Hope everyone is staying safe, and Healthy!
With all this time off my band and I have had a lot of time to dial in our live sound, and I thought because it's so hard to find any information on playing a banjo plugged in I'd share my story and what I've been through and where I'm at now.
I originally started out with just a LR Baggs Venue DI and a Fishman Rare Earth Banjo Pickup. This set up works great if you're playing low key gigs, once you get into a venue with monitors everything that was nice goes away. The LR Baggs doesn't have enough built in anti feedback to get the high tones of the banjo through without feedback, and the front end and monitor guy can only push it enough right before feedback, Leaving you with not enough volume on stage.
Same thing happened with I switched to the Schatten BJ-02M, its a great pickup but is very touchy when it comes to playing in a big room.
I also switched to a Fishman Platinum Pro EQ DI while using the Schatten, it had way better response than the LR Baggs Venue but still had to much high end that couldn't get leveled out in the mains, came through to muddy.
So after spending lots of money and headaches I finally found the ultimate set up.
I swapped out my pick up once again with the EMG banjo pickup (this thing is sweet!), I bought a Gold Tone ABS-C, this really brings out the real tone of the banjo.
So now you ask, well have two pickups, how do we blend them. Cheap option, get a Yamaha mixer that has a XLR out for a better signal. I did this for about 3 weeks until I found this gem.
The Boss AD-10 allows you to blend to pickups together as long as there 1/4" plugs, the Gold Tone ABS-C is a XLR, luckily Radial makes a Stage Bug that converts XLR to 1/4". The Boss AD-10 allows you to blend both pickups, it allows you to have separate EQ's for both as well. Along with the separate EQ's, it had a built in Feedback scan, Delay, Boost, Tuner, Chorus, Ambiance (reverb), Compressor, and lots of parameters in all of those.
I've never had this great of quality banjo sound for myself, I play a Nechville Flextone and love it but alwasy wanted that sound in my monitors, or IEM's.
Along with the Boss and the Radial Stage Bug I have a MXR Phase 95, a stereo chorus, and a envelope filter for real space stuff. I'm also waiting on a boss. OC-5 octave for some fun bass riffs.
We also use Behringer P1 for running our own in ear monitors, we use the Behringer X16r as our digital board.
I just wanted to make this post mainly to have this information out on the internet. When searching for DI's the LR Baggs, and Fishman come up for the low end, and then theres the Grace Felix which is on the high high end and does pretty much the same thing that the Boss AD=10 does yet the boss has way more features. If anyone has questions on getting there live sound up and running please let me know I'd love to talk and help in any way I can.
I've found that a boss GE-7 is a great way to isolate specific feedback issues and 'massage tone' (as my guitarist puts it). I've found that a typical 3 channel hi-mid-lo eq isn't quite enough.
I have played around with a lot of options. The one I like best is small DPA 4061 lavalier attached inside (or outside the banjo) requires phantom power but is very low profile. (Can be used with a transmitter). I do plug it into Felix. I have a six string banjo with a kavanjo pick-up, but I don't like it that much for a five string. Happy to discuss further is you wish
Thanks for posting, Mike. I'm always interested in what people are doing to amplify. I use the Radial PZ-Deluxe for a pre-amp. Great sound with my passive Fishman pickup. Occasionally I'll use phaser or chorus for fun.
But the real keys to me getting volume without feedback is using some compression. I keep an optical compressor stomp box on my board, but we usually use the comp built into the digital mixer. We also bring down 250 Hz and 400Hz just a hair. I can easily keep up with the electric instruments and drums.
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