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Hi people!!!

 

We had our second gig with our band last week, it was very neat, we played a new tune that was very easy to improvise the concertina on, an Irish (I think) song called Roving navvy. However, it was the first time that I played the concertina seriously on stage. We did have some troubles with the sound, at least on stage, I barely heard the mandolin (that I played most of the time) so I have no idea how my break sounded.... and the concertina definitely wasn't heard.. but I don't know, the guitar player said that he heard the mandolin so it probably came out to the audience, and I hope it was the same with the concertina.

 

What would you use to amplify a concertina? The song microphone? The same mic as with the mandolin? Another microphone? What should I think of if I want the concertina to be heard?

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Hi people!!!

 

We had our second gig with our band last week, it was very neat, we played a new tune that was very easy to improvise the concertina on, an Irish (I think) song called Roving navvy. However, it was the first time that I played the concertina seriously on stage. We did have some troubles with the sound, at least on stage, I barely heard the mandolin (that I played most of the time) so I have no idea how my break sounded.... and the concertina definitely wasn't heard.. but I don't know, the guitar player said that he heard the mandolin so it probably came out to the audience, and I hope it was the same with the concertina.

 

What would you use to amplify a concertina? The song microphone? The same mic as with the mandolin? Another microphone? What should I think of if I want the concertina to be heard?

 

A pair of good quality condensor instrument mikes, one pointing at each end, fairly close in. SHould do the job. Turn the right side down a notch compared to the left.

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A pair of good quality condensor instrument mikes, one pointing at each end, fairly close in. SHould do the job. Turn the right side down a notch compared to the left.

Not on an English.

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What would you use to amplify a concertina? The song microphone? The same mic as with the mandolin? Another microphone? What should I think of if I want the concertina to be heard?

 

Much info available here using the search function.

 

But the bottom line: there's no perfect answer. A pair of good condenser mics, one pointed at each side, is OK, but you get a lot of variation in volume as the bellows move in and out.

 

On board mics like the Microvox, which attach with Velcro, eliminate that problem, but are somewhat cumbersome because of the cables, and the sound isn't ideal. Still, it's what I use because it's very efficient, it provides reasonably even sound and allows you to control the volume.

 

With less-than-professional sound systems, the biggest problem is often the stage monitors. Be sure you have good ones, properly set up, or you can easily find yourself in a situation where you can't year yourself at all. My feeling is that the problem is particularly acute with concertinas because of the way the sound is projected.

 

I recently played at a dance with a big group of other musicians, and my monitor channel was out; I couldn't myself at ALL, but I knew I was booming out on the dance floor. A terrifying feeling: like driving down a fast highway, bat-blind.

Edited by Jim Besser
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I used to use the Microvox M400 system for a while, which worked fine, but I've since switched to two Sennheiser e608s (I asked Niall Vallely what he was currently using and he recommended them) through an XLR combiner to get them into one channel.

 

The sound is excellent and they don't feed back. Unfortunately, I don't know of a good way to attach the mics to the ends of the instrument without modifying it, so I just stick them to the top using a few strips of electrical tape, which doesn't leave any residue.

 

I should add that I haven't found a need to have the two mics at different levels (it's not even possible with my setup). Besides, having them at the same volume would reflect how the concertina sounds acoustically, I think.

Edited by dpmccabe
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The sound is excellent and they don't feed back. Unfortunately, I don't know of a good way to attach the mics to the ends of the instrument without modifying it, so I just stick them to the top using a few strips of electrical tape, which doesn't leave any residue.

 

A strip of Velcro wrapped around the end of the cable, or the mic housing?

 

We used to do that for fiddle mics; a strip around the tailpiece, an opposite Velcro strip around the tiny mic head.

 

Just an idea.

 

How does the sound differ from the Microvox?

Edited by Jim Besser
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...it was the first time that I played the concertina seriously on stage. We did have some troubles with the sound, at least on stage, I barely heard the mandolin (that I played most of the time) so I have no idea how my break sounded.... and the concertina definitely wasn't heard.. but I don't know, the guitar player said that he heard the mandolin so it probably came out to the audience, and I hope it was the same with the concertina.

 

What would you use to amplify a concertina? The song microphone? The same mic as with the mandolin? Another microphone?

I can't name makes or models, but when it comes to mikes, it shouldn't be one of those "singer's" mikes that you have to swallow just to be heard. I don't like those for singing, either, but when you're working the bellows it's not possible to keep both ends close enough all the time, no matter how many there are and where they're positioned.

 

With less-than-professional sound systems, the biggest problem is often the stage monitors. Be sure you have good ones, properly set up, or you can easily find yourself in a situation where you can't year yourself at all. My feeling is that the problem is particularly acute with concertinas because of the way the sound is projected.

 

I recently played at a dance with a big group of other musicians, and my monitor channel was out; I couldn't myself at ALL, but I knew I was booming out on the dance floor. A terrifying feeling: like driving down a fast highway, bat-blind.

As both (the other) Jim and you have illustrated, the best mike(s) in the world won't be much help if you can't tell what you sound like. If you can hear yourself -- and the others, if you're in a group, -- then you can at least control the balance, even if the mikes distort the timbre. You might even discover that you can vary the timbre by varying your instrument's position relative to the mikes. But if you can't tell what the audience is hearing, then you can't "perform". For all the artistic control you have, you might as well randomly switch around the notes under your buttons.

 

Unless you're playing in a space which is small enough for you to hear your sound reflected from the wall behind the audience, monitors are a must. Even more important than a particular brand of microphone is decent monitors, and having the mix to the monitors adjusted so that you're hearing what the audience hears.

 

What should I think of if I want the concertina to be heard?

The most important thing is a competent sound engineer, who understands what sort of sound you want and can give it to you. (S)he should be able to set the mix and levels in a quick sound check, then let you control the rest through your playing. In my opinion, no sound engineer is better than a bad one.

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In my opinion, no sound engineer is better than a bad one.

 

In my experience, most so-called 'sound engineers' are hearing impaired and tend to crank the pots up to where they can deafen an audience. I have had to leave some really good (and expensive!) concerts because of these dolts, and have come to hate amplified music. <_<

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A strip of Velcro wrapped around the end of the cable, or the mic housing?

 

We used to do that for fiddle mics; a strip around the tailpiece, an opposite Velcro strip around the tiny mic head.

 

Just an idea.

 

How does the sound differ from the Microvox?

I had tried wrapping velcro around the "stem" of the mic, but it's very thin and I had problems getting the velcro to stay stuck on.

 

The Microvox mics had a harsher quality that tended to exacerbate the higher-pitched squeakiness of a concertina and didn't have a lot of warmth, whereas the Sennheisers very accurately reflect the acoustic properties of the instrument. If someone just plans on playing noisy pub gigs, the Microvox setup is definitely fine, but you won't get the warmth and clarity of using good mics.

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I used a twin pick up Microvox for 10 years when playing for a ceildah band, unfortunately I can't remember the model name, it had it's own volume control ,but it coped very well with the range of notes and there was no harshness of tone that either I or the other band members noticed, infact when the fiddlers pickup failed during a dance we coped by using one of my pickups on the fiddle and just one on the left side of my Anglo. :D ,

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Ok I have never tried this, its just something that might work but would have to be tried out.

 

Theres a type of microphone called a PZM, pressure zone microphone, they are sometimes used on piano lids since you can mount then flush against a flat surface. I don't know if there would be enough room inside a concertina to put one inside, or if it would hinder air flow since its got a flat base.

 

PZMs are mounted to walls and the large surface of the wall helps it work, so it may not work at all in a concertina, but still I think it might be worth checking out, I have read they recomend mounting them to an area at least 1 square meter (thats a big box!), however I would still be interested to find out if it could work in the confines of the concertina.

 

Crown makes some PZMs, and I have been told by one of the "Concert Engineers" about 10 years ago that the Radio Shack mic is actaully made by Crown and just has a different brand name stamped on it (I don't know how to verify this).

 

If I can find one at the local Radio Crap I will try it out and let you know my results.

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When I saw Spiers and Boden (as part of the Ratcatchers, backing Eliza Carthy) a while ago, John Boden had two small mics on goosenecks fixed to his MacCann. John Spiers clearly has the same kind of setup for his anglo on the YouTube video of the Cheshire Waltz. They look suspiciously like AKG Accordion and Melodeon Mics, but a pair would set you back £200 plus another £50 for a battery pack.

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They look suspiciously like AKG Accordion and Melodeon Mics, but a pair would set you back £200 plus another £50 for a battery pack.

 

But if you want a good sound you will have to put up good money! With microphones more than anything else the quality is remembered long after the price is forgotten. And if you buy cheap (microvox!) you will get frequent reminders of the lower quality - poor sound and noisy connectors. That's been my experience doing sound over quite a few years.

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[

nd if you buy cheap (microvox!) you will get frequent reminders of the lower quality - poor sound and noisy connectors. That's been my experience doing sound over quite a few years.

 

That's my complaint about the Microvox: noisy connectors and volume controls. But it is controllable with spray-on contact cleaner, I've found.

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JIM: "In my opinion, no sound engineer is better than a bad one."

 

FRANK: I definitely agree. Most of the time you get someone used to rock bands. Since rock bands are often guitar centred, they crank up the guitars to the point that you can't hear anyone else. Then, if you stop playing because of an arrangement in the music, they turn off your mike entirely. When you do come in (as planned) there's nothing there. You're usually better off to set the levels yourself, before the gig, and make minor alterations , if needed. Tell the "sound engineer" to go have a beer.

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I use a pair of akg goosenecks, but they're actually not that great. They can can be problematic and depend on a decent sound rig and a good engineer who can work the eq and monitor levels etc. Even at that the mic's themselves are very "live", picking up extraneous sounds from all around and it's difficult to get a decent monitor level for yourself. I've gotten used to not being able to hear myself much on stage, so much so that it freaks me out when I can get good return levels :). I got a loan of a pair of DPA mics for one gig and they were very very impressive, but they're something like 4 grand (euro) for a pair, which I'm not prepared to pay at the moment. The Akg's are ok and I'll continue to use them, if only because I've yet to encounter a viable alternative. With a bit of work and a competent engineer, the sound going out front is good and there's plenty of level to work with. They're also pretty neat ergonomically speaking - a bit of velcro on the top of the box and you're away - both mics plug into a small box from which you can take a regular jack to jack lead to a DI box. The major weakness is susceptibility to feedback on stage if you're looking for a loud monitor return for yourself on stage.

 

-My concertina is a suttner by the way which is in itself a quiet, mellow instrument. If you've got a louder metal-ended jeffries or something and you have a tendancy to play a bit louder then you might do fine with a pair of regular ubiquitous stage mics like Shure sm58's.

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