Kelly SHU Bass Drum Microphone Shock Mount
By Team HC |
Kelly SHU Bass Drum Microphone Shock Mount
Drum mics everywhere can now bungie jump!
by Carmine Strollo
You can shoe a horse, or maybe even a deck of cards…and even shoo a fly from a pie, but did you know we can also Shu a bass drum as well? Yep, that’s right…you can Shu a bass drum when it comes to internal miking. This device that can come in handy if you're a gigging drummer who always seems to be fighting for stage space while trying to eliminate stage clutter as well. Even though this device may appear small in size, it offers some very big real-world benefits.
How many times have you been given a limited amount of space to set up your kit? You get to a club, a restaurant, or a small venue stage, only to find out that between the Marshall stacks and those 88 key behemoth workstations, you’ve been given barely enough room for 18” x 22” kick. It’s sadly true that many venues today have stages that seem to be no larger than a small dining room table area at best. So the band has to compensate so as the drummer, you start omitting toms and extraneous accoutrements to try and save some space. But you still need a full miking rig to blend through the front of house PA.
There are plenty of options for mounting drum mics these days, but what about the kick? Most of the time it’s mounted on a full boom with a gooseneck, or dare I say, a small foot stand—a target for the dancing front people or over aggressive Jimi Hendrix wanna-be. How many times has a mic ended up being knocked into the port, or up against the resonant head, or even just plain lying on the floor because of being tipped over from stage vibration or folly. Well here’s a possible solution for you that won’t cost an arm and a leg (like some other mounting systems), and gives you a controlled, isolated sound source that's virtually undetectable—leaving you with a clean look up front to show off your decorated resonant head, and no worries from twinkle toes McGirk!.
The Kelly Shu is available in both the all-aluminum SHU Pro version, and the SHU Composite; I chose the composite model. The SHU Composite is an internal/external mounting assembly for virtually any size bass drum…or just about any drum for that matter. I say "any drum" because I presented my special challenge to Jeff Kelly (the inventor) with my new 14” x 16” converted floor tom/kick drum, and he responded quite rapidly with a solution (service from his company is very responsive and professional, by the way…a rarity in this day and age).
The device is made of a hard plastic, resembling a horseshoe, with a sled-type mic mount attached in the center. The clip mount is a standard screw-on type, the same used on virtually any mic stand, and contains a locking washer plate that secures your mic clip. Any mic will do (contact service for recommendations first to be on the safe side), and rest assured, it will fit snugly and precisely, even while transporting your gear from home or riding in the band trailer or semi. In my personal scenario, I’ve made this a permanent mount setup…simply by running a small 3’ leader XLR cable connected to the mic on one end and out through a small port in my reso head. That cable, in turn, is connected to my snake box input, or into a longer cable should my box not be close by.
The SHU itself is suspended by a number of bungee cord-type connections. This, I might add, was my biggest complaint. It’s not that the concept doesn’t work…it does! Jeff supplied me with some photo examples of how to construct my suspension, but I managed to configure the device on my own. My issue was with the cords themselves…a great concept, but in need of a few refinements with logistics.
You are supplied with clips…a hook-like headpiece, a closing clamp that secures the cord, and a length of rubberized cord that you will trim to the lengths you desire. It’s good in theory, but I ran into two obstacles. The brief instructions say to cut each suspension cord to half the length from the distance to the shell. I understand why, because the cord needs to stretch so as not to be suspended too loosely. But unfortunately, without some predetermined lengths as a guide, it’s kind of like one of those cookbooks that tells you the ingredients to use, but doesn’t give you specified amounts. They say “spice to taste” or some such verbiage. The problem is, with no minimums as a guide, if you’re not a cook, you can make some pretty awful decisions, turning out some less than flavorful combinations. It's the same for the bungee lengths. I believe there needs to be more specific amounts for cutting each bungee section, or you end up with short ones, long ones, and ones that you’ll not be able to use at all. I was lucky and found that when I cut the first cord and trimmed off some excess to fit (albeit I had to send it through two loops instead of one), I measured them all the same from then on. In my opinion, this hit-or-miss technique isn’t an accurate enough approach to create a precision mounting.
The second drawback was trying to assemble the cords themselves. Imagine a hooked clamp with a hole in the center to insert the cord. You slide the bungee rope first through a rounded locking sleeve and then thread the rope into the clamp end to secure the seating. Then you slide on the sleeve ring to secure the cord to the hook clamp. This locks the cord into place inside the hook. It’s genius how it works, but getting the sleeve ring to snap into the hook clamp takes an act of Congress! I tried many combinations between sleeves and hooks…some worked easily, some were such a struggle. At one point I thought I would break two fingers getting them snapped into place. Even with needle nose pliers, some sleeves would never seat themselves correctly. After an hour of trying to assemble the suspension cords, I finally took a razor blade and scraped around the bungee end thinning out the rope ever so carefully, and got the cord to seat properly. Jeff, in my opinion, you must find a better way to make the cord assembly work, or at least keep a tighter spec with the finer tolerances of the cord. Just that little bit of fine-tuning on the width of the cord seemed to make the whole process go so much quicker.
(Jeff and Kathleen Kelly pose with a drum showing the Kelly SHU)
The bottom line is...how did it work on the gig? It worked flawlessly! My large bass drum mic never moved an inch—stationary, solid and permanent! I determined how far from the beater spot I needed to seat the mic for the exact sound that I needed going through the house system. The kick drum is completely isolated from the rest of the kit with no bleed from toms, snare or cymbal. And considering you can mount this device anywhere inside or outside of the drum, point it any which way you choose, you have the makings of a custom secure setup that should hold even through the most powerful pounding. I use a hard plastic beater that slams into a 1/8” thick piece of leather at the beater spot…and the mic did not budge! And for all you worried about ambient or harmonic noise from the mount or bungees? Fugetaboutit! Being as isolated as it is from the rest of the structure, there won't be issues from this mounting system at all.
I see this system being equally viable in the studio as I am finding it on the road for my live gigs. All in all, it's fast becoming one of the best investments I’ve made for my drumset. -HC-
Courtesy Header Image - Slipnots drums on world tour, and yes, those are beer kegs mounted as part of his kit!
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Born and raised in Baltimore's Little Italy, Carmine has been playing the drums since he was 6 1/2 years old. He originally studied at Yeager's Music Store in East Baltimore under Wayne Hudson and then attended the Peobody Conservatory Prep Department and studied under Bob Kennick and Chuck Memphis. He then enrolled at Towson State University (College) and studied percussion under Dale Rauschenberg and composition with Hank Levy. Graduating with a BS in Music Education, he then began performing full time 6 nights a week with Buddy Voelker's Brass Menagerie, Fantasy, the 2nd Coming Showband, and the Admirals, before moving to Delaware's eastern shore, where he is currently is the drum instructor at B&B Music in Lewes, Delaware, and gives private instruction via SKYPE.