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Nov 30, 2022 - 6:15:11 AM
4 posts since 7/19/2022

Hi folks

I'm at a bit of a loss regarding on how to improve my love sound when playing banjo and I wondered if anyone had any advice.

I play an open back Deering Goodtime Americana (which I absolutely love) and this has been fitted with a kavanjo pick up (after reading some reviews I decided this was best). However after two live shows with professional sound I'm really disappointed in the sound - all definition is lost and it sounds really thin and tinny like an old transistor radio. I don't use an amplifier so the banjo is going through a DI into the mixing desk.

I really want to play more banjo live but due to this issue I'm avoiding adding my banjo songs out of my set.

Someone has said a good pre amp may help shape the signal but I don't really know where to start.

Any advice would be hugely appreciated

Cheers
Chris

Nov 30, 2022 - 7:21:43 AM
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192 posts since 8/31/2015

From what I understand, the kavanjo is a similar design to magnetic electric guitar pickups. I've never used a kavanjo live but I do know that electric guitars also sound terrible plugged into a DI then straight into the board- these kind if pickups really sound their best through an amplifier. I'd reccomend taking your banjo to a music store and testing out a variety of amps to see if you can achieve a better sound that way. It's another thing to buy and also to lug around to gigs, but it could be worth it for a better sound. We don't want you to remove the banjo songs from your set! :)

-TD

Nov 30, 2022 - 8:10:52 AM
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59 posts since 8/14/2018

I know it’s pricey… but I’ve had good luck with the DPA 4099 mic (using the drum mount clip attached to the hooks) feeding a grace Felix preamp. I went through similar throes of being unsatisfied and finally decided to get rid of some gear from the ol’ rock band days and commit to a one-and-done banjo rig. So far no issues with feedback, even when jamming with a reasonable drummer once…

I can try to post some clips of the board feed later…

that said, a good preamp with parametric EQ would certainly give you more control for shaping your base tone.  We play smaller gigs, often bringing out out own PA -- but I've almost always been disappointed with the sound treatment when dealing with a house system.  sound engineers in NJ clubs out my way don't see a lot of bluegrass coming through!  smiley

Edited by - TimFoster on 11/30/2022 08:27:11

Nov 30, 2022 - 9:24:41 AM
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320 posts since 4/17/2011

The Kavanjo is literally just a humbucking electromagnetic pickup installed in the banjo head.  Amp would be good, 100%, but you'd probably be successful with just a preamp pedal. There are plenty of electromagnetic pickups designed for acoustic guitar that work great direct through either an internal or external preamp. Way less to lug around, too. Fishman and LR Baggs make some nice, affordable options. Good luck.

Nov 30, 2022 - 9:42:39 AM
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KCJones

USA

1930 posts since 8/30/2012

All pickups sound terrible without a lot of FX to massage the sound into something that sounds vaguely like a banjo. You're going to need a pedalboard regardless of what pickup you use, so congrats I guess.

Preamp, 7-10 band EQ, Reverb, Compression. That'll get you almost there. Still going to mostly sound like a 5-string telecaster though.

Another option is to switch to a piezo pickup, and then use a ToneDexter to modify the pickup waveform to match the acoustic waveform. That's the best way to get to acoustic tone without using a microphone.

You'll probably end up spending a bunch more money no matter what you do. And no matter what you do, it's still going to mostly sound like a 5-string telecaster.

Or you could just use a microphone.

Nov 30, 2022 - 11:11:58 AM
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Fathand

Canada

12090 posts since 2/7/2008

There are probably a lot of banjos out there that have a better reputation for sounding professional than a Goodtime.

However, if that is the tone you are looking for, play it through a microphone, a SM57 will do fine, economical and not prone to feedback. If you really have to have a pickup, piezo types sound more natural in a banjo than a humbucker.

I also suggest you put a conventional head on your banjo without the attached pickup.

Nov 30, 2022 - 12:36:05 PM
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Players Union Member

Helix

USA

16373 posts since 8/30/2006

I've installed a few of these.

I demonstrate through a 10" Peavey studio amp with lots of gain and pre-amp built in. I can't get the Cavanjo to feed back.
My neighbors know.

Nov 30, 2022 - 12:50:57 PM
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58 posts since 4/19/2014

Are you buddies with the sound guy and can get there early to mess around? I've found that when I use a magnetic pickup my signal sounds a lot better when it's compressed and the mids are boosted. I don't know enough about mixing to give you specifics, but a lot of that can be done at the board. If you're not, a couple of pedals may work - I use a boss compressor and MXR 6 band eq pedal and those really helped me get rid of that "thin tinnyness".

I do think a piezo pickup sounds better and a mic sounds best, but in a loud situation, a magnetic pickup is nice because it won't feedback.

Dec 1, 2022 - 8:27:28 AM

66 posts since 11/30/2021

The other option that I've heard some pros promote is to have one pickup signal and one mic signal and then blend them. That way you get some of the organic sound of the banjo through a mic, but can still boost the volume with the magnetic pickup without worrying about the feedback that would be created by cranking the mic volume way up. You'd also have a lot of room for tweaking, so that in a quiet gig setting, you could up the volume of just the mic and back the pickup volume down. Then in a loud gig setting do the opposite with the bias towards the pickup.

Dec 1, 2022 - 8:38:25 AM

4 posts since 7/19/2022

quote:
Originally posted by TreyDBanjoKS

From what I understand, the kavanjo is a similar design to magnetic electric guitar pickups. I've never used a kavanjo live but I do know that electric guitars also sound terrible plugged into a DI then straight into the board- these kind if pickups really sound their best through an amplifier. I'd reccomend taking your banjo to a music store and testing out a variety of amps to see if you can achieve a better sound that way. It's another thing to buy and also to lug around to gigs, but it could be worth it for a better sound. We don't want you to remove the banjo songs from your set! :)

-TD


I thought about an amp but I have mo idea what I'm looking for regarding a banjo amp. I'm sure a decent acoustic amp might suffice. Thanks for your input, it was really helpful!

Dec 8, 2022 - 7:01:38 AM

4 posts since 7/19/2022

Thank you for this. That makes sense. I am now deciding whether an amplifier or pre amp would be the best solution. I don't drive so I'm trying to limited my equipment weight as I already have 3 instruments I bring. Thanks for the advice it was really helpful 

Dec 8, 2022 - 8:53:26 AM

2624 posts since 2/4/2013

quote:
Originally posted by Sweet Goose

I am now deciding whether an amplifier or pre amp would be the best solution.

 


I think a decent pre amp is all you need.

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