acoustic amp for live/busking use, and other philosophical questions

feet

sexual visionary
Messages
6,064
tl;dr version-

is there an amp that:

-sounds good with floating magnetic pickups and other kinds of pickups as well
-sounds good with flat top and arch top acoustics
-can handle the bass of a 17"x3.5" bodied guitar
-handles vocals well
-is busking friendly- portable, battery powered, etc
-is hopefully under a billion dollars
-can be found easily outside of america (and sold easily, if need be)

long version-

as stated, i'd like to find an amp that can handle vocals and guitar and is small enough that i can use it outdoors. i'd love something busking friendly, but limiting my search to battery powered amps really narrows things down.

my sense is that dedicated acoustic amps sound better than "busking" amps, in a vacuum. busking amps tend to come with with all kinds of effects and amp models and loopers and stuff but don't seem to sound as good (to me, via you tube).

here's where it gets nutty for me: my current "acoustic" amp is an old jc77- like a jc 120 in a 2x10 format. it sounds surprisingly good with my acoustic archtop and its floating magnetic pickup. it sounds pretty horrible with my other acoustics and their varying sound hole pickups. but it looks like the archtop is going to be my live guitar for now. so part of me thinks that the cheesy modeler type amps may actually be better for that guitar, than an actual acoustic amp, which would probably favor the rest of my guitars, though i'm really not one for all the bells and whistles.
 

feet

sexual visionary
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6,064
The few times I have busked, I has been surprised at just how loud the background noise is. My pignose was simply not up to it...aye....
it depends a lot on the varying environmental factors, obviously. I've never done it with an amp before so I can't speak to that, but I know I'm not that loud, though my guitar may be. but I'm not a ham fisted belter so I need all the help from an all I can get.

I figure something like that may be enough for guys noodling over backing tracks, but that isn't me. I need some volume and a wider frequency range, especially for my voice.

I love my Cube Street - might just hit all of your buttons, feet
that looks to be the current leader by default. battery power, jc clean channel for my archtop, takes a mic. other amps probably sound better, but none give the features I need at that price point. I'd like to try a schertler or aer but those are more for gigging and but busking, unless I can figure the power thing out.
 

feet

sexual visionary
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6,064
Carvin S600. I had the previous version the S400 with the matching extension speaker. A friend is using it now for his duo act. http://carvinaudio.com/collections/s600
conceptually fascinating but i'm a little dubious. all the videos and demos seem to focus on what it does and not how it sounds. the very limited acoustic guitar i've heard from it sounded pretty bad. probably only available here in the usa. also far too large and heavy to travel with, but would be great for tossing in your car.

maybe with a good eq/pre amp di type pedal in front, you could have something. its certainly worth keeping an eye on. i guess its too new to have many demos and such.
 
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the thing that I find most attractive about Roland Cubes (I've had several over the years) is how indestructible they are. Totally reliable day in - day out. Particularly if you're lugging one around out on the street . . .
 

johnkoz

Member
Messages
2,821
been thru this; maybe not from acoustic slant, tried quite a few of all the batt. powered offerrings.

cube street
da5
da20
nano vypyr
etc....

DA20 ftw...

...anyone need an as-new cube street, lol?
 

seby

Member
Messages
164
Seconding a lot of the above, the cube seems to be the tool of choice for many, especially here in Sydney.
 

feet

sexual visionary
Messages
6,064
I dunno ... the S400D sounded great for acoustic guitar (and mando, and fiddle, etc) and vocals.
i do like the idea of it, and it looks like a great turn key solution, but i would probably have to buy one to find out. and i'd wonder how it felt about my archtop with a magnetic pickup, and electrics (which generally hate going direct). does it provide power for a pedal board, etc? i'm guessing not.

the thing that I find most attractive about Roland Cubes (I've had several over the years) is how indestructible they are. Totally reliable day in - day out. Particularly if you're lugging one around out on the street . . .
Seconding a lot of the above, the cube seems to be the tool of choice for many, especially here in Sydney.
it looks like i have little choice but to contend with the various roland products out there. i'm waiting until my adapter is shipped to my local guitar center so i can take a peek, and maybe get to the bottom of the ac vs cube thing. see which favors acoustics, electrics and my guitar.

DA20 ftw...
i'm somehow dubious, but listening. i didn't find many demos of any value.

having done more research, it seems like the aer and schertler amps sound the best, in a vacuum (and on you tube). how that serves my needs, if it does, remains to be seen. the schertler giulia y seems to hit a quality/value sweet spot. the aer compact 60 is almost twice the price, and sounds pretty great, too. of course, the roland is literally and figuratively solid, for less than half that, so...

i'm also in contact with the goal zero folks to see if their yeti 150 will power an amp and some pedals, and for how long. that could be interesting, too, though perhaps not something i'd want to lug around abroad.
 
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feet

sexual visionary
Messages
6,064
update- i tried to give the rolands a shot at my local guitar center, but they only had the smaller ones, and none of them had power cables or batteries- one had them at some point because you could see some old battery corrosion there. so that didn't go well.

but i did get to try a few other things that were lying around. the fender acousitisonic 90 (i think it was called) was pretty meh. ditto the marshall they had. both were just kinda flat and dull. more bells and whistles than tone. maybe i needed more time with them but there wasn't anything about them that compelled me to make a greater effort.

the pleasant surprise was the fishman loudboxes. they had an itty bitty one and a larger one. the baby one was very impressive. really good amount of bass and the reverb was decent. i didn't crank it but it seemed to do well at home and up volume levels. it sounded good right in front and from about 5-10' back. sort of heavy given its size, and the sound was just sort of there a little bit. it did lack depth, but i guess you can't really complain at the size and price point. its older brother was better (or course) in every respect, and had a little more depth to it.

i plugged back into the little one with my guitar (a g400) and a j45 i grabbed off the wall. it did a good job of representing either guitar. they both sounded like themselves. the j45 maybe souded a little more natural through it, but its a flattop with the right kind of pickup. the gretsch is an archtop with a floating magnetic pickup, and it still sounded good, but a little metallic in the upper mids and highs (which happens a lot with that guitar). but the eq and guitar knobs helped, so it wouldn't need a lot of post processing or digital fluffing. its a good, usable sound straight in. prehaps more manageable and natural than the roland i'm using now.

sadly, as it isn't battery powered, it doesn't really help me right now. but its good to know, i guess.
 

CactusWren

Member
Messages
818
I use an AER Compact Mobile. It is very expensive, but it sounds great, it's loud, it's battery lasts 4 hours, and it has two channels. It even has a nice little reverb.

I miss the days I would just show up to gigs with my Compact Mobile, my guitar, and a cord.
 

feet

sexual visionary
Messages
6,064
where i'm at now- i did more poking around and a few contenders have arisen. they are:

schertler jam 100
- seems to offer enough of what i need at a manageable size/price point, but i'd have to power it myself, some how.

elite acoustics a4br8- battery powered, built in effects, several channels, but so little info out there. total dice roll on both the company and product, as it seems they are fairly new.

acus oneforstreet- battery powered, decent mix of size and power. but again, little info out there, and only two channels. not sure if it can be found in america and its very near what i'd be willing to spend.

while some of the other offerings like aer and hendriksen look pretty appealing, they are more expensive and require more power, which would be difficult to piece together. i'd still happily settle for a compact 60 or a bud, but i'd also have to budget for possibly another 20-30 lbs of crap to drag around in several pieces. pa systems need more power still, otherwise the fishman and jbl line arrays would be interesting.

also, i can't shake the feeling that an amp would provide the tonal fluffing my guitars may need, the archtop especially. and worst case :)p) i can just settle for a roland. or a fishman, if i find a satisfactory battery/inverter solution.
 

seratone

Member
Messages
184
I don't play on the street - but I have tried a littany of solutions to make an acoustic sound good louder - I picked up one of these a few months ago.

http://mackie.com/products/freeplay

I play in a trio without drums, one fellow and I go through the Mackie and the electric guitar player uses a 5 watt Fender Champion and a reverb pedal....

I use a Digitech Live Harmony for my voice with a headset Mic - and I'm always amazed what the Mackie can pull off.... we sound 'produced', the reverb can be heard an the bottom end is punchy and tight - on both vocals and guitar.
 

feet

sexual visionary
Messages
6,064
hmm... i've sort of purposely avoided things in that price range, especially the do it all boxes, as i would have trust issues with it and all in ones never end well. but this seems nice. but then i realize that there's a nearly $200 up charge for the bag, battery and kickstand, all of which i'd require. which puts it a price point that i'd sooner consider something else.

and while i do like the idea of an app to control things remotely, something tells me i should know better than the rely on my dumpy phone and a pa with no knobs on it. that is bound to end in tears.

but seriously, it seems to sound alright. better than you'd think. the eq curves look good, but this won't do you any favors if your tone already sucks. do like the features on it, also. and its damn light, especially for having an 8" speaker.
 

feet

sexual visionary
Messages
6,064
I use a Digitech Live Harmony for my voice with a headset Mic - and I'm always amazed what the Mackie can pull off.... we sound 'produced', the reverb can be heard an the bottom end is punchy and tight - on both vocals and guitar.
ok, i meant to ask about this and forgot. how are you pulling off the headset mic? which model/system are you using? i've always considered this but am unsure of how and if it works.
 
Messages
6,601
If you have the budget, the AER battery powered amp sounds really nice. You'll probably get a harsher/metalic tone from your archtop with any acoustic guitar amp, but one way around that is to use a Tech21 Sansamp pedal as an tube ampe simulator in front of the acoustic amp. The Tech21 Blonde is a Fender model and probably the best one for jazz tones
 




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