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Thread: amplification question

  1. #1
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    Default amplification question

    I spend most of my mandolin playing time playing bluegrass, but I do all of my giiging right now playing electic guitar in a blues band. I have started to incorporate the mandolin in this group. However I have found sm58 terriblly lacking as a mando mic (probabably obvious). I have heard the Audio Tecnica AT-3031 is a good mando mic and their site says it has a narrow pickup pattern. Do you think this mic will work well? Is any mic going to work well?If so do you suggest any other mics? We have guitar bass, drums, vocals and electric harmonica with monitors etc.. I just don't want to add any pickups to my MT. I know I can go solidbody or play my Fender with a pickup, but I don't really want to. Thanks in advance for the help!

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    Default Re: amplification question

    just to say that you will have to figure this one out. did similar, went from guitar to adding mandolin to rock band. sounded great, but in reality, couldn't ever compete for space live. the AT will be a problem on stage. pickup or e-mando almost necessary if you pursue this course.
    i left rock band phase behind and continued acoutstic to be able to play more and better mandolin without stress.
    i realize you are playing blues, but sometimes volume issues can be similar.
    pm me, or email me. i'm only a few towns away from you and sort of understand the enviornment. would be glad to discuss this with you more if you wish.

    rasa
    Jonathan Reinhardt
    Last edited by Jonathan Reinhardt; Oct-05-2008 at 7:35pm. Reason: forgotten sentence or few

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    Default Re: amplification question

    Competing within the live space. That says it very nicely. Mics will work, but can never really compete with the other instruments in that environment. I'll bet there's a thousand players here who have been down that shady lane. When everything is miced together, fine. Otherwise you'll just get swamped.
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    Default Re: amplification question

    A little pickup wedged under the saddle or bridge works wonders plugged into a guitar amp. Then you also use the microphone for better tone during lead breaks.
    http://www.fishman.com/products/details.asp?id=53
    david blair

  5. #5

    Default Re: amplification question

    In my experience playing mandolin in an amplified band has been a dreadful and futile job, so I wish you patience and luck.

    I've owned (and sold) the five string Fender electric and the four string Epiphone Mandobird and neither sounded -- to me -- like a mandolin. I used to have a Kentucky with a Fishman bridge pickup that could actually go through an amp with fairly good results. And the old school Barcus Berry and Bottlecap pickups can -- with good EQing -- reproduce a fairly true sound. But where all of this fails is when the volume starts to climb. I'm not sure what your situation is, but at that point I was with a LOUD alt.country/rock band (where I was also playing electric guitar, banjo and lap steel).

    I've been sticking with all acoustic combos lately, with everything mic-ed, and life has been much more fun.

    In the latter situation, I've gotten very good results with a Shure PG-81. It's a small diaphragm condensor which is basically a budget version of the SM-81. You can run it with phantom or with a battery. I have had no feedback problems with it; it has a very workable sweet spot; and it's rugged enough for stage use.

    Whether it will work well with a loud band, or through an acoustic amplifier rather than a PA system, I'm not so sure (no pun intended).
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    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Default Re: amplification question

    Some folks last month were discussing a lavalier mic. and how to modify the tie clip to not bite into the wood , as you clip it to the edge of the F hole.
    Narrow pattern seems to offer more space to hide monitors outside of that narrow sensitivity.

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    Default Re: amplification question

    Thanks for the reccomondations. It is not sounding very likely that [I] will be able to pull off the mic thing. I just don't want to go elctric unless I have to, because the sound gets closer and closer to the guitar. (And I love the why my mandolin sounds, just want it louder.) Does anybody have any good experience with the clip on? Does anyone clip it on their toneguard? Which Lavalier? Do I point it right at the lower sound hole? Lots of questionds I Know. I appreciate the help!

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    garded
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    Default Re: amplification question

    Almost anything can be cured when you throw enough $$$ at it. That being said, if you have no soundman to mix you, the lavalier has many problems. They range from the fact you induce feedback with any mic when you get it close to source. This can be somewhat changed with placement. But then you need to do work with notch filters and parametric eq's. A soundman can address these issues because they will change with weather, venue, and the other myriad of things that change from gig to gig and most of which are not really apparent until you start playing. People see pro's like Thile using 'em and don't take into account that he has a good soundman with him, or that shear amount of expertise it takes to make something work right. Add to this the soundman is mixing his volume, changing settings as needed, and that they are playing with other acoustic instruments, using the same mic setup, and that they step up to the LDC they sing through to add volume for a solo. In a loud situation like you are talking about, I would say it would be next to impossible with a lavalier.

    Pickup's like the Shertler are a popular solution. But all of this takes messing with and problem solving. There is no free lunch/easy solution. Everything is a trade off. And what works for one person is a waste with another.

    My solution is a hypercardiod mic. I used a Peavey 480 for years, and every other mando player who used it liked it too. It was the least likely to feedback, had great output and I liked it's proximity effect for tone. But only once did I try to do this with a what you might call a rock jamband, and it was not too effective. Good luck.

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    Registered User foldedpath's Avatar
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    Default Re: amplification question

    I've had to start exploring mic options for my current group, but we're an "acoustic" setup without the high volume levels of an electric blues band. What I'm trying at the moment is the ATM350 clip-on mini condenser:

    http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/ATM350/

    There is a less expensive version, but the model number escapes me at the moment. K&K also makes one that doesn't need phantom power like this one does. I'm using it with the included mini-gooseneck mount:

    http://www.sweetwater.com/images/clo...TM350_clip.jpg

    I have it clipped onto my Tone Guard so nothing touches the mandolin, and the mic is aimed very close to the lower F-hole. That's about as much gain before feedback as you can get with an external mic, and it's still fairly natural-sounding to my ears. Not quite as good as a mic placed 6-8 inches away where the tone can bloom, and you're hearing the whole soundboard. But it's still a lot more "acoustic" sounding than a any pickup I've heard.

    A less bulky arrangement is to use a mini-condenser with an alligator tie clip mount, clamped directly to the top at the lower F-hole. However, I suspect that's a bit less resistant to feedback than the gooseneck mount, since it's directly coupled to the vibrating top of the mandolin. It still works, but you might not get quite as much gain before the body resonance goes into feedback. As TonyP mentioned, at some point you may need to get into parametric EQ's or auto feedback-killing circuits to deal with this.

    As well as this mic is working for what I'm doing now, I don't think it would have worked at the volume levels of the last electric, Chicago-style blues band I played in. I'm almost positive I would have needed at least a pickup, preferably a magnetic-type like a humbucker. Maybe something like the one built into the Phoenix Jazz mandolin, or the humbucker on my Breedlove/Zenkl 4-string mandola. Humbuckers are pretty feedback resistant, and when used on a hollowbody instrument you still get a more "acoustic" tone than going to a solidbody mandolin.

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    Default Re: amplification question

    If you want an "acoustic" sound at loud band volumes, check out the Godin A-8. It's the only thing I've found that works well for that situation. They sound not at all like an "electrified" mandolin, which is what you get if you put a magnetic pickup (humbucker or single coil) on an instrument.

    I generally use a Schertler (pricey) or a Baggs Radius on my old Flatiron F-5 for playing in bluegrass/Celtic/folk and some country contexts, but it won't cut it in a loud electric blues context.
    EdSherry

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    Default Re: amplification question

    Just to piggyback on the question a bit...
    I'm having the same issue, but in a rock/pop band. Band leader wants to remain as acoustic as possible while adding a drummer, 2 percussionists, and a trombone player.

    I play guitar (electric and acoustic) and mostly mandolin (mandobird and Vessel F5). I love the sound of my Vessel F5 but SM 57's aren't cutting it. I've been thinking about a condenser mic like the AKG C 430, as well as the possible necessity of something like a Godin A-8.

    Can anyone comment on the pros and cons of a condenser mic?
    Will a sound engineer be necessary to the good function of a condenser mic?

    Thanks!
    Daniel

  12. #12
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    Default Re: amplification question

    I used a low cost condenser mic at the lectern of a small public event, its generally a bit more sensitive, so people that stood a foot away from the mic could be heard.

    similar with instruments, sensitivity gain, works at a bit more distance, but also can pick up the background stuff too..
    as opposed to a dynamic that you are right on top of , within spitting distance .

    as to sound guys, can you hear what the house hears from on the stage?
    rather difficult to be 2 places at once.


    Pickups attached to the soundboard of an acoustic mandolin will hear the part it is attached to, but the responsiveness of the spruce top is just as happy picking up sound pressure waves from
    the monitor and amplifying that.

    so that is where you have some sorting out , EQ /feedback busters, etc
    Last edited by mandroid; Oct-06-2008 at 8:27pm.
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    Default Re: amplification question

    Here are my various personal solutions:

    1) For almost any gig where I can get away with a purely acoustic approach, I use a Shure KSM27, truly one of the best live sound condenser mics for acoustic instruments (applies to anything in the KSM series).

    2) For amplification, I use a '96 Trace Acoustic TA100 concert (2-5" speakers and a 12") amplifier. The transducer, at present, is a Baggs Radius. Best of what I've used (including a Shertler), but still not a great solution. My opinion in general is that any pickup/transducer is a poor option compared to a good condenser mic. However, what does make it work is to pair it with great preamplification. In my opinion, nothing rivals a Trace Acoustic for acoustic amplification.

    I use the amp in the rock band I play in (along w/ a vintage Super Reverb for electric work).

    3) If I just need to DI, I use a Trace Acoustic Acoustic Preamp DI (footpedal version). Basically the preamp of the Trace Acoustic TA100 w/o the graphic eq and the reverb.

    In both cases of amplification, I still use my KSM27 whenever possible. I will usually use the mic as a solo boost. It gives me a slightly more direct sound (when using the amp) as well as being more acoustic in nature. In the case of the DI, I'll try to use a mic too to capture the acoustic sound, but without the fear of feedback since I don't need a really hot mic.

    I am researching the ATM350 clip on. I want to move away from the Baggs and go that route. I may not change on the mandolin, but this may be the direction I take with my octave mando.

    Jim

  14. #14

    Default Re: amplification question

    Jim, have you had any experience with the AER amps, specifically the Cube 60? I've had good luck with it. I'd just be interested in your thoughts on it.

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    Default Re: amplification question

    The problem is that the kind of music we're talking about evolved because of the innate abilitiy of certian forms of instruments to play LOUD. Solid-body guitars, drums, horns, electronic keyboards. They are loud because they can be. Trying to fit an instrument from a different world into the mix is HARD. You can have:

    1. Pure acoustic tone
    2. Extreme volume
    3. Easy and cheap

    But you can only pick two of the three.
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    Registered User Matt Hutchinson's Avatar
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    Default Re: amplification question

    My band has drums and a brass section. Although all the instruments are acoustic the overall volume (with 8 players) is LOUD. I'm starting to realise that I'll always struggle to get a good, natural sound at gigs. For volume and flexibility I think I'll have to sacrifice tone a bit. I definitely don't want a solid body electric mandolin though.

    Options seem to be an internal pickup and me accepting it won't sound as good as my Flatiron does acoustically or possibly a Shippey electric mando. The Shippeys have hollow chambers in the body to produce a more acoustic tone but have the benefits of solid bodied mandos when it comes to amplification. Haven't found one I can try though yet.....

    I'm realising that I won't get a 'natural' sound at gigs but, with 8 instruments including drums, brass and accordion, the space for mandolin in the mix isn't huge anyway. Time to bite the bullet and find an alternative!
    Rigel A Natural

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    Default Re: amplification question

    Quote Originally Posted by Tim2723 View Post
    The problem is that the kind of music we're talking about evolved because of the innate abilitiy of certian forms of instruments to play LOUD. Solid-body guitars, drums, horns, electronic keyboards. They are loud because they can be. Trying to fit an instrument from a different world into the mix is HARD. You can have:

    1. Pure acoustic tone
    2. Extreme volume
    3. Easy and cheap

    But you can only pick two of the three.
    Tim--that is an excellent way to put it. The only thing that is 2 and 3 never go with number 1. But, 2 and 3 often do go together.

    Jim

  18. #18
    garded
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    Default Re: amplification question

    When I think about it, there are two examples mando's competing with drums etc, Sam Bush, and Tiny Moore. Sam has more of an acoustic sound, and Tiny used his signature Bigsby solidbody. Sam's signal chain is quite extensive if I remember right besides having like two pickups. It's been a while since I saw what he used, but I think a run down of his rig is on his website.

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    Default Re: amplification question

    Yup Jim, amplification is a compromise we play music through. You can have great tone at high volume, but it is complicated and expensive. You can have extreme volume relatively inexpensively, but you'll sacrifice tone. And you can have good amplified tone on the cheap side, but it won't be really loud without all kinds of problems to juggle.
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