Your browser is out-of-date!

Update your browser to view this website correctly. Update my browser now


Music Production

Weird Al Yankovic’s Guitarist is no Slacker

Slack key guitar king Jim West shares his thoughts on acoustic guitar miking.

Los Angeles (December 3, 2018)—While well-known for his decades of work holding down the guitar spot in Weird Al Yankovic’s band, Jim “Kimo” West is no slacker…and yet he’s all about the slack—as in slack key guitar, the unique fingerstyle acoustic guitar genre that originated in Hawaii. West has carved out his own notable career in the field, and is a recent winner of the Hawaii Music Awards, a Na Hoku Hanohano (the Hawaiian “Grammy”) nominee, and a two-time winner of the LA Treasures Award for his contributions toward the perpetuation of ki ho’alu.

The METAlliance Report: How to Choose the Right Microphone

His solo releases are all self-recorded. “I’ve been doing all my own recording as long as I’ve played guitar,” said West, “and the instrument, the player and the microphones are equally important. I’ve always loved great mics and especially Telefunkens that I could never afford, but I would always drool over seeing them in the studios when I’d go in for sessions.”

Yankovic Keyboardist Takes On Galaxy

With that in mind, West recently acquired a Telefunken ELA M 260 Stereo Set, which features two matched microphones and a custom dual power supply capable of powering both microphones. “I was at a Weird Al session a few years ago,” West said, “and the engineer was using a pair of Telefunken M 260 mics on different instruments and I really thought they sounded great. I’ve always loved the idea of tubes in the chain somewhere, especially for acoustic guitar, because it adds a really nice harmonic richness. And then I saw that Telefunken was making these new small diameter condenser tube mics. I recently redid my studio with some new computers and new interfaces and gear, and I thought it was time to get a pair of new mics. These 260s were my first choice, and they are really spectacular sounding.”

In West’s slack key guitar career, he didn’t concentrate on learning the standard riffs and songs, but instead developed his own slack key vocabulary, which now defines his approach to the genre.

Want more information like this? Subscribe to our newsletter and get it delivered right to your inbox.

“Acoustic guitar is a complex instrument and you have to be very careful of boominess, and sometimes it can just be too big sounding,” West said, “so mic placement is really important. You want to make sure you stay away from the sound hole. There’s something about small diaphragm condenser mics that makes them really responsive. I like all the little nuances, and things really pop out with a small diameter condenser. With the shape of the 260 plus the tube there’s a richness there. These mics just sound really, really natural.”

Jim “Kimo” West •

TELEFUNKEN Elektroakustik •