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'properly' acoustic...


Duende

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I recently was asked to do a guest spot at a local open mic. It was an acoustic music club and while the majority of people were singer/songwriters the organiser said some classical and also jazz/blues on nylon string would be a nice change. I am open to all kinds of music stuff, so went with my guitar and little acoustic amp...

I am used to playing amplified; but this was shocking! LOL People were 'cranked up' so loud and were going through so many pedals etc, that an 'expensive' guitar, was indistinguishable to a cheap one. Add people thrashing the strings in a lively number of their set and that was the final tonal nail in the coffin. I sat their thinking that 'how can this be really an 'acoustic' night when everyone's real acoustic tone has been affected so much. It was an electric night really; but done on hollow body instruments!

 

I then found this guy (thanks Suzie) who is here doing a house concert. There is no amp or microphone, just a nice guitar, good voice and an audience that actually listen and want to appreciate the genuine acoustic properties of the instrument.

 

Acoustic guitarists I know there are exceptions where we have to compromise our sound, but maybe it is time to be more selective and encourage people to listen carefully so we don't have to turn up and become a quasi electric guitar?? These are just early morning ramblings, but as always in this section of the site with such a cool bunch, would be interested to hear your thoughts and/or experiences

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GWHad5_g5RQ

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Matt, that was great, i really enjoyed this clip, he has a lovelly voice and its a song i really enjoyed.

 

You also inspired me to an idea. We just started playing a small, intimate pub with nice patrons that actually listen to the music and appreciate it.

 

I think next time we play there, when its not quite full yet we might start playing the first few tracks purley acoustically.

 

I totally agree that when playing acoustic guitar the thing the audience really connects with is the raw, natural core of the song that an acoustic performance captures. We also strive to get that 'acoustic' tone when plugged in .... but hell, we're going to try totally unplugged on a few tracks next time !

 

Thanks for sharing mate and have a good Sunday.

 

btw; what was the mini Martin he was playing ? Had a lovelly tone for such a small guitar.

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I'm sure this guy played on the tv coverage at Glastonbury recently. Remember thinking he was good.

 

Yes I think he did! My wife was enthusing about him today and showed me the clip, as she loves folk and and acoustic pop.

 

At the moment my 'normal' gigs are recitals usually relying on the acoustics of the venue to be my amplifier. This clip has also made me think how house concerts are really a lovely idea!

 

There is something so personal and pure about playing in an intimate setting like a home!

 

Maybe this is the way forward?

 

Matt

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I like that performance, but I just can't get into those itty bitty small bodied kids toys. I like me a big soundin' dread! I watch that vid and keep thinking somebody give that guy a J-45!

 

I wouldn't be surprised to discover that he plays a more conventional guitar in normal situations. I'm always on the lookout for a small guitar with a big voice, just because my work keeps me on the road for weeks at a time, and I won't take a "proper" guitar with me on an airplane.

 

 

The "unplugged" concept has moved a long way away from where it started. In the 60's and early 70's, we directly mic'ed acoustic guitars (just like voices) to maintain as much of the the acoustic sound as possible in larger venues. You almost have to do that in anything larger than a big living room or a very small club, especially if it's a club with a bar. If you put a mic on the voice but not the guitar, the guitar disappears more than a few rows back.

 

I know it is standard practice now to use in-guitar pickups, some of which have pretty natural sound. But it ain't quite the same to my ear, and I just look at it as another electric guitar.

 

If I want to play an electric guitar, I'll pull out one of my ES 335's.

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.

Oh so clean. The simple setup captures a very nice recording of (as you said Matt) a genuine acoustic performance.

 

And my, oh my . . . . a surprising, but, for me, a very likable voice.

 

Thanks for the heads up Matt. B)

 

I've taken a look at more of his stuff and will be watching for the release of his debut album on 12 September 2011 (which includes Small Bump) - http://itunes.apple.com/gb/preorder/id448410899?affId=1821426

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DRY... no auto-tuners allowed, is my matra. Orville Gibson is rollin over but the new FirebirdX is a computer not a musical instrument, no apologies for how I feel... pseudo elecs sux huge. No matter what, where, or how.. business goes where they think there's money. We don't have to go with them.

For pure money reasons the NBA decided that two steps after you pick up the dribble would be good for business, sell more Nikes, sux. In the USA, more is always better, score more points, do away with defense, make it louder, sux.

Go listen to Yo Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble sometimes, you'll see what I mean.

Computers destroy music.

amen

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p.s

 

My solution to being in a situation where very loud acoustic volume was required was in the end to think 'screw it' and throw out the idea I had to be playing an acoustic guitar as it was so amped up anyway...

 

I give you the Yamaha silent guitar!!

 

pics and clips coming soon

 

Matt

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For great examples of purely acoustic, small venue sound, make sure to check out NPR's tiny desk series of videos/podcasts:

 

http://www.npr.org/series/tiny-desk-concerts/

How about Pokey LaFarge and the South City Three? That is some hot foot-tappin' stuff! Reminds me a bit of Dan Hicks. Between that and David Rawlings (Gillian Welch), I'm getting serious GAS for an archtop acoustic.

 

I'm waiting for Matthew Sear to go that route with his new Gypsy Jazz box.

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I couldn't agree more! I have an ongoing infatuation with folk (and especially unplugged) music, and I was actually thinking about this the other day, and ended up feeling quite confused about the actual meaning of "acoustic".

 

And also, I give to you, Kevin Devine:

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IQxTiJ-TZwk

 

Playing a proper beauty and all :)

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Thanks for the Tiny Desk link, this is too good. While my son was in college he would came home with cool links, now I've got one for him. The BlindBoys right there on the first page... umbasa.

 

I like Tiny Desk Concerts better, but the Black Cab Sessions have some indie coolness that a college age kid might like better.

 

http://www.blackcabsessions.com/

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I couldn't agree more! I have an ongoing infatuation with folk (and especially unplugged) music, and I was actually thinking about this the other day, and ended up feeling quite confused about the actual meaning of "acoustic".

 

And also, I give to you, Kevin Devine:

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IQxTiJ-TZwk

 

Playing a proper beauty and all :)

 

Cheers that was great!

 

I think an audience at a gig that has acoustic music, whether it be a classical recital, blues grass group playing, folk club gig etc, is the audience should be quiet if they want to hear it properly. I know there are exceptions, i.e when you are playing at a wedding where you are back ground music (and a part of the 'general' atmosphere), but a concert ideally different.

 

There is no pick up invented that makes an acoustic sound as fine as when it is there playing unplugged right in front of you.

 

 

Matt

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There is no pick up invented that makes an acoustic sound as fine as when it is there playing unplugged right in front of you.

 

Matt

 

I would agree, even the best of the systems out there do change the sound, however you could argue that by being purely acoustic you're fighting a losing battle, it's also determined by the size of the room how good your instrument will sound, too large a room and the guitar wont sound as great as it will in a smaller room, outside in the street it wont sound particularly amazing either. so there are huge scalability issues involved.

 

Playing plugged or via and amp or PA will probably give more consistent results realistically, it may be a compromise to some, but it does solve a lot of issues.

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Random, personal and yet quite serious musings herewith....

 

IMO electric music evolved apace in the mid 60's

 

Prime movers in the acoustic field(pop/folk etc rather than classical) were

 

Bob Dylan, The Beatles, Fairport Convention, Pentangle etc

 

Particularly from the Beatles we experienced highly processed enhanced acoustic sounds perhaps for the first time

 

And we liked it a lot...

 

There can be a tendency to 'hide' behind technology partly due to lack of confidence...and that unfortunate habit many audiences have of not wanting to listen carefully to an acoustic performance.....

 

V

 

:-({|=

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I would agree, even the best of the systems out there do change the sound, however you could argue that by being purely acoustic you're fighting a losing battle, it's also determined by the size of the room how good your instrument will sound, too large a room and the guitar wont sound as great as it will in a smaller room, outside in the street it wont sound particularly amazing either. so there are huge scalability issues involved.

 

Playing plugged or via and amp or PA will probably give more consistent results realistically, it may be a compromise to some, but it does solve a lot of issues.

 

I hear you amigo; on Saturday night I will be playing at a garden party so out comes the amp etc. In Europe with lots of old churches with fine acoustics available, certainly as a classical guitarist, the Church is your amplifier and the people who come to watch do so with the sole intention of listening. That is quite normal, but recently I have noticed guys like the acoustic guitarist Antonio Forcione (he mixes jazz/blues/rock etc) have started playing in Churches too. Maybe for a 'serious' concert of any genre this is the way forward?

 

Matt

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...and that unfortunate habit many audiences have of not wanting to listen carefully to an acoustic performance.....

 

That's the thing though, it's still part of the entertainment business, people expect things to be scaled up a bit to handle ambient noise and looking at it from the perspective of a club or bar owner, they would certainly prefer the band to be loud enough that people can move about especially towards the bar to buy drinks as opposed to having to sit there in total silence.

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That's the thing though, it's still part of the entertainment business, people expect things to be scaled up a bit to handle ambient noise and looking at it from the perspective of a club or bar owner, they would certainly prefer the band to be loud enough that people can move about especially towards the bar to buy drinks as opposed to having to sit there in total silence.

 

Yes good point...

 

Entertainment is different things to different people

 

Music for it's own sake

 

Or music as an adjunct to a party or social function with alcohol added to the 'mix'

 

Perhaps we should applaud the availability of amplification in extending the possibilities for live performance....

 

V

 

:-({|=

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My guess is that without amplification there would be a lot less 'acoustic nights' in city centre pubs and clubs.... perhaps not so much difference for classical/worship based stuff, but general 'open mic' stuff would be very different indeed.

 

As much as I really love pure acoustic sounds myself, I dont have much of a problem using amplification or even with those using effects, if its used subtly and well there's a clear case of it boiling down to being 'good' or 'not so good'.

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