Posted by JedMarum on Saturday, March 21, 2009
I do play banjo at home most days and I use it in my music work at concerts and some festivals; that is to say at those places where the "sound" environment is good and there's a pro-audio guy at the mixing console. But in the riskier sound environments, where time to set up is short, where there are noisy pub issues to solve or where I simply don't have faith in the guy at the mixer - I wind up leaving the banjo in the truck!
My guitars are modern, well built instruments with great electronics. I can plug 'em in and dial-up a pretty decent sound in moments. They tune well and quickly and and handle the hard playing of live performance. My banjos, on the other hand do not have good electronics. They have a weak signal from the pick-ups and require good electronics and skill at the console to get a good sound. They tune OK, but they don't stand up to the hard playing of live performance.
I know these problems are solvable. There are good pick-ups and mics out there and I can sort out the setup issues to suit my hard playing style better - but in truth, I need to solve my basic instrument issue first. I need to decide which banjo is going to be my "main squeeze" and then be sure it is set up for use in the music world I live in. For the last few years I've enjoyed experimenting with my:
I've decided I am an open back guy. I also prefer the metal tone ring sound. I've played a few that I really like, but I have to say I love the Chuck Lee banjos I've played and set my sights on getting one in the next year or so. Then I need to solve the electronics and the set-up, but the good news is; banjos pick-up well with a mic or a pick-up so I have good choices in this matter. And set-up, well I'll trust Chuck Lee or my guitar repair guy to give me good advice here.
Now - all that's required is the funding! But that's a problem for another day!
Saturday, March 21, 2009 @4:08:20 PM
Hi, Jed... I suggest a McIntyre Feather piezo pickup, placed about an inch away from the bridge on the underside of the head in a straight line from the bass foot of the bridge. Run the McIntyre into a good pre-amp- I like the Fishman. For amplification, I found that a keyboard amp with a 15" woofer and a good short horn tweeter works the best. I used a Peavey KB300 for over 18 years until I quit playing in public. I EQ'd all the midrange out, kept the treble and bass flat. Tweak to your own ear. The KB300 weighs about 100 lb.- a hassle, but it never failed to deliver the goods, and I could play at the same level as an average electric guitar in any gig. I haven't tried a lot of the brand new acoustic amps, but I've found that the 15" speaker in any I've tried makes a big difference. I used the Peavey to amp my acoustic guitars, too, and sometimes used it as a 1-piece P.A.- it had 3 channels.
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