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Solo Acoustic setup w/backdrop idea
#1
I have a Fishman Artist Loudbox -  a very nice acoustic amp with an XLR-style mic input and a guitar cable input. It seems to do the trick for me quite well, but I'm curious: anyone else operate solely with acoustic guitar amp? Any concerns it's lacking that certain "something" added by a dedicated PA?

As an aside, I'm considering purchasing this $40 banner frame with the idea that I would wind Christmas lights around the entirety of the frame to make a nice little backdrop to my performance. What does anyone think about that? Nice ambiance? Cheesy? Pretentious overkill?
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#2
(20 Mar 2015, 12:39 PM)danhylton wrote:  I'm considering purchasing this $40 banner frame with the idea that I would wind Christmas lights around the entirety of the frame to make a nice little backdrop to my performance. What does anyone think about that? Nice ambiance? Cheesy? Pretentious overkill?
LOVE this. I'm looking into the same kind of thing for my tour this summer -- except I want to get a string of vintage-looking market lights to hang. I think it will set the mood really nicely, and also help with outdoor spaces that get dark before the end of the show on summer nights. 

I don't think it's cheesy or pretentious or overkill -- anything you can do to send subtle cues that "this is a special event, this is a show" is great, imho. Wink 
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#3
(20 Mar 2015, 12:39 PM)danhylton wrote:  I have a Fishman Artist Loudbox -  a very nice acoustic amp with an XLR-style mic input and a guitar cable input. It seems to do the trick for me quite well, but I'm curious: anyone else operate solely with acoustic guitar amp? Any concerns it's lacking that certain "something" added by a dedicated PA?

As an aside, I'm considering purchasing this $40 banner frame with the idea that I would wind Christmas lights around the entirety of the frame to make a nice little backdrop to my performance. What does anyone think about that? Nice ambiance? Cheesy? Pretentious overkill?

I have both played and hosted house concerts which have been both totally acoustic (unplugged) and some with a small PA with everything amplified.  As far as the experience, they have all been awesome.  I would say if you were outside or had a larger room to fill, using the amp might be more beneficial.  With a smaller crowd (which is mostly what I've had when just starting out, between 10-15) in a smaller room, you certainly don't need a PA and it can be more intimate to let the guitar and your voice ring out acoustically.

It also might be more convenient to be unplugged if you move around a lot compared to if you are very still or even sitting while performing.  I'd suggest trying different things and seeing what you're most comfortable with as well as what your particular audience responds to the most.  Ask for feedback after each show and see what people like.
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#4
(26 Mar 2015, 12:23 PM)craigallen wrote:  
(20 Mar 2015, 12:39 PM)danhylton wrote:  I have a Fishman Artist Loudbox -  a very nice acoustic amp with an XLR-style mic input and a guitar cable input. It seems to do the trick for me quite well, but I'm curious: anyone else operate solely with acoustic guitar amp? Any concerns it's lacking that certain "something" added by a dedicated PA?

As an aside, I'm considering purchasing this $40 banner frame with the idea that I would wind Christmas lights around the entirety of the frame to make a nice little backdrop to my performance. What does anyone think about that? Nice ambiance? Cheesy? Pretentious overkill?

I have both played and hosted house concerts which have been both totally acoustic (unplugged) and some with a small PA with everything amplified.  As far as the experience, they have all been awesome.  I would say if you were outside or had a larger room to fill, using the amp might be more beneficial.  With a smaller crowd (which is mostly what I've had when just starting out, between 10-15) in a smaller room, you certainly don't need a PA and it can be more intimate to let the guitar and your voice ring out acoustically.

It also might be more convenient to be unplugged if you move around a lot compared to if you are very still or even sitting while performing.  I'd suggest trying different things and seeing what you're most comfortable with as well as what your particular audience responds to the most.  Ask for feedback after each show and see what people like.

Craig, I appreciate the thoughts. The handful of house concerts I've played to this point have been totally unplugged, and I have to say I've missed the depth and "showtime" quality that amplification (and reverb!) can add. Additionally, I'm a student of Tom Jackson and his performance theories and he pretty strongly advocates the mic as an actual tool that a performer can use, as opposed to a hindrance, for performance. That is to say, you can "work the mic" to enhance the impact of various musical moments. So for my next upcoming show (end of April), I'm going to try it out and see how it goes.
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#5
A followup on this thread: I'm so glad I went with the mic & amp! 

There's something not only about the heightened perception of "this is a show!" that a little reverb and amplification can add to a performance, but it can really add to a performer's (well, this performer's, anyway) confidence. Plus, as I mentioned earlier, I'm a bit of a student of Tom Jackson's performance theories, and there's a lot he teaches about how mic stands and "angles" can be used to great effect in the performance. I thought things went great.

Also - I went for it on the frame and lighting. For $40 on Amazon, I got a frame that I think is typically used for hanging photo backdrops or video shoot "green screens," then got a string of small LED globes that cycle gracefully through different colors ($20). It was AWESOME.

I have a few pictures of my setup on my Facebook musician page, here.

Oh, one more thing...I'd just written a song my band was working on for which I'd recorded a solo acoustic guitar pass along with some harmony vocals I wanted them to work out in practice. I ended up enjoying singing along with the harmonies, and felt they added enough to the performance, that I thought the audience might enjoy them, too. So, about 3/4 of the way through the set, just to change pressure in the room a bit, I put my guitar on a stand, grabbed the mic & set the stand aside, and crooned along with my pre-recorded guitar & harmonies running from iPod through amp. Great fun!
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#6
(27 Apr 2015, 07:50 PM)danhylton wrote:  Also - I went for it on the frame and lighting. For $40 on Amazon, I got a frame that I think is typically used for hanging photo backdrops or video shoot "green screens," then got a string of small LED globes that cycle gracefully through different colors ($20). It was AWESOME.

Danny, can you post Amazon links for the frame & globes? I'm betting some other people might find that info valuable. Thanks for the great update!
-
jamie hill
producer / engineer / mixer
http://secretagentaudio.com/work
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#7
Sure, here the links for:
- The lights ($19)
- The frame ($40)
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#8
(27 Apr 2015, 07:50 PM)danhylton wrote:  A followup on this thread: I'm so glad I went with the mic & amp! 

There's something not only about the heightened perception of "this is a show!" that a little reverb and amplification can add to a performance, but it can really add to a performer's (well, this performer's, anyway) confidence. Plus, as I mentioned earlier, I'm a bit of a student of Tom Jackson's performance theories, and there's a lot he teaches about how mic stands and "angles" can be used to great effect in the performance. I thought things went great.

Also - I went for it on the frame and lighting. For $40 on Amazon, I got a frame that I think is typically used for hanging photo backdrops or video shoot "green screens," then got a string of small LED globes that cycle gracefully through different colors ($20). It was AWESOME.

I have a few pictures of my setup on my Facebook musician page, here.

Oh, one more thing...I'd just written a song my band was working on for which I'd recorded a solo acoustic guitar pass along with some harmony vocals I wanted them to work out in practice. I ended up enjoying singing along with the harmonies, and felt they added enough to the performance, that I thought the audience might enjoy them, too. So, about 3/4 of the way through the set, just to change pressure in the room a bit, I put my guitar on a stand, grabbed the mic & set the stand aside, and crooned along with my pre-recorded guitar & harmonies running from iPod through amp. Great fun!

Hey Dan, after playing my last 2 house concerts I agree completely.  The second one was outside and the sound would have not worked at all without a PA.  When the sound isn't great I think "I should've gone unplugged" but when it's awesome I realize how much it can add.  Also I love you setup with the lights!  That really adds a magical element and I have been thinking of doing something similar.
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#9
I want to follow this thread. I love the idea how to set up the lights.
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