Last week in Big Sur, I heard the best acoustic guitar sound from an L1 ever.

It was the guitar sound of the marvelous artist Tom Munch, aslo a contributor here on this forum.

I wonder if I could ask Tom to share with this community his guitar rig, from the guitar to the sound in the room.

Ken Jacob
Chief Engineer


Photos (2)
Original Post
I actually had the pleasure of hearing Tom play at the Royal Gorge in 2004. I had flown in from Tampa, FL and was attending a conference in Estes Park. One month earlier I received my first two Pas single bass systems. I was pretty sure I had made the right choice to sell my Powered Mackies, etc, etc.. and buy the then New and relatively unproven BOSE PAS, but there was a learning curve to deal with. After hearing Tom play that afternoon I was SURE I had made the right choice. Now I have three double bass systems and I am waiting for the next "BOSE Deal" (hint, hint) to purchase my fourth.
Thanks Tom! Thanks BOSE!
P.S. I think he deserves a T-shirt or something.
All right. Let's talk about acoustic tone. I searched for the holy grail for years. I have a couple dozen pickups & a dozen high-end preamps to show for it.

The funny thing about my rig in Big Sur was that I had 2 guitars with completely different pickup systems & 2 different preamp systems, so it couldn't have been the pickups or the preamps that made the tone. Right? Well, yes, & no. I'm assuming that Ken liked the tone of both guitars.

The pickups for both guitars were very nice & had been tweaked a lot to get the sound I wanted.

One guitar was a Goodall grand concert with a Sunrise, a Fishman SBT (soundboard tranducer), & a Joe Mills mic. A custom 4-conductor plug & jack (TRRS) fed each of the pickup signals through a 9-conductor cord (built for 3 discrete mic signals) to 2 Fishman Pocket Blender preamps. Blender 1 processed the Sunrise & SBT & mixed those to the pickup channel on Blender 2 while the Joe Mills went to the mic channel on Blender 2. The Sunrise was EQ'd with bass full up & the treble full down. The SBT was flat on bass & to 3 o'clock on the treble. The Mills mic was EQ'd with bass at 3 o'clock (or full up, I can't remember) & the treble about 11:00. The output of Blender 2 then went to channel 3 of the L1.

The other guitar was a Pederson small body custom guitar with a triple system from Pickup-the-World (2 top sensors & 1 under-saddle sensor) & a Joe Mills mic. The combined PUTW pickups & the Mills mic went through a stereo jack & plug through a Mogami 6-conductor cord (built for 2 discrete mic signals) to a Rane AP 13 preamp. The PUTW was EQ'd with the 40 Hz at 6dB boost & the rest flat, & the Mills mic was EQ'd with the Low Cut at about 250 Hz & the rest flat.

The Mills mic was the only common element of both systems.

Here's the kicker. Most of this stuff is old tech with all of the modeling technology & newer stuff out there. My philosophy is to get your tone in the ballpark & then do the rest with your fingers. There was a great post at Christmastime a year ago by a great bass player who said he got most of his tone from his fingers. He prided himself on being able to get good sound on most any bass & any system. I feel that is also where most of my tone comes from. Pick or nail angle, attack, amount of flesh, etc. are as important as all the outboard gear.

I experimented last weekend with this concept by taking an old guitar out to the gig with an average pickup system & forcing myself to get good tone out of it. It took a couple tunes, but I got it dialed in where I was pretty content.

I used to like to do unconventional things like play an electric guitar through a keyboard amp to prove to myself that the gear didn't matter that much. At the end of the night I had people saying they loved my tone & asking what I was using. Go figure.

My best advice is to really listen & be intuitive to get good tone. I've heard some great guitars sound horrible & some bad guitars sound pretty good over the years. At least the L1 really lets you hear what tone you are making, so you are halfway there. Use your ears & experiment. Every situation is different.

Ken mentioned something about the room. The beauty of the L1 is that the room doesn't interfere with guitar tone near as much, & feedback is not near the issue that it is with standard systems. When I play with a full band my tone is just as cutting as the lead guitar player. That had never happened before the L1.

There are lots of good pickups on the market these days, & lots of guitars with high-end pickups already built in. My best advice is to get the best guitar with the best pickup system you can, & then really listen to your tone (through an L1, of course). Listen to when your tone sounds squashed from overplaying. Listen to when your pick angle or finger technique makes the guitar sound more acoustic & more real. Be attentive to this sound & work to make that attention an unconscious part of your playing & sound. The unconscious attention is the key to most good playing anyway. You could call it being in the zone too.
Last edited by Tom Munch
Originally posted by Acurry2:
Thanks Tom! Thanks BOSE!
P.S. I think he deserves a T-shirt or something.

Thanks, Andy! I remember meeting you at the Gorge well. You were the first person I had met at a gig that knew anything about the Bose. You were very kind with compliments about my sound.

No need for a T-shirt. I became a Bose AD rep later that Fall. I guess my passion for the L1 was apparent to them too.

I'm glad you got more of them & that they are working out well for you.
I knew there was a trick in there somewhere (use your fingers)!

Working with Ron Carter and tweaking his sound with my 1/3 octave, Ron looked at me, smiled, held up his right hand, fingers spread apart, and said "here's MY equalzer". I said "oh yeah, you are so right".

I think that what it comes down to in the quest for tone is the goal of the player, what they want to hear. Often this is the result of hearing really fine tone, like what Tom delivered in the Hidden Barn. While I'm touched, as always, to hear that our technology empowered Tom to acheive his tone, it's really his thoughts that allowed him to get there and not the technology.

So many string players, especially the experienced ones, will tell you "it's in the fingers". It's so true. And so, for the tone-pilgrim that has yet to arrive in the land of The Magic, stay steadfast in your search and it will all happen. Just have faith, be patient and work, work, work.
Ken, Let's not forget the tone of Tom's vocal thru his Neumann KLM, an amazing fat tone! I remember commenting, "Wow, that mic!", as he was testing it, and you looking back at me nodding with a big grin.

But in truth it was Tom's voice and tone settings as much as the mic...others used Neumanns as well, but didn't have that same deep bass tone that Tom got.

Not to take away from anyone was ALL good, but Tom did stand out.
I'd love to take all the credit, guys, but one of the things I did was turn up the master to 2 o'clock & then whisper into the mic. I believe in playing with intensity at 40% instead of the 80% that most guys like to play at. That can make a HUGE difference in tone. I still need to get one of those Neumanns for my own. That was Ken Bausano's mic which he graciously let me use. I usually use an AKG 535.
I thought some more about tone. One of the things that is most important is the touch. You hear great players talk about this all the time. What I just posted vocally about playing at 40% with intensity - that's what it's all about for me. It's like stroking a cat softly around the ears, or feathering your car's throttle ever so lightly, or kissing your love with great passion & & gentle tenderness. Do the same thing for your guitar.
id be curious to know if anyone took db level readings at the event that i surely wanted to attend but just couldnt swing this time around. More so on the sound levels of solo guitars and voices than groups.
Also from the pics, it appears there was ample area to get 7 ft away from the cr units. Was any experimenting done with having to be very close to he units? and if so any findings or new insights. thanks all.....
Originally posted by wfs:
id be curious to know if anyone took db level readings at the event that i surely wanted to attend but just couldnt swing this time around. More so on the sound levels of solo guitars and voices than groups.
Also from the pics, it appears there was ample area to get 7 ft away from the cr units. Was any experimenting done with having to be very close to he units? and if so any findings or new insights. thanks all.....

No one was taking dB readings as far as I know. The guitar solos were loud, but not too loud. I think most of the systems were only running at 12 o'clock on the masters.

I play very close to my L1 (3' or less) quite often. I like this because I don't block the sound from any of my audience & I don't always have the room I'd like. I have grown accustomed to the EQ off access & usually prefer it. I would have liked to be closer to the System in Big Sur.
wfs, my bad. I meant axis, not access. Don't know what I was thinking. I'm about 3' at a diagonal 45 degrees in front of the tower where I still get good highs but am still off to the side. I really only use this for tight situations (which I am in WAY too often). I haven't ever set up behind the L1, although I've seen posts of people who have done that & could still hear okay. It's definitely not something I would do unless I had no other choice.
no problem, i think i understood what you were saying, but thanks for the clarification. My setup is probably close to that in those type of situations. in small spaces i dont particularly like the system right behind me especially if some volume is needed. not so much (although a factor)for feedback concerns and all, its just it is a bit too loud for just a tad somewhere off axis keeps the speaker from being right in my ear so to speak. these days though i tend to use the approach i set it up to the volume i feel comfortable with. I feel if the audience is listening, they will hear fine....if not, turning it up really has no positive affect on things. thanks again for your feedback.....

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