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Thread: Adventures in Clip-On Mics

  1. #1
    Registered User Jonathan K's Avatar
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    Default Adventures in Clip-On Mics

    Hi everyone!

    I auditioned last night for the job of mandolinist with a band and I thought I'd share my brief journey with clip-on mics in the hope that it might prove helpful for others.

    This band is all acoustic, but the musicians often play through a PA, so their instruments all have pickups - guitar, banjo, violin, mandolin, bass. Neither of my mandolins have pickups and I had no interest in having one installed, so clip-on mic was the way to go for me.

    I know very little about mics and I am easily confused by this stuff. I'd seen a photo of Chris Thile with his clip-on mic. Prior to that, I didn't really have a notion that such a thing existed. I started out googling things like "thile clip-on mic mandolin" and found discussions of "ATM350" and "phantom power" and "preamp." So, I started thinking I need a preamp that will provide phantom power to my mic. Further googling landed me here:

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/news/pu...s_001188.shtml

    Apparently in 2010, Don Stiernberg was using a L.R. Baggs preamp with his transducer pickup.

    OK, fine. L.R. Baggs seems to make a lovely little Gig Pro Belt Clip preamp. It provides phantom power. I ordered one for $130.

    Next, I needed an actual clip-on mic. I read about the Audio Technica 350, the DPA 4099s and the Audio Technica Pro35. Here's an interesting thread:

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/t...-on-microphone

    I was concerned how I was going to mount a clip-on having seen pictures of the violin mount that Thile uses for the DPA - I didn't want to spend $600 on a mic. I read that the Audio Technica clips could mount on my Tone-Gard.

    $300 for the ATM350 seems a bit much so I ordered the much less expensive Pro35 for $150.

    A few days later, I had my Gig Pro preamp and my Audio Technica Pro35.

    First challenge - where to mount the Pro35? I don't have pickguards on my mandolins, so that was out. The Tone-Gard was the only option. The gooseneck on the Pro35 is very short so I struggled to engineer the solution. Ultimately, I found that the clip fastened very securely on the rubber pad around the Tone-Gard "finger" on the bottom arm and the gooseneck was long enough to position the mic right above the lower f-hole.

    Fast forward to the audition: 40 minutes of vigorous playing and the mic did not move.

    Second challenge - how to provide phantom power to the mic? So, the question was how to make my Pro35's XLR connection work with the Gig Pro's TRS input. The Internet told me that one can theoretically pass phantom power through an XLR <-> TRS adapter, but I could not make that work. I even purchased a cable with XLR on one end and TRS on the other. That didn't work either.

    It then occurred to me that my Focusrite Scarlett digital interface is essentially a mixer with mic XLR inputs that can provide phantom power. And they have preamps. So, I plugged the Pro35 directly into the Scarlett, hit the phantom power button and ran a TRS cable from the monitor output to my PA and - voila - it worked.

    I returned the L.R. Baggs Gig Pro.

    So, now I was so excited that I decided to try out the ATM350! I got the ATM350UL. The "UL" refers to the mount, which, in this case, is a clip and 9 inch gooseneck. The gooseneck on this mount is much longer than the Pro35 and the clip is MUCH bigger. I thought perhaps I could get a better mount on the back of the Tone-Gard. After much experimentation, I got very frustrated with the mount. The gooseneck is so long and the whole contraption so much heavier than the Pro35 mount that it wobbled a good deal and I was worried the clip would function as a fulcrum and scratch the back of my mando. Moreover, the clip is much bigger than the Pro35 and simply got in the way.

    I recorded both the Pro35 and the ATM350 positioned at about the same location over my lower f hole and I will say the ATM350 sounded better, but not $150 better given that this mic would be used in bars and restaurants as part of a large loud mix. If I were soloing in a concert hall - I'd make the ATM350 work. For my purposes, the Pro35 was the clear winner.

    I returned the ATM350.

    So, I prepared for the audition and practiced assembling my rig quickly: mandolin, clip-on mic, mic power module, XLR cable, Scarlett digital interface, TRS cable out from monitor to PA. All the connections worked. The last annoyance was what to do with the thin cable and power module hanging off the mandolin.

    It turned out I had an ancient iPod belt clip. I was able to slide the power module and XLR connection in the bottom, roll up and twist tie the cable from the mic to the power module and slide it in the top. This proved quite comfortable and stable.

    So, this was my rig for my audition: mandolin, ATM Pro 35, a small mixer and some belt clip technology.

    I highly recommend the Audio Technica Pro35 for mandolin if you have somewhere to clip it - pickguard or Tone-Gard. The Audio Technica ATM350UL is great, but mounting it was a challenge for me.

    Key takeaways for me from this experience: don't try to jerryrig phantom power - take it off your mixer. Don't worry about a preamp - again - take it off your mixer! AT Pro35 for the win. And clip technology can be problematic on a naked mandolin.

    Thanks for reading! I hope this was helpful. And I'll let you know the result of the audition in a little bit!

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    Registered User jim simpson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Adventures in Clip-On Mics

    Jonathan, I enjoyed your well documented journey with the clip on mic. I have probably contributed to one or more of the threads you have noted. I have been using the Pro 35 AT mic for several years. I clip mine onto a DPA body mount clip, no mods to the clip as the mic's clip grips quite well on the rubber end of the DPA mount. I did find myself at a gig once where I had left the DPA mount behind, I was able to clip my mic onto the cover of my James tailpiece by opening it up a bit. That got me through the gig alright but now I'm sure to double check before heading out to a gig. Thanks for sharing your adventures.
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    Default Re: Adventures in Clip-On Mics

    Quote Originally Posted by Jonathan K View Post
    Second challenge - how to provide phantom power to the mic? So, the question was how to make my Pro35's XLR connection work with the Gig Pro's TRS input. The Internet told me that one can theoretically pass phantom power through an XLR <-> TRS adapter, but I could not make that work. I even purchased a cable with XLR on one end and TRS on the other. That didn't work either.
    Problem here was that the Gig Pro does not actually provide "phantom power." It provides a +9V output voltage that would work for some mini-mics and other pickups, but that is not the same as industry standard +48V phantom power that the AT mic (at power adapter XLR output) is looking for. The actual mic itself operates at a lower voltage, but the AT power module is taking the +48V phantom power and converting it down to the lower lower voltage. You could probably actually use the Gig Pro with the cable that goes from the mic to the power module if you figure out the correct pins on the two conductor TA3F mini connector and make the appropriate adapter cable.

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    Default Re: Adventures in Clip-On Mics

    Keep it simple.

    The AT mics are designed to run straight into your standard mixer channel (I use a QSC Touchmix) but as long as you have good preamps and phantom power anything will do... a digital mixer gives you the option of 'designing', saving and recalling your own custom EQ curves, however. No need for external preamps. This works perfectly. The AT's will operate on anything from 9-52v via the power module, but 9v is at the extreme of their spec. You can lose headroom. Normally I'd recommend a minimum of 18v, but the full +48 is preferable.
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    Default Re: Adventures in Clip-On Mics

    I use the Pro35 in the same way (clipped to the Toneguard, aimed at the lower ff-hole), but I deal with the power module by simply sticking it in my back pocket. That way the cord trails behind me, though I still seem to step on it a lot. I had been thinking about going wireless, but the technophobe in me doesn't want any more hassle than I already have. Our guitar player has tried a lower priced wireless rig, but it's been a lot of headache and iffy sound quality. I've also noticed that the heavy touring guys aren't using wireless, so I assume the headaches are the same across the board.
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    Registered User Drew Egerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Adventures in Clip-On Mics

    I just got a Pro35 recently as well. In my bluegrass group we generally play into one mic, but I have been talking to some other guys about sitting in once in a while and figure I should show up to a gig with my own mic. After debating SM57s and small condensers etc, I decided to try the Pro35.

    Last night was the first time I've used it out of the house, going into the mixer which provided phantom. I think it did pretty well. My biggest complaint so far is that clipping it to the Tonegard has left some impressions/almost scratches in the back. Still experimenting with how to avoid that. May look into adding a zip tie or velcro to secure it differently.

    My first solo I stepped forward and played (why? lol) and then immediately stepped on the cable. After I put the power module in my pocket I didn't have any further issue with that. It does take some getting used to having the cable follow you around.


    Curious what adjustments to the EQ everyone typically does?
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    Default Re: Adventures in Clip-On Mics

    Thanks for the post. I too have purchased the Pro 35 and a DPA clip. I have been struggling with it and have been contemplating sending it back. Mostly because the DPA clip does not hold the mic very well in my opinion. I plan on using it tonight at an open mic and I am going to run a little tape around it to hold it better. This will be my first "live" performance with it. I prefer to play into a microphone but sometimes that can be a challenge when moving around or going to an open mic and setting up a mic and stand or just plugging into their PA. So thanks again for the positive post, it is encouraging.

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    Default Re: Adventures in Clip-On Mics

    Quote Originally Posted by John Adrihan View Post
    I prefer to play into a microphone but sometimes that can be a challenge when moving around or going to an open mic and setting up a mic and stand or just plugging into their PA. So thanks again for the positive post, it is encouraging.
    The Pro 35 is a microphone
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    Default Re: Adventures in Clip-On Mics

    Quote Originally Posted by Drew Egerton View Post
    Last night was the first time I've used it out of the house, going into the mixer which provided phantom. I think it did pretty well. My biggest complaint so far is that clipping it to the Tonegard has left some impressions/almost scratches in the back. Still experimenting with how to avoid that.

    Curious what adjustments to the EQ everyone typically does?
    1) Superglue and some soft leather or similar glued to the outside faces of the clip.
    2) Roll off some low frequencies <200Hz and cut back a bit somewhat on the highs above 15KHz (though on the latter you need to use your ears). Some rooms will require more drastic treatment!
    Gibson F5 'Harvey' Fern, Gibson F5 'Derrington' Fern
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    Registered User Drew Egerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Adventures in Clip-On Mics

    Quote Originally Posted by almeriastrings View Post
    1) Superglue and some soft leather or similar glued to the outside faces of the clip.
    2) Roll off some low frequencies <200Hz and cut back a bit somewhat on the highs above 15KHz (though on the latter you need to use your ears). Some rooms will require more drastic treatment!
    Thanks, and I appreciate all of your posts over the years on sound equipment. I have read quite a bit while researching mixers, mics and more and you always have great input.

    At lunch today I experimented with a small double-sided velcro strap around the side post of the tonegard and the clip of the Pro35 (soft side out of course). It didn't seem overly stable, but actually worked pretty well while playing just a few minutes. Simple and quick. It also gave a little extra length to the goose neck versus clipped in on the back.
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    Default Re: Adventures in Clip-On Mics

    So I got to use mine last night at an Open Mic. I plugged into a 25' cord and stuffed the module in my back pocket. the DPA clip work well, although I was a bit loose which was my fault I had the clip from the mic itself to close to the back which did not allow the clip "groove" to set on the rim of the mandolin. I was only 4 songs and it stayed on.

    With that I have a question for the techs on here, What is the best way to control volume with that? normally you can step in and out but obviously with this you can and no volume knob. I assume there is a boost pedal or something. Please give suggestions or recommendations. Thanks.

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    Default Re: Adventures in Clip-On Mics

    A volume boost pedal is one way, playing soft and hard is another.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

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    Registered User foldedpath's Avatar
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    Default Re: Adventures in Clip-On Mics

    Quote Originally Posted by John Adrihan View Post
    With that I have a question for the techs on here, What is the best way to control volume with that? normally you can step in and out but obviously with this you can and no volume knob. I assume there is a boost pedal or something. Please give suggestions or recommendations. Thanks.
    You can't use a normal volume boost pedal, because the mic needs bias power from the XLR adapter being fed phantom power from the mixer. It's also a low-level signal so it needs a preamp ahead of the pedal. There are a few ways to do this:

    1) This is what I did for a while, because I wanted to use a tuner pedal (same problem as a boost pedal). I used a battery powered mic preamp on the floor, with the output to a tuner pedal and then on to the PA mixer. The preamp was a Sound Devices MP-1. Very clean sound with phantom power, built like a tank, and expensive because it's pro gear used for film and video production. The output of a preamp like this can be sent to any floor pedal. Maybe someone else can recommend something less expensive, but this worked very well.

    2) Second option is to go wireless. A body pack transmitter can supply power and preamp for the mic. Then use one of the guitar-type receivers designed for use on a pedal board. The output from the receiver goes to your volume boost pedal.

    3) What many people do is set up an additional mic on a stand. Move up to that mic for solos, move away for backup playing.

    4) Last option -- just learn to use dynamics in your playing for whatever volume changes you need. That's my approach, but then I play mostly Irish/Scottish trad where I'm not taking solos the same way you would in some other genres of music.

    In former bands we did have tune arrangements where the mandolin would be featured, trading emphasis between different instruments. It was handled easily enough by other band members backing down on their own volume through softer guitar picking or fiddle bowing dynamcs. You need good, cooperative band members for that to work though.

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    Registered User Mark Seale's Avatar
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    Default Re: Adventures in Clip-On Mics

    I have good experience using this little preamp from Presonus:

    https://www.presonus.com/products/tubepre-v2

    I use it DPA4099 to tubepre to pedals/amp.

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    Default Re: Adventures in Clip-On Mics

    Quote Originally Posted by foldedpath View Post

    2) Second option is to go wireless. A body pack transmitter can supply power and preamp for the mic. Then use one of the guitar-type receivers designed for use on a pedal board. The output from the receiver goes to your volume boost pedal.
    This is what our violin player does and she connects to a boost stomp box. Works great.
    Best, Stevo

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    Default Re: Adventures in Clip-On Mics

    So I am in a somewhat similar situation of joining a new band where the protocol is for everyone to play through their own amps. I've pretty much always played to mics in the past . I would much prefer to get a Pro 35 rather than a pickup, but my problem is that my Loudbox mini does not have phantom power. I have a small mixing board with phantom power, so the functional if inelegant solution is to run the Pro 35 to the board and then run the board output to the Loudbox.

    Is there a better way to solve this problem? Thanks for any advice.

    Morgan

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    Default Re: Adventures in Clip-On Mics

    You can get a stand alone phantom power unit and go from that to the loudbox. They are the size of a pedal.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

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    Default Re: Adventures in Clip-On Mics

    Thanks, I wasn't familiar with those boxes, just checked sweetwater and not much $$, will be worth it to not have to lug around and worry about the board
    Cedwyn Morgan

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    Registered User Mark Seale's Avatar
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    Default Re: Adventures in Clip-On Mics

    Quote Originally Posted by morgan View Post
    So I am in a somewhat similar situation of joining a new band where the protocol is for everyone to play through their own amps. I've pretty much always played to mics in the past . I would much prefer to get a Pro 35 rather than a pickup, but my problem is that my Loudbox mini does not have phantom power. I have a small mixing board with phantom power, so the functional if inelegant solution is to run the Pro 35 to the board and then run the board output to the Loudbox.

    Is there a better way to solve this problem? Thanks for any advice.

    Morgan
    The tube pre I referenced above has phantom power as well.

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    Default Re: Adventures in Clip-On Mics

    Yup. Sounds like something I would do. Thanks for the insight.

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    Default Re: Adventures in Clip-On Mics

    To close the loop on my question above, I bought the Pro35 and a used PreSonus TubePre v1. I also bought one of those small shelf attachments that clamps onto a music stand. I run the 6-foot cable of the Pro35 directly into the TubePre, which sits on the shelf, and then use a mic cable to connect the TubePre to a Fishman mini loudbox (which has XLR input but no phantom power, which is provided by the TubePre). Both the TubePre and the Pro35 have 80 hz filters - I haven't sorted out which I prefer, but I use one of them. The TubePre on the stand gives me easy access to a volume control if needed, which is handy.

    The Pro35 clips easily onto the pickguard of my sumi F5. So far, not much problem with knocking the mic out of position during playing. I point the mic at the tail end of the f hole. The mic sounds good. If it's too close to the body of the instrument it's a bit boomy, so I adjust the gooseneck to create space between the mic and the instrument. The TubePre has a dial to control the amount of the signal routed through the tube. I'm still experimenting with this but my initial take is that a setting of about 35-40% (i.e., about 10:00 or 10:30 on the dial) sounds best through the loudbox.

    I will at some point inevitably forget that I have a six foot tether to the Tube Pre, so I will either add velcro to the shelf and bottom of the TubePre or add a short mic cable to minimize the chance I yank the TubePre off the stand.

    Thanks for all the comments in this thread; very helpful and I'm pleased with this setup

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    Default Re: Adventures in Clip-On Mics

    Quote Originally Posted by Jonathan K View Post
    Hi everyone!

    I auditioned last night for the job of mandolinist with a band and I thought I'd share my brief journey with clip-on mics in the hope that it might prove helpful for others.

    This band is all acoustic, but the musicians often play through a PA, so their instruments all have pickups - guitar, banjo, violin, mandolin, bass. Neither of my mandolins have pickups and I had no interest in having one installed, so clip-on mic was the way to go for me.

    I know very little about mics and I am easily confused by this stuff. I'd seen a photo of Chris Thile with his clip-on mic. Prior to that, I didn't really have a notion that such a thing existed. I started out googling things like "thile clip-on mic mandolin" and found discussions of "ATM350" and "phantom power" and "preamp." So, I started thinking I need a preamp that will provide phantom power to my mic. Further googling landed me here:

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/news/pu...s_001188.shtml

    Apparently in 2010, Don Stiernberg was using a L.R. Baggs preamp with his transducer pickup.

    OK, fine. L.R. Baggs seems to make a lovely little Gig Pro Belt Clip preamp. It provides phantom power. I ordered one for $130.

    Next, I needed an actual clip-on mic. I read about the Audio Technica 350, the DPA 4099s and the Audio Technica Pro35. Here's an interesting thread:

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/t...-on-microphone

    I was concerned how I was going to mount a clip-on having seen pictures of the violin mount that Thile uses for the DPA - I didn't want to spend $600 on a mic. I read that the Audio Technica clips could mount on my Tone-Gard.

    $300 for the ATM350 seems a bit much so I ordered the much less expensive Pro35 for $150.

    A few days later, I had my Gig Pro preamp and my Audio Technica Pro35.

    First challenge - where to mount the Pro35? I don't have pickguards on my mandolins, so that was out. The Tone-Gard was the only option. The gooseneck on the Pro35 is very short so I struggled to engineer the solution. Ultimately, I found that the clip fastened very securely on the rubber pad around the Tone-Gard "finger" on the bottom arm and the gooseneck was long enough to position the mic right above the lower f-hole.

    Fast forward to the audition: 40 minutes of vigorous playing and the mic did not move.

    Second challenge - how to provide phantom power to the mic? So, the question was how to make my Pro35's XLR connection work with the Gig Pro's TRS input. The Internet told me that one can theoretically pass phantom power through an XLR <-> TRS adapter, but I could not make that work. I even purchased a cable with XLR on one end and TRS on the other. That didn't work either.

    It then occurred to me that my Focusrite Scarlett digital interface is essentially a mixer with mic XLR inputs that can provide phantom power. And they have preamps. So, I plugged the Pro35 directly into the Scarlett, hit the phantom power button and ran a TRS cable from the monitor output to my PA and - voila - it worked.

    I returned the L.R. Baggs Gig Pro.

    So, now I was so excited that I decided to try out the ATM350! I got the ATM350UL. The "UL" refers to the mount, which, in this case, is a clip and 9 inch gooseneck. The gooseneck on this mount is much longer than the Pro35 and the clip is MUCH bigger. I thought perhaps I could get a better mount on the back of the Tone-Gard. After much experimentation, I got very frustrated with the mount. The gooseneck is so long and the whole contraption so much heavier than the Pro35 mount that it wobbled a good deal and I was worried the clip would function as a fulcrum and scratch the back of my mando. Moreover, the clip is much bigger than the Pro35 and simply got in the way.

    I recorded both the Pro35 and the ATM350 positioned at about the same location over my lower f hole and I will say the ATM350 sounded better, but not $150 better given that this mic would be used in bars and restaurants as part of a large loud mix. If I were soloing in a concert hall - I'd make the ATM350 work. For my purposes, the Pro35 was the clear winner.

    I returned the ATM350.

    So, I prepared for the audition and practiced assembling my rig quickly: mandolin, clip-on mic, mic power module, XLR cable, Scarlett digital interface, TRS cable out from monitor to PA. All the connections worked. The last annoyance was what to do with the thin cable and power module hanging off the mandolin.

    It turned out I had an ancient iPod belt clip. I was able to slide the power module and XLR connection in the bottom, roll up and twist tie the cable from the mic to the power module and slide it in the top. This proved quite comfortable and stable.

    So, this was my rig for my audition: mandolin, ATM Pro 35, a small mixer and some belt clip technology.

    I highly recommend the Audio Technica Pro35 for mandolin if you have somewhere to clip it - pickguard or Tone-Gard. The Audio Technica ATM350UL is great, but mounting it was a challenge for me.

    Key takeaways for me from this experience: don't try to jerryrig phantom power - take it off your mixer. Don't worry about a preamp - again - take it off your mixer! AT Pro35 for the win. And clip technology can be problematic on a naked mandolin.

    Thanks for reading! I hope this was helpful. And I'll let you know the result of the audition in a little bit!
    I read this with interest. thank you

  30. #23
    Registered User Gabriel Wiseman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Adventures in Clip-On Mics

    I actually found a perfect way to mount these clip on mics to a mandolin with a tone guard. you need to purchase a little magnetic phone mount like the one made by Schoche. Click image for larger version. 

Name:	mount.jpeg 
Views:	5 
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ID:	178389 these come with a little, very thin piece of adhesive metal (ment to go on your phone or case). Take apart the mount(car part) by pulling off the rubber cover and remove the 4 neodymium magnets. Take those and place them on the end of the little metal plate in a line, i only used three of them. Use superglue or hot glue to affix them in place so they will not slide around. the metal plate has an adhesive (for sticking to your phone) on one side of it. cut a little sand paper and stick it to the adhesive. You can mount (magnetically) the plate to the tone guard and clip the mic on the plate (the sandpaper keeps the clip from sliding around on the metal plate). and this allows the goose neck to reach around the mandolin better (farther) for better positioning of the mic and the clip, metal plate, none of that ever touches the back of the mandolin. I'll try to take some good pictures when I get home to show it better but this simple, cheap solution worked out perfectly for me and it don't take long to make.

    here is a link to the mount I'm talking about: HERE
    Last edited by Gabriel Wiseman; Jul-19-2019 at 1:12pm. Reason: add link
    Gabriel Wiseman
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  32. #24
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    Default Re: Adventures in Clip-On Mics

    Late to this thread! I play in a similar situation to the OP - acoustic instrument along with drums, cajon, e-bass, pedal steel, accordion, electric banjo... occasional horns. Cops get called.

    I too went the entire gamut of our OP's journey, but quickly ditched the Pro35 for one significant reason. The fixed position of the mic precluded 'working' the distance for dynamics. This was a huge deal-breaker for my situation/style of playing.

    Ended up using a small CAD condenser on an extension arm from the vocal mic-stand. Works great moving in tight for solos and pulling back for chops/rhythm.

  33. #25
    Registered User Gabriel Wiseman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Adventures in Clip-On Mics

    As promised... here are pics of the magnetic mount I explained above. Easy, cheap and it works great. Been gigging with this set up for a couple weeks now and it works great. Also, the magnetic mount can be used to attach to the neck strap pin on a guitar and bring the mic around to point at the fingerboard and sound hole and works great on guitar as well as long and the strap button is a metal that the magnet can grab.
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    Gabriel Wiseman
    https://gabrielwiseman.wixsite.com/music
    www.jtrband.com
    https://www.curtmangan.com/gabriel-w...5-40-mandolin/
    https://gabrielwiseman.bandcamp.com/releases
    Northfield Master Model #70 (Driver),Bob Shue F-5
    2017 Martin Custom D-28,1947 Gibson J-50
    Taylor GS Mini acoustic bass, Fishman Loudbox Artist, K&K Pickups, Redeye by Fire Eye

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