last update 27th April 2013

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Rocket Magazine No.: 8, Great Britain, 2000

Vintage microphones

Many thanks to Paul Culshaw, editor of the Rocket Magazine.

Vielen Dank an Paul Culshaw, Herausgeber des Rocket Magazins

Where the hell do you get those good lookin' old mikes? They look so darn good, but what about the sound quality? lt's all very well getting' something to look good but if it sounds bad, what's the point? How do you get them to work properly? Are they even compatible with modern P.A equipment? Well, this guy called Olaf in Germany could answer all these questions and much more! This could be the answer to all the questions all you cats who play in cool bands constantly ask, read on.

Olaf was born and still lives in the small town of Wesel, Germany. lt's a small quiet place with a population of only 60,000. Olaf is a musician and has been playing the guitar since he was 9, he was playing in a band by the time he was 12! He now plays in a couple of bands, an R&B combo called The Casters and a Rock'n'Roll outfit called The Speedos. The Speedos have actually been together as the same line-up for nearly 12 years! As Olaf says, “Playing in a band and trying to sing old Rock'n’Roll tunes was the beginning of my mad hobby - collecting vintage microphones! When I started the Speedos back in 1985, I thought, it had to be right, it had to look original. So I searched for old clothes ond equipment, but although the old clothes und vintage instruments were relatively easy to find, vintage microphones were not".

Olaf's grandpa was a radio and T.V mechanic, who hired out P.A systems back in the 1930s and 40s. But hiring this stuff just wasn't profitable back then so his boss stopped hiring out the equipment. Olaf's Grandpa bought it up and stored it in the cellar. This was now 35 year later. To Olaf, this was now a positive goldmine! Can you imagine finding all this vintage equipment? Olaf was now using all these old microphones and amps for his band. His first mikes would have been old black German ‘ Telefunken’ made things but pretty soon his collection improved when his uncle, who was a police officer, gave him an old AKG D 12 from the late 50s. But Olaf wasn't satisfied with these German made mikes. ,,We were making American music, we wanted American mikes. l tried to find the famous shiny chrome Rock’n’Roll microphones you see on all old photos and record sleeves. But you just couldn’t find them for reasonable prices in Europe. So in the late 1980s I started travelling to the United States in search of some cool looking microphones. I made a lot of contacts like a guy called Jim Web who works for the Hollywood film industry and did films like Pretty Woman and an Elvis Presley T. V special. Jim’s a great guy and an avid microphone collector. Also a guy called Alan Sides whos a studio owner and producer in Hollywood who’s recorded Michael Jackson, Madonna and the Brian Setzer Orchestra. Both guys helped me a lot. My collection really started to take off! What I saw in the United States was far beyond what I'd imagined. I began to find loads of microphones, famous names like ‘Western Electric', ‘R C A', ‘Astatic', ‘Shure', ‘Turner' and ‘American'. I also discovered my love of cars from the 40s and 50s and had a 52 Mercury  Monterey and 53 Ford Customline. I still have a 1942 Harley Davidson, which is cool. I even started buying old 40s stuff like gas-pumps, guitars, amps, wall clocks, advertising signs and loads and loads of studio equipment".

lt wasn't long before Olaf also started selling mikes and equipment. Many bands on the European scene buy their equipment from Olaf. Olaf has now gained great experience and understanding of old recording equipment and is only too glad to help out with any questions or problems you may have. ,,Many dealers sell vintage mikes and equipment hut they don’t always know anything about them, sometimes they can‘t even tell you if they actually work or not. This is where the trouble starts for customers, they buy a piece of history and later find out that they have bought a mike in bad or even not working condition that can only be really used as an eye catcher for their living room. These people can contact me and I will try to help whenever I can"

Hopefully this article will be of some help to all you bands out there who have problems getting hold of vintage mikes and equipment. Maybe you even have some old equipment but just aren't getting the best from it, you may need some advise? Olaf Prinz may be able to help.