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Thread: Help! Drowned out by fiddles!

  1. #26
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    Default Re: Help! Drowned out by fiddles!

    I was trying out someones mandolin, before the pandemic, at a jam, and when I played her mandolin it was way louder than when she played it. It may be some new technique may be in order. Yes a louder mandolin, but I have played many mandolins, from a "22 Gibson to my ff holed mandolins in groups with up to 6 or more fiddles and can still be heard acoustically. I can also hear myself in jams with many fiddles and 10-15 people playing.
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    Registered User Mark Seale's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help! Drowned out by fiddles!

    Maybe a little assertiveness is in order, but I notice much of the response you're getting is about how you can be louder. Music is dynamic, the fiddles don't have to be going 100% all the time, then it just becomes a wall of sound. I'd suggest that the conversation be more about playing musically together.

    But don't let me keep you from getting new toys....

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  5. #28
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    Default Re: Help! Drowned out by fiddles!

    11.5 E heavy string sets let you pick harder on them (if your mandolin can handle the increased string tension)
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    Default Re: Help! Drowned out by fiddles!

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  7. #30
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    Default Re: Help! Drowned out by fiddles!

    "Competitive amplification" yes, that is miserable and have been down that road. Best not to start that as it can and will escalate. And electricity is not often readily available when playing at the historic park.

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    Default Re: Help! Drowned out by fiddles!

    Could be technique --- I'm playing an old 1924 Gibson A-style. Has a wonderful tone and probably projects the most of all my mandolins. I'm using medium strings and usually a 1.0 mm pick.

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    Default Re: Help! Drowned out by fiddles!

    In a band everyone should be working to make the whole sound. So if your mandolin playing as a normal decent volume, I would think that the fiddles would be able to accommodate, and, in some cases just give you the melody.

    A resonator mandolin, (my choice being the National RM-1) is a great idea, in part because it can be played loud or soft, while keeping a very nice tone, and in part because you can crush fiddles and kill flies with your mighty f#m chord, so they will come around to taking you into account.
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    Default Re: Help! Drowned out by fiddles!

    Thanks, I love Foghorn Stringband and that is good advice to listen closely to what Kaleb does.

  12. #34
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help! Drowned out by fiddles!

    As an aside - I love twin fiddles in near unison or in harmony. I especially like that aspect of Western Swing, but I am sure it can be incorporated into a lot of different musics.
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    Default Re: Help! Drowned out by fiddles!

    I usually play a 1917 Gibson plain A with D'Addario 74 medium strings, using a Dunlop 1.5mm pick. It's got plenty of oomph; it's even a banjo killer. I reckon it could stand up to twin fiddles, though no one in a band should have to struggle to be heard. Yours should be able to do the same. Maybe try a thicker pick - 2mm would be too much, I'd think - and don't be shy about digging in to get as much out of it as you can.
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    Default Re: Help! Drowned out by fiddles!

    I disagree with a heavier pick. A lighter pick will allow more highs and highs will carry better with less volume than lows. A heavier pick will allow you to maybe use more force, but I use a pick lighter than 1mm, it's in thousands, but less than 1mm. I can strike quite hard and be heard well. In fact I have a hard time playing quiet enough when the need to be quiet. I have then to play with a very light touch. Again technique for quiet and loud. With my Gibson I used a .72 Dunlap pick and no problem being heard in a large jam, or so I have been told.
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    Registered User Ranald's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help! Drowned out by fiddles!

    An issue that shouldn't be overlooked here is hearing difficulties. Many of us, including a number at Mandolin Cafe, experience hearing loss as we get older. Hearing loss is a common problem with musicians, though I think it would be less so for those in small acoustic string bands. One friend blames my hearing loss, which is worse in my left ear, on playing fiddle, though he's not a highly paid expert. I have poor hearing in the high range. If I'm talking to a small child on the phone, all is say is, "Well, well," "Is that right?" and such. If you can't hear clearly what you used to, it's worth getting your hearing checked. Hearing aids are highly sophisticated and easy to use these days, though not perfect. (By the way, I heard B.B. King say that he was deaf in his lower range, which makes me think that if it were deaf in his higher range, we'd be hearing hundred of blues guitarists soloing on the low strings.)
    Robert Johnson's mother, describing blues musicians:
    "I never did have no trouble with him until he got big enough to be round with bigger boys and off from home. Then he used to follow all these harp blowers, mandoleen (sic) and guitar players."
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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help! Drowned out by fiddles!

    If this is a performing band then there is a concept called dynamics. People can lay back on their instruments at times esp when others are taking solos or people are singing. This also calls for arranging and would be the solution. No mandolin how expensive or high quality can compete with guitars and multiple fiddles. There are humans and before you go out to buy a fancier mandolin i think you should just talk to them and see what can be done. If this is a session then it is a different story but you didn’t describe it that way. I played in an old time band decades ago and we started out with everyone playing in at the same but soon realized that it was chaotic and not at all musical. Talk to your band mates!
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  18. #39
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    Default Re: Help! Drowned out by fiddles!

    I used to take a mandolin to the local "slow session". Slow? Not really. Anyway there are (used to be when we were still able to have the session) at least 4-5 fiddle players there. I gave up-couldn't even hear my Mando. Fast forward to acquiring a concertina. Now the fiddle players say "gee, that thing is really loud". Kind of poetic justice I guess. I've been known to once in a while bring the mandolin but only play the tune I can play at their tempo-John Ryans Polka. hahaha. I don't personally think there is any real solution to the OPs dilemma. I once attended a session where the lone Mando player was on a banjolin and I couldn't hear them at all.
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    Default Re: Help! Drowned out by fiddles!

    There have been a lot of good observations and suggestions, but Jim's point is really the most valid. Since this is a performing band, all the elements have to be incorporated and optimized in order to present the best possible performance. That includes dynamics. Every instrument should be able to be heard, and no instrument should be overwhelmed. Have a talk with everyone - not just the leader. They should understand it's in their best interests as well as yours if you are able to participate fully.
    But that's just my opinion. I could be wrong. - Dennis Miller

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  21. #41
    music with whales Jim Nollman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help! Drowned out by fiddles!

    It's not clear to me if the OP wants to hear himself with greater clarity, or if he wants his audience to hear him better. These are not the same issues. If you play an F hole instrument, and you are in band with a fiddle, the audience will definitely hear you better than if you play an oval hole, simply because the F-hole establishes a niche for itself separate from the fiddles, granting better clarity to individual notes.

    However, an F hole instrument resolves several feet in front of the player. So the person most likely NOT to hear an f-hole instrument in a band is the player himself/herself. It takes a bit of practice to hear what it is you are playing on an f hole instrument. Practice leads to a trust that your sound is resolving properly whether you hear it or not. If learning to trust the instrument's resolution is not what you seek, then you might want to buy an instrument that has a sound port in the side.

    I always choose my f-hole in a band situation that includes a fiddle. I never choose my oval hole when playing with a fiddle because there's too much overlap in the frequency niches. I usually choose my oval hole (built for jazz) when I'm recording solo, or if I'm in a duet with a banjo or a guitar.

    I attend old time campouts where I am told I can usually be heard from 100 feet away while playing with 3 or 4 fiddlers. Believe me, I am not playing louder than I would in a smaller group. It's no fun for me to start banging on my instrument just to be heard. Nor am I being heard only because I play an F-hole instrument in those situations. The truth is, I am fortunate to play an excellent mandolin put together by a very skillful builder. You just can't get around the issue of playing a quality instrument to be heard above the fray.
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    Default Re: Help! Drowned out by fiddles!

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Nollman View Post
    It's not clear to me if the OP wants to hear himself with greater clarity, or if he wants his audience to hear him better...
    I've been assuming "mando minnie" is female...?
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    Default Re: Help! Drowned out by fiddles!

    A National RM-1 will make you heard...banjos cower, etc. Love mine, and that thing is loud...
    Chuck

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    Default Re: Help! Drowned out by fiddles!

    I would either pick up an Irish-tuned tenor banjo (really fits in and fattens the sound since it is an octave lower) or get a National RM1. I wouldn't get any other resonator mandolin but the RM1 sounds really good and is loud enough that your playing can still have dynamics, instead of having to play full volume all the time to try to be heard.
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    Default Re: Help! Drowned out by fiddles!

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Nollman View Post
    It's not clear to me if the OP wants to hear himself with greater clarity, or if he wants his audience to hear him better.
    Quote Originally Posted by allenhopkins View Post
    I've been assuming "mando minnie" is female...?
    And I as well. But as many of us have surely noticed, mandolinists are all too often marginalized. But it's at least doubly sad when thus done wrong by other mandolinists. O cruel fate! To be not accepted as ourselves, for ourselves, by ourselves!
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    Default Re: Help! Drowned out by fiddles!

    Quote Originally Posted by mando minnie View Post
    Could be technique --- I'm playing an old 1924 Gibson A-style. Has a wonderful tone and probably projects the most of all my mandolins. I'm using medium strings and usually a 1.0 mm pick.
    So are you just all playing unison for all tunes, Celtic, old time or whatever? That is all fine for sessions but, as I and others have noted, there is no reason on earth for anyone in a band to get drowned out. If your band mates are not willing to make some adjustments the. You are truly in the wrong band. You don’t say whether you talked to any of them about this problem.
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    Default Re: Help! Drowned out by fiddles!

    In my experience, players who play over everything will just get louder if you try to play louder. Plenty of bands are made up of players who are only listening to themselves. There's no fix for it.

    Common sense should tell a musician that if he can't hear everyone then he should play less loudly. Unfortunately, common and all other types of sense are kind of rare.

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  30. #48
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    Default Re: Help! Drowned out by fiddles!

    Quote Originally Posted by JeffD View Post
    As an aside - I love twin fiddles in near unison or in harmony. I especially like that aspect of Western Swing, but I am sure it can be incorporated into a lot of different musics.
    Fiddles in unison also sounds great in Scottish / Shetland / Cape Breton style music, particularly with tunes in A and E. Seems like it leads to some kind of whole band resonance going on.

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    Default Re: Help! Drowned out by fiddles!

    Quote Originally Posted by allenhopkins View Post
    I've been assuming "mando minnie" is female...?
    Yes, female! I agree with all comments that state there should be some give and take in a musical group to best pull together everyone's contribution. Seems we always run out of practice time when it comes around to doing that. I can actually hear myself play most of the time but the other band members express that they cannot hear me and I've often been told by audience members that I can't be heard. A bit frustrating when you invite friends and family to listen ... Need to make friends with whoever is running the sound board, I suppose!

  32. #50
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    Default Re: Help! Drowned out by fiddles!

    Well ... if they sort of agree with you, this should be a short and hopefully agreeable talk. Bring up the subject at the start of a rehearsal. Like, "Hey guys, before we go on to the usual practice, there's something that's been bothering me ..." If all it takes to fix this is for them to play a little quieter in order for you to be heard, this can be solved fairly easily. It'll work out to their benefit, too.
    But that's just my opinion. I could be wrong. - Dennis Miller

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