Jingle jingle jingle bells

which ones sound the best?

Seriously, I know some of you percussionist folks have large boxes full of things that make noise, we’re in the middle of our annual family Solstice/Christmas CD, I need sleigh bells, and all the ones I have found record like garbage. Soooo…tell me, it’s very important, what do all of the professional sleigh bell players use?


Seriously, probably not real sleigh bells. I have the real thing (long leather strap to put around a horse) and they don’t sound anything like what you’d think real sleigh bells should sound like when recorded. Too much noise and not enough ching.

There are sleigh bells made for musical use, and they are about the same as real sleigh bells except they are mounted on a handle. It what orchestras use. That’s your best bet.

Part of the trick to recording them is to not over record and not pick up a bunch of junk. I don’t have a good suggestion about that except to keep the mic way away. There is a HUGE amount of high frequencies coming out of those things.

…like recording wind chimes. The sound good but getting them to sound that way when recorded is a pain.

Oh…and a mic that won’t fall over with all those highs. The highs are different than cymbals, which is mostly just noise.

EDIT: Found some. I can’t vouch for these, but this is what I was talking about…


Yeah, those things Phoo directed you too are the ones to get. You can find cheap versions of just the bells mounted on their plastic strip sometimes at yer bigger cheezy craft places (in my area it’d be a place called Hobby Lobby), or maybe there’s still a Ben Franklin near you? Ours is long gone…hey Tom, how far are you from Frankenmouth? Go to that Bronner’s place…they’d have jingle bells coming out their ears, even in July!
Use a nice condensor mic (either LDC or SDC) about 4 feet away and off axis a bit. A bigger room than an 8x8 foot space helps too. The bigger versions can be quite loud and seem to overpower small spaces. I tried in the drum room once and wasn’t happy at all…percussion sounds better in our live room.
The harder part of jingle tracks is getting them to sit in a mix well and be gentle with any reverb and compression. Probably too often I rely on a medium to hard pan for the dry track with a hint of room or 'verb on the other side, but it seems to work for me. I like a more delicate, sparse jingle track myself. For a seasonal piece, you may want them heavy and coming at you from the middle though…

Yep, go to a crafts store. When my wife and I made our Christmas album we went out to the local sewing/crafts store and found a wide range of bells to use.

Look for the bigger ones (about an inch in diameter). We found a strip of large bells on a canvas strip for a couple of dollars and when recorded the larger bells are much less harsh in the high frequencies.

See, I knew that I could count on you guys. :)

Thank you very much. You guys hit the nail on the head.

Yes, Clava, I’m about 25 minutes from Bronner’s. :) No Ben Franklins any more, but we do have Jo Ann Etc. and I think there is a Hobby Lobby around here somewhere.


OK, guys, you know I record in my basement, I have the walls "treated " a bit, so they aren’t parallel, there’s a bit of carpet on the tile floor, and the ceiling, at about 7 feet up, is covered with old sound tiles, so it’s what you would not want to call an ideal environment. :(

The main problem? If I record more than a couple of feet away from the microphone I can hear the reflections from the ceiling. I can deal with this for most things - by sticking the mic really close. It still sounds like my basement, but that’s OK, I can live with it. But I can’t close mic the bells, they sound like garbage. I have tried all sorts of bells here, although i don’t have one of the bell things used in orchestras, which I am plannign to get, but I doubt that that will solve the problem. Short of getting a new room, any suggestions? (I guess I could run a mic upstairs some afternoon when the kids are out at school, hmm…)


You’re standing and that’s what puts you too close to the ceiling? Have you tried sitting down and micing yourself from above? Use a directional mic, and point it so the connector is towards the ceiling so the reflections are more in the mic’s blind spot. You could also try using a lower level on your mic (like print the track at a lower level) then use some very gentle compression with lotsa make-up gain to increase the level in mix. This might get you some more roominess without driving the mic or the pre too hard.

or you may hafta change rooms…but try reducing your proximity to the ceiling first…good luck

Well, Ali, thank you for the…um…er…helpful biographical anecdote. It really was a source of…um…insight for me. :D :D

Clava, I’ll give it a try - good idea to try to maximize the distances as much as possible. But I am coming to realize more and more how much I want a new room. That’s sort of the ultimate GAS attack, isn’t it?