Lately I've been gigging with a 4 piece folk/bluegrass quartet (acoustic guitar, steel guitar, banjo, and bass). As we're playing mainly small, intimate rooms (with no drummer to compete with) I feel that I'd prefer to save myself the schlep and skip the rig altogether.
However, I don't have much experience with this. So as to open a dialogue, I'll ask the following:
Do you have a preference for active or passive circuitry?
What D.I. do you prefer, if any?
Any external EQ (pedal, rack)?
Any other FX (noise suppressor, compression)?
Floor monitors vs. in-ears?
P.S. - For what it's worth, my main drag is a Schecter Studio 5 w/ active preamp.
I've been working towards an ampless solution for some time now.
My main rig right now is Amplitube iOS (yes, my iPhone is my bass rig), straight to the board. I'm using Irig as my interface at the moment but am about to upgrade to the Apogee Jam. Only effects I'm using is compression and occasionally some light chorus.
I've got a separate mixer that I use for IEM.
I prefer the Tech21 Sansamp programmable bass driver.
Many sound options available.
I still like to take a small tilt back combo as a monitor so I have control over what I get.
In-ears are great if you have a full PA with mic'd guitar cabs, vox and all other instruments you want to hear. Often in a small setting this isn't available so in-ears is not really possible.
I don't think active or passive is really an issue for you technically in a small setting. It's mainly a sound preference issue. I play both passive and active basses depending on what sound is called for.
SansAmp Bass Driver DI. I play in a rock band with a very loud drummer and retarded loud guitarist. If there's a decent PA and we're playing with multiple bands I'll often go sans rig at a show. Plug and play. I'm having beers while my guitarist and drummer and loading out equipment!
But then I'll go help. I'm a bassist, not a lead singer!
I have been ampless for about 2 years now
I have a BOSS CS-3 Compression pedal into a BBDI into 1 Bose L1 out to 3 Bose B1 subs
1 sub is on the other side of the stage the other two are on an amp stand on my side of the stage
I only bring the two basses and two pedals to the gig Band: Classic Rock 2 guitars Keys bass and drums
I've been using a Radial Tonebone Bassbone for years now. TWO channels, VERY reliable, transparent DI, full rotary eq on one channel- with a MIDRANGE control, that the Sansamp strangely does not have... it's the most important parameter in bass tone, in my opinion. It also has a boost control, and channel two, contour switching if you have an onboard eq- ground lift, effects loop, and an output to play through an amp while using it to go direct and also as a preamp- killer unit.
I also have THREE Behringer mixers, and a 16 channel snake. Contrary to what many people say about them, they're fairly good units, and sound GREAT. I use one for my practice in ears rig at home. I use the 16 channel with compression, low cut filters and selectable digital reverbs live, when there is no Aviom, and where I am not allowed an amp onstage. After a little frustration from the sound techs- they can usually send me a feed, and if it's all 16 sends, it's ideal. It's BETTER than an Aviom. Unlike those units, I can control the level of BASS the other instruments have, or cut it altogether. I HATE a huge unnatural kick drum signal in my ears.
The headphones- or in-ears themselves, is another long, complicated topic.
A bit of a different approach for myself. Instead of carrying a preamp/DI I'm looking at a micro-head: TC BH250. I will have a DI, an EQ and Toneprint for compressor or whatever effect I want. I can carry 1-2 cab(s) depending of the gig. Only 3-4lbs, so pretty lite.
I've been no-amp for the last several years, playing in church. Floor monitors were the bane of our existence until a year into Aviom we had two events: one a huge pop/crack and the other a screech. The damage/ringing/hearing loss is something I live with every day. In-ears? Never again. Theoretically a good idea but in the wrong hands they are a time bomb, literally.
I go ampless and it works great for me. I made a custom pedalboard and have IEM's. Thing is not to cheap out on gear I have decent pedals and a Countryman DI. One nice thing about my setup is it takes me 5 minutes to setup.
Here's my setup:
My complete seup is for this... a bit overboard... flexible for multiple situations...
ABY-Line6-MXR M80.. Rolls PM351.... sometimes a Shure PSM200
I can control every aspect of my guitar/bass/vocals... can control my mix... the sound guy can tweek tone and pull a signal off the M80... IF it's not an IEM situation, I can use a powered monitor off the PM351
I did not mean to offend-
I actually like the Bass Driver pedal, it's a finely made, high quality product...but you guys already know that! LOL!
I tried a friends Bass Driver pedal- with a Euphonic Iamp 500 head, and an Accugroove cab. Sounded great.
It's just that in the incredibly varied live music- casino circuit here in Nevada, a mid control on my DI is essential. I also needed that A/B switching.
I do know about the Para Driver, but no one around here had one to try. If the Bass Driver had a mid control, even in a switch, it would be in my pedal bag right now.
The real trick in this whole scenario isn't getting rid of your rig or getting a noisless signal to the FOH--it's getting rid of your rig but still sounding like you have one. I think Tech21 has the goods on this one. Get a SansAmp. If you're that concerned about mid control, get the para driver.
Bottom line is, you're going to carry in a tiny box the size of a sandwich but sound out front like you brought in a big SVT 810 rig. And as I said, that's the real trick here.
The Tech21 is nice...
Sound guys REALLY like having an actual knob they can twist that says "gain... low... mid.. hi"
This is why I"m redundant.
Tech 21 Paradriver with my pedal board and a passive Pbass. Makes touring around pretty easy when you have to carry everything yourself. What's funny is as soon as you go ampless everyone wants you to use their amp! LOL. Only problem I've ever had was at the Basement in Columbus. Their monitors are kinda poopy(great venue a thou!) and the sound guy couldn't really get me any volume but to be honest I could hear the FOH sound and I was standing on the subs so I was pretty good to go.
Thanks for your input, everyone. I think I'm looking at the Aguilar Tone Hammer right now. Was about to pull the trigger on an Eden WTDI, but no phantom power is a deal breaker for me.
I've been using a Fishman Pro Platinum EQ. I have a San Amp BDDI, but I''ve really been favoring the Fishman. I got it originally for upright, which it works well for. But then one night I had both my upright and my electric at rehearsal, and ran my Sadowsky through it and loved the sound. I've basically made the Sans Amp BDDI my back up. Both have the option to run off phantom. I just think the Fishman gives a cleaner tone. But if I needed a sound with some grit I would use the BDDI. That's why I have kept it. I'm looking to pick up a second Fishman in the future. We've gone completely ampless/IEM in the country band that I play with for about a 1½ now and it's been great. The sound guys love it. We just roll up with our monitor board and tie into the house sysyem. As long as the venue has a 24 channel board were good to go (haven't run into any problems yet). The church that I play at just recently got a new system and we have gone ampless/IEM there as well. So I want to get a second one to leave there (as I play 2 to 3 masses as weekend there), and leave my second at home to bring to whatever gig I need it for.
The Fishman is worth checking out depending on the sytle of music you play, IMHO.
Look into the MXR M80 DI+. It's quite a bit like the Tone Hammer except for the overdrive, which is more like serious distortion, but does have a blend knob.
I don't actually own an amp. I've just been using the Zoom G3. It has a dedicated XLR out which can be either pre or post effect, and has a sans amp simulator as well as a tonne of other amp models.
What makes an actual sansamp so popular though?
It emulates well the great classic amps of yore. It is a quiet and full-featured DI. The end.
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