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billroy fineman

Guitars overpowering singers?

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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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I suppose it has to do with more than just the volume of the guitar. The brightness of the tone and pitch may also compete with the singer's voice, but that can be adjusted with strings and down-tuning.

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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 Jinder, My Bird will definitely overpower my voice if I'm beating it like an orphan (what's he going to do tell his parents?) But back off just a tad and my voice fits right into the mix.

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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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You can buy Guitars til the Cows come home. But, It won't matter if you don't know how to employ good Dynamics. This is my #1 pet peeve when I play with other Musicians or listen to others play..

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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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Thanks again all.   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.

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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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