Playing electric guitar in an acoustic band...

One_Dude

New Member!
Apr 3, 2022
8
Appalachian Wilderness
I play in a band with two amped acoustic guitars, an electric bass, harmonica, and various percussion instruments. I play mandolin and guitar, and prefer to play my strat or other electric guitar on the songs where I play guitar.

When practicing at home by myself my guitar sounds good; but not so at rehearsal or at the gig. Everything is run thru the PA, and the acoustic guitars sound big and bold, my strat sounds weak and thin regardless of volume; is this just the nature of mixing an electric guitar in an otherwise acoustic band?

I have decided to bring my own amp to gigs and not run my guitar thru the PA so that I have more control over my sound. I am also a sound man, but not for this band. In my sound jobs I have not mixed acoustic and electric guitars in the same band, however I have seen it done. Is this an issue of the difference in dynamic range of the different type of guitars; am I missing something or is this just a poor practice? What do you think?

Play on,

One_Dude
 

soulman969

Most Honored Senior Member
Jan 5, 2016
5,586
Fort Collins, CO
Wise move playing through an amp first and then running that into the PA. I also think you're correct about the mix.

IME acoustic guitars sound best played through FRFF speakers such as those in most PA systems. I use a small Turbosound iP300 for my acoustic and my guitar amp for electric which I can then mic and send to a FOH PA.

Electric guitars just sound best running through an amp/speaker voiced for electric guitar whereas an acoustic sounds best when it's run through a PA or a PA type amp/speaker like my mini tower or something similar.
 

dirocyn

Most Honored Senior Member
Jan 20, 2018
6,824
Murfreesboro, TN
Magnetic pickups don't have a "flat" frequency response, and neither do amps. The electric guitar is designed to play through an amp, and the amp is designed to make an electric guitar sound good. Which means the amp doesn't have a flat frequency response either.
You may have noticed, acoustic guitars are built to play through a flat amp--like a PA. People want the acoustic to sound like itself, just louder. Acoustic guitars often sound like crap through a guitar amp, too. Because a guitar amp is designed to fix deficiencies that aren't there for the acoustic.

Another option you have, is to play with an "amp in a box" device. This can "correct " the sound of the guitar, while making the output friendly for the PA, and without adding to stage volume.
 

retrobob

Strat-Talker
Aug 6, 2021
443
california
As mentioned above, electric guitars sound thin going directly to the PA. Electric guitars need to go through an electric guitar based pre-amp of some sort that outputs line level first, then to the PA's LINE input (not mic input).

I use a Tonelab SE pedal (modeling/effects all in one), directly to the PA it sounds huge. The tonelab gives me anything I want, including an acoustic simulator (makes the electric sound like an acoustic). Something like this may be ideal for your situation.

Tip, use the PA's highpass filters on everything but the kick drum to clean the mix up.
 

Andmyaxe

Strat-Talker
May 12, 2021
278
USA
The Tech 21 fly rigs are excellent options for running direct if you're looking for an amp-like interface (rather than digital menus). They sound great and can be found used for around $100 - $150 on Reverb and eBay. I use the Kotzen model but you might prefer the Plexi for your needs.

 

StratUp

Most Honored Senior Member
Sep 5, 2020
8,155
Altered States
As mentioned above, electric guitars sound thin going directly to the PA. Electric guitars need to go through an electric guitar based pre-amp of some sort that outputs line level first, then to the PA's LINE input (not mic input).

I use a Tonelab SE pedal (modeling/effects all in one), directly to the PA it sounds huge. The tonelab gives me anything I want, including an acoustic simulator (makes the electric sound like an acoustic). Something like this may be ideal for your situation.

Tip, use the PA's highpass filters on everything but the kick drum to clean the mix up.

Tonelab's are vintage, but cool. Also unrespected. But cool. It's like showing up with a Squier Bullet and pulling Jimi out of it. They give you 30+ amp and cab selections along with other stuff if you need it. Full amp EQ and then EQ at the end to tweak for the amp you're running to.

I use a Tonelab EX. A little more flexible for home use. Run it into a PA or uber clean analog SS amp for great results. Store settings for every song on the list if you like. In the $100-$150 range these days. SE is similar in capabilities and price.

I think something like that would give you the output you need to the PA... with a lot of flexibility to dial in for the PA and band.
 

One_Dude

New Member!
Apr 3, 2022
8
Appalachian Wilderness
Thanks for the suggestions and general info. To answer one question; they have been plugging me directly in to the mixer. Then the band member who runs the mix always wanted the volume on my guitar to be full on; of course that cripples my ability in increase my volume as needed for lead parts. So in addition to sounding bad, my lead parts could not be heard.

Hence the idea of using my own amp, which should solve both issues. The venues we play are small, so even if my guitar is not in the FOH there should be no problem being heard. My primary reason for wanting to use an electric guitar is to occupy the sonic space one octave higher than the acoustic guitars, which for me is more difficult on the acoustic as opposed to an electric.

Our next play date is two days away, so at this point I think my most effective approach is to come up with my best guitar/amp combination, and I have a number of arrangements to choose from. On guitar I am mostly a jazz player, so I have a couple of jazz boxes that will probably sound OK with the acoustic amp I want to use. I also have a couple of A/E acoustic guitars to chose from, with the most comfortable and best sounding one being a thin body Ovation that always wants to slide off my lap. We are all senior citizens, so are usually seated when we play. So maybe some stick-on velcro in the right spot on the Ovation bowl will solve that problem.

So thanks for your responses, and I'll report back after our upcoming gig.

Thump on,

One_Dude
 

NewStratLover

Strat-Talker
Dec 22, 2013
123
Indiana
Tonelab's are vintage, but cool. Also unrespected. But cool. It's like showing up with a Squier Bullet and pulling Jimi out of it. They give you 30+ amp and cab selections along with other stuff if you need it. Full amp EQ and then EQ at the end to tweak for the amp you're running to.

I use a Tonelab EX. A little more flexible for home use. Run it into a PA or uber clean analog SS amp for great results. Store settings for every song on the list if you like. In the $100-$150 range these days. SE is similar in capabilities and price.

I think something like that would give you the output you need to the PA... with a lot of flexibility to dial in for the PA and band.
I had the box amp that used the same tech and it is good.
 

nigelr

Senior Stratmaster
Aug 28, 2014
1,798
Switzerland
If the mixing desk has a hi-z input channel then use that, otherwise you will need a di box or pre-amp of some kind. There are different ways of doing this before you grab your amp.
 

StratUp

Most Honored Senior Member
Sep 5, 2020
8,155
Altered States
... with the most comfortable and best sounding one being a thin body Ovation that always wants to slide off my lap. We are all senior citizens, so are usually seated when we play. So maybe some stick-on velcro in the right spot on the Ovation bowl will solve that problem.

So thanks for your responses, and I'll report back after our upcoming gig.

Thump on,

One_Dude

LOL, I have a Fender Stratosonic (the original version). It's essentially an Ovation body with a Fender Neck. I know the "slide off your lap" problem too well. If your right foot isn't elevated, good luck. I may try that velcro hook side idea - probably just enough friction to keep it in place.

I suppose you could always sew a the velcro loop side to your pant leg - then it would stay there no matter what :- )

Back on the sound: At the least, get a cheap Timmy clone to play through before you go to the PA. I use a Mosky Silver Overdrive. $30. Gets you clean boost on a switch (or some gain, should you want it) along with a bass/treble EQ section. That will give you a lot more flexibility.
 

NewStratLover

Strat-Talker
Dec 22, 2013
123
Indiana
For the acoustic sliding which I've also seen playing someone else's Ovation I would just use a strap. That guitar is meant to be played standing up with a strap I guess because it's a pain sitting.
 

Mike H

Strat-Talker
Gold Supporting Member
Mar 7, 2011
226
Collierville, TN
You need to plug your guitar into a preamp, a pedal sized amp, or a modeler like POD, then run the Line Out to the mixer. A dry signal from a guitar straight into the board will never sound good.
 

One_Dude

New Member!
Apr 3, 2022
8
Appalachian Wilderness
OK, here's my followup from our last play date. I took my acoustic guitar amp and my Gretsch Streamliner hollow body. I played strictly thru my amp and did not feed my signal to the PA. I thought it was a big improvement, but the BL said he was hearing some kind of feedback and claimed it was from my amp. Now my amp was right next me and the only problem I heard sounded like it was coming from the bass, and not my amp. I suppose it's possible that my amp signal was getting picked up by my vocal mic, but the feedback I heard was a much lower frequency than anything produced by a guitar.

Were playing again tomorrow, and the set list doesn't have any songs that I play guitar on. So maybe I'll just stick with my mic'd mandolin for this gig.

Thanks again for your replies and suggestions.

Thump on,

One_Dude
 

Scott Baxendale

Most Honored Senior Member
Gold Supporting Member
May 20, 2020
5,591
Sante Fe, NM
I play in a band with two amped acoustic guitars, an electric bass, harmonica, and various percussion instruments. I play mandolin and guitar, and prefer to play my strat or other electric guitar on the songs where I play guitar.

When practicing at home by myself my guitar sounds good; but not so at rehearsal or at the gig. Everything is run thru the PA, and the acoustic guitars sound big and bold, my strat sounds weak and thin regardless of volume; is this just the nature of mixing an electric guitar in an otherwise acoustic band?

I have decided to bring my own amp to gigs and not run my guitar thru the PA so that I have more control over my sound. I am also a sound man, but not for this band. In my sound jobs I have not mixed acoustic and electric guitars in the same band, however I have seen it done. Is this an issue of the difference in dynamic range of the different type of guitars; am I missing something or is this just a poor practice? What do you think?

Play on,

One_Dude
The input impedance on the PA doesn’t jive with the electric guitar signal and will always sound thin and twanky. using a amp is the easiest solution. You could also get something like a line 6 pod to act as a interface between the guitar and the PA, but using a amp is the simplest. It can be a really small,amp that is also miked and run through the PA too.
 

retrobob

Strat-Talker
Aug 6, 2021
443
california
OK, here's my followup from our last play date. I took my acoustic guitar amp and my Gretsch Streamliner hollow body. I played strictly thru my amp and did not feed my signal to the PA. I thought it was a big improvement, but the BL said he was hearing some kind of feedback and claimed it was from my amp. Now my amp was right next me and the only problem I heard sounded like it was coming from the bass, and not my amp. I suppose it's possible that my amp signal was getting picked up by my vocal mic, but the feedback I heard was a much lower frequency than anything produced by a guitar.

Were playing again tomorrow, and the set list doesn't have any songs that I play guitar on. So maybe I'll just stick with my mic'd mandolin for this gig.

Thanks again for your replies and suggestions.

Thump on,

One_Dude
JMHO, I believe you have bigger issues with the band, perhaps they do not like the idea of an electric guitar with their acoustics?
 


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