Reslo ribbon mics were really popular in the U.K. during the mid '60s. In some of the famous photos of the Beatles in their early years, you can see John and Paul singing through Reslo mics. Even though they're considered commonplace in England, they're relatively rare in the U.S. Through the magic of the internet I've managed to get my hands on a couple of them, and I'm in love. I've been using these suckers on everything, and they've become my favorites for electric guitar and bass. They're really fun, and they have some quirky features that aren't immediately apparent unless you do a lot of research into them. Originally, they came with two pieces of felt and a piece of some sort of stiff fabric. These pieces are for changing the frequency response and adapting them for different situations. As is common for most ribbon mics, the RBL exhibits a very pronounced proximity effect due to its natural figure-8 pattern. If you want to roll off the low end a bit, just put one of the felts over the backside of the ribbon. If you want to cut the sound coming the back of the ribbon and further reduce it's proximity effect and give it more of a cardiod-like polar pattern, place the stiff fabric along with the felt over the back of the ribbon. If you're using it on vocals and you're working very "intimately" with the mic, i.e. six inches away or less, have the previous pieces in place and then place the second felt over the front ribbon. These crude ways of changing the response actually work pretty well, but I prefer the sound "au natural" and I still always use a pop filter when using it with vocals. The sound is pretty much all those stereotypical things people always say about ribbon mics. Warm, smooth, detailed, low output, prone to accidental destruction, etc... Yes, you do need to be careful with them and you will probably need a decent preamp that can deliver a bunch of gain without adding a lot of noise, but most ribbon users are already well-aware of these limitation. Replacement ribbons can be found, but they are few and far between. If you find an original replacement ribbon you are in luck, because not only will you be keeping your mic "all original" they are very easy to replace yourself: just pop the case open, undo the four nuts holding the old ribbon assembly, slip off the old one and slip on the new. Put it back together and you're ready to rock. You can probably do the whole repair in less than 10 minutes. As I stated earlier, these mics are my new favorite for electric guitar and bass. They just sound so fucking good! They're easy to set up and I usually don't have to mess with the sound much at all to get what I want. I've seriously gotten the best bass sound yet, just by putting one about 2 feet away from a 15" speaker. Maybe a little compression on top and that's it. On vocals it's a little more jerky, it definitely helps to have the fabric "acoustical equalization" devices in place, but if the singer doesn't have good mic technique, I usually don't even bother trying it because I hate having to screw around with a mediocre singer attempting to explain to them how to sing into a mic correctly when I can just put a super sensitive condenser in front and have it just work fine. Prices are starting to rise rather dramatically on these guys, I think people are realizing what a killer deal they are. I've seen them go for as little as $50 or as much as $500. Just look carefully, and be wary not to get ripped off, if you get one cheap, just make sure it's ribbon isn't trashed, it can be very expensive to have a pro replace it. Of course, if you can get you're hands on an NOS [new old stock] replacement ribbon, you're golden. Make sure you get the right kind of plug with it too, it uses weird plugs.

Tape Op is a bi-monthly magazine devoted to the art of record making.

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