I went to see Mountain Heart this past weekend at a local wintertime Bluegrass venue. No, they were not using Bose Personalized Amplification Systems, they were however each using either internal mics or some combination of internal mic and pickup.

All were wireless, and the sound was as good as any miced show I have ever seen. Each player was free to move around on stage. All instruments, 2 guitars, mandolin, fiddle, banjo, and upright bass, sounded natural and acoustic, as they should.

Sorry I did not get details on each players equipment, the sound man was somewhat secretive, but I believe he mentioned PSA mics, (does that ring a bell with anyone???) and Fishman blenders. There were no onboard controls that were visible on any instrument.

Never the less, big name bands are successfully making the switch from mics on stands to internal equipment, and for those wanting to work with the Bose PAS, that is a good thing.

Oldghm
Mountain Heart does set a clean stage. Each of the band members has "ears" and mic "in" their instrument. There is also a rack of tuners at one side of the stage with a "kill" switch for each player, (takes their instrument out of the house mix while they tune)

Ron
Oldghm,
Were any other bands on the show? I saw Mountain Heart at the IBMA Awards and thought their sound was not as good as the bands that used mics on stands. It had less midrange and some high-end boost and distortion that made it sound a little unreal.

I'm wondering if they sound good in comparison to bands using good mic setups. I'll be seeing them next month, so I can let you know then.
Yes Rich, there was another band, some local boys who did a very good job. The local band played through the house system using individual mics on stands for each instrument and vocal.

Mountain Heart used all of their own equipment except for the house mixer. Each player has a mute he can stand on while tuning, as mentioned, actually I think all mutes were behind the bass player and he would step on whoever, when they wanted to tune, but I didn't really notice much of that going on.

From what I could see, combining the in ears and internal mics, and wireless, this was the most technical setup I have ever seen for Bluegrass in a small venue. The sound was very good and for the most part very natural, certainly there was no distortion. The only thing I might pick on a little would be the guitars. They have added a lead player, forgive me, his name doesn't come to me right now, and in separating the two sounds the lead is a little "piezo" sounding when he's taking a break, so it's something the sound man is doing in an effort to make it cut through a little better. Mandolin and fiddle both were excellant! Of course there is no way to stop the banjo from coming through. Smile

Really, I share this because I think the pickups are getting so good that unless you are totally caught up in tradition and are playing a prewar instrument that you can't bear to modify, pickups are the way to go.

I can only imagine what Mountain Heart would have sounded like if they each had been playing through their own PAS.

The venue is a barn, modified with bleacher / theater style seating and is used only for Bluegrass. It is operated by Friends Of The Bluegrass, a club that is mostly Bluegrass fanatics, and they didn't seem to mind that the band wasn't using mics in a traditional manner.

Oldghm
Oldgghm,
Thats encouraging to hear an all acoustic band to get good results with pick-ups.I had seen Allison Krauss this summer at the Gibson Ampitheatre here in Los Angeles, and they were very natural sounding (im sure no expense was spared to get that sound either)They too were using rack mounted tuners,and I liked that you could see the display of the tuner from across the stage.However,at the level of finance that my bluegrass band operates on,I have not heard a guitar pickup that sounds natural, or at least equal a decent mic.I use a piezo electric pick up on my bass,and am happy.But on instruments with higher frequecies,its hard to get rid of that "piezo clicky sound".Anyone ahve suggestions, or good results?
Paul,

Inflation may make the price go up but the quality pickups that are currently avalible are still a good value when compared to the price of mics that Bluegrassers prefer.

My personal choice for guitar is something LR Baggs. I like the ibeam active best, for true acoustic sound, but there are other options available, and differing opinions I'm sure. I have been using mine for about 4 years now and a lot of new things happen in that length of time.

I would strongly suggest anyone thinking about playing in an acoustic ensemble and wanting true sound, try the ibeam. Some members of AKUS and Nickle Creek use LR Baggs.

Using internal equipment wouldn't neccessarily change the traditional gathering around the mic, but it could change mic style, type, and placement (aiming more upward) and allow more gain before feedback when used with the PAS.

Oldghm
quote:


Using internal equipment wouldn't neccessarily change the traditional gathering around the mic, but it could change mic style, type, and placement (aiming more upward) and allow more gain before feedback when used with the PAS.

Oldghm

Oldghm,
So if we use a pick up on each instrument for overall sound,and step up to a mic for solos,Is that what works? do you find feedback problems still exist with pickups thru the Bose system?
Paul,

First let me clarify that I do not play in a Bluegrass Band, I love the music, listen and attend live shows often, but I am a solo performer.

Personally I have no feedback problems with the PAS and one open mic, and guitar with ibeam, Element, or ribbon transducer.

It is not my intention to hijack this thread, which started on the premise of using the PAS for a traditional acoustic music ensemble working around two or more mics with two or more PAS's, buuuuuuuttt, yes, I think very good, if not the best results can be obtained with modern pickups in quality acoustic instruments.

I don't believe I have ever heard an acoustic instrument sound exactly the same live, through a sound system when being miced as it would sound without reinforcement. So, in my opinion when we leave the living room or the studio and go play to an audience, we end up making some compromise regardless of our reinforcement technique. A quality pickup in a quality instrument and a Bose PAS is the most accurate, least troublesome, best sounding combination I have played through in over 40 years of performing.

The thing that I noticed the most while listening to Mountain Heart last week, was how much less, unwanted sound, was coming through the system with only two vocal mics on stage vs. the opening band which had at least seven maybe eight mics.

Unlike a mic, which picks up what you are micing and everything else around it, a pickup only picks up what it is attached to.

Eliminating the amplification of unwanted sounds is the same as lowering the ambient noise floor so we get cleaner, clearer, in effect louder sound, through our system without turning up.

For all but the most dyed in the wool traditionalist, I think pickups are the way to go.

Just for the record, I have some good friends who will never, did I say never? yes, never, change to pickups and I still love and respect them, but the times, they are a'changin.

Oldghm
I'm not sure anyone is still in this thread or not but I'm sure I'll get some response here, I'm sure from Oldghm anyway, you seem to really get around. Good advice I might add!
Anyway here's my question: Why couldn't you plug the condensor into the first PS1 and then take an "out" from that channel and go into the channel on the second PS1? Or would this be creating a "Hendrixy" situation? I'm under the impression that it is not an amplified signal comming out or is this wrong?
Hello Hazer,

Except for some very specific situations, you generally want to avoid running a single input (your condenser mic in this case) through two points of amplification (two or more Cylindrical Radiator™s).

I'm not sure what you mean by a "Hendrixy" but what you risk is
- phase cancellations,
- loss of localization,
- and most relevant in your situation - you can create a greater likelihood of feedback.

You don't gain much overall volume (probably up to 3-6 dB in most cases). But that's going to be barely noticeable.

edit: spelling
Even though it is "breaking the rules", we have been doing this with some success. We are a 7 piece band with 5 vocalists and 4 systems. After some complaints early on about "not enough vocals" and "I can't hear singer x well enough to harmonize", I started cross patching each vocal from the primary tower channel 1 or 2 send to the adjacent tower into channel 3 or 4 for a little reinforcement. I try to make sure that the reinforced channel volume is slightly less than the main one. I suspect some of our problem is how we tend to set up - usually in a long line stretching for 20 feet or more.

I haven't noticed any phasiness or cancellation, and everyone is happier with the vocal sound. Someone else here (perhaps gittarjonz) suggested this, and it has worked very well for us. I use a standard 15 foot XLR female to 1/4" TS cable to do this. The only drawback is that the channel send signal level is only affected by the trim, not the remote channel volume. If someone makes a major adjustment on the remote, it only affects the primary. The good news is we don't need to adjust much. Everyone has pretty much dialed in their vocal and instrument level where they need to be, and the only thing we will adjust is the master volume based on room and crowd size.
What brought the question to mind is, that I noticed in your test that you were using two towers and two condensors, I guess I'm not clear as to why you had two towers as opposed to one, maybe I need to go back and read it again. The traditional method is obviously with one mic, so you would think one tower and a couple of B1's. The condensor into channnel 1 and the bass into channel 2 and away you go, so it would seem.
I'm assuming the towers were placed in this fashion to avoid feedback. Actually, although we run multiple mics through a mixer and then out to the towers, this is the exact set up we came upon by trial and error.
The single mic thing is something we've talked about doing but have hesitated due to the fact that alot of our gigs are in bars where you get alot of ambiant noise (polite way of putting it!) and we didn't think the condensor would be the ideal setup for that but I'm interested to see how things go here because in an outdoor gig a condensor would be ideal. Anyone who has ever played in this fashion understands the feeling of it. In all honesty, it's what Bose is trying to emmulate.
What is the difference if you take the out to a house system as opposed to another tower? Say you were doing a large gig but wanted to use your PAS as a moniter?
Oh, ST, the reference to "Hendrixy" was referring to Jimmy Hendrix when he used to daisy chain amps to actually create feedback.
It's really great to see you're addressing the traditional music.

Hazer
quote:
I haven't noticed any phasiness or cancellation, and everyone is happier with the vocal sound.


I agree, Saxhound. I certainly don't question the technical knowledge and expertise of people like Cliff and Ken, but I've been running the dreaded "dual mono" for many dozens of gigs over the past year and a half, and have never once noticed a phase issue. In fact, this past New Year's Eve we had the opportunity to use 5 systems for our 6 piece band, so we decided to do a little experiment. We ran half the band's vocals (3 people) direct into their allocated system, and the other 3 vocals ran into the mixer and left/right out to the remaining two systems. Maybe it's because we have gotten used to hearing the vocals through multiple systems, but the sound of the 3 vocals running through "dual" systems were definitely "bigger" and were preferred by the band and audience alike.

So I guess the moral to this story is... if you play in a loud band, or a big band that needs better stage monitoring, don't be afraid to try to running the vocals through multiple systems. My band loves it.
We have been "breaking the rules" too with our 10 piece band. The lead mail and female vocalists stand at the right side of the stage so we make that PAS closest to them a little hotter. We figured this out about a year and a half ago while doing a corporate event in a big wide room. You could hear the lead vocals fine if you were on the singer's side of the stage or out front but on the opposite side you could barely hear them. We use Sennheiser 835 wireless handhelds and the receivers have both an XLR and a 1/4" output. We run the XLR's direct to the PAS next to the singers and the 1/4" outputs into a mixer shared with the horn section to a PAS on the opposite side of the stage. It works great with no phase problems. That's the beauty of the systems! There is no right or wrong way to use them. It's whatever works best for your situation.
quote:
Originally posted by Hazer:
What brought the question to mind is, that I noticed in your test that you were using two towers and two condensors, I guess I'm not clear as to why you had two towers as opposed to one, maybe I need to go back and read it again. The traditional method is obviously with one mic, so you would think one tower and a couple of B1's. The condensor into channnel 1 and the bass into channel 2 and away you go, so it would seem.
I'm assuming the towers were placed in this fashion to avoid feedback.Hazer


The two towers/two condenser setup was chosen to create a stereo effect for the audience. By having each mic feed one tower we avoided the phase cancellation problem you'd normally expect from running the same signal into both towers. The linear attenuation of the PAS meant that most of the audience actually heard a stereo mix, rather than a sound dominated by one channel or the other. Having a natural stereo effect coming from the singer/instrumentalist's position relative to the two mics let the sound "breathe" more than a stereo output from a mixer would.

Gain before feedback was a definite problem with this setup. We don't think we've come close to optimizing it but a larger number of PAS systems and fewer/less sensitive mics has got to help. These are fascinating ideas from those of you who have been using the PAS with pickups in acoustic ensembles. I still haven't met a banjo pickup I liked as much as a good mic but I'll be hearing Mountain Heart in a few weeks and I'll listen to their current sound.
Yes, as expected, I mentioned the idea of putting a pick up in the banjo to our banjo player and the look on his face was as if I'd just suggested he get nuetered! The verbal response was equally as, shall we say, "impassioned".
Thanks for the explanation, I did go back and re-read that and never really found an explanation for it.
quote:
Originally posted by Hazer:
Yes, as expected, I mentioned the idea of putting a pick up in the banjo to our banjo player and the look on his face was as if I'd just suggested he get nuetered!


Ha!
I was listening to KIIS-fm in L.A. this week (driving my kids)and they played a bit with "little Ali" a young girl they use to do phone pranks.She called up a music store and asked the guy who answered what the loudest most annoying instrument they sold was.She explained her sister was annoying her playing the piano, and she wanted revenge,so what was his answer? BANJO....but banjo with a pickup would be even better.(they settled on a Tin whisle 'cause it was annoying, but only $10!
quote:
Originally posted by Rich Stillman:
I've got a bad feeling about the direction this thread is taking. Smile

I have a monkey playin a Banjo next to my name for a reason,but I cand remeber what that reason is. Hearing all that Banjo playing has damage my brain.( the monkey's name is Darwin)
quote:
Originally posted by Oldghm:
I went to see Mountain Heart this past weekend at a local wintertime Bluegrass venue. No, they were not using Bose Personalized Amplification Systems, they were however each using either internal mics or some combination of internal mic and pickup.

All were wireless, and the sound was as good as any miced show I have ever seen. Each player was free to move around on stage. All instruments, 2 guitars, mandolin, fiddle, banjo, and upright bass, sounded natural and acoustic, as they should.

Sorry I did not get details on each players equipment, the sound man was somewhat secretive, but I believe he mentioned PSA mics, (does that ring a bell with anyone???) and Fishman blenders. There were no onboard controls that were visible on any instrument.

Never the less, big name bands are successfully making the switch from mics on stands to internal equipment, and for those wanting to work with the Bose PAS, that is a good thing.

Oldghm


I got a chance to see Mountain Heart this Saturday night at the Joe Val festival. It was an interesting contrast. They immediately followed the Grascals. Both were six piece bands with the same instrumentation who play a similar style of bluegrass. Early in Mountain Heart's set, they played the same tune that the Grascals encored with (Sunny Side of the Mountain). The Grascals played with the house sound, with a mic on each instrument. Mountain Heart used their standard setup, with all instruments plugged in and in-ear monitors.

Both bands were about equally loud, just a little louder than I liked but tolerable. That's about where the similarities ended, though. The Grascals' sound was dynamic; I always knew what instruments and voices they wanted me to listen to. Their banjo player had a cool cross-stage setup where his instrument mic was on the end of the front line and his vocal mic was center stage, between the other two singers. There was lots of choreography, more than most bands that use close mics. The Seldom Scene used to use this same setup, with Mike Auldridge sliding across the stage to the center vocal mic for harmonies and then back to his instrument mic for breaks. Overall the setup worked well. The band looked loose and like they were having fun, as they always do.

Mountain Heart came onstage after a fairly long setup and they couldn't have sounded more different. The first couple of solo guitar chords sounded like they were coming through an AM radio. When the rest of the band came in, it was a wall of sound, and not in a good way. Normally during bluegrass vocals, one instrument at a time takes primary responsibility for the backup. Other people might throw in a fill or two, or they might keep playing but step away from the mic to give the primary backup instrument room to be heard. It's a very fluid thing, and the focus shifts from instrument to instrument at the whim of the band. The Grascals did that. Mountain Heart didn't. Since they couldn't step away from their mics, their sound man had to do the mixing for them, and for some reason he wasn't. The result was flat-out instrumental chaos, all the time. It didn't help matters that the vocals were undermixed. Songwriting is one of Mountain Heart's strengths, and you simply couldn't make out the words through the soup. I stayed through half the set because someone with me said "it's early, it'll get better". It didn't.

To be fair, the mandolin and fiddle sounded terrific through their pickups, and the acoustic bass fiddle sounded like it should. But the two guitars and banjo sounded like the standard cliche of plugged in instruments - all pick noise, high mids, and blatty sounding notes. It didn't help that the Grascals' much more natural sound was still in my head.

Compounding the mix and EQ problems was Mountain Heart's constant adjustment of their in-ear monitors and wireless transmitters. The band members were able to move around the stage, but when they did, they almost always had a hand to an ear, popping a monitor in or out or twisting it in some way, or under their arm adjusting the little boxes that were plainly visible to the audience. At one point there was a problem with a connection and a very loud, short buzz made everyone in the hall jump - the band most of all. If the object of all this technology is to make the band seem more natural onstage, it had the opposite effect. It was always obvious that the performers were working hard to keep their sound reinforcement under control.

Overall, Mountain Heart's set was just tiring to listen to. I saw Mountain Heart a whole bunch before they electrified. I've always liked the band's sound, I like the songwriting, Barry Abernathy is simply an amazing banjo player, and Adam Steffey has always been one of my two or three favorite mandolinists. But I got frustrated and left after the first half of this set. The sound was the entire reason.

First, mic technique is a critical part of bluegrass stage technique, whether the band is playing into one mic or ten. Musicians control their individual presence in the mix by stepping into or out of the mic pattern, and the focus of the mix constantly shifts from one performer to another. To ask even a good a sound man to take over this responsibility is unrealistic.

Second, the sound of the individual instruments determines how they interact. Guitars in bluegrass are a low midrange instrument - rhythm players lean on the low strings and try not to put out much volume on the high strings. That lets the lead instruments own the higher frequencies. Whatever pickups Mountain Heart's guitarists were using, they put the guitar sound squarely in competition with the banjo, mandolin and fiddle, leaving the lower midrange pretty much unoccupied and making it difficult - and frustrating - to try to focus on any one instrument at any time.

I'm sorry to be so hard on Mountain Heart, but after two days of very high-quality bluegrass (the Grascals, Dale Ann Bradley, the Stringdusters, Claire Lynch), Mountain Heart was the Saturday night closer, and their sound technology simply kept their performance from reaching the audience. Pickups were a big reason why. Bluegrass as a style was born in the early days of sound reinforcement, and mic technique is a big part of the sound. Maybe pickups will do the job someday, but if Saturday's performance was any indication, it won't happen until there's a great deal of new technique development or a big change in people's expectations of what a bluegrass band sounds like onstage.
Hi Rich,
Sounds like the dreaded Piezo-electric demons were out in force that day.I have rarley liked an acoustic guitars' performance when they used a contact pickup.
I saw Allison Krauss at the Gibson Ampitheatre in L.A. and that was a different story.Flawless sound (for a large venue) and a great performance.They were always in tune (!) and vocals were tight as could be.
Smaller name bands (and Venues) are a different story.Mics always sound more natural to me and don't have that nasty clicking high end response.pre-amps and E.Q.'s with all the adjustment in the world dont seem to make a diffence for the average Joe.
I was able to hear a solo performance by a "Smooth Jazz" artist Steve Oliver,in Long Beach Ca.He was using the PAS system with 4 bass bins,with an acoustic/electric guitar,keyboards,and an army of midi-triggered thinga-mac-bobs.This was in a restaurant setting and,and my party was in a different room.The sound in my room was quite good,with my dinner party still able to converse but hear Steves performance.when I walked to the room he was in,he was slightly louder,but much more focused and clear.Very even response from the system,and very easy for Steve to control his dynamics.He could be incredibly loud, and very soft without touching a thing.Not my cup of tea for music stlyle,or "Traditional music" but it was interesting seeing his use of the PAS system.
Rich,

Sorry your experience was less than desirable.
but, Mountain Heart was the Saturday night closer for a reason, they are (almost always) very good, high energy, always smiling, in tune, on time, and on key.

I obviously saw a different result at the show I attended, where they used all their own equipment. (except for house mixer)

You mentioned the constant adjustment of in ears and wireless, that is as good an indication as one can get the they were not hearing what they wanted, and if you can't hear what you are doing you sure can't play your best or get a feel for dynamics.

It is not the pickups fault, I still believe that there are many good ones to pick from, that will provide the player with very natural acoustic sound.

If Mountain Heart, or any other quality band playing with pickups had Personalized Amplification Systems for each player there would not be any "hearing" problems and the dynamics would be good.

Unfortunately pickups have gotten (and still get) a bad rap, when the real culprit is sometimes, less than desirable systems, with less than desirable operators.

I am curious to know the size of the venue.

I have been told, but cannot confirm, that at the show I attended all of their instruments and vocal mics were run to Mountain Hearts mixer back stage. Their in ear monitors were mixed while jamming back stage, and that mix was sent to the house mixer and back to the Main speakers (their's).

I do understand tradition, and wouldn't want to change anything just for the sake of change, but there are those who for one reason or another are looking for something different, a way to express themselves from a stage as if they were under a tree, or in a motel room somewhere, jamming with their friends. The Personalized Amplification System makes this possible.

Oldghm
Oldghm,
The hall was about 950 seats. It was a big hotel ballroom with a high ceiling and hard walls.

I understand the need for pickups in arena-sized halls where the band needs more volume than they can get before feedback with mics. In that situation the band trades fidelity for volume. That wasn't the case here - there were bands using variations on the single mic setup, so there was plenty of headroom. The Grascals put out just as much volume as Mountain Heart, with at least 10 mics onstage and floor monitors.

I deeply respect Mountain Heart's music and I enjoy watching them, but I think they need to work a little more on their plugged in sound before it compares favorably to the sound of mic'd bands. This isn't about tradition, it's about amplifying the acoustic sound without changing it much, and about capturing the dynamics of good bluegrass. I saw Mountain Heart at the IBMA Awards show in Nashville and got the same impression, but they only played one song as part of a multi-band show and I chalked it up to that. Their sound at Joe Val, with their own sound man and about 20 minutes to set up the stage, makes me think the problem runs deeper.

Believe me, as a performer I'd much prefer a wireless pickup to a fixed mic position. As a soundman, I'd love to crank out all the volume necessary for a venue without worrying about feedback. But before I'll switch, I need two things: a reasonably acoustic sound, and a volume control that's as easy as stepping into and away from that mic. Give bluegrass musicians that combination, and they'll switch in droves, tradition or no tradition.

Bluegrass has always been driven by technology. It was born near the dawn of radio, which popularized it. It grew through touring shows that were made possible by the invention of small, portable sound systems. When portable mixers became common, bluegrass bands switched to multi-mic setups so they could play to larger crowds. I don't think anyone noticed, much less complained about traditions being abandoned.

Bluegrass isn't quite the traditional music it appears to be. It didn't exist at all before 1939, when it was invented by Bill Monroe as an offshoot of the popular mainstream country string band music of the day. Monroe experimented with the sound through the 50s, recording with electric guitars, drums, piano, even Hammond B-3. Jesse McReynolds played electric mandolin in the 60s, and Jim & Jesse, the Osborne Brothers and Flatt & Scruggs all recorded with drums. I don't want to get into the "what is bluegrass?" debate that has no final answer, just to point out that even the pioneers of the music did whatever they thought would keep their music commercially popular. I fully expect that someone will figure out how to make bluegrass sound like bluegrass in a 40,000 seat arena, because someday I hope to get the chance to play bluegrass in a 40,000 seat arena and I hope someone has worked out the kinks before I get there. I salute Mountain Heart for trying to advance the state of the art. They're just not quite there yet, and neither is anyone else I've heard.
Just curious if anyone has a suggestions/ideas/solution? I play a Breedlove Quartz KF with factory installed McIntyre Feather pickup and I cannot get it to sound anywhere near what a mic can make it sound like. I use a LL Baggs Para Acoustic DI and have experimented with a Fishman a friend of mine uses with his Collings A-model and a different pickup. The sound is tinny and piercing. I am now experimenting with a Audio-Technica Pro 70 Cardioid Condenser Lavalier/Instrument Microphone that someone on mandolin cafe (I think) has used with some success. Does sound good, but of course there is now the old gain before feedback. To the real question - how to make this pickup work or what pickup to use with my mandolin if I choose to replace this one (and where?
Turns out I am going to have a Schertler DYN-M installed at the factory. This is the pickup of choice for Breedlove and Chris Thile of Nickle Creek. Any thoughts on which preset for this one. "We believe that DYN-Series pickups are the best friend of sound engineers. With SCHERTLER DYNs, signal isolation is no longer a problem, providing a simple yet elegant solution to eliminate bleed and feedback on stage. They also permit the close placement of one sound-source to another, allowing for maximum flexibility in the stage layout.DYN-series transducers are true microphones, they reproduce the sound of your instrument instead of merely recreating it via imprecise piezo-ceramic mechanics. The sound is much more natural and dynamic than piezo pickups that tend to have limited dynamic range and are easily overdriven into harsh clipping." http://www.schertler.com/inglese/faq_dyn.htm#3
Kinda wierd, $300 to have Breedlove install it in my mando with the 1/4" jack out or about $400 for the pickup and then you put in in/on. Maybe it is a breedlove thing to discount/install it in there own mandos. "Breedlove offers a custom version of the Schertler DYN-M mandolin pickup, mounted inside the instrument."

It is also different in that the one from the "store" has a 6 ft cord that terminats with a xlr and uses a special inert adhesive putty to mount the pickup to the instrument body (out side on the soundboard.
http://www.guitaradoptions.com/store/product.php?produc...17355&cat=286&page=1

http://www.acousticguitar.com/article/146/146,6208,FEATURE-1.asp
Onstage, Thile amplifies his mandolin with a Schertler DYN-M contact transducer (www.schertlerusa.com) that he runs through an Avalon U5 DI and preamp (www.avalondesign.com) and into the PA. “It’s a great pickup,” says Thile of the Schertler. “It has the opposite sound most mandolin pickups have—where you get all this low and all this high. It’s the opposite; it has tons of middle. We dial all of it out and then put lots of highs in at the preamp.” Though he’s happy with his pickup sound, he says, “I wish we [Nickel Creek] could always use mics, but it’s not possible. We’d have to change things drastically.”
Rich,

I missed your response back in Feb. I have had that "what is bluegrass" debate / argument many times, mostly just for fun to see a dyed in the wool bluegrasser twitch. Smile

With all due respect to Bluegrass pickers everywhere, I think the "what is" debate and "tradition" goes deeper here in Kentucky, after all it is the Bluegrass State.

Personally, I think one should do everything in their power to get the sound they like to the audience. The audience will let you know if it's OK. I am not hung up on tradition, but I know many who are.

I hope I'm around when you get to play Bluegrass in that 40,000 seat arena, I doubt that there has ever been a gathering of 40,000 in one location for Bluegrass. Poppy Mountain is one of, if not the largest, outdoor festivals in our part of the country, and I think their weekend crowd is less than 20,000. 40,000 in an arena without tents and campers would be one huge show for sure.

Even the "Down From the Mountain" tour which was very successful on the heels of "O'Brother" didn't draw those kinds of crowds. This is also fodder for the "what is" debate. Bluegrass got a huge boost from the movie, but many will say that the soundtrack is not Bluegrass music. I don't think it matters much to those who got the checks.

Maybe you've played Poppy Mountain if not, do a Google search and look around.

Oldghm

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