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Thread: Skip the Baggs for a mic?

  1. #1
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    Question Skip the Baggs for a mic?

    So when the tax $$$ comes in I am going for my 2nd mandolin, most likely a Loar LM500. The wife already probably won't be happy, so I'm weighing costs. I'm a singer/songwriter and I want to gig this mandolin....I was thinking of having the Baggs radius internally installed, but that gets costly. Can anyone tell me their experience just mic'ing the mando? I have a variety of dynamic/condensers, plus the ever dependable SM57. Looking for mic vs. pickup debate I guess.

    If I cut out the Baggs, I was thinking of adding a CA bridge to the Loar if that would be a plus for it.
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    Registered User almeriastrings's Avatar
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    Default Re: Skip the Baggs for a mic?

    My take - much prefer them with a mic. I do have one mandolin with the Baggs Radius, and for a pickup, it is really pretty decent. Does require a bit of EQ to filter out physical noise (handling, etc.) but through a good PA it is OK. I normally use it via a Fishman Aura Spectrum box which works well. That said, it is very much second choice as far as I am concerned. I use it if I have to. I prefer not to. I would see if any of your existing mics work for you. I'd spend the $ on the CA bridge for that, though. Well worth it.
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    poor excuse for anything Charlieshafer's Avatar
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    Default Re: Skip the Baggs for a mic?

    Mic all the way. If you do absolutely have to spend some extra money, we all certainly understand, I'd go with a small clip-on mic, like the DPA or the A-T's, which are less expensive. For an acoustic instrument, mic always trumps pickup for a natural, acoustic sound.

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    Default Re: Skip the Baggs for a mic?

    I agree with the above. The sound from a mic will always sound more natural.

    I do love my pedal tuner and tuning through the pickup, but often then unplug to play via mic.

    I have found using a Tonegard significantly reduced handling noise when using a pickup for me - to essentially zero.
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  5. #5
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    Default Re: Skip the Baggs for a mic?

    I too agree with the mic for pure tone. The big thing a pickup brings to the table is feedback improvement and a bit of convenience, but at the cost of fidelity. If you don't need that you'll like the mic tone better and save a bundle.
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    Default Re: Skip the Baggs for a mic?

    The mic does have a better tone, but as a singer as well find it veeery restrictive to have to place my mandolin in a limited position while also having to sing. For a standard mic to pick up the mandolin well it has to get pretty close in an noisy bar environment.

    See plenty of people do it on videos, but they have excellent equipment available at their venues. The bars we play at rarely have mics good enough to have me preferring prefer the mic sound. And we're lucky if the venues we need to mic-up at even have enough microphones for the three of us (a djembe, and two mandolinists/vocalists, if our bassist is there he can plug in no hassle). They also rarely have monitors.

    For me the radius is about practicallity. Not that it offers even much of that, with lead it all ways down the mandolin terribly, and last time I played I stepped on the lead mid-song and the input came off and hung around my knees for the remainder of it. Still, that says a lot for the tack they include. I wondered what would've happened if I'd had it internally installed. I envisage the worst. Loud cracks and splitting of wood, but who knows...

    When playing to a noisy bar, tone is one of the lesser worries. With a Baggs or perhaps other similarly styled pick-up's at least a consitent level can be reached. And the tone is not piezo-y, it's actually very warm sounding. My two and half cents. I'd usually rather stick to venues where any kind of electronics bar my tuner are required.
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  7. #7
    garded
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    Default Re: Skip the Baggs for a mic?

    As you can see it's more about the venue/application than anything else. If you are in crazy noisy bars, even I would opt for a pickup. Just like Tim's old tagline used to say, "they're drunk and can't hear the difference" or something like that. But if it's a coffee house or something where you can expect to not be in competition with the audience to be the loudest thing in the room, then a mic is definitely the way to go for me.

    And since you already have several mic's, why not give them a try? You could even bring several to the gig and if one doesn't work good, try another.

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    Default Re: Skip the Baggs for a mic?

    I tried to type a response to this yesterday from work and it somehow was deleted...damn!
    Anyhow, I had a K&K Twin Internal pickup installed on my Collings MF and it sounds as good as any pickup that I've heard. A good preamp will certainly help as well. I use a ToneBone pre-z and I love it. LR Baggs Para DI or Venue rocks as well.

    I play a lot of noisy bars and bought a Audio Technica ATM-350 mic to clip on try to "blend" with my pickup. Not much luck without having to battle feedback in noisy situations. If you are like the Punch Bros and have your own expert sound engineer, then just a mic will work great. I play with 2 bands, one with drums and one without, and the K&K serves me very well, and I don't have to battle feedback much at all if ever during a set.

    Just as a reinforcer, I read one of Chris Thile's responses to a fan on Twitter and he has a K&K Twin internal pickup in his Dudenbostel for noisier situations and he likes it. He blends and ATM-35 mic with it for a more authentic sound, but again has a great engineer to dial it in.

    Here' the link for the K&K: http://www.kksound.com/mandolintwininternal.html

    I do think that you'll be very happy with a K&K and a good preamp.

    Of course, a good mic will always sound better and more "true" for sure, but sometimes situations like noisy settings and rowdy bars don't allow for it. Good luck dialing in your tone! It's fun, frustrating, addicting, and all of that good stuff!

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Skip the Baggs for a mic?

    all good advice above, one of the many joys of this website.

    mic's (on-board or on a stand) are cool when you can use them but some gig situations or player traits make them less practical, as noted above. something implied above, but i will restate it more clearly. if you get a pickup (other than a schertler), you will most likely also need an impedance appropriate pre-amp to get a good signal out to the PA or amplifier itself. that will be another cost. i've got 2 baggs PADI units, got one used, which i use for my '35 gibson archtop and for my mandolins w/ non-schertler pickups. i just had a K&K twin put in my killer newson mandolin and, unlike the radius or some other pickups, it has a hot enough output signal to adequately feed an amp or a board. however, to my ears with that mando (and also in my '37 epiphone spartan), the K&K is a bit too brash sounding. i prefer to run it through the PADI to tweak it a bit so it sounds warmer and more natural. to allow options, you could use the pickup as the main signal and have a mike to step into when you are taking a lead or something and want to get a blended signal, ala' thile.

    CA bridge - is there a need which indicates for this expense? maybe yours will need to be fitted better and set up if it wasn't done so already, check it out before you buy. i don't know anything about "the loar" mandolins. unless the wood in the bridge is just junk, maybe a better fit is a cheaper first alternative on that. can always do the bridge upgrade later as warranted. i think there was a thread recently on the newer "the loar" quality being better than those from just a year or two ago. find that thread to help you if that brand is in your sights.
    bruce

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    Registered User almeriastrings's Avatar
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    Default Re: Skip the Baggs for a mic?

    Quote Originally Posted by mandobouy View Post
    unless the wood in the bridge is just junk, maybe a better fit is a cheaper first alternative on that.
    bruce
    I will let you be the judge on that:

    http://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/sh...bridge-example
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  11. #11
    Long , Strange Trip Jim's Avatar
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    Default Re: Skip the Baggs for a mic?

    It's all about the overall noise in the environment you're playing in. If noise is low you can get by with a mic but you must maintain your position , you can't sound check a 8 inches and then perform a foot away from it. I have never heard a pickup that sounded like the instrument played acousically , They can sound OK , even good, but not like your instrument sounds. If you are playing in a bar and/or a band with electric instruments, drums, ect. you may need that p/u. As mentioned above this will also require a D/I box, EQ, & pre-amp or some combination of these. So, if I were playing by myself or in a small acoustic duo or trio I would in low noise just put one or two of your condenser mics on stage w no monitors. In higher noise stick an SM57 as close as you can handle and run monitors (in ear if you can) and finally if on stage in a noisey environment with an all or mostly electric band then the Baggs could be the way to go but you might consider buying an Ovation mandolin if that was going to be the situation often.
    Jim Richmond

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    Default Re: Skip the Baggs for a mic?

    Skip it. I've used both, and nothing is going to beat the mic setup. No string noise, you can back off, move in for dynamics, etc... not to mention the tone is just better.

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