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Old 08-02-2013, 12:17 AM
delb0y delb0y is offline
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Default Solo Acoustic Gig # 3

Having played (and still play) in rock'n'roll bands for 35+ years I've started a 10 year plan to get my acoustic gigging chops up to speed, in order that when I'm old and grey and I can still gig but without all that gear and noise...

So last night was solo gig # 3. A 45 minute support slot for a friend's duo as part of my local rhythm'n'blues festival.

It went really well, way better than I could have hoped or expected. I took on some learning from my first couple of solo gigs, and from what folks have written on the forum here. Actually, I think the biggest factor in this gig being an improvement on #1 and #2 was my choosing to sit down rather than stand. I always play sat down at home and the last couple of gigs (where I stood up) my playing wasn't anywhere near where it should have been. Last night I felt much more comfortable and though I missed plenty of notes I was way closer to where I wanted to be playing wise.

I played a set of Mississippi JH style fingerpicking, some John Prine, Kristofferson, a little swing, and some country fingerpicking - Mystery Train type stuff. Was lucky enough to collar a great harp player to get up on a few numbers.

It went well enough that the landlord took my card (well, my rock'n'roll band's card with my number hastily written on the back) insisting that I'll be ideal to do a whole evening for them sometime soon. This is great news... except now I'm thinking PA's, setting up sound, other gear I might need - mic stands, cables, reverb... etc etc. I know enough people to be able to borrow stuff if needs be, but along with stage craft, patter, the playing itself, etc I suddenly realised I'm going to have to learn all about sound set-up, too.

It's a nice problem to have, and there's no rush, as the plan really is to build this over a ten year period and I don't want to leap in and buy anything if this turns out to be as far as it goes. But nevertheless any hints or tips on gear for solo performers or setting up a good sound(*) will be welcome. I always assumed I'd simply get one of those acoustic amps that take an acoustic guitar and a microphone feed, and keep it simple. But does such simplicity really work in the real world?

Kind regards
Derek

(*) I've never had to worry about this stuff with the band as my drummer does it all for a living
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Last edited by delb0y; 08-02-2013 at 12:24 AM.
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Old 08-02-2013, 11:07 AM
jricc jricc is offline
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First off, congrats on your 3rd gig going well.
I think you'll need to figure out what kind of venues you'll be playing, large, small, loud, soft, or a combo of all types.

The most versatile piece of equipment you can buy is a small PA system. If it's a small venue, bring just the mixer and 1 cabinet. Bigger, place, bring 2 cabs.

I personally love using my Fishman Artist acoustic amp for small gigs, restuarants, parties. It's not very imposing looking but is loud enough., if need be and sounds really good. There are many really good acoustic amps (mini PA's) like Fishman, Ultrasound, Roland, Marshall, depends on what you want/need it to be. If it is a bigger place with it's own PA your amp can be used as a monitor and run into the PA. Good luck.
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Old 08-02-2013, 01:41 PM
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slewis slewis is offline
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Congrats, sir! You and I have had similar paths up to this point and solo playing is a blast. You're the boss now; enjoy the ride.

My advice on gear is different than what's above. A full PA might be "versatile," because you in theory can do larger and smaller gigs with it, but I've done hundreds of gigs and never, ever, needed one in all the venues I've done. So if I had one, it would be WAY overkill, and far more hassle than is worth to me. A small system like the Fishman SA220 or Bose Compact (I use and am a huge fan of the former) will very likely suit you for 95% or more of the gigs you do as a soloist, and both are breeze to set-up in two minutes or less, both serve as mains AND a monitor system, both get the speakers up above head level where they need to be and both are insanely easy to transport. And both sound great, although they are significantly different. I guess it all depends on your priorities about hauling and setting up gear, space requirements, sound quality, value for your dollar, etc.

And yes, there's a world of effects and things to explore or you can go ultra-simple, with just a guitar and a vocal. Like I said, you're the boss! And as or may have seen, the stand-up/sit-down debate has been discussed here often, but for my .02 worth, a performer always looks more professional and in control when they stand up. Sitting down ain't gonna ruin your show, by any mans, but it doesn't present the best image of the performer, IMO.

Have fun!
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Old 08-02-2013, 02:34 PM
MissouriPicker MissouriPicker is offline
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If you're going to be playing gigs from now on, you likely will do best if you get your own equipment. All the suggestions in this forum are good ones. Consider what kind of gigs you'll be doing and the size of the venue. And get a good mic. As mentioned above, get equipment that is versatile and gives you some options. If you're comfortable sitting-down, then do it that way. Personally, I don't see it being a big deal. James Taylor, Gordon Lightfoot, and many others sit-down while performing. James Taylor has done it for most of his career. If you're used to moving-around, then by all means perform standing. If you always play sitting at home, then sitting-down while performing might be the best. Whatever you do, be consistent with it so that your hands are always in the same place and position when you play. If you always play standing, for example, and then switch to sitting-down, your hands are going to be at different angles and things will feel different. Find what works best for you. There's no right or wrong way, only the way that works best for each one of us.
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Old 08-02-2013, 02:49 PM
geordie geordie is offline
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keep at it Derek it's great fun to do solo gig's successfully.
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Old 08-02-2013, 08:00 PM
krisls krisls is online now
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Sounds like your doing okay, congrats, though I still think that standing is a better way to go most of the time.

As for PA's. Small restaurant/cafe type things I use a Roland AC60 on a speaker stand. Where more oomph is needed I have a pair of passive 12's and a Yam EMX512sc that will do most places I will ever work. Not too bulky to lug around. Little collapsible hand trolley does it with some careful assembly and strapping.

Also I had the chance recently to try a Fishman SA220 and loved it. It would I am pretty sure do everything I need 95% of the time. The 5% left is likely just my lingering prejudices, I am pondering on losing the little PA and going a Fishman.

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Old 08-03-2013, 12:41 AM
jseth jseth is offline
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Sounds like you did a great job, and that you're learning how to be at your best in a solo gig... I also like to sit, just never felt all that good standing up with an acoustic guitar in my hands... I've done it when singing for folks int he hospital or at an old folks home, but not in a situation where I really wanted to give my best performance...

I've been playing and singing with an acoustic guitar for 45 years or so... after years of every different imaginable PA set-up (not too many acoustic-y amps, though), I am SO THRILLED with my Bose L1 Model I Classic! It truly is everything I ever wanted in a PA for a solo guitar and vocal, ever since I started playing out...

I got mine used for a great price, good enough that I also got one of the little Bose T1 Tone Generator/mixer gizmos... and I couldn't be happier with it. It's not quite as much of a "no-brainer" to set up or cart as the Fishman unit, but I feel the sound is unparalleled for audiences up to 100 or more...

You will find that performing at your best is hard enough to replicate, night after night; having a great sound system takes at least one of the worries off your shoulders!
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Old 08-03-2013, 03:31 AM
BoB/335 BoB/335 is offline
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I am on the same path and hoping to arrive in about 5 years. (I REALLY hope so)

Tired of trying to get along with 4-5 other people in a band situation and after listening to a paid duo at a gig a couple of years ago who I thought were terrible, I decided to get a good acoustic and go out there solo. I never sang much but I like to sing. I seem to get a lot of compliments on my singing (and still can't figure out why)

Having had invested in a larger quality sound system already (for the band), I am fully aware that you get what you pay for. (Buy once/cry once) My advice is to put the time in NOW (especially that you don't presently feel pressure to but right away) and check out all you can. Go to other solo/duo gigs and see what they are using. Be critical in your listening and make note of what you like and what you don't like about the sound. Try out as much as you can now and start saving your money so you get what you want the first time.

I never tried out any of the Bose or the Fishman SoloAmp and would sure love to someday. I have heard the L1 a couple of times and although it seems to cover well and sound good, there is something about it that I can't quite put my finger on that I don't care for.

I went with small powered speakers and a small passive board. Soon after went a little larger on the speakers while being very conscious of the weight factor. Love the pair of 12's I use.

Enjoy the journey!
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Old 08-03-2013, 08:09 AM
delb0y delb0y is offline
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Thanks guys! Some really useful info and good advice. I think I shall continue to take baby steps. I really have given myself ten years to progress to the point where I want to be, especially playing wise, but so far so good. I was on a real buzz last week after the gig - the type of buzz I hadn't got for some 35 years when I first started gigging as a teenager :-)

Cheers
Derek
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Old 08-03-2013, 11:07 AM
royd royd is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by delb0y View Post
Having played (and still play) in rock'n'roll bands for 35+ years I've started a 10 year plan to get my acoustic gigging chops up to speed, in order that when I'm old and grey and I can still gig but without all that gear and noise...
Derek, you've gotten lots of helpful advice and congrats on you 3rd solo gig.

Your last phrase is the important one in my mind - without all that gear and noise. For me, that would rule out putting together a full PA. I've been doing solos and duos for the last 20 years and started out with a full PA. Yeah, I could cover just about any setting and it sounded quite good, but schleping it all and setting it all up by myself was more than I wanted to be doing. Shortly after they came out, I bought a Fishman Soloamp (about 8 years ago?). I love it for what I do. It takes me about 3 minutes to get set up, I make one trip, and it sounds good. I have even used it with a trio by adding a small mixer. Wineries, tasting rooms, coffeehouses, even a few outdoor gigs... it has worked great. Yes, I have had a few gigs where it wouldn't be enough but most larger gigs have their own systems so I don't need to bring anything anyway. I sold my PA. The only thing I have lost out on was being able to loan the PA to my church for summer outdoor worship. Literally that has been the only thing in all those years.
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Old 08-03-2013, 12:39 PM
jomaynor jomaynor is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by royd View Post
Derek, you've gotten lots of helpful advice and congrats on you 3rd solo gig.

Your last phrase is the important one in my mind - without all that gear and noise. For me, that would rule out putting together a full PA. I've been doing solos and duos for the last 20 years and started out with a full PA. Yeah, I could cover just about any setting and it sounded quite good, but schleping it all and setting it all up by myself was more than I wanted to be doing. Shortly after they came out, I bought a Fishman Soloamp (about 8 years ago?). I love it for what I do. It takes me about 3 minutes to get set up, I make one trip, and it sounds good. I have even used it with a trio by adding a small mixer. Wineries, tasting rooms, coffeehouses, even a few outdoor gigs... it has worked great. Yes, I have had a few gigs where it wouldn't be enough but most larger gigs have their own systems so I don't need to bring anything anyway. I sold my PA. The only thing I have lost out on was being able to loan the PA to my church for summer outdoor worship. Literally that has been the only thing in all those years.
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Good advice.
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