Open mic/cafe performance setup

Creating a home studio for recording the classical guitar. Equipment, software and recording techniques. Amplification for live performance.
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ElPolaco
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Open mic/cafe performance setup

Post by ElPolaco » Sun Mar 17, 2019 7:01 am

In my city there are places that have open mics or cafes with a stage that I can jump on and play. So I started to work on a more Jazz, Bossa Nova and Pop repertoire that I can play on my classical guitar. Recently I was carrying my guitar that I just bought and stopped by a pub that was on the way for a beer after a long trip and the guy on stage saw the guitar and asked me to come on the stage. We tried jamming and he pointed the mic into the sound whole of my guitar. There was a bit of feedback but the main problem was that I could not really hear my guitar as the space was outdoors and he had his steel string plugged into the system. I'm planning to do solo performances but I wonder if that's a common problem.

Have people had the experience of doing open mics or cafe type performances with a classical guitar and what worked?

I have a Paulino Barnabe Modelo 10 that I really like. I also have a Jose Ramirez 2NCWE that has a pickup and Fishman preamp that I feel I've grown out of and that seems to suffer from feedback problems when plugged into an amp. I have a DiMarzio Acoustic DP130 pickup that you stick on the soundboard with bluetack which seems to work quite well, and might invest in a Roland AC33 amp.

Is it better to use the inhouse sound system or is it necessary to carry your own amp around? Is it better to use a mic or use the Piezo pickup? I'm curious about people's experiences as I don't want to have to discover everything by trial-and-error and annoy the bar/cafe owner. From what I have seen, nylon string type guitarists use the Godin Nylon Syth guitars but they don't have the timbre of a classical guitar. I saw some old videos of bossa nova on a classical guitar and they seem to have a second mic pointed at the guitar.

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Peter Frary
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Re: Open mic/cafe performance setup

Post by Peter Frary » Sun Mar 17, 2019 9:36 am

I play a classical guitar through amps nearly daily and spent decades playing dinner music and casual gigs. My favorite setup is a Hirade TH90 with Cool Tubes pickup and a Trace Acoustic Cube amp. In small venues the amp is plenty loud enough and I place it close but with the speaker pointed away to prevent feedback. In larger rooms—hotel ball room—I send the XLR out to the house PA and use my amp as a monitor. Avoid plugging directly into the house PA as you lose control of your tone controls.

Usually feedback is caused by a particular frequency, e.g., open D string, resonating freely, resulting in feedback. One important feature to have on an acoustic guitar amp is the notch filter. The notch filter allows your to surgically reduce the gain of a troublesome frequency without messing with the other pitches. You could nix feedback with a simple EQ or bass controls but you kill the natural tone of your guitar. By notching out the feedback frequency your tone stays natural but no feedback.

I'll take a wild guess at your Jose Ramirez 2NCWE and Fishman pickup problem. Is it the Prefix PRO Blend pickup system with a dual output design with under saddle piezo and internal mic? If so, that design is really feedback prone if you blend even 10% of the internal mic into the signal. However, you can dial out the internal mic and just run on the piezo and it works fine. Finally, you want a softer and less resonant guitar for amping up like a thin line classical. A really loud and resonant classical tends to feedback more. If you have to perform with a super resonant classical, you can buy a sound hole cover and place acoustic dampening material inside. I only needed to go this route when I played jazz with a combo. For restaurants and weddings I never needed to be so loud feedback was a problem.

Finally, that Roland AC33 amp is pretty feeble volume wise. Save a little longer and get the next model up.
I play a Tiny Tenor 6 so I look taller on stage!

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Gorn
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Re: Open mic/cafe performance setup

Post by Gorn » Sun Mar 17, 2019 10:05 am

I play Bossa/Swing on a classical and I'm very satisfied with my setup:
The guitar is a non-crossover classical but with cutaway to reduce feedback sensibility. It is fitted with an L.R.Baggs Element undersaddle pickup (no EQ-box in the frame!).
To reach rather natural sound, the pickup goes to a L.R.Baggs Venue DI "stomp box". This is a studio quality multi-band parametric EQ, (only) 440 Hz tuner, which mutes when activated and remembers the position of the switch (vital to avoid noise when plugging in/out), anti-feedback notch filter, a "boost" option, a line out and a DI out. It's built like a tank and the knobs don't move while being carried around. So I have always my personal "sound in a box" with me and the mixer guy should leave a flat EQ at the console. It works with power supply or 9 V battery, but doesn't need much power. A battery lasts quite a few gigs. Very, very recommendable, thus expensive! It works with all pickup/preamp systems and even might work with a clip-on microphone as well, didn't try, but doesn't provide phantom power.
I use the Schertler JAM 100 acoustic amp for monitoring and for small gigs (vocals [my wife] + guitar), which I prefer for its natural sound and versatility over AER or others which I have tested in a shop. It's a kind of 3 channel mini-PA with a nice reverb. The amp is always on a stand, sideways and behind me and the singer, to avoid feedback. That works for smaller cafés etc. w/o P.A. as well. Yes, it's possible to put a monitor NOT in front of you and thus hear everything. If there are still feedback problems, I try another angle and cut the basses at the amp a little bit. The monitor sound needn't be good, but loud enough to hear yourself.
Usual "open mic" or "Jam session" setup when there are no monitors: Guitar into Venue DI. DI out to mixer. Line out to Schertler JAM.
If there are monitors: don't put the guitar parallel to the speaker, try to turn it sideways from your guitar top and tell the mixer guy to cut the basses. Venue's notch filter helps a lot as well!

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Re: Open mic/cafe performance setup

Post by simonm » Sun Mar 17, 2019 10:14 am

Peter and Gorn.

Thank you. Super helpful posts.

Wuuthrad
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Re: Open mic/cafe performance setup

Post by Wuuthrad » Sun Mar 17, 2019 10:17 am

I can attest that the Lute Hole products work very well, are well made by hand to order and are beautiful!

Also the correct settings on the piezo are essential as Peter was saying.
"Pay no attention to what the critics say. A statue has never been erected in honor of a critic." -Jean Sibelius

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ElPolaco
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Re: Open mic/cafe performance setup

Post by ElPolaco » Sun Mar 17, 2019 11:34 am

Wuuthrad wrote:
Sun Mar 17, 2019 10:17 am
I can attest that the Lute Hole products work very well, are well made by hand to order and are beautiful!

Also the correct settings on the piezo are essential as Peter was saying.
Thanks for the tip. I think I might get one. They look great.

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ElPolaco
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Re: Open mic/cafe performance setup

Post by ElPolaco » Sun Mar 17, 2019 12:06 pm

Thanks Peter for the detailed info!
Peter Frary wrote:
Sun Mar 17, 2019 9:36 am
I play a classical guitar through amps nearly daily and spent decades playing dinner music and casual gigs. My favorite setup is a Hirade TH90 with Cool Tubes pickup and a Trace Acoustic Cube amp. In small venues the amp is plenty loud enough and I place it close but with the speaker pointed away to prevent feedback. In larger rooms—hotel ball room—I send the XLR out to the house PA and use my amp as a monitor. Avoid plugging directly into the house PA as you lose control of your tone controls.
So you mean plug the guitar into the amp and then send the XLR from the amp to the house PA?
Usually feedback is caused by a particular frequency, e.g., open D string, resonating freely, resulting in feedback. One important feature to have on an acoustic guitar amp is the notch filter. The notch filter allows your to surgically reduce the gain of a troublesome frequency without messing with the other pitches. You could nix feedback with a simple EQ or bass controls but you kill the natural tone of your guitar. By notching out the feedback frequency your tone stays natural but no feedback.
Yes, I noticed the feedback on the open D string.
I'll take a wild guess at your Jose Ramirez 2NCWE and Fishman pickup problem. Is it the Prefix PRO Blend pickup system with a dual output design with under saddle piezo and internal mic? If so, that design is really feedback prone if you blend even 10% of the internal mic into the signal. However, you can dial out the internal mic and just run on the piezo and it works fine. Finally, you want a softer and less resonant guitar for amping up like a thin line classical. A really loud and resonant classical tends to feedback more. If you have to perform with a super resonant classical, you can buy a sound hole cover and place acoustic dampening material inside. I only needed to go this route when I played jazz with a combo. For restaurants and weddings I never needed to be so loud feedback was a problem.
Yes, the problem is when I use the internal mic. But if I set it to the piezo setting the natural timbre of the guitar is lost and it sounds like those Godin synth guitars. So I don't know what I'm doing wrong. I want the full classical tone because the pieces I'm working on are arrangements for classical guitar rather than jazz comping type chord progressions. The sort of synth sound seems more like an electric guitar with nylon strings rather than a classical guitar. In Spain I saw guys busking using the piezo pickup stuck to the soundboard and a nice classical sound even with a small crappy amp.
Finally, that Roland AC33 amp is pretty feeble volume wise. Save a little longer and get the next model up.
I know. I actually have a Roland AC90 which I got cheap but sort of regret and wanna sell cuz it's a monster to carry and doesn't have a battery, and I want to do some busking to perhaps pick up some gigs that way. What do you think about the Fishman Loudbox Mini. That also has a battery.
Last edited by ElPolaco on Sun Mar 17, 2019 4:35 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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souldier
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Re: Open mic/cafe performance setup

Post by souldier » Sun Mar 17, 2019 12:16 pm

I use a bartlett guitar mic either with a fishman loudbox amp or in house pa system with excellent results. It can get quite loud with minimal feedback, attaches to the soundhole so you can move around without being glued to a stationary microphone, and it replicates the natural acoustic sound of a classical guitar without sounding artificial/electronic.
"Success grants its rewards to a few, but is the dream of the multitudes.
Excellence is available to all, but is accepted only by a few." - Christopher Parkening

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ElPolaco
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Re: Open mic/cafe performance setup

Post by ElPolaco » Sun Mar 17, 2019 1:03 pm

Thanks Gorn, that's really good info for a professional set up. I might take a closer look at the Venue Di. I don't think I can find the Schertler amp where I live but it's good to know what's available for future reference if I want to go pro.

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ElPolaco
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Re: Open mic/cafe performance setup

Post by ElPolaco » Sun Mar 17, 2019 1:16 pm

souldier wrote:
Sun Mar 17, 2019 12:16 pm
I use a bartlett guitar mic either with a fishman loudbox amp or in house pa system with excellent results. It can get quite loud with minimal feedback, attaches to the soundhole so you can move around without being glued to a stationary microphone, and it replicates the natural acoustic sound of a classical guitar without sounding artificial/electronic.
Thanks Soudier, that looks exactly like what I need. I don't want anything that requires modifying my guitar so this would be perfect. Do you plug it into any sort of a mixer, like the L.R.Baggs Venue DI stomp box that Gorn recommends, eg., when you plug it into the PA system, eg., to help reduce feedback?

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ElPolaco
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Re: Open mic/cafe performance setup

Post by ElPolaco » Sun Mar 17, 2019 1:55 pm

souldier wrote:
Sun Mar 17, 2019 12:16 pm
I use a bartlett guitar mic ...
Apparently it has to be phantom powered. I wonder if you could power it with the mixer like the L.R.Baggs Venue DI if you want to plug it into the PA system. The places I want to gig usually have some sort of a PA system so I'm not planning on using an amp.

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souldier
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Re: Open mic/cafe performance setup

Post by souldier » Sun Mar 17, 2019 2:29 pm

I plug it straight into an amp or PA system. Every in house system I have plugged into has phantom power and it has worked quite well. Bartlett also sells a model with a battery pack if you want to bypass the phantom power route. I haven't had any need to pass through a mixer... just be sure to adjust levels and such on the main system.

I too like the bartlett because it requries no modifications to the instrument and it is tuned well for an acoustic guitar. I really dislike pickups on a classical guitar because you get that really artificial, sterile sound. The bartlett does really well to amplify the natural sound of the instrument. It is a very "hot" mic that can get quite loud without much feedback problems.
"Success grants its rewards to a few, but is the dream of the multitudes.
Excellence is available to all, but is accepted only by a few." - Christopher Parkening

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ElPolaco
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Re: Open mic/cafe performance setup

Post by ElPolaco » Sun Mar 17, 2019 4:33 pm

souldier wrote:
Sun Mar 17, 2019 2:29 pm
I plug it straight into an amp or PA system ...
Yes, I think it's the solution to my problem. It seems to be popular with Flamenco guitarists as well.

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