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Miking A Concertina


Braxton
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Does anyone have suggestions/experience on how best to mike a concertina? I'm playing a Tedrow in a band w/ sax, drums, guitar and bass (mostly blues, but that's another topic) and need serious volume for live performances. CurrentlyIi use two small "tv announcer" condenser mikes, velcroed to a corner of each side and running to a Y connector and then to either the sound board or a Fender guitar amp. However, (1) exuberant movement will pull the mikes off, (2) the reeds closer to the mikes are louder, (3) the high reeds are much louder than the lower ones due to the frequency response of the mikes, and (4) occasionally you get feedback problems if monitor volume is high. I'm considering internally mounting high quality condenser mikes inside each end, with external jacks. Suggestions?

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braxton, it may be that you will have the same effect even if the mics are under the end. the mics will still be closer to one reed or another. some folks have suggested using two mics on two stands. thats real restrictive. anything you find out will be of real interest to me. everything leads me to think that the concertina as a bear to reinforce. i have been using my EC in duo work and its so loud i need to back off the mics, but with a drummer, ouch ! everyone seems to use the velcroed condenser mics, Button Box sells a set that is intended for concertinas which many folks report work well, they may be more sutable than your lapel mics. best luck, AW

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This subject has been discussed in length before.I have tried internal fitting of mikes and I can confirm you will not be happy with the result ,especially when you use the air button ,which amplified, sounds like a compressor pipe coming loose.

I use two good quality mikes on stands, but set them some distance from each end to reduce the restriction refered to and far enough away to reduce the effect when the bellows are compressed or open, but it does stop you moving or dancing around the stage.It is also worth while turning the treble down and the base up to improve your sound output

Another method I have tried is to set up mikes attached to the concertina which is about 150mm away from the instrument at each end in a loop.This idea gives you the movement but unless the mike is central to the ends some reeds are louder than others.I have strapped mikes onto the back of my hand without success.

On the previous postings a top quality mike was mentioned but where do you put it.

Answers only on a postcard.

Regards

Alan

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Hi Friends,

I started to try to amplyfy my Baritone Aeola way back in the 1940's , and went thro all the various set-ups that you have mentioned . but as I was playing quite often with dance bands against line-ups of saxes, trumpets , piano or Keyboard , bass & drums, nothing I did was really satisfactory until I found some crystal Mikes that were recommended to me by the very experienced Accordionist, Jack Emblow.

The mikes were of French manufacture and I purchased 4 of them from Henry's Radio on Edgware road , London in 1972. They cost me 60 pence each and , mounted inside the instrument between the grill and the action about halfway along each side ; they have been very reliable & satisfactory in all the various situations that I have encountered. The mikes are connected in parallel and the leads brought to a Female 1/4" jack on the outside . I use a standard Guitar type lead to connect to the amplyfier.I have used many types of amplyfier over the years, and my current one is made by Watkins of London and is identical to one supplied to Art Van Damme for use with his accordion . A couple of years ago I purchased a Guitar Wireless unit , and this allows me to play without a lead connected between my instrument and the amplyfier. This is of course much safer and reduces the possibility of feedback.

Because the Mikes are facing inwards, very little sound from other instruments is picked up. I hope that the foregoing is of some assistance to you , but please ask if you require further information.

Good Luck, JOHN NIXON.

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JN, Crystal mics ! Very retro, I think that the Astatic brand in the states were "crystal" I don't know that I have ever seen elements of that type that were small enough to fit under the covers of a concertina. Its long ago and far away but does anyone know if such things are still made ? Aren't crystal elements the type that were used in the bass ends of accordions and were often found suspended in the bellows of bandonions ? There are also Accusound mics a UK product that have 2 condenser type mics on small booms that are attatched to the esterior of the ends. the element is then 8to 10 inches from the ends which lessens the proximity effect .has anyone tried these?. JN am I correct in understanding that you have just one 1/4" lead going to the amp or do you have two , one from each side. If just one how are the sides connected . Thanks,AW

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The leads are , as I said in my reply,connected in parallel and terminate in A GUITAR type 1/4" female jack. All the small diameter internal wires must be screened and earthed via the jack etc., Because the high ( approx. 1 whole volt ) output from the jack is High Impedance , the amplyfier must also have a High impedance imput.

You will need to have a lot of patience to get it all correct and you may need help from someone ( maybe a radio enthusiast) . JOHN.

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  • 2 weeks later...

braxton,

 

The setup I've most often seen on concertina in a band context is a pair of small condensor mics, one attached to each side of the instrument. In particular, two notable pros I've seen, Jody Kruskal and Niall Vallely, have the mics extending out over the keyboards on goosenecks that mount to the front corner of the instrument. (In Vallely's case the goosenecks are fairly long and curve inward, and another member of Nomos introduced him to the audience as playing the "double cheeseburger with wing mirrors.") Since it sounds like you're playing in a pretty loud environment, you may want to look for directional (cardioid is probably best) rather than omnidirectional mics and set them up to point at the keyboard, as John Nixon describes.

 

As both a concertina player, and a longtime guitar gearhead who also plays (tho' not concertina) in a band with a drummer, I'd suggest that you try outboard gear to apply some EQ (equalization) and compression to the concertina sound. This would help to smooth out the imbalances you're experiencing - EQ to get the loud higher notes under control, as Alan Day suggested, and a little compression to kind of generally even things out, and also make life easier for the sound engineer. The downside of a compressor is that it can also "smooth over" the dynamics and articulation of your playing a bit, but most "electric" bands don't have a really wide dynamic range anyway, so you will probably find it worth the tradeoff. You don't need to get real pro audio stuff - there are quite a few multi-effect pedals out there that could do the job for you, most are aimed at the guitar market and are fairly affordable considering all the functions they offer. I would suggest that you look at units intended for acoustic guitar, since odds are they will have more flexible EQ than those made for electric guitar, and they will probably have a more transparent sound. Most of them will have other sonic effects that you might find useful - one thought that strikes me, since you say you're playing blues, is running the 'tina through a rotary speaker (Leslie) simulator, to get an organ-like effect. Or, you could just get a couple of "stompbox" effects, a compressor and an eq, and not have to worry about programming. Even just a compressor with a tone knob could probably help. Feel free to write me off-forum because I love to chew the fat about gear (as you probably noticed). Or perhaps the guitarist in your band can help.

 

I can also second the endorsement of the AKG C1000S as being a very good mic generally and a good value - I have 2 of them - but I have no experience with it on concertina (yet).

 

Good luck, and I hope that if you find a solution you're happy with, you'll post it.

 

-Tom

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Hello again Concertinists,

I also use the excellent AKG1000 mics, but only for studio recording when no other instruments are involved. As I said in my first reply to this thread, my current setup using chrystal mics has been working trouble-free since 1972 in a wide range of professional environments. Of course any good internal setup involves some disfigurement of the Concertina, but of course any professional musician puts the working of his/her instrument as more important than the appearance.

If a good amplifier with Bass, Middle & Treble controls is used (Hi-Impedance Input)you can taylor the sound to suit , but the use of 4-mics set 2 on each side & in a halfway location will give a good balance over the whole range of the Concertina.

My instrument is an Aeola 48-key Baritone.

Good Luck. JOHN NIXON.

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