FOH engineer Jim Ebdon (left) and Matchbox Twenty guitarist Kyle Cook.New York (April 8, 2008)–Matchbox Twenty has been traveling the highways and byways of the U.S. on its co-headlining Exile in America tour with Alanis Morrissette. Along for the ride with the band is FOH engineer Jim Ebdon (Sting, Aerosmith, others) and a bunch of Royer Labs R-121 ribbon microphones.
They’re being used for close miking a guitar amp, but they’re also being put to work as the source for the guitarists’ personal monitor systems. Ebdon is using six Royer R-121s–four of them studio versions and two, the new Live Series models. “We have two guitar players, each with three guitar cabinets placed underneath the stage and facing backwards,” said Ebdon, “and there are four R-121s positioned on four of the cabinets. Each cabinet is isolated from one another with foam, so this gives us the ability to mic each amp independently. The mics are positioned up against the grille cloth at about a 45-degree angle. In addition to feeding these signals to FOH and, ultimately, to the audience, these signals are also the source for the guitarists’ monitor mixes.”
During rehearsals, the band experimented with a number of mics, but it wasn’t until Ebdon put the R-121s up that anyone seemed happy: “When I decided to try the Royers, we suddenly had a much better sound for the monitor mixes. It was literally the difference between chalk and cheese. The band loved the Royers and unanimously agreed ‘that’s the guitar sound’ they wanted. The R-121s sounded warm, natural, and uncolored–not at all harsh like several of the other mics we auditioned. Suddenly, the monitors sounded just like the guitar, so we’ve been using them this way throughout the tour.”
Ribbon microphones–particularly earlier generation ribbon mics–have been considered by many to be too delicate to take on tour. Ebdon responded, “I believe that was certainly true for the ribbons of the 50’s and 60’s, but not so much anymore. That certainly shouldn’t be taken to mean we’re not careful in the way we handle them, because we are, but contemporary ribbon mics, such as those from Royer Labs, are far more robust. We have a tech with us whose responsibility is to ensure the mics are properly cared for and stored during travel, so the R-121s are always properly protected.”