The Roots – Mics of the Tonight Show

By now, you’ve heard the news that Jimmy Fallon is the new host of the late-night pinnacle that is The Tonight Show. You may have even seen an episode or two, or at least caught some of Jimmy’s celebrity-tinged antics on YouTube the next day. If you haven’t seen the show yet, it’s quite a bit different from the days of Carson and Leno… Fallon’s sense of humor is second to none, and it is amazing to see what he can convince his celebrity friends to take part in.

Still one of Fallon’s biggest loves is the musical portion of the show, which is why he chose to bring along his friends from The Roots to continue as the house band on this new version of The Tonight Show. Along with The Roots came an arsenal of Shure mics and wireless systems. Perhaps you’ve even noticed a few here and there? I’m certain you’ve noticed Jimmy’s chromed-out Axient® SM58® handhelds, which he uses for musical numbers with guests.

I recently spoke with Musical Director Keith McPhee about the Shure mics on the show and their applications on the band stand. Keith not only sent along a list of mics, but also included some beautiful imagery (sans band) to illustrate what these mics are used for. Scroll down just a bit and see if you can identify the mics before you take a look at the list. Everything on the show is Shure, and I can tell you they put this stuff to the test night after night. Be sure to catch a future show to see and hear these mics in action!

Questlove and Black Thought’s Mics

The Roots - Questlove and Black Thought's Microphones

1 Questlove Vox – Beta 58 2 Drum Rack – Beta 98AMP 3 Questlove Talkback – Beta 57 4 Black Thought’s Vox – KSM9HS 5 Hi Hat – KSM137 6 Snare Top 1 – Beta 181 7 Snare Top 2 – KSM32 8 Snare Bottom 1 – Beta 181 9 Kick 1 – Beta 91A 10 Kick 2 – Beta 52

Knuckles, Captain Kirk, and Questlove’s Mics

The Roots - Knuckles, Captain Kirk, and Questlove's Mics

11 Guitar – KSM32 12 Conga Low – Beta 98AMP 13 Bongos – Beta 98AMP 14 Conga High – Beta 98AMP 15 Drum Underhead – SM81

Tuba Gooding Jr., James Poyser, Kamal Gray, and Mark Kelley’s Mics

The Roots - Tuba Gooding Jr., James Poyser, Kamal Gray, and Mark Kelley's Mics

16 Damon Vox – Beta 58 17 Flute – SM58S 18 Kamal Vox – Beta 58 19 Sax – KSM32 20 Trumpet – KSM313 21 James Vox Beta 58 22 Mark Vox Beta 58
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Cory Lorentz

Cory Lorentz

Cory Lorentz is the Artist Relations Manager at Shure. He enjoys weekends, tacos and has a soft spot for the kind of lite rock music you’d hear in a dentist’s office.

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  • Wayne Rice says:

    Do you know how the 98a beta is mounted in Tuba Gooding’s sousaphone? It is just loose sitting in the horn? Or is it mounted somehow? Also what wireless transmitter would you suggest to connect directly to a bass amp? Thank you.

    • Cory Lorentz Cory Lorentz says:

      The Beta 98A is taped inside of the bell of the tuba with the cable running out to a ULXD wireless pack. The ULXD is a fantastic wireless unit for your bass rig as well, it is the closest thing to a cable you will hear to date!

      – Cory

  • Nick Weichelt says:

    Hi Cory,

    Isn’t number 13 a Shure Beta 98A or a 98S? I’m looking for one mic for my bongos, for that reason 🙂 Which one can you recommend me?

    Just bought a Shure Beta 91A for into my cajon. Very happy with the perfect sound!

    • Cory Lorentz Cory Lorentz says:

      Hey Nick – The mic pictured is a Beta 98AD/C with the gooseneck mount to get it higher over the top of the bongos. The Roots may fluctuate between this and the Beta 98AMP/C. The version with the gooseneck is definitely more ideal for this application and I think you will enjoy the sound as well as the low profile design.



  • Anonymous says:

    Aren’t the handhelds ksm9/Beta 58 on UR2s?

    • Cory Lorentz Cory Lorentz says:

      The wireless mics that Jimmy and his guests use are SM58 capsules on Axient wireless in a custom chrome finish

  • james montgomery says:

    I didn’t see tuba goodings sousaphone mic listed?

    • Cory Lorentz Cory Lorentz says:

      Tuba Gooding’s set up consists of a Beta 98A taped inside the bell, which is then connected to a ULXD wireless transmitter pack attached to the sousaphone with velcro.

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