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Unplugged Shows

Discussion in 'Live Sound [BG]' started by Orangeclawhammr, Nov 17, 2013.

  1. I am a volunteer at a small theratre in Livonia, MI. The capacity is 87 people if we all agree not to breathe. I get to attend a lot of performances. Last night, both acts performed unplugged. Oddly enough, unplugged shows are rare at this venue, despite the size and acoustics that would favor them. The opening act performed without the PA because the headlining act was doing so. One of this opening duo admitted to being terrified, but rose to the occasion. The result was the best set I ever heard this duo play. It seemed to me that I was able to listen more closely that I could with the amplification putting the music more "in my face". I have found this to be the case during other unplugged shows I've heard. It's as if I could relax and take in the music.

    I'd be interested in your thoughts on the subject.
  2. Hi.

    What You describe is the appeal of "chamber music", made popular in baroque times and in some form or another, still lives today.

    Too bad the guitarists are often the bottle-neck, they can't wrap their minds around the fact that someone can actually play unamplified, and doesn't hide behind electrical amplification.
    They go to great lenghts explaining (excuses) why they HAVE TO have their amp.

    The audience plays a huge role as well, obviously. A single one moron, and the atmosphere is ruined.

    I love playing and singing unplugged, on the rare occasion I am able to.

  3. +1. Good post.

    OP: Good thread topic/subject. :)
  4. spazman


    Sep 29, 2013
    I love the chamber music vibe myself. I suppose that's also from studying Early Music and church music. One of the best live music experiences I've had was at my community college where a touring string quartet did Philip Glass with no PA in a 200 seat auditorium.

    I would enjoy trying my hand at an acoustic setup, but I think my acoustic bass guitar would require a little bit of reinforcement.
  5. 4Mal

    4Mal Supporting Member

    Jun 2, 2002
    Columbia River Gorge
    I did quite a lot of that using a bit of amplifier on my ABG and I particularly like singing that way. You never have to worry if the mix out front is also the mix in the monitors... I'm also a fan of 2 or three folks arund a decent condenser mic and unobtrusive sound reinforcement (as opposed to PA). You used to hear that in blue grass circles prior to the onset of new'grass, pink'grass, etc...
  6. D.A.R.K.

    D.A.R.K. Supporting Member

    Aug 20, 2003
    I love that, it's amazing and becoming a lost art. Used to go see Squirrel Nut Zippers a bunch, they played sans pa for years.
    Only thing is the audience has to be on board, and shut up while the music happens. That is the hardest part...
  7. This is a very enjoyable experience. Acoustic instruments do not need amplification to be heard in small spaces. The players have to bring it, in the creation, and control of their own sound, and the balance with the group sound. :D
    The audience has to be quiet and listen. Once they do that, though, people find that they can hear everything very clearly.
  8. Scottkarch


    Sep 11, 2012
    We practice in the basement of a local pub.. after practice if we have acoustics with us, we'll regularly come upstairs for a drink or two and play a bunch of songs for whoever is in the bar. I love it.
  9. Way back when "unplugged" was the brand new thing I went to a kiwi rock act. Silly me was expecting actual unplugged acoustic instruments, thinking I was in for a real treat, real rockstars jamming out like my band doing an acoustic rehearsal, no earplugs, what a disaster!
  10. Years ago, my group played a wedding at a really nice rustic themed resort far back in the woods by a lake. About fifteen minutes into out first set, a limb fell on a power line somewhere and we were without power, as was prone to happen in the winter months. The resort was prepared and had candles and a back up generator to keep the bar going, but we had nothing. We could have said no power no show, but as we were staying at the same resort because it was an overnight trip and it was somebodies big day, we went back to the cabin and grabbed acoustic guitar and bass and headed back in. We also had horns and we were a four part vocal band. We moved off the stage and under a candle lit chandelier and just started singing and playing and over the course of the first song we ended up with an audience that was attentive and quiet. We did the first, mother/son and father daughter dances and moved into vocal stuff and eventually into a sing along mode. We made it about two hours before voices gave out. That was one of my favorite gigs. Because that we've done numerous parties for that same family over the years.
  11. iriegnome

    iriegnome Bassstar style Supporting Member

    Nov 23, 2001
    Kenosha, WI 53140
    We did a couple of full on acoustic shows on a camp ground out in North Dakota. No PA, no electronics. We sang all our songs and all played acoustic guitars/bass. It was kind of cool. People singing along just as loud as us, people tapping thier feet and clapping louder than the bass. It was funky and a whole lot of fun.
  12. Fat Steve

    Fat Steve The poodle bites, the poodle chews it.

    Not hip to all the different labels for bluegrass. What's different about new'grass and pink'grasss from bluegrass? Is it that young folks are playing it? Using amplifiers? Do the labels allow for quick identification of someone defying the laws of tradition? I point that out because it sounds as if people would use the "new'grass" moniker as some sort of pejorative.

    Also, I bought my DB specifically so I could play completely unplugged. My ABG just wouldn't cut it, so I made the plunge. Best decision I've ever made musically.
  13. Steve Dallman

    Steve Dallman Supporting Member

    I heard Bela Fleck and the Flecktones at an old theater in Madison years ago. After intermission, the three took the front edge of the stage, all acoustic, with Bela playing an unamplified banjo, Victor playing a cello and Futureman playing with brushes on an empty tom case. I was in mid audience, and it was fantastic. The blend and coverage was unexpected.

    I play at an old folks home, with a pretty large crowd, every month. I usually use amplified acoustic, a couple amps, bass pedals, a PA, harmonizer, etc. I try to achieve the sound of a band. The room is a large community room. Most of my audience do not hear all that well.

    One stormy afternoon, after the second song, the power went out and remained out. The guitar wouldn't quite cover the room, but I had a Pignose in the car. That worked for my guitar, just to fill the room, and I sang loud. A good time was had by all.

    Having played in a bluegrass band for years, the filling of a room acoustically is stock and trade. I did use an ABG for a while, after an elbow injury left me unable to handle the upright, and the ABG was quite inaudible next to the guitar, fiddle, mandolin and dobro. I put a battery run Peavey Decade in a knapsack, and that would get me in league with the others. The audience was none the wiser.