Deering Banjo Company’s passion for building banjos is, ultimately, for creating the magic of music. And there is no better way to capture these instruments than with ribbon microphones from Royer Labs – specifically using the models R-121, R-122MKII, and R-122V. Deering Banjo Company’s VP Sales and Marketing, Jamie Latty, coordinated with John Jennings, Royer Labs’ VP of Marketing and Garry West, co-founder of Compass Records, on the concept of producing new videos. Filmed at the legendary Compass Records Sound Studio in Nashville, the videos showcase the strengths of both Deering and Royer products throughout and offer viewers the opportunity to hear world-class performances.
The two artists featured in the new videos are Alison Brown and Stuart Duncan. Brown and Duncan both grew up in San Diego County, home to the Deering Banjo Company, and have been friends and musical collaborators since their teens. Brown is an acclaimed banjo player, guitarist, composer, and producer as well as co-founder of Compass Records. She is best known for her genre-bending banjo style which combines bluegrass and jazz influences and has earned her a Grammy and multiple industry awards and nominations over the course of her career.
Stuart Duncan is a multi-Grammy winning musician and one of the most in demand session musicians in the world. His discography reads like a ‘Who’s Who’ of contemporary music with diverse credits including Diana Krall, Elvis Costello, Robert Plant, Dolly Parton, Alison Krauss, and Barbra Streisand among many others. While he is most well-known for his fiddle playing, he is a veritable multi-instrumentalist with a gorgeous touch on the clawhammer banjo.
The engineer on these sessions is Matt Coles, a veteran Nashville recording engineer whose credits include projects with well-known artists, including Little Big Town, Don Henley, Mike Farris, Kelly Clarkson, Uncle Kracker, and more. Coles features prominently in two of the videos, showing his favorite miking positions and talking about how he relies on Royer ribbons for recording the banjo. Equally notable, the videos focus on a few different Deering banjo models while Stuart Duncan also shares his perspective on his favorite ribbon mic positions.
The new videos feature a wealth of music and valuable information. Alison Brown offered the following thoughts on the sessions, “Working on this video project with Royer Labs and Deering Banjos was a lot of fun. It gave me a chance to shoot out the Royer ribbon mics, which all did a remarkable job capturing the warmth and fullness that I love in my Deering Julia Belle low banjo. As always, our engineer, Matt Coles, did a stellar job capturing all the great sounds, and it was especially fun getting to hear Stuart’s wonderful clawhammer banjo playing on the Deering Vega Vintage Star. I hope these videos inspire other players with some new ideas for recording the banjo. We’re so lucky to have the talents of the folks at Royer and Deering behind our work – helping to broaden the appeal of acoustic-based music by raising the sonic bar for all of us.”
Stuart Duncan shared his perspective, “Rarely do studio musicians get a chance to shift their focus from the tune at hand to the mechanics of the recording process. This glimpse into that world pairs two great new Deering banjos with several world class Royer microphones. Ribbon mics have been my favourite for decades. They offer a textured, airy, and somewhat three-dimensional sound. After listening to playback in the control room of each mic, it was impossible for me to pick a favorite. Each Royer mic had superior response and required no addition sweetening. It was also super fun to work with Matt and Alison and all the Deering and Royer folks involved in this project.”
On the engineering side of the equation, Matt Coles offered the following comments, “I’ve always thought Royer ribbons were some of the most versatile mics available. I use them on everything from tambourines and shakers to electric guitars and strings. I love them on banjo because they really tame some of the harsh frequencies without losing the natural air and resonance of the instrument. Their warmth and presence have an uncanny ability to put the instrument right there in front of you.”