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Thread: 3 instruments-One mic

  1. #1

    Default 3 instruments-One mic

    Hey folks,
    I play mandolin and two different banjos in a little acoustic trio. We play small gigs and do our own sound(we're pretty amateur). Right now I play all three instruments through a small diaphragm condenser (se5). But I'm not amazed with the sound. It sounds amazing for my mandolin. But the banjos aren't great. One sounds alright but the other is acoustically more low, subtle, and tubby or plunky. It sounds like mud coming through the system.

    So, is there a way to deal with this short of buying three pick-ups and completely ditching the mic?

    I've wondered about programmable EQ, but can't find one that supports phantom power and all that jazz that I barely understand. I also thought about some of those mutli-effect vocal pedals. But they're focused on pitch correction, harmonies, and mimicking famous sounds.

    So I'm kind of stuck. Any ideas?

    All the best,
    Joe

  2. #2
    Registered User Tavy's Avatar
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    Default Re: 3 instruments-One mic

    Banjo's are surprisingly hard to mic: if you mic the head then you get the dark tubby sound you describe, mic the rim and it's all bright and sparkly. Traditionally in a studio setting you'd put a decent amount of distance between you and the mic so you get more of the room sound, that might not be possible on stage though, not unless the banjo's really loud (ha!), and needs only very slight reinforcement. Or you could mess with mic placement and try and get a better sound that way.

  3. #3
    🎼 Play Pretty 🎶 Greg Connor's Avatar
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    Default Re: 3 instruments-One mic

    Try standing where the mic sits in front of the 14th fret of the banjo neck and adjust your distance to the mic for volume.

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    Default Re: 3 instruments-One mic

    I use an octave, an f5, an acoustic and a nylon string guitar. And switch between those during the set. The easiest and cheapest solution is a mic. I ve used the ear trumpet Edwina but other mics work just as well. No experience with banjo’s by the way.

    There a new programmable EQ from Source audio coming out the seems promising. Together with the tonedexter I’m hoping for good results.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: 3 instruments-One mic

    If your stage volume does not require a pickup and you can perform through a mic without feedback, I would never go the pickup - preamp - EQ - Tonedexter .... -trail. It's a rabbit hole and only for people who desperately need a pickup and still insist on true acoustic sound (unfortunately I'm one of those).
    A decent mic (Shure SM81, Ear Trumpets Edwina ... ) and proper placement (try angle it down or more distance if too tubby) is the way to go.
    Northfield F5 Artist VIE
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    Thijs van der Harst Octave Mandolin

    guitars, banjo, dobro, weissenborn

  6. #6
    Mandolin user MontanaMatt's Avatar
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    Default Re: 3 instruments-One mic

    If your banjo is openbacked, I’ve surprisingly had great sound from a sm58 zip tied to the coordinater rod. Dynamic mics are usually easier for the oomph of the banjo, but don’t like the mandolin as much, so it wouldn’t be the single mic you seek. My band has used large and small condensers for low mic on central mic setup for years. I’ve had condenser mic success with Small diaphragm, and some nicer ldc...a great medium price is ldc that is great for vocal and instrument live use is Aston Origin...I highly recommend. Please note my signature line about my mic “problem”
    2007 Weber Custom Elite "old wood"
    2017 Ratliff R5 Custom #1148
    Several nice old Fiddles
    2007 Martin 000-15S 12 fret Auditorium-slot head
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    Too many microphones

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  7. #7
    Mandolin user MontanaMatt's Avatar
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    Default Re: 3 instruments-One mic

    Quote Originally Posted by MontanaMatt View Post
    If your banjo is openbacked, I’ve surprisingly had great sound from a sm58 zip tied to the coordinater rod. Dynamic mics are usually easier for the oomph of the banjo, but don’t like the mandolin as much, so it wouldn’t be the single mic you seek. My band has used large and small condensers for low mic on central mic setup for years. I’ve had condenser mic success with Small diaphragm, and some nicer ldc...a great medium price is ldc that is great for vocal and instrument live use is Aston Origin...I highly recommend. Please note my signature line about my mic “problem”
    I have other unhelpful recommendations, as my mic collection has many out of production models, and who needs that kind of advice!?
    The Aston is cheap enough, super tough, and readily available
    2007 Weber Custom Elite "old wood"
    2017 Ratliff R5 Custom #1148
    Several nice old Fiddles
    2007 Martin 000-15S 12 fret Auditorium-slot head
    Deering Classic Open Back
    Too many microphones

    BridgerCreekBoys.com

  8. #8
    Registered User John Soper's Avatar
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    Default Re: 3 instruments-One mic

    I agree with the suggestion that you play around with your positioning of the mic. You'll probably find a sweet spot for each instrument. I've even had good results with the old stand-by indestructible Sure SM57 for guitar and mandolin at the same gig. With a true condenser mic, you should be able to get a better sound than what you are describing.

  9. #9
    Registered User Martin Ohrt's Avatar
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    Default Re: 3 instruments-One mic

    Quote Originally Posted by mando-bob View Post
    If your stage volume does not require a pickup and you can perform through a mic without feedback, I would never go the pickup - preamp - EQ - Tonedexter .... -trail. It's a rabbit hole and only for people who desperately need a pickup and still insist on true acoustic sound (unfortunately I'm one of those).
    A decent mic (Shure SM81, Ear Trumpets Edwina ... ) and proper placement (try angle it down or more distance if too tubby) is the way to go.
    Exactly what I experienced. Of course I've never tried an expensive transducer, but a rather inexpensive mic did the trick. When you search for mic recommendations on the cafe you sure get a lot of options, ranging from the ubiquituous SM57 to high-end condensers. I settled for one mic that is mentioned quited often and can be bought for little money: The AKG C1000. My mandolin sounds natural through it, and it works very well with my plectrum banjo in live settings. I direct it to the lower left "corner" of the drumhead where it perfectly hinders the right-hand movements, but I manage to get around that. Might be easier for 5-string-players who need less space?
    Mandolins: 1920s (?) Meinel & Herold Bowlback, 2006 Furch "Redwood MA-1" A5

    Octaves: 2004 Fender FMO-66 Flat-Top, 2015 A. Karperien 5 String Electric

    Banjos: 2007 Gold Tone IT-250F Irish Tenor, 1963 Vega Vox No. 1 Plectrum, 2016 Recording King RK-OT25 Clawhammer

  10. #10
    Registered User Toni Schula's Avatar
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    Default Re: 3 instruments-One mic

    I used to use one clip on mic on mandolin and banjo.
    Best result on my banjo was, when I pointed the mic exactly at the rim. So it partly picked up the head and partly the resonator. The downside of this method is that it requires a clip on mic and you cannot step towards the mic for solos.

  11. #11

    Default Re: 3 instruments-One mic

    I tried multiple eq settings for one microphone on my QSC Touchmix but when I switched between the eq settings it automatically reset volume and possibly other settings each time I switched the settings.

    I settled for using two different mics that were each eq'd for the individual instruments and I muted the channel for the mic we were not using. When I am not the person changing instruments I have plenty of time to make the mixer mute changes while the player changes instruments. (I usually run the mixer at least in part.) This assumes you have sufficient channels on your mixer.

    A simpler fix would be multiple mics with on/off switches that the player controls, but it is easy to forget that switch when trying to make a quick instrument change. (Ask me how I know.)

    I doubt you can find one mic or pickup that will suit both both mando and banjo without eq and volume changes, which is not ideal during a gig. (Too much hassle and too much to go wrong unless you have a dedicated sound person.) YMMV

  12. #12
    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Default Re: 3 instruments-One mic

    5 friends gather around 2 AKG side address microphones on one stand,
    to be wide enough an area to not bang heads, singing ..

    not at face level or instrument level but somewhere in between,

    1 person 3 instruments... much simpler.. .. IMO..
    writing about music
    is like dancing,
    about architecture

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