era really had it going on... J45, J35, Epiphone Texan, and... of course... the Advanced Jumbo of the 1930s, which may have been the most stellar acoustic guitar Gibson ever produced.

The peak of the J45s and SJs etc. was early wartime... the "banner" guitars that said "Only a Gibson is Good Enough" on the headstock. Hard to say exactly what made these guitars so incredible... they were very lightly built. Thin tops, backs, sides, light bracing...

as with anything, there are a whole lot that are "good", a few that are "very good," a very few that are "not so good", and a tiny sliver that are "truly, truly otherworldly."

My SJ is probably in the "very good" quartile, but may fall just short of "the best I've ever tried" which was a particularly good '30s Advanced Jumbo. There's nowhere I take my SJ to record that people don't comment and marvel on its recorded sound. I love a good pre-war D28 as much as anyone, but I think that the mid-century Gibson jumbos (up until about 1952, but especially up until about 1946) are in that same league (despite being much more affordable).

brad allen williams

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seth

Ruby Baby

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Jan 22 17 4:45 PM

Do you think Martins and Gibsons from that era sound comparable? Because the 60's ones, that I'm more familiar with, certainly don't. There's a jangle to a good 60's Gibson I've never hear from any Martin, but my knowledge of prewar guitars is very limited. I played a recent J-45 that was pretty amazing. I didn't want to like it, but it was just short of breathtaking.

And BTW, I do resent you hijacking my thread, but since this is Terry's forum I will suffer my irritation in silence. Harumph! ;-)

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barry hufker

Diamond Forever

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Jan 23 17 2:28 AM

Howard Hughes was going for a different sound pre-war than he was post-war when he was growing his fingernails long, peeing in jars and generally avoiding the public.

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soapfoot

Ruby Baby

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#15 [url]

Jan 23 17 9:22 AM

seth wrote:
Do you think Martins and Gibsons from that era sound comparable? Because the 60's ones, that I'm more familiar with, certainly don't. There's a jangle to a good 60's Gibson I've never hear from any Martin, but my knowledge of prewar guitars is very limited. 

 

Not in the least. Well, at least not beyond "These are both basically flat-top acoustic guitars." They have about as much in common to me, sonically, as a Telecaster and an ES-335.

You mention 60s Gibson acoustics, but those are another matter, entirely. Not even part of the same conversation, really. Unlike Martins, Gibson flat tops underwent a series of radical shifts (got WAY worse, on mutiple fronts, to me) over the course of the 1950s.

If you know or have played a few postwar Martin D-28s, especially at least one or two from before 1969*, then you have some idea of what an old Martin basically "is." It's just that the older ones sometimes (not always) have a little extra 'magic.'

With Gibsons, until you have played a few pre-1952 (or so) J45, J35, Jumbo, Advanced Jumbo, or Southern Jumbo, you might be missing a whole 'flavor' of flat top acoustic**.

Words always fail and are almost useless in their imprecision, but compared to a Martin, the Gibson slope-shouldered dreads (especially the "banner" guitars) as a population may be describable as throatier, more resonant, darker and less sparkly, with an uncommon sort of enveloping 3D sound on the better examples. Subjectively "warmer" and "thicker" sounding than a Martin (which isn't always desired, of course!) Better examples could be described (cringe) as "round" "warm" "resonant" "rich" "luxurious" "buttery." Worse examples sometimes approach "dull" "tubby" "flat" though as a population, such bad apples are relatively rare in the wartime era. Most are good ones, and a good one will vibrate itself out of your lap, all over the guitar just resonating like crazy. The "jangle" you mention of the 60s Gibsons is not generally found, to my ear.

 With a Martin D, on the other hand, I'd describe a good one as "cutting" "tight" "powerful" "bright" "silvery" "shimmery" "glossy" "sparkling" etc. A bad one might be "thin" or "nasal" or "brittle" or have wolf tones (again here, with the pre-war guitars the "bad" ones are somewhat rarer). Even the good ones don't seem to vibrate and shake as much as a Gibson-- you get the sense that it's a better-engineered guitar in terms of getting volume, projection, and "cut." On a typical example the top may be VERY alive, but that energy is more focused on the top, where on many Gibsons it's often more diffuse.  

A Gibson slope-shoudlered dreadnaught isn't the best for bluegrass... a D28 will be the pick there, for absolute sure. The Martin is also great when the acoustic is functioning in a percussive way in the track, like a "shaker."

But for many, many other things, especially solo acoustic-and-vocal things, the Gibson is great. I'd like to have a great Martin just because, but for most of what I do I gravitate toward what the Gibsons do.



*1969 is when Martin switched from Brazilian to Indian rosewood

**As cool looking as the big, fancy, mustache-bridge J200 etc are, they bear no sonic relation to the slope-shouldered dreadnaught ("jumbo") guitars, and are a separate conversation.

brad allen williams

Last Edited By: soapfoot Jan 23 17 9:25 AM. Edited 1 time.

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seth

Ruby Baby

Posts: 5,634 Member Since:26/01/2011

#16 [url]

Jan 23 17 9:49 AM

You're correct Brad, I have no clear idea of what that particular "flavor" of acoustic guitar is. I need to learn about it. I love good '60s Gibsons for what they do well - my wife's '65 Hummingbird is a great jangly guitar, a sound I associate with John Lennon, among others. So now I have a new research project! My only concern is that I don't want to fall passionately in love with something that costs the same as a new car....

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maarvold

Aqua Marine

Posts: 3,145 Member Since:23/01/2011

#17 [url]

Jan 23 17 11:26 AM

soapfoot wrote:
At the risk of derailing Seth's topic (sorry, Seth!)-- what model/size was it?

If I was on a quiz show and someone said, "For $5,000: what was the size/body style of that Gibson guitar", I would say it was roughly dreadnaught-sized, but not a conventional dreadnaught.  It was a mid-sized instrument, pretty sure it was not an 00.  But I had a somewhat daunting roomfull of guys to record that day, so I just noted the guitar sound and got back to work.  The musician was a guy in that lives in Santa Monica and it sounded like he had several, or even a bunch, of guitars from that era.  PM me if you want me to track him down for some reason.  It was a few years ago, but I could probably find out.  

I am FAR from being a guitar expert (even though I've played all my life) but one problem I have noticed when recording many dreadnaughts is too much boom (wolftone).  There was a company from China downstairs at NAMM that makes a spring-loaded soundpost for acoustic guitars with swapable end tips: as I understood it, it was a 'boom tamer'--PM me if anyone's interested, I grabbed a business card.  It was one of the only truly previously unseen products, at least in my slightly less than one day look at the show.  

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soapfoot

Ruby Baby

Posts: 7,401 Member Since:04/02/2011

#18 [url]

Jan 23 17 2:10 PM

The "square shouldered dreadnaught" Gibsons of the 60s like he Hummingbird and Doce are cool too, but a little different! If you're in Brooklyn one day swing by Retrofret on Butler st. In Gowanus. They've got several J45s and a good advanced jumbo right now, as well as a J35 and an SJ. They always have a few. And of course you can always try mine.

Not as much as a new car, maybe a used car... you can sometimes get into a relevant "player" example in the neighborhood of $6k.

brad allen williams

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soapfoot

Ruby Baby

Posts: 7,401 Member Since:04/02/2011

#19 [url]

Jan 23 17 2:12 PM

Mike: could've been a jumbo, j35, SJ, etc. if it was a little smaller it could've been an lg1 or lg2, which are sometimes cool, but ladder braced and really kind of a different thing

brad allen williams

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seth

Ruby Baby

Posts: 5,634 Member Since:26/01/2011

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Jan 23 17 7:06 PM

seth wrote:
Frankie Laine in the late 40's or early 50's:


image

Can anyone tell who the drummer is in this picture? It looks like Cozy Cole to me. How cool is Frankie Laine's suit?

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