Miking an acoustic for intimate live performance???

Topshelf Tone

Member
Messages
41
Hey fellow TGP'ers, I have recently found myself getting more into acoustic playing, and I've been accompanying a female friend of mine who is a great singer songwriter. I recently bought a wonderful new acoustic, a Martin 000-15sm. It sounds absolutely beautiful at home and with a condenser mic on it in my home studio. This is the main application I intended to use the guitar for, but that brings me to my next question...

I haven't got around to installing a pickup in it yet, and we have some small, winery/coffee shop type gigs coming up. What is the consensus on miking an acoustic in this setting? Is the potential for feedback prohibitive to getting a good sound? Ever since I've starting recording a miked acoustic vs using a pickup I've been keenly aware of the sonic shortcomings of piezo pickups. Is there a certain type of mic that handles this type of situation particularly well? Or do I need to bite the bullet and instal a pickup? Thanks in advance for the wisdom.
 

Bluedano1

Member
Messages
7,045
A Shure SM-57 ( usually $99 or less) or a Condenser mic ( which may need phantom power, which many mixers have...) are my two cheap suggestions

If you are not moving round, using two, one pointing at the end of the fingerboard, and another aimed at the bridge area of bass bout are good starting places.
Just my 2 cents.

a personal anecdote:
The internal PU/preamp system on my aging Martin, which IMO, sounds very good usually, is NOT currently working! ( something not making contact)

So I found my old Dean Markley ProMag soundhole pickup ( bought over 30 years ago, for another guitar- I rarely used it as I was not really doing acoustic gigs, yet...) and dropped it into my Martin ( the cable just comes out ot the soundhole to mixer).
It sounds pretty good! Not boxy or electric-guitar sounding , well balanced.
It is NOT active, so not very strong, but as most mixing boards have a Gain AND Volume control on each channel, I get enough volume to be heard just fine. Still made and cheap!
 

mccreadyisgod

Member
Messages
420
Literally the oldest question in acoustic guitar amplification. Outboard mic leads to feedback, plus differences in volume and tone when the player moves around. Onboard mic is more consistent, but has its own problems. Pickup is the best volume-before-feedback, and outboard processing (including digital imaging or modeling) can make them sound surprisingly natural, but they all have tonal weaknesses, so it depends on what you want to maximize vs. minimize on your tone. There are blender systems, with onboard pickups and microphones both, which attempt to be the best of both worlds. If I was in your shoes, I'd lean that direction, like a LR Baggs Anthem or Fishman Ellipse. Otherwise, I'd lean towards something like a DPA 4099 mic with the DPA GC4099 guitar mic clip/mount.
 

Topshelf Tone

Member
Messages
41
Literally the oldest question in acoustic guitar amplification. Outboard mic leads to feedback, plus differences in volume and tone when the player moves around. Onboard mic is more consistent, but has its own problems. Pickup is the best volume-before-feedback, and outboard processing (including digital imaging or modeling) can make them sound surprisingly natural, but they all have tonal weaknesses, so it depends on what you want to maximize vs. minimize on your tone. There are blender systems, with onboard pickups and microphones both, which attempt to be the best of both worlds. If I was in your shoes, I'd lean that direction, like a LR Baggs Anthem or Fishman Ellipse. Otherwise, I'd lean towards something like a DPA 4099 mic with the DPA GC4099 guitar mic clip/mount.
Awesome man, thank you! I apologize for asking such a repeated question but appreciate the detailed response. I haven’t even begun to dig into aftermarket pickup options yet, so I suppose that will be my next step.
 

Irving Pye

Member
Messages
533
I had a 000-15m that got lost with a piano and harp. In a small setting( about 400 sq. ft.) I used my loudbox mini with both a sure 57/58 and the results were great.
 

hunter

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
6,473
Way back, I did mic'd acoustic gigs. I have the mic screen dents on my guitar to prove it. It is certainly possible but since the advent of decent acoustic pickups and preamps, I don't want to go back. Always too much risk of feedback. And staying on mic requires practice and concentration. All else fails get a Fishman Rare Earth magnetic pickup, humbucking variety. Not perfect but workable especially with a decent preamp. I have an early version that got me through for quite a while. Easy to install and remove too if you are comfortable dangling a wire. Bet the heck out of that De Armond I started out with.

hunter
 

Bluedano1

Member
Messages
7,045
I had a 000-15m that got lost with a piano and harp. In a small setting( about 400 sq. ft.) I used my loudbox mini with both a sure 57/58 and the results were great.
Nice and simple!
Loudbox Mini is IMO the perfect small gig amp!
Simple, small, two indie channels, and a warm tone
 

lschwart

Member
Messages
651
It's also worth remembering that in an intimate setting, even with a pick up, the audience is still going to hear a fair amount of the natural sound of the guitar, which, of course, is even better than a mic. Amplification in this sort of setting is really a matter of filling out, balancing, and reinforcing the natural sound. You don't have to create and project a fully amplified mix.

And I agree with others that a blended mic/pickup system of one kind or another is the best solution, since it will let you be flexible about the mix of the two, with the possibility of going full pickup when the room is just too feedback prone. After that, there's the digital IR route--something like a Tonedexter.

Louis
 

doc

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
6,956
My advice:
If you're playing at low levels inside only (or where you're protected from wind at least) to a small crowd and you don't need to move around much, cheapest good solution is to just mic it. Best is a small condenser mic, but generally for live, easiest and cheapest just to get a standard dynamic mic like a Shure SM-57. This assumes you're going right into a PA or decent acoustic amp.
 

kkregsg

Member
Messages
4,362
I've never added a UST to my 72 Martin. I used the SM57 for a long time. I also have an original Bill Lawrence sound hole pick up that comes in handy. For small indoor space, a condenser Mic will sound best, if feedback can be controlled. Possible big IF.

A good combo system with both UST and a Mic into a good preamp is the answer. The Fishman Loubox mini has a good reputation, too.
 




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