Behind the scenes with Ear Trumpet Labs and their Nadine double bass microphone

There are a lot of good amplification options for double bass, but I'm really digging this new mic!

With Jason Heath · San Francisco, CA

I took a tour of the Ear Trumpet Labs workshop and chat with founder Philip Graham to learn how their acclaimed Nadine double bass microphone was made. Here’s a portion of our conversation, and you can check out my unboxing and review of the Nadine here.

Jason and Philip in the workshop

Interview with Philip

Jason Heath: Welcome to Ear Trumpet Labs in Portland, Oregon, Philip. Thanks for joining me for this podcast and YouTube channel chat. I’ve been loving the Nadine since I first learned about it in 2020 from Barry Green during an online bass event. It’s been great working with it, and even bassists with higher profiles than mine, like Christian McBride, have been enjoying it. It’s been a few years since the idea for a workshop tour came up, and I’m glad we’re finally able to dig into it in person.

Philip Graham: Happy to have you here, Jason. I’m excited to show you around the space and the shop.

Jason Heath: Thanks, Philip. So right now, we’re looking at the Nadine in pieces, right? This is like seeing how the sausage gets made.

Philip Graham: Yes, exactly. This is a couple of Nadines in the process. You can see all the sub-components that go into it, and this is pretty much built, just short of getting closed up. We use repurposed parts for our designs, and we do all the metal work here in the shop, except for making the actual capsule. We find fixtures like plumbing and lamp hardware that work well and do minimal metal work to put them together.

Jason Heath: The Nadine is an heirloom microphone, right? It’s something that has a cool look and can stay with you for a long time.

Philip Graham: Yes, it’s pleasingly solid, and once you hold it in your hand, you can feel the construction. We have a full lifetime warranty for our mics, and as long as you have one of our mics, anywhere you got it from, we will fix it if anything goes wrong with it.

Jason Heath: I can testify to that, as I thought there was something wrong with my Nadine and sent it back, but it was just user error.

Philip Graham: Yes, we’re trying to get better at helping people diagnose their problems so they can get the most out of their mics.

Jason Heath: One of the things I noticed right off the bat was that the Nadine doesn’t color the sound like many other recording and base amplification options. The sound I hear from my base is the sound I hear from the Nadine, just more of it. And that’s what we’re looking for as bass players, right?

Philip Graham: Yes, that’s what I’m aiming for with all the mics we make, and it’s been the most gratifying thing about making the Nadine. Bass players seem to be happy with their live tone, sometimes for the first time. Amplifying an acoustic bass in a live setting is a tough project, and there are still lots of things that can come up. But it’s a combination of the particular capsule we use, the design in the head basket, and getting the mic as close as we practically can. It’s all just compromises.

Taking a look at a disassembled Nadine.

Jason Heath: How did you get into making mics for acoustic instruments?

Philip Graham: It all started with my daughter Malachi, who’s a songwriter and helped me get into recording her songs. I started tinkering with electronic stuff, and a year later, I had a workable microphone. Then I started deep-diving into different things and mostly made mics for acoustic music. The Nadine is a mountable mic for the bass that conveys the sound of the whole instrument and makes bass players happy with their live tone.

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