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Poll: How many gigs do you play unplugged

Discussion in 'Amps, Mics & Pickups [DB]' started by Danko, May 2, 2005.


  1. Hello all,

    I'm new to DB, and love the concept of playing unamplified. But I had a rather exhausting debate with the guitarist I work with on our last rehersal about gigging without amps. I insisted we could play atleast one set without amps which may let us to go into the crowd and play among them. Since he also plays accoustic guitar, that should not be a problem.

    But he insisted that the crowd is too loud and we won't hear anything being too quiet. (We are a duo, and trio if the drummer is around. We play mostly swing and oldies. We both sing.)

    What is your experience on this topic?
    What percentage of gigs do you play without amplification?

    Take care,

    Danko
     
  2. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    I think it would depend ont he types of places that you usually play. In NYC you play a lot of pretty small rooms, and I play about 90% sans amp these days. If I was back home in Ohio, the ratio would be almost in reverse.
     
  3. Hi Danko,

    I try to play unamplified whenever possible, which amounts to 50% of my gigs, roughly. I just love the way all the sounds blend acoustically. Moreover, I hate my amplified sound (BassMax -> K&K preamp -> GK amp). Maybe I should upgrade my amplification, but I'm currently saving up for a New Standard... I'd rather have a good bass than a good amp.

    That said, I'll bring my amp and a decent mic to almost any gig, unless I know the venue and the other musicians very well. Sometimes, the room is too big or the other musicians are too loud, or the crowd is too noisy. It's quite unpredictable and in those cases it's just not practical or feasible to play unamplified, so I'll try a mic (K&K Golden Bullet or AKG C411 or Sennheiser MD441) first and use the BassMax as a last resort.

    It's very important to discuss this topic with the other musicians first, especially the drummer. Everybody has to be comfortable with the idea. Two examples: a drummer I often play with loves the unamplified bass, too. He'll come down to match the volume of the bass and the sound is great. But I'm also the house bassist for a local jam session where lots of unexperienced drummers sit in, and in that case I use the amp because if I don't, they will complain that they can't hear the bass, and be unhappy. And nobody wants unhappy drummers, right?

    In your case, you might be able to suggest a compromise to your guitarist: you play the gig as usual with the amps, but at one point you pull the plug, get off stage, and play among the crowd like you said. It'll be fun, you'll know where you stand, and most crowds will quiet down anyway when the band comes off stage. If it doesn't work you can always get back on stage, so it's no big deal.

    --Timo
     
  4. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    I'm with Ray, I think I'm taking an amp to a gig on May 14th. That will be the first time this year I've used it.
     
  5. godoze

    godoze

    Oct 21, 2002
    60% sans 40% with.
     
  6. Chrix

    Chrix

    Apr 9, 2004
    Brooklyn

    I'll agree. I play in Central Illinois a lot and pretty much always plug in. It also depends on who you play with. It's hard to find many university drummers around here that can play really dynamically (soft).
     
  7. Monte

    Monte

    Jan 9, 2001
    New Albany, MS
    Same in Oklahoma.

    Cheap real estate = big rooms. Add to that fact that the entertainment district is the old brick warehouse district and you get a lot of LOOONGGG rooms with ceilings that are not very tall.

    I probably play about 70% amped now. I leave it at home any time it is remotely possible.
     
  8. Marc Piane

    Marc Piane

    Jun 14, 2004
    Chicago
    I rarely play without an amp. The only time I've really found this possible is if there is no drummer on the gig. Even at that I've played with some horn players that are overpowering. The only time I've been able to pull it off is duo gigs with an acoustic (not electric) piano or with a singer or horn in the mix in a fairly quiet room.

    Some of the times I've tried it folks listening have said that can't hear me. Sometimes an amp just helps boost things up a bit without actually being heard.
     
  9. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    Maui
  10. Tbeers

    Tbeers

    Mar 27, 2005
    Chicago, IL
    I always bring my AI Contra. Sometimes I find myself in a position where I don't end up using it, but that is relatively rare. I just don't think that the sound of the double bass carries particularly well.... Even if you play with a drummer who can come down enough that you can balance the sound well from where you are standing, how do you know that a guy in the other corner of the room can hear you? I always find myself turning the amp on and leaving the volume low for that tiny boost. I've had people go to the other end of a room where I'm playing and listen for the difference between unamplified and slightly amplified. They always tell me it is a great help.
     
  11. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Since my "small" rig is now down to an upturned stool on a lunchbox-sized speaker attached to a folding dolly, I always take the amp to the gig; I just use it as little as I can get away with. It's usually on, but a lot of times I'm just using the AMT with no pickup these days.
     
  12. Sam Sherry

    Sam Sherry Inadvertent Microtonalist Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2001
    Portland, ME
    Euphonic Audio "Player"
    You'd sound much better with a fine antique stool like this one. Everybody knows that modern stools sound like . . . well, like stools. And the AMT picks up the subtleties of sound that a more refined stool has to offer.

    FWIW about half my gigs are unplugged. All of them are underpaid.
     
  13. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Oh, Samuel, right into the gutter with all your talk about stool. We should have kept you a mod so as to maintain some dignity at TB...
     
  14. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    Maui
    I like the description of the stool; "very antique".

    Sorta like "very unique".
     
  15. CB3000

    CB3000 Supporting Member

    Jun 2, 2003
    Madison, wi
    i do 90% with an amp. when i do play without one it's a treat. Around here there's only a few places that don't have some type of PA. I'm gonna get one of those dang AMT mics pretty soon--seems like it would be great for low volume performances. Plus it would be nice to have my bass sound like my bass not a bloated duck...
     
  16. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    Maui
    Yeah, I think you might be able to get a little AMT admiration society going here, along the lines of the NS Lover's Lounge. I bought the AMT because I love the sound of the La Scala so much, and I wanted that sound when it came time to amplify. Works for me.
     
  17. A couple of weeks ago I did a gig as part of a double bass ,violin and guitar trio, at the Art Gallery at Somerset House in London for the Iclandic Ambassador. It was a small gathering of 40 people, and on the walls were works by Manet, Gaugin and Cezane( what a privilige). We were not allowed to use amplification. It was a wood floored room, and we had no problem being heard, and I think that we all played better because of it. The balance between the instruments was perfect.
    The next night I played with different musicians, as quartet in a pub. Before we started , and before any of the rest of the band started playing, I could barely tune up acoustically because of the noise of he crowd. If I hadn't had an amp (turned up to halfway, which is about as loud as I can get my Gk without it distorting) then I would have been doing the gig in mime.
    On both occasions we had people coming up to us saying how much they enjoyed our playing, and what a great time they had had. Also my fellow musicians had comlemented me on my sound and playing. Whats more, at both gigs, I had had a great time too, been paid and rebooked.
    I don't think its a question of wether to use amplification or not, its WHEN to use amplification or not.
     
  18. I realized that I hadn't said what my percentage ratio was;-
    95% amplified ( although the volume control level varies between an eigth and halfway) and only 5% totally acoustically.
     
  19. Thank you all for taking your time and replying to my querry. I guess a cheap stand-mounted mic into my active PA box will work for now here.

    I plan to buy a Realist soon as it might have a pretty good resale value where I live. (alot of folks here want one) So if I end up liking something else, I won't loose much of my investment.

    Take care all!

    Danko
     
  20. I have never done an unamplified gig, but I still get to walk around..... wireless!