Best way to record a Slinky


As a stocking stuffer, I got a mini-slinky as a joke, and I shocked my wife because I was WAY more excited about receiving this joke toy (because I knew I could experiment recording it) than anyone would have ever reasonably suspected.

Just for fun and experience, I plan on hanging it from the ceiling and recording it by plucking it with a metal guitar pick, tapping it with metal items, etc. etc. etc.

What is the best way to record this?

I thought of maybe a guitar pickup.

I don't have access to a contact mic. I basically have in my arsenal some nice vintage large diaphragm condensers, a large Schoeps collection with many different types of capsules/bodies, a handful of some B&K mics, and some others, but those are what I would try out first.

Any ideas? Have you done something like this before? What are your thoughts?


Posted 2011-01-03T07:05:39.053

Reputation: 14 155




As I'm sure you're aware Ben Burtt used a simlar thing to a slinky to create the sound for Eve's gun in the film Wall-e (great film for sound) for this he attached the slinky to a metal plate and then put a guitar pick-up on the plate.

Also I'm sure you will but try putting the mic in the slinky half way down and tap it, you'll get some great effects.

Have fun!


Posted 2011-01-03T07:05:39.053

Reputation: 141

@dhawken Thanks for the answer! Yeah - Mr. Burtt for Star Wars and Wall-E is what I thought of immediately when I saw it. Thanks for the tips! – Utopia – 2011-01-03T18:42:46.960


I have found much luck in clipping a miniature omni mic to one end of the slinky. very "in the face". The effect in the slinky is caused by different frequencies of sound travelling at different speeds from one end of the slinky to the other (and back), so for a greater effect I would try the ends first..

On the same topic, stuff a miniature mic inside an exercise spring for a resonating "view" of the world.


Posted 2011-01-03T07:05:39.053

Reputation: 5 521

@georgi.m Thanks! I have to try that spring technique – Utopia – 2011-01-03T18:43:06.530


I'd make a contact mic and attach a speaker and use it as a simple spring reverb.

Then I would get hold of different sizes and materials of slinkys and have a lot of fun colouring other sounds.

If you just want to record the one you have without any fuss then a simple cardioid setup with you playing the slinky like an accordion can work surprisingly well. After that start introducing different materials such as brushing the slinky against metal (smooth and rough) etc.


Posted 2011-01-03T07:05:39.053


I've also had the best luck with contact mics with Slinkies. However, a large condenser mic was good, too; SDC's, even nice ones, felt too bassy/tubby. – NoiseJockey – 2011-01-03T15:36:03.740


FWIW contact mics can be relatively cheap and are one of the best ways to record those types of things.

Here's the set that I have, and I'm very happy with it. $54 from cold gold.

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Posted 2011-01-03T07:05:39.053

Reputation: 10 706

Thanks @Rene. I think I'm going to buy a set of those - cheap but very useful - don't want to be caught without one. – Utopia – 2011-01-03T18:43:28.240

the preamp is VERY important to get decent bottom end from a contact mic - due to impedance matching a contact mic is quite different to a normal mic, read this article (with circuit diagram) it explains why many contact mics sound "thin"

– None – 2011-01-03T19:49:42.817

Hi Tim, I saw your blog post on the Barcus Berry contact mic and pre a while back, and I did read that link that you posted there at the time. With that said, I don't have any complaints of "tinnyness" with this specific set of contact mics in the applications that I've used them. In fact, one of the most gigantic metal ringing sounds I've ever recorded came from a set of these plugged straight into a Zoom H4. Haven't tried them on a slinky though... – Rene – 2011-01-03T20:29:49.753

where would you mount the contact mic? I've got a Barcus Berry - I can't think how I'd attach it to a slinky. – ragamesound – 2011-01-10T19:47:09.303


+1 for a contact/sticky mic of some kind. There's probably a bunch of subtle springy weirdness happening in there that might only be captured by getting inside the slinky. "Hear the slinky, be the slinky."


Posted 2011-01-03T07:05:39.053

Reputation: 961


A quick Google search says this hasn't been done, or at least publicized well..

Slinky + Dry Ice. Contact mic for sure, but you may get some sweet resonance in the middle. Also, try it with an eBow and a violin bow.

When I was a kid, I had a toy that was basically two tin cans with a slinky in the middle... that could lead to some sweet spacey reverb -- at least something worth making an impulse response out of.

Dave Matney

Posted 2011-01-03T07:05:39.053

Reputation: 4 087

Wow. Dry ice is a definite overlooked option because it's metal, so why not? Great suggestion, Dave! – Utopia – 2011-01-10T06:05:35.917