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Acoustic Guitar Live Mic

badjazzbadjazz Maui, Hawaii USA✭✭✭ AJL
I need to get a mic for playing acoustically with a big band. I thought a shure sm57, but then I saw Shure beta 57a as well. Does anybody have any experience with these or recommendations? Thanks!


  • CampusfiveCampusfive Los Angeles, CA✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 98
    I recommend the Rode NT-3 which I think is somewhat similar in profile to the beta 58 - that being a internally shockmounted hypercardiod condenser. The NT3 has a couple features that I think are really crucial.

    The first is an on/off switch, which comes in really handy when trying to avoid feedback when you are not playing and preventing the audience from hearing what you are saying on stage.

    Next is the battery - condensers generally require phantom power, and the NT-3 has a 9v battery, so you can use it where phantom is not provided. I used it the other day with a Roland micro cube (using an imp adaptor). It sounded great. Also the battery lasts a really long time, but I used phantom most of the time anyway.

    Originally I tried using little "pencil" style condensers like people often use from drum overheads. The problem was that the mics picked up every floor vibration and bump, loudly! The NT3 is internally shockmounted, so you can handle mic without hearing everything.

    Finally, the thing sounds really, really good. I've had people remark just how good my guitars sound through it numerous times. It's really natural sounding - not perfect, but natural.

    Also the thing sells for under $200, which is a pretty good deal if you ask me. The build quality is top notch and I've used one now for almost three years now and I've never, ever had a problem. I've used it in many settings both with my small group, my big band and various trios and quartets. Highly recommended.

    PS - I heard Ted G got your ES-150 repro and that its really good. I'm probably going to get to play it through my 185 tomorrow and I'm excited.
  • Posts: 597
    Big band--with horns like in the 40s?

    You may have problems with a mic--too much bleeding from the other instruments. Mics work well in solo settings and can work in small ensembles, but once you get around really loud instruments or really loud venues (ambient noise or even wind) a mic has limitations.

    Maybe Campusfive's suggestion will work, but I'd be curious about experiences with that mic in similar noisy environments.
  • nwilkinsnwilkins New
    Posts: 431
    I recommend the Apex 165. It's like the Shure 98 but better sounding and cheaper.
  • CampusfiveCampusfive Los Angeles, CA✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 98
    Yes, a big band with horns - see and click on the Jonathan Stout Orchestra tab. You'd be surprised what you can get away with when you have good mic placement - both in relation to sources and speakers. It's not like you should really be that loud in a big band. If you are playing in a loud, post 50's style big band, why bother anyway?
  • Posts: 597
    Thanks, Campusfive!

    I looked on the webpage, and it appears that the guitar has a neck p/u? Is he running through an amp or is he being mic'd?

    One pic looks like a mic is nearby--angled from the bottom bout of the guitar, right?
  • CampusfiveCampusfive Los Angeles, CA✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 98
    Also, the "hyper" part of "hypercaridiod" helps also. I just think some people are too reluctant to use mics, so I'm always pro-mic when done right.
    Using quality mics, and using the "right" mic for the job, and inteligently layign out the stage make all the difference.

    When you are playing acoustic music, like acoustic music, you should be able to use mics. That being said, being a really noisy bar is just a crappy place to play acoustic music. At that point you really can't play the music acoustically - so why mic at all?
  • badjazzbadjazz Maui, Hawaii USA✭✭✭ AJL
    Posts: 130
    yes indeed, with horns and such. Well, at least a medium band--about 8 pieces give or take who shows up. I wanted to play all acoustic, but its killing me and I still can barely be heard even with fairly heavy strings and high action. (Also, I'd like to get my gypsy guitar up there at some point, which would never work acoustically) I was unaware that the Shure 57A was a condenser that would require phantom power, and if that is the case, then I'd definitely prefer the R0DE where I can use a battery and have an on/off switch. Don't I have to worry about ambient noise more if I'm using a condenser, though? I thought that maybe a regular dynamic mic would be better for the noise reason, even though condenser mics generally sound warmer. Maybe I'll have musicians friend or something like that send me a few so that I can do a side-by-side and return the ones I don't like. Anyway, thanks for the info, and have fun with the es-150 (maybe I should have kept that guitar, then we wouldn't have this discussion).
    As far as the pickup/mic combination, that is what I may do in the future--keep the mic for rhythm and turn up the volume on the old dearmond when I solo. Jazz rhythm just sounds right on an acoustic guitar.
  • CampusfiveCampusfive Los Angeles, CA✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 98
    I always have the mic on, and only roll the volume knob up to play electric solos. The rhythm is entirely acoustic - I almost always (99.9999%) find that electric rhythm is awful and totally ruins the sound you should be going for.

    Dynamic mics are less sensitive and so they'd barley pick up the acoustic guitar at all - and you'd have to put it really, really close to the guitar, which will overly amplify the bass frequencies (which makes feedback way more likely). Condensers are sensitive, so they'll definitely pickup the guit with much less gain on the channel. With proper placement of you, relating to the other musicians, and the speakers will help a lot.
  • badjazzbadjazz Maui, Hawaii USA✭✭✭ AJL
    Posts: 130
    thanks for the info, I'll try the condenser then. I must admit ignorance when it comes to mics, especially for acoustic instruments. And thanks for everybody's timely answers, I can hopefully have one shipped here in time for next week's gig.
  • Colin PerryColin Perry Montreal, QCNew
    Posts: 115
    My take on this is that you must mic a guitar in a context like this if you want the proper rhythm sound. I do plenty of noisy bar gigs where I play electric. With that band, we can go either way on the repertoire, and playing electric, although sometimes frustrating, still works. I have another band which is much more rooted in the twenties: guitar, drums, sousaphone, clarinet, trumpet. With that band I will only play acoustic, and often I am the only thing miced. It can limit the places we play, but it's really the only way to go. I've tried all the acoustic guitar pickups out there, and some are better than others, but none of them even touch a microphone for actually sounding acoustic. Using a mic gives you the sound of the guitar, and also "air": the sound of the guitar in the room. Another big factor in playing with larger bands with horns, is the way you play, and getting the band to play with you. You can't do fast bebop inspired solos on an acoustic with a big band playing full throttle behind you. There are pleny of examples of big band rhythm guitarists soloing, and I've noticed some pretty consistent trends to the way it works. The solos are usually chordal, for extra volume. They horns layout, and often the piano lays out. An acoustic guitar can really burst out of an ensemble, if everything drops out, and it is accompanied by just the bass and drums. It's really not even a question of volume, so much as harmonic space. It's difficult to solo an acoustic when accompanied by a piano, because the piano fills up so much space, that it cancels out the guitar. I've had plenty of luck using a mic in a lot of situations, though it is by no means the right solution for every room.
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