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  #1  
Old 12-08-2018, 11:14 PM
gmm55 gmm55 is offline
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Default Anyone using just a mic for amplifying guitar?

I am curious to learn if there are gigging musicians out there that are using a microphone only as a means of amplifying their guitar. Why does a mic work better for you? And what kind of microphone are you using?

Last edited by gmm55; 12-08-2018 at 11:58 PM.
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Old 12-09-2018, 04:32 AM
philjs philjs is offline
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All of my instruments have pickups but I have, on occasion, played some choice shows with nothing but a Audio Technica Pro 70 condenser lapel-type mic clipped on to the bottom of the soundhole with the included adapter clip. Great sound, little expense, no worries about sitting still. However, now I'm using a ToneDexter preamp and I always (always) sound like I'm using a condenser mic. I won't go back...

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Old 12-09-2018, 07:40 AM
jonfields45 jonfields45 is offline
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Just ordered an iRig to try out. If it actually ends up being used for gigs I'll report back (if it ends up in a drawer in the basement consider this post your last notification :~).
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Old 12-09-2018, 08:01 AM
drive-south drive-south is offline
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I have pickups in most of my acoustics and always plug in, but I also set up a mic and blend the 2 sources through a mixer. I play National and Dobro resonator guitars. These have no pickups so they are just being mic'd. I use Shure SM57 mics at live shows with good results. For recording I use small diaphram condensors.
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Old 12-09-2018, 10:03 AM
Guitaurman Guitaurman is offline
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Back in the 70s a lot of guys, myself included, just used a mic to gig with an acoustic guitar. I used a second mic stand to hold it, others used a goose neck mounted lower on their vocal mic stand. It worked okay if I remained sitting on a stool. I also bumped my guitars top into the mic a few times. I used an old Shure mic, can't remember the model. This is still a great way to record an acoustic guitar. I gave up on using the microphone and bought an Ovation which plugged in in 1980 and it worked great. I could play louder without feedback and could stand up and move around. It still didn't sound as authentic as the microphone did.
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Old 12-09-2018, 10:22 AM
Nymuso Nymuso is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Guitaurman View Post
Back in the 70s a lot of guys, myself included, just used a mic to gig with an acoustic guitar. I used a second mic stand to hold it, others used a goose neck mounted lower on their vocal mic stand. It worked okay if I remained sitting on a stool. I also bumped my guitars top into the mic a few times. I used an old Shure mic, can't remember the model. This is still a great way to record an acoustic guitar. I gave up on using the microphone and bought an Ovation which plugged in in 1980 and it worked great. I could play louder without feedback and could stand up and move around. It still didn't sound as authentic as the microphone did.
My experience exactly, right down to buying the Ovation. Those who say that nothing compares to a microphone are correct, nothing does. But for me the quest for perfect tone is overridden (in the context of real-world gigging) by the control and convenience of pick up systems.
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Old 12-09-2018, 10:35 AM
RustyAxe RustyAxe is offline
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I love to use a mic on my acoustics, but the realities of working a live show make it difficult to impossible in some venues. Just can't get enough gain before feedback, especially when floor monitors are needed (think noisy room). When I do use a mic, I prefer my Shure SM86 stage condenser (cardioid). I use one for vocals, too.

All my guitars except one have aftermarket pickup/preamp systems. Sometimes good 'nuff is really good 'nuff.
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Old 12-09-2018, 10:38 AM
UKPhil UKPhil is offline
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Unless I'm mistaken I believe Eric Skye uses just a mic at gigs.
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Old 12-09-2018, 02:12 PM
Mr Bojangles Mr Bojangles is offline
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Until recently, I only used a Shure SM-57 to amplify my acoustic guitar at gigs. Sometimes I would use an electric guitar. But I was never really satisfied with the SM-57 due to the issues that Guitaurman mentioned, namely not enough volume without feedback in a noisy venue. I have experimented with different mics, and have never found one that worked out for me in a restaurant or club.

I now use a K&K Pure Mini, but I still prefer the sound of a mic. I would really like to find a mic that will give me the volume without the feedback for bigger, noisy venues. Condensers sound great, but then there is the problem of them picking up all of the background noise. I've even tried a ribbon mic, but it was a lower-priced one that I wasn't thrilled with. I'm still searching.
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Old 12-09-2018, 02:49 PM
Murphy Slaw Murphy Slaw is offline
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I don't know why so many people have feedback problems mic'ing instruments. We do it all the time. I refuse to put a pickup on this 1933 Gibson because it was once owned by Scotty Stoneman. This was last New Years eve, and this place probably seats 300.

I am now usually on a barstool and also play a resonator that doesn't have a pickup so just mic the guitar as well, since it's easier than constantly changing things, I just move the mic a little.

I LOVE the sound of an SM57 just a few inches from the guitar, but it does take a little practice to not BANG into it.

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Old 12-09-2018, 06:35 PM
gmm55 gmm55 is offline
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There's probably a thousand versions of Orange Blossom Special, but I have one old record of Scotty Stoneman doing it, and he smokes it like no one else. I didn't know he played guitar.

Thanks to everyone for the replies. If I interpret the responses correctly, mics can work extremely well tonally, but their limitation is the need to stay in a precise position, and the risk of feedback.


What is the best positioning of the guitar, amp (or PA), and mic, to reduce feedback? Are some guitars more prone to feedback from using a mic due to their construction? In other words, is it reasonable to assume that a dark guitar that is not loud might be less prone to feedback than a very loud, sensitive, and chimey guitar?

Last edited by gmm55; 12-09-2018 at 07:20 PM.
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Old 12-09-2018, 07:27 PM
gmm55 gmm55 is offline
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On a lark I just tried an EV676 mic with a Laney VC15 combo amp in my playing room, which is about 15 x18' and fairly dampened. I did not fare very well. Lots of high frequency feedback even at low volumes.
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Old 12-09-2018, 07:50 PM
PHJim PHJim is offline
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I really like the sound of an acoustic through a mic and if I'm playing a solo or duo gig, that's how I'll do it. Sound techs used to always ask me, "Why don't you have a pickup in your guitar?" but I didn't like the sound compared to the mic (I usually use a Beta 57 or, if the venue provides the mic, an SM57).
I finally had to get pickups (Baggs element or Baggs I-Beam) installed out of self defense, but I don't think any pickup sounds as good as a guitar through a mic.
The last two gigs I've played were with a single condenser mic. One was a duo outside gig and one a 4 piece restaurant gig. Both worked great.
The first Doc Watson show I saw after he started playing with a pickup was a terrible disappointment. His guitar sounded very twangy and quacky and if you closed your eyes, you'd think it was a poorly EQed electric guitar. The next show I saw he had either gotten better pickups or learned how to EQ them properly.
Bluegrass seems to be the only genre where pickups are frowned upon, and you seldom see a guitar with a pickup at a bluegrass show.
Some pros who play through a mic at any shows I've attended are Country Joe MacDonald, John Hammond, Gillian Welch, David Rawlings and Tony Rice.
Tony once said in an interview, "Any interviewer who asks me what kind of pickup I use, obviously has never seen me play."
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Old 12-10-2018, 04:56 AM
Murphy Slaw Murphy Slaw is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gmm55 View Post
There's probably a thousand versions of Orange Blossom Special, but I have one old record of Scotty Stoneman doing it, and he smokes it like no one else. I didn't know he played guitar.
He was an incredible musician and could play anything, I have a picture of him playing a banjo with a fiddle bow. However I was talking about the mandolin in the picture that he once owned.

I wasn't very clear.

I play guitar, mandolin and resonator. My Gibson guitars have factory pickups, the J-45 has a Fishman and the J-15 has a Baggs. However the old mandolin and the resonator do not . So I need one mic for vocals and another for those two instruments. It just made sense for me to use the same mic rather than use another channel just for the guitar, plus the fact that the guitar sounds better mic'ed.

I've evolved to where my acoustic amp is now Bose p.a. equipment and that's about it (L1-Compact and an S1-Pro), although I still own a Carvin AG100D it doesn't get used much.

It does take a little extra effort to mic an acoustic instrument in a live situation but MANY players do it all the time and it's by choice, like PHJim said. There are many photos on the web of David Lindley with an SM57 aimed at his many acoustic instruments as well.

Best of luck.
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Old 12-10-2018, 09:46 PM
The Bard Rocks The Bard Rocks is offline
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I don't play noisy venues and my listeners are not folks who want to be deafened so I see no reason to have p/ups. Further, I am usually seated when playing and don't need the freedom to move around. The last thing is that I play multiple instruments. With a mike, there is no plugging and unplugging. y instrument mikes are on goosenecks so if I pick up a banjo for instance, I simply move the mike back a few inches to keep the sound levels balanced.

Most will agree that a mike gives the best sound - which is why studios rely upon them.
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