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Rock soundman vs. Acoustic Bluesman

PostPosted: Tue Sep 18, 2007 2:37 pm
by stumblin
As many of you are doubtless aware, and as one Mr. Dog has often pointed out, many rock-oriented soundguys struggle with the sound of an acoustic guitar playing blues.
A case in point happened to me a couple of nights ago. My guitar sounded somehow soft, light and a bit muffled. The sound seemed to lack punch and there was paradoxically both too much and not quite enough top to really cut through. It occurred to me later that the soundman probably looked at the guitar, looked at me and thought "Ah, soft rock ballad settings for this bloke", or something along those lines.
Does anyone have a general set of guidelines for an acoustic blues guitar, either miked up or with pick-ups (in my case with active piezo/internal-mic pick-ups), that I could print off and hand to the soundman, to give him some idea of the sound I'm aiming for

PostPosted: Tue Sep 18, 2007 3:11 pm
by maxx england
This is probably not a great deal of help, but at open mic events, I just ask for the treble to be knocked off a bit, and can you give me a little reverb? Not rocket science, and with experience I will want more, but it suffices now. Oh, and that's running off the pickup, not a mic.

PostPosted: Tue Sep 18, 2007 4:18 pm
by jeffl
HELLUVA post, Andy.... I hope you get some vets checkin' in on this one, 'cuz it's a huge problem out there. I'm interested to see what Grady,Lummo, 601 and a few others have to say about this.

PostPosted: Tue Sep 18, 2007 4:37 pm
by mukluk
i've used this pedal with good results for both guitar and harp. ... sku=151359

maybe try one of them or an EQ pedal out . Does your local brick and mortar store let you test drive pedals? I'm lucky 'cause mine does and it's been a great advantage in not buying something I don't wan't or need (equipment wise)


PostPosted: Tue Sep 18, 2007 5:31 pm
by 601blues
mukluk wrote:i've used this pedal with good results for both guitar and harp. ... sku=151359

maybe try one of them or an EQ pedal out . Does your local brick and mortar store let you test drive pedals? I'm lucky 'cause mine does and it's been a great advantage in not buying something I don't wan't or need (equipment wise)

My 2 cents, I have ran across some sound men, of course Iam a little fish, but there back ground is dj show playing CDs and such, and they play wif tone knobs, most of em really don't know how ta pull out sounds from live artists! When my band plays, My sax player, is a excellant sound man and he either sits it up, or supervises and tell the guy what is what!, Now if I play a show solo, I carry my own stuff because the way I sit up my mains are behind me and I don't need monitors, and I can hear exactly what the people are hearing, But its your show don't be afraid ta get your sound right before you start, If my sound is not good to me then I worried the whole set and it distracts me from my show!

PostPosted: Wed Sep 19, 2007 6:05 pm
by jaybee
what I'd do is either introduce someone I know & trust to the soundman as "my soundman, he'll give you some pointers" and if I'm all alone, ask the soundman to give you the FOH mix in your monitor.
If you have a soundcheck, ask him to start with everything flat, and give him directions yourself. Then just hope and pray he has something better to do during the gig than play with the knobs...

PostPosted: Wed Sep 19, 2007 6:41 pm
by 601blues
:shock: OR hope a bunch of ladies aren't close by!! then he will start turnin all kinds of knobs to impress the ladies, and his eyes are on them and not you!! Iam going ta start carrying a BB gun ta get there attention!!

PostPosted: Sat Sep 22, 2007 8:06 am
by allanlummox
The best thing I've ever read on this subject was some notes by Bob Brozman.

He kind of emphasized having a clear idea of what you wanted - in terms of frequencies, how much monitor you want - and asking for it clearly and politely. There was also a table to get you started.

PostPosted: Sat Sep 22, 2007 8:09 am
by allanlummox
By the way, I generally ask for "A lot of low midrange", "Less/no reverb on my voice" and "Can I hear how it sounds with no monitor?".

PostPosted: Sat Sep 22, 2007 8:15 am
by allanlummox
When I was playing at rock venues in London - notably the "12 Bar Club" - I was plugging my Gibson Acoustic into a DI. It has a Fishman pickup with a preamp - it had an earlier version of the same system at the time. These days, I'll run a Baggs Parametric DI in there as well. But I'm far likelier to be micing the National - usually 2 house vocal mics, usually things that feel like sm57's in the dark.

PostPosted: Sun Sep 23, 2007 1:03 am
by texas blues
I don't think that any soundman is out to wreck us per se. Au contraire...I believe the bulk of good sound comes from myself and the use of quality pu's, amps, mics, etc. I always bring my own no matter who has the pa. I have often listened to myself on tape and realized I tend to play a bit sloppy i.e. creating extraneous noise..such as clicking the slide against the fretboard, not muting properly, bad pick angle and the like. I found my sound to improve when being conscious of these bad habits and correcting them. These are just little thang's only I and not the soundman can do to get a better overall sound. A noise gate is also a handy thang to bring along in my gig bag whether I need it or not. Cheers. TB

PostPosted: Fri Sep 28, 2007 2:50 pm
by stumblin
Thanks guys.
That Broz tip will, hopefully, provide some of the answers I'm looking for.
I'm printing it off now, to peruse at leisure once the kettle's boiled.

PostPosted: Sat Sep 29, 2007 10:40 am
by maxx england
Some of you might know of Michael Messer. It looks like he's got it pretty well sussed:

Just go to the left of the page and all the way down to Technical Information For Venues.

PostPosted: Sun Sep 30, 2007 4:07 am
by grady
I use a LR Baggs Paracoustic DI which has all the EQ adjustments one needs for Acoustic Guitar.
I tell the sound guy to set the EQ on the Guitar Channel flat and I'll adjust my Tone from the stage.

PostPosted: Thu Oct 04, 2007 1:42 am
by jellyroll baker
I'm only a dabbler in the sound but I've managed to pull some good noises out of guitars in my time. I usually try to do as little as possible. Set the EQ flat and adjust slightly to compensate for piezo quack of some guitarists tendancy to over-emphasise the bottom end in their picking style. IF one frequence isn't coming through I won't boost it - I tend to another frequency to provide more balance in the mix.

One thing that I have learned is that the sound guy needs to get away from the desk, walk around the room and listen. For some reason just about every desk I've encountered is in the worst possible part of the room. Often they have a great big hard wall behind them, are far away from the FOH speakers are are trapped in a tiny corridor. You'll NEVER hear what the audience here's by staying behind the desk.

On that topic it's important to remember that what you hear through the foldback often has very little to do with what the punters hear FOH. When soundcheking turn the foldback off. The sound through the foundback is for the performers benefit and what sounds good to a performer often sounds dreadful to a guy just wanting a beer, some crisps and some tunes.

And that's everything I know about mixing a band. Hope it helps.