The Johnny Journal

Updating A Vintage Suitcase For A Vintage Microphone

I discovered early on in my career that my voice sounds best when recorded with a vintage ribbon microphone. An ol' skool ribbon mic provides the darkness and depth found in the recordings of my favorite mid-century singers that I don't think can be replicated with modern mics. The downside is, because they're so old, vintage ribbons have become harder and harder to come by, and the cost to rent them...well, it's ridiculous.

So I decided to take the plunge and purchase my own vintage RCA 77-D ribbon mic. After shopping around for awhile, I found a superb model on sale at Vintage King in Los Angeles. By avoiding expensive microphone rental, insurance, and shipping fees for my last few recording sessions, it has already paid for itself! I love it when that happens.

But, I still needed a mic case to protect it while in storage and in transit...

Experts recommend that a vintage ribbon microphone be stored vertically (up and down), so the ribbon inside doesn't sag over time. I hate sagging :) Vintage King wanted to sell me this red case for that reason. It's fine, it houses the mic vertically as recommended, but I didn't think it suited the mic. After all, a vintage microphone should have a vintage case, right? Plus, this modern foam case was priced at $150-$200. Umm, no thank you.

So, after rooting around the house for awhile, "The Muse" found an old suitcase I had used as a road case during my Indigo Swing touring days. Seemed like the perfect choice to keep things in the family.

The outside was still intact, but the inside lining was trashed. I cut out all the pocket fabric from the sides and the bottom, glued down any stray material and painted the exposed wood with some black latex paint we had lying around.

Next, I would need to create a cradle to secure the mic inside the case.

About a year ago, I commissioned a local company to make an ATA stage case to be used for touring. When I went to pick it up, I noticed a large bag of foam in the garbage area of the shop. When I asked if I could have it, they shrugged and said "whatever" (yes, I'm THAT guy). It was, however, a good premonition, because I had what I needed now to finish this new project.

Some foam pieces for the cradle, glued and trimmed.

These two items were absolutely necessary for this project.

Cradle ready for installation!

 I cut the foam extra tall so the lid would squash it down when closed and hold the mic in place.

The moment of truth...

It fits!

Just one more piece on top to hold the cargo in place.

Have mic, will travel! Vintage cool, stored on it's side to prevent the "sag". See you in the recording studio :)