Acoustic Guitar in a band. How?

Discussion in 'Acoustic Instruments' started by Tinman, Jun 27, 2006.


  1. Tinman

    Tinman Member

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    I just started a new band, and for the first time, I need to play an acoustic on several songs, maybe a whole set. I have no experience playing an acoustic in a band, and you should know that I'll be playing with another guitarist who will be playing regular old electric. I would like your suggestions as far as what kind of system to put on my acoustic. Sound-hole pickup? Piezo? I have a Seagull dreadnaught with no electronics. Do I need a different guitar? Do I need an acoustic amp? My role with the acoustic will be strictly rythym. Other than the two guitars, the band has drums and bass. We're doing Alt-Country, Rock-a-Billy, and some old country. I would appreciate any suggestions.
     
  2. doc

    doc Member

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    Depending on the amount you want to spend and the sound quality you need there are many options. Usually in a band setting with drums and electric however, you probably want to lean primarily on a magnetic pickup. You'll have trouble with being heard with most other type pickups unless your band is sympathetic. I'd check out a Baggs M1 first.
     
  3. thesedaze

    thesedaze Member

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    lr baggs m1 active is a good solution for the money. I prefer the sunrise, but they get a little costly once you get the preamp.
     
  4. Realfi

    Realfi trying to re-MEMBER Silver Supporting Member

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    The Baggs M1 is a great option.

    The lead singer in our band uses two Gibsons. We've settled on a system where they both have M1 passives which we then run into a Baggs Para DI. It seems to work really well for our Alt-country/rock stuff.

    The set-up:-

    Guitars from M1 into Para DI

    From the Para DI the balanced output goes to the FOH PA as the 'acoustic' sound.

    We then take an instrument level output from the Para which goes to a Fender Super reverb reissue for a hybrid acoustic/electric rhythm sound which we mic and then send to another PA channel.

    This set-up is good for two reasons:

    1 It gives the sound guy two sounds to blend depending on the song and penty of level to get above drums, bass and my Telecasters.

    2 Having an onstage monitor for the acoustic guitar means that the acoustic doesn't have to be loud in the monitors which lessens the chance of feedback and makes singing easier for everyone.
     
  5. retro surfer

    retro surfer Member

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    agree the Baggs is sweet if money is available try a Taylor with the expression system if money is everywhere snag a Taylor T5
     
  6. Ed Packer

    Ed Packer Silver Supporting Member

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    I use a PRS HBII or a Baker B1-C, both with piezo. The "Nashville-ready" piezo on the Baker sounds better. I run them thru a Hot Rod Deluxe and a Crate Acoustic D-125.
    We do lots of old Beatles covers and other tunes which really benefit from that acoustic "sheen". I don't think I'll ever buy another "gigging" guitar without piezo.
    For straight acoustic gigs, I love my Gibson J-185 EC.
     
  7. Tinman

    Tinman Member

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    Great information gentlemen. Much appreciated. You have given me a great starting point and I welcome any more suggestions. Thanks especially to Realfi for breaking down the whole setup.
     
  8. Dan Desy

    Dan Desy Member

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    I use a piezo bridge on an electric for all the acoustic parts in my band. Besides not having to lug an acoustic to gigs, it sounds more than good enough, and it's a lot more versatile. It allows me to switch between electric and acoustic instantaneously or blend them for some parts.
     
  9. Brett Valentine

    Brett Valentine Member

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    +1 on the piezo bridge on the electric as a second option. If you're only doing strumming, it should do pretty good. If you don't want to go active on the pickup, you'll need an external preamp with a high enough input impedence (at least 1 meg ohm) (LR BAGGS Para Acoustic DI will work). If you add a volume pedal to the effects loop, you could just blend it in at any time. What I ended up doing instead of using the supplied stereo out jack was to drill a hole for a second dedicated piezo out jack (making sure to connect the piezo's ground wire to the ground of the magnetic p/u jack) which allowed me to not have to be tied to a narrow brand range of stereo "Y" cables.


    Brett
     
  10. rmconner80

    rmconner80 Cantankerous Luddite Silver Supporting Member

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    My band plays acoustic shows and electric shows, so I am playing acoustic sometimes. Our singer is always strumming acoustic. We both run the LR Baggs Element which is an under saddle transducer (UST). It uses and endpin jack which is nice. The M1 is supposed to sound great but I shy away from anything that obscures the soundhole. I just can't pick with them in there. Also, to really install it correctly, you should get the endpin jack. By then you might as well do the UST or the iBeam. Some of these pickups are prone to a little bit of feedback problems if installed incorrectly, or if they just don't get along with the guitar, or if the soundman doesn't know what he's doing.

    Also, if you want it to sound decent, I highly recommend the Baggs Para Acoustic DI (as above) or some other high quality direct box. It makes all the difference!!

    Even with all that, it still kind of sounds half assed compared to the natural sound of an acoustic guitar, but what can you do? It gets the point across fine and doesn't cost an arm and a leg.
     
  11. Realfi

    Realfi trying to re-MEMBER Silver Supporting Member

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    As mentioned by others any pickup is always going to be a pale imitation. I guess the trick is to find a workable sound that is representative of what you're trying to get across.

    I mentioned in another thread that we did a really intimate gig last Saturday in a purely acoustic format. Because I didn't want to present a harsh pickup sound in those surroundings we grouped Bluegrass style around my Rode K2 valve condenser. It was so nice hearing the acoustics and vocals like that!

    Going back to my LB6 and the singers M1 into a PA in noisy bar surroundings last night was a bit of a let-down!
     
  12. Scott Peterson

    Scott Peterson Staff Member

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    Do a search on my posts about the Line 6 Variax 700 Acoustic in this section.

    Suffice to say, it has been 2 years now since I spent thousands and thousands of dollars searching out an acoustic solution to live playing that really a) sounded good; and b) didn't feedback like mad.

    It's an incredible instrument for the stage.
     
  13. stephenT

    stephenT Silver Supporting Member

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    if you want to play that thing (and not just strum it) a Sunrise is the only way to go. if you want to be really happy, get a Rivera Sedona acoustic tube amp as well.
     
  14. DiazDude

    DiazDude Member

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    I have a LR Baggs piezo Strat X Bridge in my 60 NOS and use it through a Fender Acoutisonic Amp & Countryman direct box to the PA.
    AWESOME combination!! And I can switch to electric on the fly.
    Great for songs like "Behind Blue Eyes" ect.
     
  15. raz

    raz Member

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    BIG time. I'm not crazy about it for playing a true acoustic gig; for that I like to feel and hear the instrument acoustically. But with other electric instruments? It's a no brainer. Variax acoustic every time. Absolutely huge sound. Big thanks for Scott Peterson's recommendations on this.

    (And yes, I DO have two very lovely, very expensive acoustic instruments and all the right stuff to amplify them. I'll STILL take the Variax for playing with the band.)
     
  16. Noah

    Noah Supporting Member

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    Based on the advice from the posts here I'm interested to check out an acoustic Variax. Can you run it through your regular rig just like another electric guitar?
     
  17. 62Tele

    62Tele Supporting Member

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    I'll +1 the Baggs M1A rec's. I also have to say that after playing Sunrises for MANY years with their pre-amp and others, I like the M1A as well or better. It's more alive and acoustic sounding, particularly as a single source. But they ALL sound like pickups and none of them sound like a good condenser in front of a good acoustic.

    Use a good parametric EQ - I use a Carl Martin Parametric EQ since it's built like a tank, comes (only) in a pedal format and is nearly rack quality with 1/4" and XLR's out. A lot of folks seem to like the Baggs Para DI - same idea. Run either directly to the board and you'll get a pretty reasonable sound if you EQ it right.

    I have an I-Beam in my Collings OM - great sounding pickup, but too feedback prone for band volumes. Since the Collings aint no band guitar it's not an issue. Just for reference, I've never really liked the sound of piezos - not trying to flame anybody here, it's just a matter of taste and everybodies idea of "acoustic" sounding seems to be a little different. Good luck!
     
  18. suttree

    suttree Member

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    another option: i'd strongly recommend hunting on ebay for an alvarez DY-88. they're killer, the system 500/600 pre-amps are world class, and they don't feed back either. they work for warren haynes, and many other players. you can get a good used one for under a thousand, and they feel and respond like an acoustic (great necks, too). playing a piezo bridge is fine if you're adding a chord sheen to something, but won't pass the muster if you're laying down neil young tunes or something where you gotta thump the guitar.

    as to an acoustic amp.. i would never.. you're way better off spending the same amount on a little behringer mixer and an EV SXA-250. for about the same as a decent acoustic amp, you'll get 430 watts of power that kicks back like a monitor. plus, buy a second one you're on your way to having a full PA (you'll just need a couple small monitors to do pubs and coffee houses nicely... add a sub or two, you're in bars).

    my 2 cents worth..
     
  19. 62Tele

    62Tele Supporting Member

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    Couldn't agree more with the powered monitor idea - use one with a pre and you have an acoustic amp, use two with a small mixer and you have a PA. Lot more bang for the buck and wattage more appropriate for sound reproduction (would you SING through 60 watts?). Something like the mackie SRM's and an Onyx board make a realy nice and versatile setup (you can run firewire and record to your computer with the board - added bonus - and the preamp quality is very good for a board).
     

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