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Guitars overpowering singers?


uncle fester
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Hi all - super naive question i'm sure, but the AJ thread got me wondering and I didn't want to derail that thread.

There's quite a few comments about an AJ being overpowering - I know the different guitars will put out different sounds, volumes etc...  but couldn't a guitar overpowering a singer (regardless of the guitar) be resolved with mic placement (placing closer to your mouth...)? 

Sorry if it's really a silly question - but do appreciate any input.

Rgds - brfm

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The short answer IMHO is yes.  Provided there is an available microphone.  But, the better answer is the guitarist can simply play the guitar quieter.   High volume acoustic guitars have the advantage of easily being able to control their volume because of their volume capacity, by how hard or light one’s attack or approach is on them, depending on the song or circumstance or needed vocal/accompaniment balance.  Lower volume guitars, especially small bodied guitars with their lower volume capacity take a little more effort in the opposite direction to likewise get their volume louder through the player’s attack or approach, but also can achieve a balance for musical dynamics.  I am only talking about an acoustic guitar here, as when  a guitar is amped, it shifts a great deal of the volume level (although not all of it) to the amp’s control settings.

QM aka “Jazzman” Jeff

 

Edited by QuestionMark
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9 hours ago, QuestionMark said:

The short answer IMHO is yes.  Provided there is an available microphone.  But, the better answer is the guitarist can simply play the guitar quieter.   High volume acoustic guitars have the advantage of easily being able to control their volume because of their volume capacity, by how hard or light one’s attack or approach is on them, depending on the song or circumstance or needed vocal/accompaniment balance.  Lower volume guitars, especially small bodied guitars with their lower volume capacity take a little more effort in the opposite direction to likewise get their volume louder through the player’s attack or approach, but also can achieve a balance for musical dynamics.  I am only talking about an acoustic guitar here, as when  a guitar is amped, it shifts a great deal of the volume level (although not all of it) to the amp’s control settings.

QM aka “Jazzman” Jeff

 

Or do both... Dynamics!

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Talking unplugged, if the acoustic guitar is particularly loud or quiet, or its tonal spectrum interferes with the singer's vocal range, vocal character, or comfort zone, there is little hope the singer will gel with that particular guitar. Talking plugged, there is a lot you can do to bring the guitar in line with the vocals and vice versa, with the singer probably opting his monitors (in-ear or not) to be set up in a particular way to aid the cause. Why go to such length, though, if you can simply get a guitar that works for you? In terms of adapting your playing to alleviate the issue, there is not much hope if the guitar cuts through your vocals no matter what.

Edited by Leonard McCoy
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Personally speaking, when I am playing and singing, I want a little dynamic range from the guitar but not a gigantic amount, mainly because I want to focus on delivering the vocal and not constantly regulating the guitar headroom with my right hand. Some guitars can definitely overpower the singer, but more often than not it's an issue relating to frequency rather than actual raw volume. 

A Hummingbird, for example, is a wonderful vocal accompaniment instrument as (according to Gibson, who told me first hand when I was working with them in 2008/9) they were originally designed with a dip in the mids at exactly the point on the sonic spectrum where vocals sit. Immensely clever engineering. My 12 string Hummingbird, for example, is very loud, but doesn't interfere with vocal frequencies, enabling me to fly a relatively relaxed vocal over it and still be heard clearly.

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I agree with what I think Jinder is saying.  I've been fortunate to never have bought one, but I've heard many guitars in shops that were too 'bright' for what I think would be a good accompaniment to my voice.   You can change your strings to Light, change your plectrum to Light ....  But I would not own an acoustic that I had to stand closer to the voice mike or play more gently to be able to hear myself.  

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I don't care for a guitar that is too loud when not miked. It hides the voice. And it forces constant monitoring of the amp for feed back while performing with an amp. I could use dynamics to control that of course, but why buy a guitar where this is a constant issue? My J-45 and Hummingbird almost play themselves, never overpowering the voice unless I play them to roar..and they can do that easily enough. A quiet puppy that stays quiet and knows when to to bark, that to me, is a guitar whose dynamics are built right into the model.

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35 minutes ago, billroy fineman said:

   Do many of you ever just play / sing unplugged, no mics for vocals or anything?   I don't sing loud enough for that regardless of the guitar.

 

Not often at home. I usually use 2 mics and my Bose S-1 at home. Sometimes I will line out to the L1-C just because...

However, out at my cabin in the woods with no electricity, I will often just grab a guitar and go. I hate to interrupt nature. This is a tribute to a free form radio station outside Phoenix from the 70's. If you listen at the end, there are sirens in the distance.

 

 

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On 11/11/2019 at 6:52 AM, Murph said:

However, out at my cabin in the woods with no electricity, I will often just grab a guitar and go. I hate to interrupt nature. This is a tribute to a free form radio station outside Phoenix from the 70's. If you listen at the end, there are sirens in the distance.

 

Nice Murph, love it...  super slide (what tuning?)!  I think the key to that song (and quite a few) is your barely strumming when singing - but regardless the singing needs to keep volume with the guitar.   Guitar looks awesome as well, love me a J45.

PS - I appreciate this, feel it's been too long since we've seen a murph original.

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On November 10, 2019 at 6:59 PM, ALD323 said:

I don't care for a guitar that is too loud when not miked. It hides the voice. And it forces constant monitoring of the amp for feed back while performing with an amp. I could use dynamics to control that of course, but why buy a guitar where this is a constant issue? My J-45 and Hummingbird almost play themselves, never overpowering the voice unless I play them to roar..and they can do that easily enough. A quiet puppy that stays quiet and knows when to to bark, that to me, is a guitar whose dynamics are built right into the model.

Using  Gear that works best for you. That is an important part of knowing, having & employing good Dynamics...

Nicely done Murph... I play, sing, record & perform in 3 different Bands. I have a ProTools & Logic X Recording Studio & do lots of Recording with fancy Gear. But, my favorite thing to do is go out in Nature, the Mountains, Desert, Lakes, Oceans where I can just play & sing.. Nothing beats that....

Edited by Larsongs
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  • 2 weeks later...
On 11/10/2019 at 1:31 PM, Murph said:

My guitar could never overpower my voice because my brain would step in and create a perfect mix for my ears...

That's actually a more finely nuanced point than a first glance might suggest. And it's hard to argue that Murph's J-45 looks absolutely stunning. I can never get enough of that contrasted color scheme, oscillating between black and white, and the J-45's visually stunning perfect bell-shaped body.

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