Recording violin and fiddle is both art and science:
In almost every situation, I would be at LEAST 4 feet further away with the mic than in those pictures. the harshness comes from the fact that the instrument was never designed to be heard from that close.
Do you need your ears cleaned? An audiologist chimes in:
Someone mentioned ear candles. I would absolutely, under no circumstances EVER use an ear candle. They are a hoax. We did some experimenting with these in graduate school and there is no way you can produce enough “suction” to remove anything from the ear canal with them. At best they are a waste of money and at worst they are potentially dangerous.
Tracking a 5-string bass shouldn’t be any more difficult than a bass:
if you can’t plug the bass into any old di and get a decent to good sound with no fiidling, the problem is with the hands and/or the instrument they’re holding. if you got a decent sound coming off tape (oh my, how tape takes care of so many bass problems), but when you drop it in the mix it disappears or plays hide and seek, the problem is likely in the arrangement and/or the part. that doesn’t mean that the solutions to the above problems can’t be found somewhat or even mostly in gear and tweaks, because a talented set of hands and ears can work miracles. but ime even the best miracles fall short of what happens when a great part is well played and mixed into the right arrangement.