The U87 Microphone that got away

By | December 12, 2013

I have lately been building a vocal booth in my home studio and I’m taking recording engineering lessons from a Grammy award winning engineer to get past some roadblocks.

After reading a slew of threads on and then testing a bunch of microphones myself I’ve decided that I want a Neumann U87 mic and a pair of Neve 1084 preamps. The mic alone costs $3,500 new, so I’ve been trying to find one used to stretch my savings.

This weekend, after driving an hour, I was beaten to one in a pawnshop in Oakland by just minutes. They sold a working U87 for an absurd $1,499, a deal of a lifetime! I was quite put out. “Perhaps there is a good reason,” I kept telling myself… after my fianc√© told me to keep telling myself that.

Sure enough, the next day I had an offer for the same model of mic, albeit for about $600 more, but this one had been used to record members of the legendary band Kiss (as well as Spongebob)! Well, I was a huge Kiss fan as a kid.

So, there I was, Kiss songs running through my head, very excited about the purchase of a lifetime, ready to take a day off and drive 6 hours to LA to do the deal. Then I got an email with those dreaded four little words…

“Dude, I sold it.”

My god, I don’t know if I can take it. The Gene Simmons mic!!! Almost mine… Now gone.

You may recall that I previously posted about renting a U87 mic from a friend. That mic had been owned by Pat Benatar and had been used to record Frank Sinatra. I don’t just want a great mic, I want a great mic with a great story!

For new readers, I’m a singer songwriter. My uncle was the bass player for the band Steppenwolf (that got me interested in music at an early age). I usually don’t like my singing voice but I do have some songs that are surprisingly interesting and I’ve played 100’s of shows. I even played several shows with the amazing Jason Mraz right before he became world famous.

Anyway, the only thing that could make me feel better now after losing two U87s in a row would be to score a microphone used by … Jeff Lynne of ELO. Well, that would be a tie with a microphone used by David Bowie, with whom Elvis Presley and I share a birthday (January 8).

So, you hundreds of new followers and 5,000+ daily lurkers, if any of you can make my Neumann or Neve Christmas wishes come true, let me know:

Who knows, if I had the right mic, I might record a song that saves the planet from aliens or human stupidity, whichever comes first.

Of course this covetous toy pursuit is not the soul of the season. My real joy is helping people in need, of which there are billions. I’ll be doing my part with donations of both time and money this year.

What do you do to get yourself into the spirit of peace and good will?

Happy Seasonings,


0 thoughts on “The U87 Microphone that got away

  1. Jim Carlin

    donate the communion set that gave communion to
    the crew of the Enola Gay early in the morning of
    August 6, 1945 as a symbol that
    “even in the tragedy of war there is
    hope and faith and forgiveness
    and sometimes peace”

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