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Thread: Amplified playing and effects

  1. #1

    Default Amplified playing and effects

    Hello, Iím new to mandolin playing, but Iíve played acoustic guitar for quite some time. I plan to add mandolin to my bandís sound here and there on certain songs, so I purchased a budget mandolin that has a magnetic pickup.

    I was wondering what effects do people generally use? I have a Zoom A1 Four that gives me a wide range of options. Currently Iím trying some EQ and a ďdry plateĒ reverb.

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Dave Sheets
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    Default Re: Amplified playing and effects

    Eq and Reverb are good, I like quite a bit of compression in a band setting as well. Something to try, see if you like it.
    -Dave
    Flatiron A
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  3. #3

    Default Re: Amplified playing and effects

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Sheets View Post
    Eq and Reverb are good, I like quite a bit of compression in a band setting as well. Something to try, see if you like it.
    I tried a few compression effects, but to my ear it makes the attack on the strings louder, which was okay on single notes but made chords sound worse. Am I doing it wrong?

  4. #4

    Default Re: Amplified playing and effects

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    Hello Tron60,

    I've been using effects on an acoustic mandolin for quite some time, at home, for recordings, and during live gigs. See the attached picture of my most current pedal board. The effects I use cover compressor, overdrive, fuzz, phaser, flanger, pitch shifter, delays, reverbs, and volume pedals. At one point, I also had and envelope filter for an auto wah effect. Anything can work, it all depends on the sound you are after. You will need to tweak the settings depending on your mandolin, pick, picking technique, and room you are playing in.

    The order of pedals depends highly on your personal preference. However, I can share with you my experience.

    I found that a preamp is good to have at the beginning of the chain and you can use it to give more gain to your signal. You can also use it to cut off some frequencies that make your pick noise more prominent (I don't, I got used to the sound, and I want as many overtones as I can get).

    Then, I found that using a transparent overdrive early in the chain after the preamp gives you a beefier sound, brighter and more "cutting", while preserving some of the acoustic qualities of your tone.

    Additionally, I found that all the other effects sound much better if I place a compressor before them. The key is to use a compressor with a blend option which allows you to keep your uncompressed sound but blend it with a compressed signal. This way, you keep some of your playing dynamics and overtones, but also deliver a balanced signal to the other pedals.

    The last tip I can offer is to use an electric guitar amp instead of an acoustic amp if you are using multiple effects. Apart from reverb, chorus and delay, acoustic amps won't handle effects very well. You can use the clean channel of an electric guitar amp and still manage to get a nice "acoustic" sound if you adjust the settings to your liking.

    I hope this helps. I love using pedals so I can only encourage you to do the same. Good luck and have fun!

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Amplified playing and effects

    I'm new to mandolin but have been playing guitar forever. I haven't been able to gig on a plugged-in mando yet, but I've been experimenting a bit. I've found that a little bit of an octave pedal thickens the mando a bit, and I like some wide chorus sound (using a Line 6 Dimension patch). You might also want to also consider EQ and compression to reduce spikey highs. It also will depend on if your looking to have an enhanced acoustic mandolin tone (which i think you're looking for) or the sound of an electric mandolin.
    Eastman MD505w/K&K, MDO315 w/K&K, MD415GD, Emando (JBbouvier) 5-string

  6. #6

    Default Re: Amplified playing and effects

    Wow, sweet pedal board!

    Iím looking for a natural mandolin sound, so most of those would be too much for me. Iíll give another listen to a compressor that can blend in the original signal.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Amplified playing and effects

    Quote Originally Posted by Woyvel View Post
    I'm new to mandolin but have been playing guitar forever. I haven't been able to gig on a plugged-in mando yet, but I've been experimenting a bit. I've found that a little bit of an octave pedal thickens the mando a bit, and I like some wide chorus sound (using a Line 6 Dimension patch). You might also want to also consider EQ and compression to reduce spikey highs. It also will depend on if your looking to have an enhanced acoustic mandolin tone (which i think you're looking for) or the sound of an electric mandolin.
    Good ideas, Iíll give those a try!

  8. #8

    Default Re: Amplified playing and effects

    Quote Originally Posted by Tron60 View Post
    Wow, sweet pedal board!

    I’m looking for a natural mandolin sound, so most of those would be too much for me. I’ll give another listen to a compressor that can blend in the original signal.
    If you're only looking to use effects like reverb, chorus and delay, then you would probably be fine with a good preamp and a good acoustic amp with no need for a compressor. You could also benefit from a volume pedal if your mandolin does not have a volume knob. I once played a gig with a jazz trio (saxophone, bass, drums) using the LR Baggs Venue DI preamp, a volume pedal, and the Fishman Loudbox Mini amp. The reverb in the Loudbox is great. The mandolin could be heard with no problem. There are several preamps and acoustic amps that other Cafe members have mentioned in other threads, but the Venue DI and the Loudbox Mini are the only ones I have experience with and are therefore the only ones I can recommended.

  9. #9
    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Default Re: Amplified playing and effects

    I have a Roland AC 60 acoustic amp it has reverb & Chorus and 3 band EQ you can always buy more stomp boxes later..

    Recently got an even smaller Mobile AC, it's good enough .. smaller & a lot lighter..
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  10. #10
    Dave Sheets
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    Default Re: Amplified playing and effects

    Compressors can take a lot of experimentation, good ones offer a lot of adjustments. They don't work for everyone's playing style either. As SRNassif mentions, some effects work better with a compressor in front of them. The inexpensive Behringer compressor actually isn't bad if you want to try one, but doesn't offer the blend option.
    -Dave
    Flatiron A
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  11. #11

    Default Re: Amplified playing and effects

    I'm more of an acoustic player who uses a pickup and some effects to fit into a band better.

    EQ + compression is my game. Some low cut to remove thumps, add some sparkle to the high end if needed. Compression evens things out - guitar compressors are difficult to dial in just right, but once dialed in they stay that way so no biggie.

    I have both Helix Stomp and Zoom, Helix is for gigs, Zoom is when I travel because it's a single-pedal size.

    I would never use a magnetic pickup if I was trying to get an acoustic sound though. I would suggest an acoustic pickup like a K&K.

    If I am going for electric guitar-like sounds I use a solid-body four-string with a humbucker.
    Davey Stuart tenor guitar (based on his 18" mandola design).
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    Eastwood 4 string electric mandostang, 2x Airline e-mandola (4-string) one strung as an e-OM.
    DSP's: Helix HX Stomp, various Zooms.
    Amps: THR-10, Sony XB-20.

  12. #12

    Default Re: Amplified playing and effects

    Had good luck with first using a good pre amp like a Red Eye or Fishman, then Pigtronix compressor, and the amp's reverb.

    You amp will make a big difference. Played around with different amps and speakers a lot. Not a fan of Fender tube amps for mando. Using a Quilter MP200 now. I can plug both the guitar and mando in, and put the effects along with a tuner through the effects loop on a small board that is parked on the top of the amp.

  13. #13
    Registered User BoxCarJoe's Avatar
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    Default Re: Amplified playing and effects

    I would never use a magnetic pickup if I was trying to get an acoustic sound though. I would suggest an acoustic pickup like a K&K.

    If I am going for electric guitar-like sounds I use a solid-body four-string with a humbucker.



    Not in my experiments.

    I put a surface mount humbucker on an under performing mandola (way too quiet).
    It did not color the acoustic sound in any way.
    It's just louder and not electric sounding.

    But a good peizo pickup like the Shaller Oyster is another good option. EQ'd right they sound very good.

  14. #14
    Registered User Murphy Slaw's Avatar
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    Default Re: Amplified playing and effects

    I prefer a clean acoustic sound with no effects. My many decades of playing electric guitar with Marshall/Mesa stacks has tired me of delays, compression and trickery.

    Give me a mic and clean acoustic reality.

    I'm not opposed to a few speakers, though....

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  15. #15

    Default Re: Amplified playing and effects

    Quote Originally Posted by kurth83 View Post
    I'm more of an acoustic player who uses a pickup and some effects to fit into a band better.

    EQ + compression is my game. Some low cut to remove thumps, add some sparkle to the high end if needed. Compression evens things out - guitar compressors are difficult to dial in just right, but once dialed in they stay that way so no biggie.

    I have both Helix Stomp and Zoom, Helix is for gigs, Zoom is when I travel because it's a single-pedal size.

    I would never use a magnetic pickup if I was trying to get an acoustic sound though. I would suggest an acoustic pickup like a K&K.

    If I am going for electric guitar-like sounds I use a solid-body four-string with a humbucker.
    Thanks for the replies, everyone!

    Iím not using an an amp, Iím going from the mandolin to my Zoom A1 Four to the PA.

    After some more experimenting Iím now using this effect chain in the Zoom:
    Noise gate (otherwise the pickup can give a little fizz sound when not playing)
    Clean boost (basically a pre amp)
    EQ to add body to the thin pickup sound
    AG Martin D28 model effect (adds a bit more body)
    Dry plate reverb

    The output is nice and strong and Iím pretty happy with it. Room for improvement though.

    Next I plan to experiment with small amounts of chorus, compression, and a high pass filter and see if any of that helps.

    Regarding the K&K pickup, that looks like a contact mic system if Iím understanding it right. Iím guessing itís better than my magnetic pickup, so maybe if I graduate to a more expensive mandolin Iíll look into it. But Iím actually pretty impressed with the sound I get out of this rig for just $200 for the mandolin and $120 for the effects box.

  16. #16
    mandolin slinger Steve Ostrander's Avatar
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    Default Re: Amplified playing and effects

    I have a Fishman Artist amp that has built-in chorus, flange, delay and reverb. They sound pretty good, but I use them sparingly. I’m not into pedal boards. Too many batteries and cords. Just another thing to lug to a gig.

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