Who has the absolute best live acoustic/electric tone and what are they using?

Discussion in 'Acoustic Instruments' started by McStrats, Jul 14, 2010.

  1. McStrats

    McStrats Member

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    I'm actually looking to upgrade the Fishman UST in my Martin D-1 ( which is used with a Fishman Pro EQ). So rather than writing a thread asking for pickup recommendations, I figured I would ask instead who has the best a/e sound **I do realize that "best" is highly subjective btw**For me "best" is a tone that is a good acoustic electric tone...as opposed 'the sound of my Martin only louder'. The latter works well in a parlour but turns to mush in a noisey environment....Good A/E tone is what I'm after.

    For me it's Tommy Emanuel, but his use of a pair of condenser mics is highly unpractical for me. I mainly gig in crowded bars where I set up a small PA and need something that is fairly plug n play friendly. I've had decent luck with the Fishman Matrix, but the plasticky quack I get on the treble strings has to go. Money is not an issue btw, I am also considering buying a dedicated acoustic electric guitar.

    Things I'm considering:

    Baggs Anthem (real anxious to know more about this)
    B Band
    McIntyre
    Sunrise
    Fishman Aura Pedal
    Fishamn Infinity

    **Bug transducers like K&K and the I-Beam are too prone to feedback and therefore not an option.

    Thanks.
     
  2. wilblee

    wilblee Hack sans shame Gold Supporting Member

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    My favorite gigging acoustic - in a noisy environment (which it is 90+% of the time) - is an Ovation 2007 Collectors series with a OP-Pro Studio preamp swapped in for the stock VIP preamp. The OP-Pro Studio is seriously misnamed, IMO. The VIP is actually the far better recording preamp while the OP-Pro Studio is the better performing preamp. It has the great sound of the regular OP-Pro preamp while adding a built-in compressor and exciter, both adjustable.

    Just for reference - my favorite recording acoustic is my Larrivee LV-09E with the Baggs iMix preamp. I'll mic the Larrivee on a couple of tracks, using condensors (or sometimes ribbons or sometimes both) in a Blumlein configuration and run the Baggs output to another track, then mix and master as required. I've played both of my Larrivee's out live and loved 'em - in a quiet environment, but in a noisy environment the Ovation rules.

    Getcha either a 2005 or a 2007 Collectors series. They both have very nice spruce tops, LX bracing and the contour back. This combo gives a beautifully balanced sound with the contour back also making it easier to hold on to seated. The 2005 has a more traditional single sound hole, while the 2007 has multiple sound holes. There are several other spruce-top models with LX bracing and contour backs. These are just my favorites. Then add a OP-Pro Studio preamp (it's easy. Just pop out the VIP like you were changing the battery and pop in the OPS like you were done changing the battery) and you're on your way.

    You can usually pick up either of these guitars on eBay for well under a grand and the OPS will set you back about $200, new.
     
  3. McStrats

    McStrats Member

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    Thanks Wilblee...thats something I had not thought of. What do you think of the Standard Elite with OP Pro?
     
  4. derekd

    derekd Member

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    I really was impressed with Andy McKee's tone when I saw him at the Montreal Jazz Fest a couple of weeks ago. He was playing only Greenfield guitars, which are very expensive. Not sure what electronics he is using, and his site didn't seem to offer any answers.
     
  5. Catoogie

    Catoogie Senior Member

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    Neil Young, he has stereo Fraps in his guitar but they don't make them anymore. Apparently the closest thing to them are being made by http://www.tranceaudio.com/
     
  6. slowth

    slowth Member

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    anthen might be an exciting trial for you.. read impressive stuff
     
  7. hazel-rah

    hazel-rah Supporting Member

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    The "absolute best tone" would only come via microphone(s).
     
  8. wilblee

    wilblee Hack sans shame Gold Supporting Member

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    The 2778AX is a great guitar that gives you just about all that the '05 and '07 Collectors give you. What you get by going with the latter two models is:

    - better top wood
    - ebony fretboard and bridge instead of rosewood (personal preference for me. You may like rosewood better)
    - nicer cosmetics (IMO)
    - XLR and 1/4" outs
    - made in the US

    The OP-Pro Studio is basically an OP-Pro with a built in compressor and exciter. This allows you to dial in killer tone with controls all on your guitar. I have gigged with the OP-Pro, the VIP and the OP-Pro Studio and the OP-Pro Studio is easily the best of the three for live applications. This really came home to me when I lent it to my partner, who plays an '05 Collectors with its standard OP-Pro. The OP-Pro is a wonderful preamp that doesn't need to apologize to anyone and he and I both have used one for years with no complaints. But when I tried the OP-Pro Studio it was just that much better. Anyway I lent it to him to try out, so he could see if he wanted one. I had a heck of a time getting it back (He'll be buying one shortly). In the time that he had it I was able to listen to it without the distraction of playing through it and was convinced of its superiority to anything else in my arsenal, including the Baggs iMix on my Larrivees, for live playing in a club type environment.

    Now, having said all that, if you get the 2778AX with the OP-Pro you will, right away, have a great guitar for what you're looking for and may never feel the need to upgrade. If you do upgrade, the biggest improvement would be to get the OP-Pro Studio.

    For more info (and more opinions) stroll around the Ovation Fan Club site. Do a search in the General Posting section for OP-Pro Studio.

    Happy hunting.
     
  9. Pietro

    Pietro 2-Voice Guitar Junkie Silver Supporting Member

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    These are amazing.

    The best plugged in acoustic sound I've heard might be James Taylor. What does he use?
     
  10. drive-south

    drive-south Member

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    James Taylor seems to change his rig frequently. A few years back he was using the Fishman Aura, the large programmable model. He actually sent his Olson guitar to Fishman and they created a special image of his guitar. Fishman will do this for anyone for a price. Last I heard JT was using something else now.

    The best acoustic tone I've heard was Richard Thompson. He amplifies his Lowden acoustic with a Sunrise soundhole pickup, and an internal mic. He plays them through a very esoteric preamp called a "Gas Cooker" preamp.

    The best acoustic tone generally involves using a dual element system with a pickup and mic. The pickup gives you volume without feedback, and the mic adds the natural tone of the guitar to the mix. I prefer to use an external mic on a stand in front of me. I've never had good luck with internal mics. I good mic on a stand can be used with multiple instruments when needed.

    Another great pickup is the Schertler DYN-G. This is actually a contact mic that attaches to the guitar with soft putty. They're not cheap, selling for ~$500.

    The Trance Audio stuff is supposed to be the best out there. It's not cheap. Plan on spending close to $1k to amplify 1 guitar. If you are like me and play several guitars, the cost is prohibitive.

    I've heard good things about the Highlander coaxial pickup. A lot of people love them incuding David Crosby. These are difficult to install and have to be set just so to sound good. Highlander also makes pickups for Resophonic guitars including Tricones, biscuits, and spiders.

    drive-south
     
  11. Jazzydave

    Jazzydave Seeker Gold Supporting Member

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    I'm currently using a Baggs M1A in my Martin HD-28 Custom...love it.

    Someone that immediately came to mind was Leo Kottke - I'm not sure as to what he's currently using but he always sounds great!
     
  12. Mitchell

    Mitchell Member

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    Yes, Richard Thompson, his Lowden, sunshine and mic and his live sound mixer-- It’s great, possibly the best live amplified acoustic sound. However, his hands, his touch, his genius and what he is playing are very big factors (perhaps the biggest factors) in why he sounds as he does IMHO. If a mere mortal like me picked up and played his guitar immediately after he played it without anything at all being changed, I think (know) it would sound entirely different from him. It would sound just like a mere mortal playing a very good guitar through very good gear. D’ya notice that the “best” acoustic guitar sounds (electric too) are usually, if not always, made by the best guitarists?

    Whatever p.u. Martin put in my ’92 D-45, through an old Crate (out of issue) 100W acoustic amp with the graphic E.Q. in an extreme mid-cut smile, with a little Jangle Box II compression with no treble boost, is magic. It almost makes me sound good.
     
  13. A-Bone

    A-Bone Gold Supporting Member

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    Richard Thompson was my first thought, as well.
     
  14. zenitB

    zenitB Supporting Member

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    +1

    I'll also mention that some guitars sound a little boomy when miked. When I hear one that is really balanced and natural sounding I notice that it is
    often a mahogany body (like a Gibson LGO); they record well too.
     
  15. walterw

    walterw Gold Supporting Member

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    they also sound better than USTs, so don't be so quick to rule them out.

    a dual-source system combining this type of pickup with something more feedback-proof is a good idea to explore.
     
  16. lamenlovinit

    lamenlovinit Member

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  17. rollingdam

    rollingdam Supporting Member

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    If you want a dedicated guitar-get a Cole Clark
     
  18. John Thigpen

    John Thigpen Supporting Member

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    Martin Simpson sounds very good live, and he uses (or used to) Highlander.

    John
     
  19. wilblee

    wilblee Hack sans shame Gold Supporting Member

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    Remember guys, Eamonn didn't just ask about good live sound. He asked about good live sound that will cut through a noisy environment. Yeah, James Taylor's rig is awesome, but when I (and I suspect, Eamonn) play I'm not on a stage with a rapt audience dying to hear every note I play. I'm in a corner of a noisy club hoping that I can cut through with my sound enough that people can hear it, like it and leave fat tips.
     
  20. EricatWillcutts

    EricatWillcutts Member

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    I have no idea what he's using, but Jackson Browne gets a beautiful acoustic sound live.Anybody know?
     

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