Miking a Leslie Onstage

July 9, 2012
Before rotary speaker simulations in clonewheel organs got as good as they are now, editor Stephen Fortner often carried a real Leslie 142 to gigs. It's a serious commitment, but if you're up for it, very rewarding both sonically and for the credibility you'll earn with the musos in the audience. If you're playing with rock or cover band instrumentation onstage, you'll need to mike that Leslie--and doing so while minimizing bleed from other instruments, not to mention feedback, can be tricky. Here's what Fortner learned through years of trial and error in clubs large and small.
Scroll past the video player (if you can't see it, click here) for links to some of our favorite mic choices for a Leslie's upper and lower rotors. Note that these don't include any of today's affordable and excellent studio condenser mics--we're sticking with dynamic for onstage use in a loud band.
Lower Rotor
Audix D6: Kick drum mic that also gets great results on Leslie bass frequencies.
Rode Procaster: Meant for spoken word, but don't let that dissuade you. This EV RE-20 lookalike is right at home on a Leslie's bass rotor.
Sennheiser MD-421: A classic; also works well on the upper rotor.
Upper Rotor
Audix i5: Very clear, transparent sound.
Audio-Technica Pro 25ax: Hypercardioid pattern makes it ideal for very high stage-bleed situations. Great on highs but will work fine on lower rotor as well.
Lewitt MTP-440DM: Almost studio quality, but still a dynamic, which is more desirable for onstage use.
Shure Beta 56A or 57A: Nothing wrong with a standard SM57, but the 57A is that on steroids. For close miking in high-stage-bleed situations, try the 56A.

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