When rockers sing with their lips to the mic, as illustrated here(YouTube clip), spitting and drooling with excitement, I suppose, obviously a lot of saliva goes into the apparatus night after night (assuming a tour for instance). - But what happens to the saliva? Surely it can’t stay there, and also - if somebody else uses the mic, wouldn’t he or she find it icky? So: Do you clean mics, inside and outside, after every concert, and especially regarding inside: How?
Sharing a microphone just happens to be one of those very unsanitary practices to also be a very common practice.
Context changes the “ick” factor for a lot of people- think sexual situations. Someone accidentally drinks out of your cup at a party: most people would retire that cup and start with a fresh one. Contrast how easily the “ick” factor is reached in this situation vs. the places people will happily place their mouths during sexual activity- even with a stranger.
So, yeah, context has a lot to do with it. Club musicians are so used to sharing mics that they just don’t think about it. It is gross, but it’s not thought of as gross. It’s just thought of as “what we do”.
That said, there are the smarter among us who bring their own mics to every gig- their own personal mic that they never share with anyone.
I’ve also known musicians who bring antibacterial wipes with them to gigs and give the mis a good scrubbing with it before use.
I have a friend who often tells a story of a sound guy in Austin who just slobbered all over the mic during his “check one, two”: lips pressed right up on the mic- lips covered in cold sores.
Thanks for the reply; while interested in music I know nothing about such “behind the scene” details and appreciate the information you shared.
But the presumed saliva inside the metal net covering… that’s not something you care about? - Or is a mic sorta water proof…?
Not that much saliva gets into it. but you can remove the cover and clean it if you want. There’s a sort of foam sleeve inside of that which I guess might absorb some microscopic amount of saliva, but I’m not aware of any way to really clean that.
In my experiences as a musician, this was not an issue that I ever heard of anyone caring about. If somebody really slobbered badly on a shared mic, you’d make them shake it out or wipe it off, or whatever, but people ddidn’t go around seized with germophobic panic all the time then, the way they do now. Usually you’d bring your own mic anyway.
The area that gets wet is not really close to anything that would likely be damaged by moisture, and the saliva is going to evaporate rather than pool up forever.
My buddy did a gig right after he got his wisdom teeth out. The mike was the kind that had the foam cover. He grossed himself out, so he pulled the cover off the performance mike and apologized to the next band, saying: “You really don’t want this…”
In my experience, it generally gets rocked out.
I guess the answer is: It’s not a major problem. It’s not like a brass instument where they have to drain the saliva that accumulates inside (now that’s gross). But, yeah, general sanitation can be a concern, but, that’s not a top concern for many musicians.
It dries into this stuff that looks like sea monkeys.
The key thing is that when you’re singing, you’re blowing the previous singer’s excretions away from you; you just have to make sure you pull off just a bit to inhale, or it’s schloooop time!
I never worried about it, but then again I never saw anyone slobbering into a mic that I was going to use. A mic run into a properly balanced system shouldn’t require you to touch it with your mouth, but I guess some people do this for dramatic rock ‘n’ roll effect. I know of no effective way to really clean a ball mic like an SM-58.
That’s not saliva; almost no saliva comes out of your mouth. That is condensation from breath (even though they call it a “spit valve”).
Wasn’t this the reason those old microphones had foam covers on them? I still can find some old ones at my church.
No, those are windscreens. They filter out popping Ps and breath sounds.
…and it feels like singing into a dog’s nose if someone has been singing into it before you…
I have been using the same Shure SM58 microphone for nearly 30 years. It still works great, but the wire mesh on the ball is rusted brown, I assume from my saliva.
As to mic-sharing hygiene, I saw something interesting before a Squeeze concert years ago. After a stage technician did the “testing, 1, 2 …” thing on all of the mics, another tech came out and replaced the business end of Chris Difford’s mic. He screwed off the end (I’m not sure what make and model it was) and installed another end. I have always assumed that this was for hygiene reasons,and I’ve also thought it was weird that he did not simply swap out the mic.