Android tablet for gigging/practicing: help getting set up

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Fuzzbass, Sep 20, 2016.

  1. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    I know the iPad is superior but I'm an Android guy, period. I currently have a Nexus 7", but it's a few years old and I want a larger screen. I've pretty much decided on the Google Pixel C 10". Goal is to have tools for practicing at home, and displaying charts at gigs.

    Question 1: apps. What I really need is a set list kind of app where I can copy in and improve the simplified charts I've written by hand on paper, as well as create new ones, and of course organize them. My brother recommended 4score, but that seems to be Apple only. I found another thread here that recommended Mobilesheets Pro. Is that the app to get or are there other options?

    Followup: I already have iReal Pro for Android (haven't used it much but plan to). I have a tuner app, and a metronome app. What other apps should I consider?

    Question 2: clip/stand/mount. Many seem to be for specific tablets (mostly Apple of course). What are some good universal solutions that would hold a 10" tablet with protective case?

    Question 3: Ummm... not sure I have any more, so... what else should I consider? I'm concerned about theft but hoping the mount will help there. Anything else? I'll edit this post as necessary.

    Thanks in advance.

    . . .

    Background for anyone curious: I'm a fairly busy weekend warrior (4 gigging bands plus sub gigs). For the past couple of decades I've mostly played cover tunes: classic rock/pop/R&B/country/blues etc. I have no problem learning these songs by ear, usually quickly, often without touching an instrument. However my weak point has always been jazz: I occasionally listen (especially avant garde stuff from Coltrane to Laswell) but I've never really done prog/fusion, don't think I've ever played a Jaco lick. Fanciest stuff I've ever covered is Rush and Tower of Power tunes. The only real jazz I'm ever called on to play is an occasional "dinner set" of standards at tux gigs with my big R&B band -- and even then, the set usually includes pop tunes like Moondance and Mercy Mercy Mercy.

    I don't read music, and kinda suck at reading charts. For short notice sub gigs I use a spiral notebook with handwritten faux charts: my own shorthand based on the Nashville Number System but simpler. I've finally decided to get off my ass and become fluent at reading actual charts. I'd like to use 21st century technology to assist.

    I know basic theory but do realize that it's probably good idea to have some jazz skills to go along with reading jazz charts. :D To that end, I've resumed taking music lessons (after a 30-year hiatus).
    Icon5 likes this.
  2. Sav'nBass


    Jan 18, 2009
    Virginia Beach
    You should be able to get a decent 10" tablet for your needs for $100-$200. I use a Lenovo Tab2 A10 . It is a decent tablet has good graphics... the sound is ok....but I use a BT speaker anyway. I have about 600 songs and about 400 sheets on here with plenty of room to spare. I use Orpheus to set up and read my charts.
    Fuzzbass likes this.
  3. delta7fred


    Jul 3, 2007
    Q1. I use (Android) Setlist Helper (with 2 bands that I am a sub with occasionally). I do all my editing on a PC and create pdf files then copy them across to the tablet. I can't be doing with on screen keyboards and touch screen editing.

    Q2. After looking at the commercially available mounts I made my own. A sheet of steel, slightly larger than the tablet, with a chunk of tubing welded on one end and a small bent up lip on the bottom. Sprayed rattle can flat black, looks quite professional and pretty unobtrusive. It slides on the boom of my boom mic stand

    I hold the tablet on with 2 large rubber bands cut from an old car inner tube.

    Q3. I set the screen turn off time to 20 minutes (the max) so it never goes to sleep mid song. As the battery is pretty much shot in mine I always run it from a power supply using a long USB lead (cord).
    Fuzzbass likes this.
  4. elgecko


    Apr 30, 2007
    Anasleim, CA
    1. Mobilesheets Pro and iReal Pro are the only apps I use with any regularity on gigs. I may have used the Ultimate Guitar Tabs app once or twice to pull up chords to unfamiliar songs.

    2. I have a Hercules Multimedia Stand HA300 and it's really nice but doesn't work with a case. This one might and K&M usually makes high quality stuff.

    K&M Universal Tablet Holder-Clamp On

    3. ...profit!
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  5. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    That's a good point. My tendency with devices is to get something cutting edge for maximum lifespan, but I suspect it's more cost effective to go for an existing item where reliability is better known.
  6. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    Great tips, thanks! :thumbsup: And props to you for UK ingenuity.
    delta7fred likes this.
  7. Sav'nBass


    Jan 18, 2009
    Virginia Beach
    I do that too.. edit my docs on the PC. My battery is still pretty decent so I can leave my screen on till I am done...

    Yeah I need to get one of those...

    In this case you just want something that you can add storage to. The processor in this tablet is decent enough and I can watch Netflix on the bus pretty easily..... I use it every day.
    Fuzzbass likes this.
  8. avvie


    Oct 12, 2010
    Maui, HI
    I am also a Setlist Helper user. I endorse.
    I use a String Swing mic-stand mounted music stand with a strip of velcro live.

    Attached Files:

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  9. Gravedigger Dav

    Gravedigger Dav Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 13, 2014
    Azle, Texas
    You will probably find a page turning pedal useful.
    I use this one:
    I use a 9" Kindle. I load all the documents I need onto the tablet so I don't have to worry whether I have wifi or a hotspot available. I use Word documents for chords and lyrics when I need them and my setlist is an Excel spreadsheet. I can't remember where I got the stand holder, but it is a generic.
    I have power supplies feeding the power for the tablet and the pageflip right under my mic stand. I set the screen timeout to never, so it doesn't go dark while I'm playing.
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  10. Sav'nBass


    Jan 18, 2009
    Virginia Beach
    Yeah I load all mine in there too.. that is great if there is a key change ... I use the AirTurn PED
    blue4 and Fuzzbass like this.
  11. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    Great info, everyone. :thumbsup: Thanks!

    A couple of mentions now for Setlist Helper. Can you SH users get by with the free version or have you upgraded? Just curious. I do like that I could start with the free version and decide for myself whether I need premium features. The highest tier includes lyrics -- I never sing lead (and don't do many backups) so I could probably skip that.

    I see that Mobilesheets has different versions, but the utterly free version allows only 8 songs in its library. o_O Makes it kinda tough to demo that app.
  12. delta7fred


    Jul 3, 2007
    I use the free version, never seen the need for the upgrade but as always YMMV.
    If I turn off wifi then I don't get the annoying ads at the bottom anyway.
    Fuzzbass likes this.
  13. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    The bottom line is that I'm a n00b. I will start with the free Setlist Helper because it seems to have fewer limitations than the free Mobilesheets.

    Should I ever need premium features then I'll reweigh my options and pay, but it's really nice to know that the free version might be enough. Thanks again! :)
  14. bfields


    Apr 9, 2015
    Ann Arbor, MI
    I'm more of a bedroom-and-maybe-occasional-open-mic player. I use a nexus 9, AirTurn MANOS Universal Tablet Mount, and MobileSheets Pro. It's easy to import pdfs, or for paper charts I take a photo with my cell phone (which has a better camera), then import from the google photos app. That generally works OK.

    You also might want to take a look at Fakebook Pro--it's much less capable, probably not what you'll end up using on gigs, but since it comes with a big collection of jazz standards it might just be a quick way to get started.

    If you haven't tried it before, I think the one thing you'll probably miss compared to paper is the ease of note-taking. Unless a tablet has some kind of fancy stylus support (sorry, I don't know the exact technology required, but I don't think the pixel C has it), writing on the thing is clumsy. Imagine trying to take notes with finger paints. You can still buy a stylus (I like the adonit jot pro), but that only gets you some minor improvement, still nothing like writing with pen and paper. In MobileSheets Pro I've resorted to zooming in, writing really big, then zooming back out again. And when I'm in a rehearsal and the bandleader says "let's take another repeat on that last phrase", I usually write a note on actual paper, or keep a recording to listen back to later, rather than trying to deal with that on the fly. I'll be interested if anyone's found better solutions.
    Fuzzbass likes this.
  15. blixild

    blixild Supporting Member

    Mar 4, 2006
    Buffalo, NY
    I know you're set on the Pixel, but I have a Galaxy Note 4 (a phone, but they have tablets with the same technology), and the S-Pen (stylus) is invaluable to me. I just use the stock S-Notes app, with a notebook for every band. It's good at importing a wide variety of things (pdfs, email, photos), and you can mark them up with the stylus. I just create a fresh page for new notes. The S-Pen is more precise than your standard stylus, so it's actually useful to write with. You can export your entire notebook to a PDF.
    Fuzzbass likes this.
  16. Drucifer

    Drucifer Not currently practicing Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 20, 2009
    Houston Heights, Texas
    Endorsements: your name could be here, Mr. Sadowsky!
    Always plug it in, then you can turn off the screen saver and not worry about it dying mid-song.

    Be sure your case is sufficient to protect it if you throw it in a bag along with other musical equipment.

    I use a K&M tablet holder, it works great. I have a dedicated mic stand for it so I can move it around. I added a light (for fretless in dark venues) and a beverage holder.

    We have a PA that has Android apps to control monitor mixes, a great tool, download those for sure if you have a chance to use .

    We use an app called Lyric Pad, it works decently for charts and lyrics and scrolls automatically. I'm sure it's not the best app, but we share files, so I'm stuck with it.
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  18. Rickter


    Nov 30, 2006
    Nashville, TN
    Something I learned the hard way was that you can conserve power on your tablet, better ensuring that you get through your gig without it dying, by turning on Airplane Mode. I've made it thought several gigs without doing so, but for those extra long gigs it may be worth a consideration.
    Fuzzbass likes this.
  19. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    Excellent suggestions, thanks so much.

    I gigged with a BL who used his finger to mark up lyric sheets stored in his tablet, and the result was rather crude -- he could add the key of of the song, maybe some large symbols, but nothing detailed. Given the notes I scribble into my paper charts, a stylus would be valuable. I assume setlist apps allow you to type in annotations, but yeah, it would be great to scribble stuff on the fly.
  20. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    Consider this one last bump in case someone thinks of something else, but I feel my questions have been well covered. I mainly wanted to thank everyone for the excellent suggestions and advice! :thumbsup:
    Rickter likes this.