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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Microphone vs. Pickup


Please note this is an archived topic, so it is locked and unable to be replied to. You may, however, start a new topic and refer to this topic with a link: http://www.banjohangout.org/archive/348979

Richard Hauser - Posted - 12/08/2018:  13:54:38


I am not a professional player, but I think I may have to use amplification when jamming. I would appreciate reading members thoughts on using both ways.


Edited by - Lynne on 12/09/2018 07:35:22

xnavyguy - Posted - 12/08/2018:  15:46:44


A typical jam isn't, generally, someplace you should need amplification but I have been to jams where there were mics and amplifiers.

My preferred method of amplification is a good instrument microphone like a Shure SM-57.

northernbelle - Posted - 12/08/2018:  18:48:40


My wife and I were professional Folk/Americana originals performers and recording session players for over 20 years. In my experience, mics always have a better/more realistic sound production of an instrument over pick-ups. That said we did use pick ups as well when a venue did not provide enough mics (although we often would use our own PA/Mics).

For a jam where you just want to be heard with minimal fuss and with "good enough" sound a pick up will be fine but if you want to really hear "the wood", etc. in your instrument a mic will be superior. I 2nd Shure SM 57s or maybe..58s as a good hardy mic, with good sound and great for vocals as well. Peavey made a similar Mic that to our ears sounded better but that was back in the early '90s.

A mic will require a small learning curve as to how to avoid feed back to your audience (mainly just NEVER pointing a mic at your amp/pa speakers! Also playing around with where you point the thing at your banjo. The most common placements are below your bridge pointing down a bit and towards the tail piece to avoid fingerpick noise on the strings and scraping on the head/skin. Another common placement is where the rim meets the neck ahead of your finger picks. Experimentation will tell you what/where sounds best.

Pick ups generally sound a bit more "metallic", too much mid/high/low range and not enough of the other without EQ tweaking at the amp/pa, etc. I'd recommend finding a friend who can let you try mic-ing your instrument with you at home, etc.

It's easy to re-sell a mic to a million rock band dudes/dudettes later if it's not for you. Pick ups
especially banjo specific pick ups may be much harder to sell.
Hope that helps,
NB

jdeluke137 - Posted - 12/08/2018:  19:18:48


If you want to try out an SM57, try Craigslist. You can usually pick up a good used one, and if you don’t like it can probably resell it for what you’ve got in it.

darryl k. - Posted - 12/08/2018:  21:07:04


Agree. Mics just sound better. I don't play many jams but perform on a regular basis. Here is my set up with a small diaphram condenser mic. Note that condenser mics require phantom power.


1935tb-11 - Posted - 12/08/2018:  21:55:58


mics for me,,, i find that mics are easier to work either jam or stage,,, you have more control then a pickup,,, its easier to bring your presence to the front or back up.



and yes a SM57 is a good choice



 



ebay.com/itm/Shure-SM57-Instru...;LH_BIN=1


Edited by - 1935tb-11 on 12/08/2018 22:03:15

northernbelle - Posted - 12/08/2018:  22:39:32


By the way, in case you are also a guitar player, SM57s are awesome recording mics for finger style guitar too. We almost always used them on guitars in the studio-very crisp/clean. They're a better instrument mic than the SM58 but 58s are a good "compromise" between an instrument and vocal mic as there primarily used for vocalists.  You won't get nearly as good of a quality of sound through an amp as you would through a PA speaker or monitor speaker though. Again, for jams, simply being easily heard with "decent" sound reproduction may be enough. 


Edited by - northernbelle on 12/08/2018 22:42:36

raybob - Posted - 12/09/2018:  08:38:23


I have a Schatten BJ-02M in my main banjo. It has a piezo fixed to the underside of the head and a small condenser mic that is easily stuck to the inside of the rim. I run it through an LR Baggs Para Acoustic DI, and I like it. To me it's the best of both worlds, and it sounds natural. I used to play in front of a Shure mic, but feedback was always an issue. I play an openback and don't plug in for jams.

rudy - Posted - 12/09/2018:  17:48:56


quote:

Originally posted by Richard Hauser

I am not a professional player, but I think I may have to use amplification when jamming. I would appreciate reading members thoughts on using both ways.






If you want to try a mic you can get a very good SM58 clone made by Behringer for $20 INCLUDING free shipping.



sweetwater.com/store/detail/XM...er-xm8500



Don't be turned off by the price, this is actually a seriously well made mic and I have a hard time telling the Shure 58 and Behringer apart as far as sound.  I wish Behringer made a 57 clone, but they don't offer one.



Any mic is problematic when it comes to banjo use because the head is a very good reflector, easily directing sound from PA monitors directly back into the mic.  Mounting a mic in the back of a banjo is a far better approach as Darrell shows.



If you opt to purchase a Shure SM57 or 58 be aware that Ebay is known as a front for counterfeit 57s and 58s.  It seems impossible that something like a Shure mic would be counterfeited, but it's VERY common.  There's no way to know about an Ebay purchase and the only way you can somewhat protect yourself is to pay more and purchase through a retailer who has a reputation to protect.



There are many websites outlining how to tell the difference; here's one that I thought was particularly well done:



sine-post.co.uk/2017/11/10/are-you-sure/



I've never been to a "jam" where amplification was acceptable with the exception of someone using something like a Kala U Bass.  Open mics at bars are a different thing entirely, but standard jams are a good reason to find a louder banjo if you have difficulty hearing yourself.  You can also simply sit back a bit farther.


Edited by - rudy on 12/09/2018 18:04:28

PeterJ - Posted - 12/10/2018:  06:05:07


The other thing to consider is how you will control your volume. With a mic on a stand, you simply back up from it when you’re not taking a lead. With a mic attached to your banjo, either strapped inside or clipped on (like a lavalier mic), you’ll need to pay attention to how hard you are picking.

Most pickups will need a preamp to boost the signal, adjust eq, and match impedance to your amp or mixer. Live, I use a fishman pickup (not the Rare Earth, the earlier version) with a Radial PZ-Deluxe that includes a boost for solos. There are several other brands that have a boost function, or you can use a preamp and a separate clean boost pedal. More stuff, but it works. For a jam, that may be more complicated than you need, though.

banjoak - Posted - 12/10/2018:  13:05:51


My thoughts are start with what is the goal of the amplification. Consider different between... 1. for the audience to hear you; 2. for the other musicians to hear you. 3. to hear yourself better (as personal monitor).  



How loud do you actually need to be; how much need to amplify? And then what are the potential gain before feedback issues?



Need to also consider, not just the input side (mic/PU) but the monitoring; set-up (amp, speaker, walls/ceiling), and what possible options. This is sometimes overlooked, or ignored... yet might be more important in evaluation of the issue/solution.



With those considerations, there are much more than just simple mic vs PU; many different types mics, PUs, and set-ups; differences that play a role in how loud, GBF and tone quality.


Edited by - banjoak on 12/10/2018 13:11:21

banjoak - Posted - 12/10/2018:  14:24:31


quote:

Originally posted by rudy

Any mic is problematic when it comes to banjo use because the head is a very good reflector, easily directing sound from PA monitors directly back into the mic.  Mounting a mic in the back of a banjo is a far better approach as Darrell shows.






Hyper-cardiod setup often helps with reflection issues. As well pointing mic more toward end of fingerboard than head.



Some of the mic in back differences comes from the closer distance of mic to source; inverse square rule; closer generally helps. 



-------



But besides reflection is another problematic issue in loud environments. Banjo heads can also be good pickups. Acoustic instruments like banjo, guitar are speakers (they amplify the sound out). But good speakers can also act as good mics; picking up sound. Piezos esp. can turn the top/head into a large mic surface; pick up sound from a loud monitor speaker; which then gets redirected thru the piezo/mic back to the monitor; creates a feedback loop.  Mics inside guitar or banjo can work in similar way, that is, if head is picking up monitor, it will go back thru the mic. (as well, air cavity plays role).



Magnetic PUs, OTH; are mostly picking up the vibration of the string, not air or top.

rudy - Posted - 12/11/2018:  06:03:45


quote:

Originally posted by banjoak

quote:

Originally posted by rudy

Any mic is problematic when it comes to banjo use because the head is a very good reflector, easily directing sound from PA monitors directly back into the mic.  Mounting a mic in the back of a banjo is a far better approach as Darrell shows.






Hyper-cardiod setup often helps with reflection issues. As well pointing mic more toward end of fingerboard than head.



Some of the mic in back differences comes from the closer distance of mic to source; inverse square rule; closer generally helps. 



-------



But besides reflection is another problematic issue in loud environments. Banjo heads can also be good pickups. Acoustic instruments like banjo, guitar are speakers (they amplify the sound out). But good speakers can also act as good mics; picking up sound. Piezos esp. can turn the top/head into a large mic surface; pick up sound from a loud monitor speaker; which then gets redirected thru the piezo/mic back to the monitor; creates a feedback loop.  Mics inside guitar or banjo can work in similar way, that is, if head is picking up monitor, it will go back thru the mic. (as well, air cavity plays role).



Magnetic PUs, OTH; are mostly picking up the vibration of the string, not air or top.






The Fishman Classic and Fishman Rare Earth banjo pickups are both strictly magnetics; they work by converting head/bridge movement to electrical energy.  They do not pick up vibration of the string.  The Fishman / Jones pickup is the most widely used magnetic pickup for banjo use.

banjoak - Posted - 12/11/2018:  13:03:39


quote:

Originally posted by rudy


Magnetic PUs, OTH; are mostly picking up the vibration of the string, not air or top.






The Fishman Classic and Fishman Rare Earth banjo pickups are both strictly magnetics; they work by converting head/bridge movement to electrical energy.  They do not pick up vibration of the string.  The Fishman / Jones pickup is the most widely used magnetic pickup for banjo use.






I was just using regular elec guitar pickups as example of difference of magnetic field vs mic (air) and piezo (body contact) for GBF.



The metal shim under the bridge works like the metal string, for magnetic field. 

rudy - Posted - 12/13/2018:  06:55:47


quote:

Originally posted by banjoak

quote:

Originally posted by rudy


Magnetic PUs, OTH; are mostly picking up the vibration of the string, not air or top.






The Fishman Classic and Fishman Rare Earth banjo pickups are both strictly magnetics; they work by converting head/bridge movement to electrical energy.  They do not pick up vibration of the string.  The Fishman / Jones pickup is the most widely used magnetic pickup for banjo use.






I was just using regular elec guitar pickups as example of difference of magnetic field vs mic (air) and piezo (body contact) for GBF.



The metal shim under the bridge works like the metal string, for magnetic field. 






Magnetic pickups that work by directly sensing string vibration are available and widely used.  Pickups like the Kavanjo, Goldtone SMP, and EMG ACB are associated with this class of banjo pickup.



Players who use them generally report that the sound is more guitar-like than the Fishman/Jones style which senses head / bridge movement.

rvrose - Posted - 12/13/2018:  20:21:22


We use Audio technica AT3035 large diaphragm condenser mics for stage. I also never been to a jam with electronics allowed. I would think it would quickly become a "who has the biggest amp contest". The condenser mics are very sensitive to feedback so you have account for that in your monitoring and speaker placement. I think I would look for an acoustics only jam. Happy jamming.

Rick

Veerstryngh Thynner - Posted - 12/20/2018:  05:14:57


For live performances, I always had a mic in front of me. But what would be preferable for home studio recordings - mic or piëzo?



I had a look at some K & K models, some time ago, and I liked what I saw.



Veerstryngh Thynner

rudy - Posted - 12/20/2018:  06:55:30


quote:

Originally posted by Veerstryngh Thynner

For live performances, I always had a mic in front of me. But what would be preferable for home studio recordings - mic or piëzo?



I had a look at some K & K models, some time ago, and I liked what I saw.



Veerstryngh Thynner






If you're looking to make a true analogous recreation of the acoustic sound the instrument produces the only way to do that is by using a transducer that mimics the human ear in how it converts audible sound energy to an electrical counterpart.  That would be a good microphone.

paxflyer - Posted - 12/20/2018:  19:37:50


I started with the K&K Banjo Twin pickup, and then changed to the Definity. Good upgrade, and even tho its pretty hot, their preamp really sweetens the sound. I'm confident this pickup could handle any loud stage.

I've played gigs so loud (not just the music but the people too) my banjo head was on a sound path of its own, and same for the Martin guitar, the instrument back just starts playing on its own. Pickups and sometimes sound hole covers are about the only way to cut thru all this noise.

monstertone - Posted - 12/22/2018:  12:35:58


quote:

Originally posted by Richard Hauser

I am not a professional player, but I think I may have to use amplification when jamming. I would appreciate reading members thoughts on using both ways.






RIchard, professional or not, judging from your prevuous posts, I suspect you are far enough along to set your banjo up for maximum output & also know how to "lean on it" when you want to. Taking that into account I have to ask, just what the  jam situation is that makes you think you need amplification? I can only think of two different jam scenario's.



No. 1 is where everyone sits around in a circle.  No amplification at all. I can see where if it were a really large circle with a lot of banjo players, especially some that never back off, you might feel that way. The most common solution (other than a Stelling devil) is to break off into two smaller jams. OR, sometimes a less than subtle reminder of jam etiquette, showing respect for the other musicians! In other words, if it ain't your turn, back off, if you cannot play quietly, don't play at all. Jam sessions are not really the time & place to practice your fancy backup licks while someone else is taking their break!    



No. 2 is the jam with a stage & sound reinforcement provided by whoever sponsors the jam. These types of jams usually have a sign up sheet & when it's your turn you get up & play, either with your own band or some of the other attending musicians. In this scenario WYSIWYG. It would be inappropriate to walk up on stage & mess with someone else's system. 



OK,,,,No. 3 the BG festival jam where half a dozen pickers are huddled up in a tight circle. cheeky



I didn't always have the quality banjos I now have. But I remember the days when I didn't. And I can now spot the lesser quality banjo's as well as the timid pickers. It's just a matter of courtesy. If we want these people to continue their journey as musicians & come back, we need to encourage them, rather than blow them out of the woods with our fancy picking at mass volume. 



Were I to walk up to a circle jam having anything other than a string bass plugged in, I probably wouldn't even bother un-casing my banjo. But that's just me. 


Edited by - monstertone on 12/22/2018 13:09:28

SansPix - Posted - 01/10/2019:  19:35:00


I really can't add anything more about using amplification at a jam. If you're playing in on stage jam that's using a sound system I could see using a D/I. But these are more like performing jams and I've sat in a few where a mike stand was passed for breaks. In an acoustic jam I would not plug in. During the 90's when I played out I used the following equipment with a Stelling Staghorn: Rane AP13 Acoustic Guitar Preamp, a Trace Elliot TA-100 amp, and a Korg Toneworks G2 processor for effects. The Rane is a stereo preamp and I used a Shure 57 in one channel for breaks and a Rare Earth P/U thru the Korg in the other channel. This was all be driven by what kind of genre I was playing, where, and with whom.

Nowadays the technology has come along way but the Shure-57 is still a classic. My Current rig is a Fishman Platinum Pre-Amp which can also work as a D/I and the Fishman Artist Loudbox amp. The two pickups that I use are dramatic in there differences. On the Stelling I'm using an LR Baggs pickup which is in the bridge. It's a passive pickup and does need phantom power. On my OME Juggernaut I'm using an EMG ACB-5 banjo pickup. The EMG IMHO is the cleanest of what I ever used. Low noise and natural sounding. There are so many different nuances in banjo amplification. The instrument is part string and part percussion. I'd say it depends on what you want that sound to be and if you like it because you're the one who listens to you the most. You can get really playful with this or stay conservative. If it's the conservative road, the less in the way of a banjo sound the better. After saying all that my next rig is a Nechville Comet with two EMG single coil pickups running through a Carr Rambler AMP, but electric banjos are a whole other post.


Edited by - SansPix on 01/10/2019 19:37:13

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