Grateful Dead Music Forum

A place to talk about the music of the Grateful Dead 

 #149409  by Tbrogit
 Sat Oct 24, 2015 8:25 am
Im interested in hearing what folks are using for their acoustic setups. I run straight a D-28 into a mackie board and Im definitely trying to improve tone. I use one of those lr baggs I-BEAM pickups which are ok but not great. Thinking about adding the Sarno black box to the chain and also thought about maybe using the MC-50 instead of the PA into something like a monitor wedge.
 #149411  by gratefulredhead
 Sat Oct 24, 2015 11:18 am
I'm using a Dimarzio Black Angel soundhole pickup into a Electro Harmonix Black Finger tube compressor, and running that into a pre amp. It sounds better than any under saddle pick up I've ever owned, including the $250 Schertler Lydia EQ I used to have. And the Black Angel is around $150. It sounds warm, full not quacky in the high end, and very feedback resistant.
 #149412  by williamsaut
 Sat Oct 24, 2015 11:32 am
This will be MY next acoustic guitar related purchase:

Fishman Aura Spectrum DI
 #149413  by skajellafetty
 Sat Oct 24, 2015 11:39 am
A good mic. PERIOD. Especially if it's bluegrass. Even a medium quality one properly used is better because of placement away. Yes it's true they are expensive, not easy to use sometimes with feedback, placement / distance during performance.... the whole painful thing about using mics live is well known. But there's a reason Tony Rice & Bryan Sutton & top pickers don't use acoustic pickups (sure Adam Aijala of YMSB or Chris Eldridge of The Punch Bros use em & people have a hoot... but it could be better. Lets face it, all of us on here have an abnormal obsession with tone :smile: )
But while even a LR Baggs Lyric used with Aura or other "high-end acoustic pre's", (or any number of company's making mics for placement inside body) will work fine & most audiences don't really care / know differences, physics demand they sound inferior to projected tone vs inside if you want the best. & when talking about top acoustic tone, imho there's no compromises, no matter the convenience. I have a Huss & Dalton 000 & was tired of dealing with mics & tried a few things like the lyric & sound-hole pickups but were nothing compared to proper micing so I sold em. I also have a Bishline Danny Barnes banjo that comes with a LR Baggs bridge pu that had me excited but is crap compared to micing it. You may need a chair to keep consistent volume, tone, etc but the audience shouldn't care when superior tone is the result. And the right pick... my goodness that's everything too! Try blue chip picks... spendy but worth it.
Last edited by skajellafetty on Sat Oct 24, 2015 3:07 pm, edited 4 times in total.
 #149416  by williamsaut
 Sun Oct 25, 2015 8:47 am
I've tried forever to get a good stage sound through an traditional flat top acoustic guitar using a stand alone amp rig just like my electric and have pretty much given up. First of all, the same open back rig as an electric guitar won't be capable of reproducing the 10Khz high end sparkle and thumping lows needed to get an authentic acoustic guitar sound. This is only possible through a speaker cab that's closed back and includs a horn driver like a typical PA cab. Going direct through the sound board and using a floor monitor seems to be the best solution but many here don't regularly use a sound guy and having just one acoustic guitar going through the sound system and everybody else using discrete on stage amps unless mic'd is a difficult mixing problem which rarely works out unless the overall sound level is kept comfortably low. IF everyone's willing to go direct and keep the sound levels reasonably low. A Bose L1 system on each side of the stage in back of everyone can double as both a main and monitor PA system save another powered monitor on the floor in the middle of the stage. A country band I've been in has used this setup exclusively for many years now and it works very well. Venue plays a big part if trying to use an outside the instrument mic. Outside, the lack of reflected sound seems to allow higher gain levels before feedback but unfortunately, usually, the overall sound levels on stage are that much higher outside for the same reasons. Inside, the smaller the room, the more the reflected sound and the less doable a mic is, again, unless the stage volume is kept pretty low. Imo this is for external OR internal micing.

I've been on the look out for an old Line 6 Variax 600 acoustic modeling guitar. These instruments are unique in that they model and acoustic guitar sound with virtual mic placement controls on the guitar for some pretty authentic sounds. These were chambered solid body instruments so capable of high sound levels on stage without feed back. There are other chambered acoustic instruments out there with combinations of piezo and/or magnetic pickups that would be ideal for use with a tone modeling pedal like the auura. Taylor T5, Godin A6, Alvarez Fusion (fishman aura on board), Epiphone's reissue of the SST among others. This set up either straight to board or to an on stage powered monitor would probably be the best for high sound levels on stage in a small venue without feed back. Of course, if a "Jerry sound" is what your after which is often the case on the board, any old Alvarez acoustic from the same era as the ones Jerry used straight to sound board or on stage powered monitor would capture that quacky sound he got but IMO not really a good sound.

If I had the $2k-$3k laying around for experimenting with, I'd get the Taylor T5 Custom and an Aura preamp and run it through one of my powered monitors on a stand right on stage as a final ditch effort for a discrete on stage acoustic rig capable of high sound levels. The downside to a closed back speaker like a powered monitor is that unless sent out the floor monitors, your fellow musicians on stage will here very little of you. The T5 custom has a magnetic bridge pickup. Maybe be able to get descent electric AND acoustic sounds from a rig like that. Not authentic Jerry sounds but high quality sounds non the less.
 #149417  by aiq
 Sun Oct 25, 2015 9:03 am
Thanks for the thread, I have been playing acoustic some with a friend and plugging straight into the board with suboptimal results.

Just grabbed a used Aura off Reverb.

Appreciate this board.

 #149418  by hippieguy1954
 Sun Oct 25, 2015 9:12 am
Heck, I've been using a Barcus Berry insider or a mic for many years with no problems. I guess it's whatever works for ya. :smile:
 #149419  by aiq
 Sun Oct 25, 2015 9:30 am
I was in a bluegrass band 88-92, in those days at festivals we always played into mics.

Not very satifactory. The best acoustic reproduction I ever witnessed myself was the last version of New Grass Revival when they used a hybrid pu/consenser mic thru a summing amp system.

I got to hear Tony Rice a couple times in DC, he did mics. Not really loud enough.

The few times I have seen someone get it right did sound good. Grisman comes to mind.
 #149422  by williamsaut
 Sun Oct 25, 2015 1:35 pm
When amplifying traditional flat top acoustic guitars by any of the means we've talked about, it's also important to remember that unless you can hear a room recording of your sound, your probably not making an accurate assessment of your sound. When your right up against your guitar with your ears about a foot away and your body touching it, these sounds and vibrations affect how you interpret the perceived sound. Lows are more pronounced and attack more sharp and trebles seem like they have more presence. When you hear it out in the audience or a room recording, it never sounds as good as just sitting alone in a room playing. It's actually very hard to reproduce analog ambient sounds and natural room acoustics.

Anyone whose gone to an orchestral recital will attest that it sounds amazing and surprisingly loud for totally ambient sound. It's amazing how much low end three or four bowed stand up basses combined with timpani can produce. This is the time of year that pipe organs get popular. Anyone who's into classical music, I strongly suggest going to an organ recital or an organ accompanied showing of the Phantom of the Opera. Pipe organ sounds cannot be reproduced by any other means.
 #149425  by tcsned
 Sun Oct 25, 2015 7:38 pm
It depends, with my bluegrass band we just use 2 mics for the whole band an AKG 3000B and a 1000B. I use a Dell 'Arte Macaferri style guitar and it is loud as shit. It does well going into a mic. I struggle a bit using my Taylor 810 and it's pretty loud for a dreadnought. My Dead band does an acoustic trio and I use a Schertler DYN-UNI pickup in my Dell 'Arte and a Schertler Blu-Stik both miniaturized microphones. I have a Schertler Unico amp too that's pretty cool It's a bi-amped studio monitor with 150w 8" speaker and a 30w tweeter and a 3 channel mixer.
 #149432  by strumminsix
 Mon Oct 26, 2015 8:21 am
Tbrogit wrote:Im interested in hearing what folks are using for their acoustic setups. I run straight a D-28 into a mackie board and Im definitely trying to improve tone. I use one of those lr baggs I-BEAM pickups which are ok but not great. Thinking about adding the Sarno black box to the chain and also thought about maybe using the MC-50 instead of the PA into something like a monitor wedge.
I'm still on gigging hiatus but until last year this little guy has gone with me to EVERY gig for over a year: ... erformer-1

and will in the future.

What it is:
INPUTS: 3. 2 channels into front with mixer and FX, 1 rear with level only
OUTPUTS: 3. digitally isolated 1, digitally isolated 2, summed input 1 + 2

For all gigs, electric and acoustic, I put my vox into 1 and feed the SBD from the DI out of ch1
For acoustic gigs, plug my acoustic straight in, use it for FX, tones shapping etc and as my main monitor, send SBD out of ch2
For electric gigs, I put my mic on my amp, get my amp volume to low with enough to gimme a little feel, supplement with amp, send SBD DI out of ch2

For all gigs I also use a SPEAKER/XLR multi-level DI box, grab something off the main monitors, and plug into the rear input.

This gives me FULL control over what I hear, never do I ask the soundguy for ANYTHING except to take his feeds from my setup which are isolated DI and I can hear without massive volume.
 #149433  by Maybeck09
 Mon Oct 26, 2015 8:28 am
I play a lot more acoustic than electric. While I have an awesome Martin HD-28v, I've never been happy with any method I've used for amplification- have tried the K&K Mini western and now have a Baggs Lyric under the bridge, ran both through the baggs DI and always get a boomy tone with that box. So live I play a Breedlove dreadnought with piezo pickup and that allows me to play louder and sounds okay. The main joy is now playing through a GenzBenz Shenandoah Compak 300 amp and then port that through the PA. The amp has a great pre-amp that I can shape the tone and I use it more as a stage monitor so that I can hear myself. That plugged into our little PA works very well for an acoustic duo/tri.
 #149440  by playingdead
 Mon Oct 26, 2015 5:20 pm
The sweet spot miking an acoustic guitar is right about where the neck meets the body. The best possible mic to use live is the DPA 4099 ... used by Sting, Nickel Creek, etc., on pro stages. It clamps (gently) onto the guitar and you can position it to the sweet spot and leave it there.

I have one here, actually, and will give someone a decent price on it, as I moved in more of an electric direction. ... item=24343

I also have that Aura preamp and while it is better, it ain't really all that great : )
 #149458  by Brandon Bowlds
 Wed Oct 28, 2015 2:36 pm
I have played a lot of acoustic gigs. I find that if you have a quiet, attentive audience in a "listening" room, you can get away with just mics. if you are playing a loud bar, you have to plug in. In my old bluegrass band, we had house gig for 7 years and all us plugged in and also supplemented with a mic--either a 57 or condenser that was mounted on the instrument.

these days, I am mostly using a Fishman Artist amp which I am quite happy with. I switch between mandolin and banjo in the acoustic bands I am currently in and it is great to plug each one into its own channel and give the master di out line to the sound guy and be done.