I recently bought a Porchboard Bass. A What? Yes, a Porchboard Bass. Look here (www.porchboard.com - note: the price shown here is not current...much less now).

OK, I play solo fingerstyle blues with vocals. My set up:
PAS with B1
Rode S1 for vocals (a touch of reverb added with an old Lexicon Alex)
Collings 000-2H with Fishman Rare Earth Blend (sound hole and internal condensor mic)

People always comment on the sound, and I am always thankful I have the PAS.

Back to the Porchboard. This is a hunk of wood - a slab really (am I getting too technical?). There is a "tap bar" that activates a proximity sensor generating a 33Hz thump with a 99 Hz harmonic. I am not sure what that means other than it now sounds like I have a bass player with me, as the sound is so low it "appears" to follow the chord progression. I used this thing the other night and caught lots of people staring, smiling, shaking their heads. It adds , in my opinion, a tremendous amount to the whole sound for around $200. BTW, I ran it thru an available port on the Alex...WOW again. I love this thing.

If anyone sees me strapping a pair of cymbals between my knees, please stop me. Enough is enough.

dw

PS: I have no financial interest in this thing...just passing along a cool thing I learned about from Tony-at-Bose.

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This thing looks like it's really cool. Right now I do pretty much the same thing you do. Vocals, Lee Oskar harps, Godin 6-string. I actually sit on a Brazilian boxdrum while phaying. I use a kickdrum pedal with my heel to thump the box drum. I don't have cymbals between my knees but I do have hi-hat cymbals mounted to the beater on the pedal... so when I tap or stomp depending on the song I get a pretty good smack of deep bass from the boxdrum and the jingle of the cymbals.

That said, your Porchboard idea has me intrigued. That just makes sense. A few questions? How fast does it respond to your tapping? Can it hanle a pretty fast tempo? Is it touch sensitive giving varying degrees of volume when you tap different strengths?

Thanks in advance for answering and thanks for turning us on to it. If it works out for me I think it will lesson my load... one less thing to carry to accomplish the same thing fits into the mode I'm in now since getting the Bose.

O
Hi Owen,

It does sound like a fit. The bar on which you tap (by the way, it is wide enough for both feet, but I just found out both of mine are left...lol) is "suspended" by some rubber/foam pads. To answer your questions, there is no delay..when you tap you get sound. You can control the "timbre" and volume in 2 ways...one by how hard to tap (or stomp for that matter). The other is by how close to the center of the tap bar (where the proximity sensor is located) you tap. I have found that with one foot at the center of the bar and the other toward one end, it makes for a more interesting sound.

I use a stool when I play, and I fashioned a platform large enough to hold the Porchboard on top of a STanley Tool Box, which makes it the perfect height. It also doubles as the container for cables, petals, cds, the pas remote, etc. ANd this from a guy who can't even spell Home Depot.

I suggest contacting Porchboard.com and asking for the demo vcd. The quality is not terrific but it illustrates the idea effectively. Plus you can catch up on what Delaney Bramlett has been doing all these years, as he is one of the players on the vcd. Tell 'em dw sent ya.

If you play anywhere in the northeast, please let me know. I would love to hear you live!

dw
I've built a few of these type of things in the past...just micing up various objects and kicking/stomping them to get sound. It always ends up being more hassle than it's worth, so I usually just give up.

This sounds ideal!....I have one backordered at Elderly as we speak. I found some tracks on CD Baby from a guy who used one on his recordings and it's just what I'm looking for.

Thanks for the tip!
Proud Porchboard owner now! Mine came in last night and I only got to play with it a few minutes but was immediately blown away by the sound. Deeper and more resonant than the mic'ed Brazilian Box drum I've been using. Now I'm going to have to change all my literature and website because the boxdrum has kinda been a trademark. But, you can bet starting next week I'll be using the Porchboard at all future gigs. Smaller and better sounds are one reason. The other is it seems to be less tiring. Pumping a kickpedal against the boxdrum all night was a workout. The pb gets a better sound with just the tap of the end of my foot.

Thanks a ton for turning me on to this!

Owen
I spoke at length today with Nadine and Bill from Enroute regarding the Porchboard. These have got to be the nicest, most passionate about their product, people that I've ever dealt with! It's really comforting to deal with people like them when you're buying something online, sight unseen. I have absolutely no concerns, because I know that they'll stand behind their product 100%.

Hmmm....sounds familiar huh? I'm hopeful that the PB will add as much to my solo show as the PAS has!

I'll have my PB next week and I'm really looking forward to hearing it through my double bass PAS.

How does the PAS handle 33hz, by the way? Is it designed to be able to output those frequencies without any concern, or should I consider using a limiter inserted for protection? I see in the FAQ's that the frequency response of the PAS is 41-15khz. Does this mean that the lows are rolled off at 41hz and won't output the 33hz thump generated by the Porchboard? It obviously works, as Owen and DW will attest, but are we only hearing the 100hz overtone and would a powered sub with no rolloff be the only way to really get the full effect from the PB?

I'll post my thoughts when I've had a chance to play with it a little.

Thanks again for the tip, DW!
I wouldn't worry about the 33Hz and you certainly don't need an external limiter. The PS1 has very good protection build in.

I do play a 5 string bass through my system all the time and (tuned to B) the lowest note is around 31 Hz which our system it sounds just fine.

It's certainly true that the lowest frequency the B1 can reproduce is around 40 Hz but all acoustic sounds contain a lot more than just one frequency. In fact most instruments have comparatively little energy at the "fundamental" or nominal frequency. In fact very low frequencies don't contribute to "punch" or the perception of powerful bass, but they tend to add an indistinct rumble. That's the reason why most (famous) bass cabinets go only down to about 55Hz or so.

I haven't heard (or measured) the poarchboard yet, but I would assume that it has also considerable energy at higher harmonics and apparently is sounds good as it is.
Thanks for the quick reply, Hilmar!.....don't you guys ever go fishing?... Wink

So you're saying that even though the Porchboard's signal will rolloff at 40 with the B1, there will still be plenty of output between 40 and 100hz to do the job. Makes sense to me! All I know is, I'm looking forward to giving my audience a reason to get off their butts and have some fun!

Thanks again!

Rick
Owen, SO sorry I missed your question.

I love my Variax. I use it live every Sunday in church. Yes, you can program your own alt tunings.

BE AWARE however... you must either use headphones or have your Pas pretty loud to drown out the actual string noise...
The 700 Acoustic...is strangly loud for a solid body guitar with a hole drilled in it.

I use Capo 1 and Capo 2 alot at church cuz I'm too lazy to learn things in Aflat and Eflat <g>
Minor 2ds for EVERY note can give you quite a headache !
We had a choir special at Easter and the gal sitting right in front of me was getting an eye twitch... I was fine.. with my wireless in-ear-monitor<g>

Frankly, all my alt tuning live exp. has been with my church house-system so I'm not sure if a comfortable level on the PAS would be enough to drown out the string noise. Its been ok with an open G for slide but I was pretty loud for that. I'll get back to you on how sane levels work someday.

For recording the Variax is amazing btw.

You can catch other thoughts on it in the Guitar topics esp. those with GR-20/33 synth subjects ( I have a GK-3 mounted on my Variax and play thru a GR-20 now )

fp
I just got off the phone with the R&D guy with Porchboard. FUN conversation!

Big news...

They have 2.5 models now...
the original in solid mahogany now two in segmented pine. The pine is assembled in Butcher-block style and comes in clearcoat or a med stain ( he said somewhere between Mahogany and redwood I think )
The mahogany is now under 500 bucks and the pine is under 300 .

They are trying out some synthetics also and may have a new model in the works in the future.

They have a V-CD you can order ...tho they are back-ordered at the moment.

Since this is available almost exclusivly direct...they have a try-it-for-x-days deal right now so you can send it back if it doesn't float your boat.

btw, Willy Nelson's band uses one now <g>

fp
It's so great that a community can benefit like this. While I have no interest in the Porchboard for my act, I know at least a couple of folks that will want to check it out. I just bought a Digitech GNX4 for myself (it's my birthday) because of input on this site. Thanks, Bose folk, and a shoutout to Kyle from Ron in Mystic. Come down to the Steak Loft this Thursday for my CD release party, 7:30-10:30.
Hey Focus, thanks for the reply. I was afraid of the actual tuning bleeding through... that might be a problem but I'm usually pretty loud at the places I play. Thanks for the advice. Also, my first gig with the new Porchboard is tomorrow night. I can't wait. That thing really adds a lot of bottom end. My boxdrum has been a calling card for me and I hate to lose that but the sound of the PB is good enough that I'll give that up.

Thanks again.

O
Well, I've used my new Porchboard Bass at a couple of gigs and I'm thoroughly impressed! The PB adds so much with so little effort and really has changed the whole dynamic of my solo shows. I wondered if I'd use it for every song or just the more upbeat stuff, but I've yet to find a situation where it doesn't add something. I did a duo show with a Conga player Saturday night and it really added a lot there as well. We had the whole place on the dance floor and this is usually a pretty quiet club, (It will also stand up to having beer dumped all over it, I found out)!......It didn't hurt that Jackson Browne had just finished an outdoor evening show a half a block away, but it was a different scene and I attribute a lot of that to having a solid beat for the crowd to dance to.

I can't recommend the Porchboard enough to all of us PAS solo guys...and gals, of course....in fact, I think it could be used in a lot of different situations.

To do a fair review, I also have to mention that Nadene and Bill at PB headquarters are two of the nicest, most helpful people I've ever dealt with. They really believe in their product, (with good reason), and will go out of their way to make your Porchboard experience a good one. I was also assured that if it wasn't a good fit for me, I'd have no problems returning it for a refund....No Way that's happening, though!... I have nothing to gain here. I just wanted folks to know about my experience.

I'll be recording with it soon, in an effort to produce some recordings that are a true representation of my "new" live show, so I'll keep y'all posted.

Thanks again for this forum and for the invaluable suggestion to try out the Porchboard Bass!

Rick
I currently use a Peavy KB300 KeyBoard Amp with 3 channels for my solo performance, but I'm considering investing in a Bose system. After reading these comments, my question is does the PAS system have adequate channels to run mic, guitar and porchboard?
The system has four inputs, two xlr/1/4" combo inputs for mic or line input, and two 1/4" inputs for line input only. I've been told that the Porchboard works in any of the four channels, but I should have mine by the end of this week, so I will confirm that personally at that time (It is baffling to me that the Porchboard is passive, with no preamp, and still works in a line input!). The system will handle your situation with a channel to spare.
Chashea,

Guitar, vocal, and porchboard is exactly my set up. Although I am weaning myself off of effects (using Ch1, 2, 3, straight in from each source), I still often insert reverb on the Ch1 vocal and return to Ch 3. Guitar in Ch 2. Porchboard in Ch 4. I think I can safely say that you will be ecstatic with the sound.

Tony, I have no idea what lies within the Porchboard other than something called a "proximity sensor" which sounds like more physics than I care to understand. All I know is I use a standard 1/4" instrument cable and the Porchboard does whatever it does to make a really great sound. In fact, I now keep the PAS set up at home between gigs just because I like the sound so much - especially with the addition of the porchboard.

dw
At a gig this weekend, a guy kept staring at the Porchboard. During a break, he came over to find out all about it. Turns out he is an engineer who works for a company that makes sensors. I know he was dying to unscrew the cover and find out how it all works. I told him he would have to buy his own - they have come out with a new, less expensive (but less beautiful) model. Now I only have one major complaint about this set up - Between the PAS and the Porchboard, no one wants to talk about music...just the equipment. Oh well, at least I have their attention.

dw
I got my porchboard yesterday, and used it last night. It does exactly what I have always wanted. At one time I thought of buying an inexpensive drum machine, and have someone to figure how to trigger the bass drum with a foot pedal. That never worked out, but this does. I prefer the porchboard in channel 2 with the bass pumped up, but I really like having my variax in 2 in order to tweek the sound from one model to another. Using it in channel 3 seems to be just fine. OK, Bose double bass PAS, Variax acc., porchboard .. I'm not buying any more gear!! (Oh there is that mic I've been looking at)LOL
Respect
Col. Andy
quote:
OK, Bose double bass PAS, Variax acc., porchboard .. I'm not buying any more gear!! (Oh there is that mic I've been looking at)LOL



Big Grin LOL Big Grin Does this curse ever end? I have major GAS (gear aquisition syndrome) too.

I keep thinking one day I'll get bored of, as I like to call it, "the hunt", but I never do. A buddy at work called me his "guitar consultant" and I had to laugh.

Thanks for the smile Col. Andy,

Steve
duogig,

From what I understand in talking with the folks at Porchboard (EnRoute Music - and very sweet people indeed), the new models sound just as good as the others. Originally, the Porchbard was made of of mahogany, the theory being that the type of wood would make a diffence. Turns out that pine (which I bought) sounds just as good as the mahogany and the compsite sounds just as good as the pine. As I have stated above, I do not have any interest in Porchboard, but go ahead and call them up. They are nice people interested in having players being happy playing the Porchboard. If everybody did business the way EnRoute does, the world would be a better place.

dw
I had a long talk with them in June and they were indeed very nice folks.
Apparently the secret to the sound is a combination of the elctronics and how it's set in... not the wood it's mounted in.. they're even looking at a synthetic like Vibracell ( Switchguitars) for a version in the future if it can be done at a quality/price point that works for them.
I got a porch board as a birthday gift from my wife. I had the opportunity to try it at a couple of shows and love it. I typically run it through the bose on channel 3 and it seems to work just fine. I am with Tony-at Bose, I don't know how it works, but it does.
quote:
Originally posted by bscha:
I got a porch board as a birthday gift from my wife. I had the opportunity to try it at a couple of shows and love it. I typically run it through the bose on channel 3 and it seems to work just fine. I am with Tony-at Bose, I don't know how it works, but it does.

Well I got my porchboard today allso, & I gotta say it is differant, It is well worth the mony..I been playing it with recorded music & at times I can't tell if it is me with the beat or if it is the recording, untell I stop, then I see it was me doing it, and it helps me to play along with the music, I need to play more with it though & that is what I'm going to do..
Major question for you guys: I got a Porchboard just a couple of days ago, plugged it in and started practicing with it. Weird thing happened three times, I hear an electical "snap" sound and loose almost (but not all) of the amplification from the PAS/B1 combo. I am only practicing so the volume is pretty low.
Details, Collings D2H through K&K trinity western blended through their preamp into and Alesis 6 channel mizer into Channel one. The Porchboard into Ch2 on a 1/4 jack guitar cable so I can adjust the volume and again, this is NOT at stage volume.
I turn it off and back on and then it works again, sometimes right away and sometimes after a couple of minutes. I have to say I did not do an empirical kind of observation which I will do today. In the meantime of course I would not dream of taking it on stage. I love the sound and was really getting into it when I does that whatever its doing thing.
Please share your thoughts with me on what might be happening. I do only have one Bass cabinet but that should be enough.
Thanks
Patrick
Hi Kingbee - If you've had your PAS for a while, and have experienced no problems prior to the introduction of the Porchboard, then there's a good chance that the problem lies with the Porchboard or the set up of it (trims, cables, etc). A strongly clipped signal WILL kick in the PAS' limiter to protect it. Please understand, clipping a signal has NOTHING to do with the volume you HEAR. You can be playing at whisper levels - or even with the remote's channel and/or master volume all the way down, making no sound at all - and have a clipped signal. Double check your input trim on the Porchboard channel. If the L.E.D is RED you're clipping the input. Start with the trim on that channel all the way down, and gradually turn it up while you're hitting the Porchboard as hard as you normally would, making sure the L.E.D stays green. Also check to see if the Porchboard has input/output level adjustments.

That would be a good place to start. If you still get the problem, try eliminating the mixer, testing your cables, etc to try to isolate the culprit. Good luck.
quote:
OK, Bose double bass PAS, Variax acc., porchboard .. I'm not buying any more gear!! (Oh there is that mic I've been looking at)LOL

This is a quote from my post back in August. I want to report that the porchboard is a ton of fun. I have to resist using it too much.
Oh yeah, I bought the mic.
Respect
quote:
Originally posted by Hilmar-at-Bose:

"... most instruments have comparatively little energy at the "fundamental" or nominal frequency. In fact very low frequencies don't contribute to "punch" or the perception of powerful bass, but they tend to add an indistinct rumble. That's the reason why most (famous) bass cabinets go only down to about 55Hz or so.

I haven't heard (or measured) the poarchboard yet, but I would assume that it has also considerable energy at higher harmonics and apparently is sounds good as it is"


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I am very interested in this statement Hilmar. The bit about the fundamental frequency having comparativiely little energy. I am trying to understand how an acoustic guitar gives a much more pleasing sound than a solid body instrument. Surely the hollow body does much more than just amplify the strings' vibration, the energy flow is not just one way. We have a dialogue going on here, the string makes a statement to which the wooden body responds and feeds back a subtle reverberant answer coloured with its' own personality. Listen to the sound of a double bass being plucked, the initial impulse creates a tone that aquires colour and warmth as it decays, the resonance of that beautifully designed wooden body transmits counter vibrations back into the string which modify its movements, adding overtones and muting some others. That is a poetic kind of description, I'm sure you could give me a more scientific one which I would appreciate if you have the time.

I wonder if anyone has studied this interaction between string and resonator. I have toyed with designs for a solid body instrument with a bridge which is not solid metal but a spring-steel comb arrangement designed for maximum resonant response, I am forever dissatisfied with the solid body tones, the waveform if I could see it I'm sure would contain a very prominant fundamental frequency which when amplified electronically gives out a tone which is painfully lacking in colouration for my taste. Why else would we need all these effect pedal gysmos?

Here is an idea for an insrtument amplifier, I'm sure Bose would do a great job of producing it. Companies like Korg and Line 6 put a lot of research into analysing the colouration added by various classic guitar amplifiers and simulating the tones with a digital effects unit. All well and good but why not design an amplifier that sets out to colour the sound by constructing it with resonant tone woods just like an acoustic guitar body. Why not have the speaker direct its vibrations into an array of metal springs or other responsive materials, even tuned strings? then sense the reverberant overtones and feed them back into the amplifier so that the original guitar tone is modulated by these secondary sounds. Isn't this the basis of FM synthesis?

I feel sure that when more attention is given to the quality of the source tone the desire for extreme loudness becomes less. Natural acoustic tone has some very subtle qualities I think. It is such a shame to have to endure live music which is so loud that it causes physical pain. We feel the sound but the ears simply cannot discern subtlety because the delicate inner mechanism is locked up in self defense. I forget who told me this, a medical student who was studying hearing loss I think, explained to me the mechanism the human ear uses to protect itself from damage. By locking its delcate moving parts loud noise can be endured for a while. but if exposure is prolonged the ear sustains irreversible physical damage and the range and quality of hearing is impared.

You can verify this for yourself at the next loud concert, press fingers firmly into the ears, you will notice that the pitch of the sound apparently drops about a quarter tone and although treble frequencies are muted, magically what seemed like a turbulent whirlpool of muddy sound becomes clearer. without earplugs the sound is confusing, but with the attenuation the stereo image is restored and some of the subtleties of musical expression become discernable.

It may seem an irony to say this in a forum concerned with amplification but I believe that our ability to hear a sound as beautiful depends more on how carefully we are listening than on how pure the sound source is. How on earth did performers manage to get the attention of an audience before amplification was available? There are ways of bolstering the power of the human voice, many singing in unison, a soloist must train to master voice projection by using the breath economically for maximum volume with minimum expenditure of energy. The clever ones also used charm to draw the attention of the listener to a very receptive level of awareness.

The introcucion of electronic amplification has given us power which anyone can easily use. But power must be used wisely or it will intoxicate the unwary user. The same laws of nature still apply, brute force unguided by sensitivity is an ugly thing.

Colin Edwards.
quote:
Originally posted by Colin Edwards:
quote:
Originally posted by Hilmar-at-Bose:
"...I haven't heard (or measured) the poarchboard yet, but I would assume that it has also considerable energy at higher harmonics and apparently is sounds good as it is"

----------------------
... I am trying to understand how an acoustic guitar gives a much more pleasing sound than a solid body instrument... Listen to the sound of a double bass being plucked, ...


A bit of clarification, Colin. The Porchboard Bass is a slab of wood with two "rails" that one taps on with a foot (or two Big Grin ). A pickup embedded in the board sends the "thump". It is more like a "kick/bass drum", not a stringed bass or bass guitar.

quote:
...I wonder if anyone has studied this interaction between string and resonator...


You have a lot of interesting comments, thoughts, and observations in your post above, Colin. With regard to strings and resonators, etc., you may be interested in the work of Rick Turner and his latest "goody", as is discussed in several places in this forum (search for the exact phrase "mama bear"); particularly look here .

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