Red String and a Blue Mic-

In this blog I’m going to discuss two topics. They’re seemingly unrelated, yet both can be heard in the video below. The first is  the new and improved Aquila Red Plain Low G  review and sound sample. But can you trust sound samples? Put on some good headphones and listen to the beautiful truth.  This was recorded with the woodpecker ribbon mic from  Blue. The Blue is gold! Not perfect but we’ll come back to that.  First…

The new Aquila Red Low G  string, as many of you know, had some breaking issues, especially the tenor 72U .  BUT…they’ve re-done the Reds and…. they are better! Less rubbery, more resilient balanced tension and compared to other plain low G options, it gives a nice punchy mid range attack.  Just not as much as wound. What’s the deal with low G anyway? An octave lower …what to do?  OK, Here’s the low down on G…

The first and most popular Low G on the scene is the wound nylon string. Usually a bright silver but sometimes copper wound string. It adds range with guitar-like richness and sustain. Common complaints for wound G’s are: they can over-power the other strings, sustain too long, add more tension, and #1 complaint…the notorious squeaky slide.  I like wound strings but understand why some don’t.

The only other common option has been fluorocarbons. Various companies offer plain low G. These give you the range without excessive sustain and of course keep you squeak free.  Main complaint is their tension, or lack of. Compared to your high A the low G fluorocarbon can almost feel “floppy” and lack in power.

So how about these Reds? Do they do it all?  There is more balance of tension, more attack or response and a little more meat than fluorocarbons. The Red series from Aquila sit nicely between a wound silver .032 and a fluorocarbon .042. Same diameter as the fluorocarbon but with balanced tension and power.  For that I applaud Aquila!  But…(most things in life have a positive and negative) For some reason these strings will get a fret buzz much easier than fluorocarbon or wound strings. But maybe not on your uke?  Try them out.  To squeak or To buzz? That is the question. Seriously though, maybe they’re right for you?  Can’t knock it til you try it… Then you can knock it 😀

I recorded last night with a new mic. Corey sampled this amazing Kanile’a Tenor custom with a bear-claw spruce top. So we got to try the Red Low G’s and the Gold Ribbon Mic from Blue.

How I now record ukulele samples- I recorded one mono wave onto a Zoom R16 using this Blue “woodpecker”, upload it to Logic Pro, make stereo tracks pan and exported .aiff, upload to final cut pro and multi cam sync with one or two shot clips. And that’s it.

Maybe your thinking – that’s extensive, but it’s really not. I don’t have to edit or fix problems. Mic placement is less crucial. Very easy Mic to get right, But… Blue’s Gold “woodpecker” has some White noise. OH NO!!!  At first try I thought I couldn’t live with it. But the solid, accurate tone is something I don’t think I can live without. It’s real.  More true to acoustics. I dislike most condensor mics for their coloring. Most computer recording setups also sound…not good (IMHO). So this is what I have found to work and so I thought I would share for those wondering. I will pull out my MOTU interface soon, but the Zoom is very transparent and works for me.  This ribbon mic made me as happy as a flea on a dog!  Not studio perfection but good for my purposes!

Thanks for checking the ukulele review! Please share any experience, opinion, or questions in the comments below. I am always glad to help with one of the only things I actually know something about. Ukulele.

I also would love to hear what you think, hear, or have found, so please share. Aloha!

Andrew