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Amplification for Musical Theater

Discussion in 'Ask Lynn Seaton' started by Dave Phillips, Sep 23, 2015.

  1. Hi Lynn,

    I'll admit up front that many things having to do with sound design and sound systems are a mystery to me, at least for now. But since I'm hoping to pursue this ever more frequently as time moves on, I think it's best to start gaining some knowledge!

    My good friend is a music director where I live and since music directors are always looking for instrumentalists to fill out their pit orchestras, he just so happens to draft me onto the bass book whenever the opportunity arises. (Not like I'm complaining though!)

    Obviously 95% of bass books for theater double at least electric and upright having proper amplification for both is very important. I spent some time recently, while working on Next To Normal (if you're familiar with it) getting the setup for electric up to par, however until recently I've never really given much thought to proper amplification for my acoustic bass... However I think it's time I invest in something reliable.

    The show I'm working on now - Urinetown - is only a band of 5 - Piano, Drums, Reeds, Trombone, Bass - and space is rather limited (as it usually is...) so I was looking at mics that clip onto the bridge. Are those a good route to go? If so do you have any recommended manufacturers/models?

    Other than that, any advice you might be able to offer to someone going this route with their musical career?

    -Dave P.
  2. Lynn Seaton

    Lynn Seaton Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 3, 2006
    Denton, TX
    Hi. I agree that a microphone is a great way to go to amplify an upright. The search for an acceptable direct pickup sound through a PA is not over for me, so having a mic in the PA is my preference. I use a Shure Beta 56A wrapped in foam and stuck in the bridge with a windscreen to protect the bass top. Many other bassists use a DPA brand or an AMT with great results.
    Sometimes I blend the mic and a David Gage Realist through an Acoustic Image amp or their new preamp and send that to the house. That way I can control the blend of mic and pickup.
    On recent shows with the Dallas Symphony Pops Series, I have used the pickup through the amp and used the mic exclusively in the house and in the onstage monitors as needed for others.
    Regarding this as a musical career, it is a fine route. Many of the show gigs are union and you will get pension contributions made on your behalf. Make sure the local/area contractors know who you are. If you choose to be in NY and want to get into the Broadway show loop. Being in the union and knowing contractors and other bassists in that world is essential. The bassists might need a reliable sub. Ask if you can come sit in the pit and observe some shows with different players.
    Dave Phillips likes this.
  3. Lynn Seaton

    Lynn Seaton Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 3, 2006
    Denton, TX
    Here is a pic of the Beta 56 A in my bridge:
    bloodevourer and Dave Phillips like this.

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