z Gear Stories episode 16

Gear Stories 16, Blue Ribbon Microphone & Investment Advice




Hey there, friends!


Once again, it’s time for me to stand on my soap box and rant about the subject that is so near and dear to my heart… and that is GEAR!


Of course, if you don’t want to get this e-mail, let me know and I’ll stop it coming to you, but give it a chance… you might just like it!  Embrace the possibility!


As usual, I am talking about two different pieces of gear, so we will dive right in!


The Blue Ribbon Microphone!  The Woodpecker.


I remember the first time I heard a ribbon microphone, I was in college.  (Hmmm… I guess my college memories are a bit different than most people’s!)


I was recording my band’s first independent album at the college studio, and we were doing a slide guitar lead, and going for a real rootsy, Americana vibe, and the engineer brought out a wooden box with a velvet bag inside, and with trembling hands he pulled it out and said in hushed tones, “We’ll use the ribbon mic!”


I knew this must be serious… I had no idea why, of course.  I had never heard of a ribbon mic at the time, but I figured it must have been pretty valuable or rare or… maybe dangerous!


What I didn’t know was that it was very vary fragile!  The biggest drawback to ribbon microphones is that it’s kind of like picking up sound with a butterfly wing… it makes a cool sound, but they are very easily damaged…


But that was then, and this is … well, a LONG time later.  Modern Ribbon mics, such as the Blue Woodpecker are a lot tougher than they used to be.


I still wouldn’t use one for a baseball bat (Though with the look of the woodpecker, you might be tempted to, just because you can) but they aren’t likely to break because you looked at them wrong like the originals.


A good friend of mine told me this story of his first ribbon experience…


The first time I heard ribbons was on drum overheads (Coles 4038s), and I positioned them, and went back to the control room to listen and thought “Wow, these are dark.”  Every trip back and forth adjusting the position brought a new respect for the sound, however, since I realized that what I was hearing from the mics was really what I was hearing in the room.  The ribbons weren’t dark, they were natural, and all of my condensers (that I was so used to) were actually hyped in the high end!  I also had an interesting discussion with David Bock a few years ago, and his comment on ribbons (from a guy who doesn’t make them, but who makes some of the best condensers out there) was “Ribbons hear the way our ears do.”


If you are recording an acoustic guitar, it can have a tendency to sound a little bit harsh or irritating in the high end, as can things like cymbals for instance… and they can make a mix sound too bright or harsh, and not sit well in a mic.  Also, there are some singers who have very harsh sibilance in their voices, so whenever they say an “S” it cuts through your head like a laser!  This is where ribbon mics can save the day!


The part of the mic that actually picks up the sound is actually a metal ribbon, very very thin… (In a pinch when some guys have broken theirs, they have replaced it temporarily with tin foil, and once I heard of a guy using the inside wrapper from a stick of gum!… I would not try this at home…) The effect of this is that the high end transients of the sound tend to be knocked down a peg or two… or ten… but a little bit of judicious equalizing and voila! (I USED TO PLAY THE VOILA!) the high end emerges through the muffledness, and is present again, but different… it is silky smooth!  It makes an acoustic guitar sound absolutely dreamy!  And overheads on a drum kit, if highs are pushed back up into the mix with EQ, they keep their sparkle, but don’t sound sharp!  It is an aural miracle!


And the midrange of a Ribbon mic!  Wow, talk about warmth!


Of course, I am focusing on the Ribbon mic made the BLUE… it is called the Woodpecker, and not only is it a wonderful sounding mic, made by a company that makes pretty incredible mics all around, but it also it the classiest looking mic you have ever seen!  It looks like a piece of fine furniture!


It is the kind of thing that you might not want to use on everything, but there are some things that it is perfect for, and when someone walks into your studio and sees this on the mic stand, they will KNOW that you are serious!


From now until,. July 31st, if you buy the Blue woodpecker from me, you will get a $200 mail in rebate!  That is a significant savings!


Check it out here…




One more thing… Ribbon mics put out a pretty low level of signal, so there are a few companies that have created microphone preamps specifically designed for Ribbon mics.  If you guy any one of these ribbon mic pres with your woodpecker from me, I will give you an additional ten percent off BOTH!




So get the Blue Ribbon!  Those are savings that win the prize!  (I had to put that pun in there somewhere!)




And now, for Sound investment advice in these troubled economic times… the GIBSON CUSTOM LIMITED EDITION 1959 50TH ANNIVERSARY LES PAUL STANDARD RUBY BURST


As many of you know, the stock market is volatile… and it seems that no one knows when and how things are going to land… yet there has been one kind of investment that I know of that continues to increase in value!  That is collectable limited edition guitars.


The most heartbreaking story I know of involves a guy I was in a band with for many years who had an original 1957 Les Paul that he bought back when he was a teenager in the fifties for a few hundred bucks and about two or three years ago, he was playing it in a club and a guy walked up to him and offered him $8000 cash on the spot.  He didn’t give it a second thought.  he walked out of that club with a pile of money in his pocket.  What he didn’t know at the time was that he had just lost well over fifty thousand dollars… or maybe even more.  That guitar’s value could easily have been appraised at sixty thousand dollars plus!


I have seen certain limited edition guitars sell out the moment they were released, only with their purchasers to turn around and sell them for thousands of dollars of profit on Ebay within the week!


The fact of the matter is that certain Gibson guitars simply and consistently increase in value, due to their quality and their rarity.  Quite possibly the most collectable guitar in the world is the original 1959 Gibson Les Paul Standard, which if you bought back in the early sixties for a few hundred dollars and then stuck in the closet and didn’t think about it until now, and then you pulled it out of the closet and say ‘wow… I forgot I even had this!”  You have suddenly become about $400 thousand dollars richer!  They only made a few hundred of them and at this point there are only about a hundred sixty or so known to be in existence.  It is said by many guitar collectors that these guitars will soon be worth a million dollars each.


So you see, certain guitars just increase in value… but unlike fine wine, for instance, you can drink of these and still retain their value!


The reason I bring this up is that Gibson has recently released a new reissue of this classic guitar.  Of course, if you are familiar with guitar reissues, you will know that there have been a lot of ’59 reissues coming out, but the funny thing is that those guitars are not entirely accurate.  The width of the neck, the style of the bridge, the lack of chambers in the body… the thickness of the body… these details and more have not been entirely accurate in the current bevy of 59 reissues.  In a sense, they have been “reissues” in name only, but to celebrate the 50th anniversary of this iconic instrument, Gibson has finally reproduced the real deal!


Gibson is making an EXTREMELY limited run og these guitars, and within that limited run, there were twenty five made in a special color that is much like the original Cherry Burst color might have looked at this time… It is called Ruby Burst.


If you were paying attention, you may have noticed that I just said that there were twenty five of these guitars made.  TWENTY FIVE… and that is all!  There will never be any more of them made, and they ere made exclusively by Gibson for Sweetwater.  We have them all, and when these are gone, they are gone, and the owners can watch the value of those guitars start ticking up and up!


Remember that there were a few hundred of the originals made and they are worth close to half a million now!




I’m not saying that these guitars are going to make you a millionaire any time soon, but sure as shootin’ they will not devalue like a Yugo driven off the lot!  These are SOUND INVESTMENT GUITARS!


Another added value for the TRUE collector is that we have all consecutive serial numbers, so you could buy a pair or a trio and exponentially increase the value of your collection!  They also each come with a certificate of authenticity from Gibson.


Every time we get an exclusive release of guitars like this, they tend to go pretty darned fast… so if you are at all a guitar collector, or better yet, a guitar INVESTOR, then you have got to check these out!


You can view these beautiful instruments in our guitar gallery here…




So call me and invest your money wisely!


Thanks for reading!



Jon Gillespie, Sweetwater Sales Engineer


800 222 4700 x 1352

260 432 8176 x 1352 (outside the U.S.)

260 432 1758 FAX

[email protected]