Bela Fleck Explores Sanken Mics

Acclaimed banjo virtuoso Béla Fleck is also a proficient producer and recording engineer. As an ambassador of the banjo, Fleck has taken the instrument from its Bluegrass roots to Jazz, Classical, Rock, and various world music genres. The recipient of multiple Grammy Awards going back to 1998, Fleck's total Grammy count is 15 wins and 27 nominations. He has been nominated in more different categories than any instrumentalist in Grammy history.

Fleck has been exploring three innovative Sanken microphones, the dual titanium capsule CU-44X MkII and the wide-band 20Hz >100kHz CO-100K and CUX-100K mics. An engineer as well as musician, Fleck describes his early work with legendary Nashville producer/engineer Bill VornDick, "I'm a banjo player and I've been making my own records since the 80s. I spent a lot of time with Bill, who was okay with my engineering ambitions."

Fleck is often considered the premier banjo player in the world.  A New York City native, he picked up the banjo at age 15 after being impressed by the Bluegrass music of Flatt & Scruggs. Since releasing his first solo album in 1980, Fleck has continued to make a name for himself. In 2022, Fleck's "My Bluegrass Heart" won the Grammy for Best Bluegrass Album.

Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn perform in Denver with the Colorado Symphony. 

Photo by Amanda Tipton.

"During the pandemic," he explains, "I was invited to do a collaboration with an opera singer, and the engineer was Chuck Ainlay. I was unfamiliar with Sanken, but those mics just knocked my socks off. We recorded the banjo and used a pair of the CO-100Ks. I was just blown away by how good the 100K's sounded. I immediately ordered a pair of them, and I've been using them ever since on all kinds of instruments."

Sanken's CU-44X MK II microphone has a revolutionary design featuring two titanium matched capsules for low and high, with 100-volt internal power for super wide dynamic range and headroom. Fleck describes his experience with the CU-44X, "My wife Abigail Washburn and I recently did a song cycle with the Colorado Symphony, recording the premiere for an album. I used it on Abby's voice, and it was great, really excellent. She sings some very strong notes, and this mic has a very rich sound, but it also has a clarity. It's almost like it's already mixed. 

Fleck and Washburn used a combination of CU-44X and CUX-100K Sanken's. "I've also now used the 44X on my banjo along with the 100K. The result is a very full range sound with a lot of interesting characteristics. I think it's a great mic that could be used in all kinds of ways. It's clearly a great vocal mic. It's clearly a great instrument mic. I know people who use them as overheads for drums and other percussion. It's a high-class mic and I'm glad to have it in my arsenal."

For the full-length in-depth interview click here:

Learn more about Béla Fleck: https://www.belafleck.com


The Sanken Chromatic range of 6 professional studio microphones provides musicians, sound designers, engineers, and producers with the optimum set of pure, transparent sounding mics for a wide variety of applications. They are designed and meticulously engineered in Japan using the latest technology and include many innovative features. The result is a set of mics that have phenomenal frequency response, accurate off axis response, exact patterns, minimal proximity effect, low noise, and high SPL tolerance.

Sanken Chromatic mics are distributed in the USA and Canada by plus24.