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?

6 Answers 6



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!

  • @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
    Jan 3, 2011 at 18:42

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.

  • @georgi.m Thanks! I have to try that spring technique
    – Utopia
    Jan 3, 2011 at 18:43

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.

  • 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. Jan 3, 2011 at 15:36

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.

alt text
(source: contactmicrophones.com)

  • 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
    Jan 3, 2011 at 18:43
  • 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" suite101.com/content/…
    – user49
    Jan 3, 2011 at 19:49
  • 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
    Jan 3, 2011 at 20:29
  • 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. Jan 10, 2011 at 19:47

+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."


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.

  • Wow. Dry ice is a definite overlooked option because it's metal, so why not? Great suggestion, Dave!
    – Utopia
    Jan 10, 2011 at 6:05

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.