Results 1 to 22 of 22

Thread: What acoustic amp solution for me?

  1. #1
    man about town Markus's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Location
    Madison, Wisconsin
    Posts
    1,945
    Blog Entries
    1

    Default What acoustic amp solution for me?

    caution: wall of text

    I've read the archives, searched online ... and it's getting near decision time so it's time to ask the internet peanut gallery for advice.

    Please, tell me like you think it is. I'm new to acoustic amps and such, and my skin is plenty thick ... I might like my mandolins varnished, but I prefer opinions unvarnished.

    My situation and needs:


    Primary Uses:

    =Instruments=
    Mandolin with K+K twin [Breedlove OF]
    Acoustic with K+K [future install]
    Microphone on either of above and ukulele, fiddle, hand percussion.



    -Playing around home with my looper, also sending and receiving signal from my recorder/multitracker.

    -Minor amplification for playing with electric buddies [most often with children sleeping, no windows rattling - most often with my buddy with 15 or 30w champ].

    -Use as stage monitor when sitting in with my buddy's acoustic duo, send signal to PA.

    -Perhaps some day I'll gig out with it, but nothing planned ... not sure I'm the guy to play solo shows, at least for the next year or so. Thus, not a big consideration as if I'm in a band then a PA much beyond what I need would be the plan.



    Frankly, small and simple would be good - though being able to run an out to a board and to recorder is important. Wouldn't mind running the looper through an effects loop - though I assume I could run it before the amp just as well too [right?].

    Mostly, I'll be using it in our main living room where I normally play - which makes me lean away from a small PA as that would be more infrastructure to haul out [uglier to have sit out]. It is worth noting that this is a 20x25 room, with arched ceilings going up to 16 feet or so - not a tiny room to fill, though I have a toddler and very close neighbors ... it's not getting that loud at home, though a big room to fill.

    Obviously, I'm going to try my mandolin through these [and likely bring my recorder in to play various other things] to try them out ... but opinions are good. This is my first acoustic amp I'm buying - I'll fess up to being naive about all this, and needing in advice .... my ears are not educated beyond what sounds good to me [a fine judge, but future bandmates may not agree nor perhaps my future self].

    Most likely options or local deals [suggestions welcome]:

    Roland AC-60. Seems like the ideal solution, as it has lots of ways to plug it to different things. Perhaps more wattage than I would need, but much smaller might only be useful at home. Locally available new for 400, most tempting.

    Roland AC-33. Not available to try locally. Less plugs than AC-60, though probably all that are needed. Battery power is a nice idea, perhaps useful in the future - though I'm concerned this would be too small, or missing something the AC-60 has. Also important to note is that it's only marginally cheaper than the AC-60, maybe 50-75 bucks. If I wouldn't need the AC-60 ... tempting, but I'm concerned about volume.

    Yamaha Stagepas 300 [used]. Locally available for 475, perhaps I can offer less in cash as the CL ad is a couple weeks old. I've been steered this way at a local music store [not sure if being sold something is good, though] and have read it suggested by people I listen to here and elsewhere.
    I am concerned the mixer is simple [lacks feedback control like AC60, or tone shaping], no tuner out, etc - and is somewhat painting oneself into a corner as it can only handle so large of a room and wouldn't appear ideal as a monitor. Useful the twice a year I have multiple people over and want everyone amplified ... but with only two mics to my name, acoustic and mando with plugs .... seems like more inputs than I need and less controls than I want.

    Ultrasound CP-100 amp. Locally available for 500. I like that it can handle two xlr's if that's how I want to go ... nice ports in and out like the Roland. Far louder than I need, but not huge or obnoxious. Seems like vastly overkill as someone new to this.

    Genz-Benz Shen Jr. - around $500, though price not available online [lists for around 6]. Can test out ... a well reviewed brand, seems well designed like the Ultrasound and often more raved about. Seems a little `big ampy' and overkill for what I'm looking for, though would be the ticket in a more amplified setup.

    Anything is available online.

    AER 60 or such ... just don't have the cash right now, unless you want to sell me one for near $500. Thanks for the suggestion

    There are fishman loudbox mini's available to test - I will, not sure if I'm totally sold though .... if I'm going that route, then perhaps a simple Ultrasound 30w amp gotten online would do as good or better [though no mic input].

    ----- Anyway ... that's where I'm at. None of these are at the same place - no A/B possible, and a good half hour wasted driving between [I'd like to focus on a couple to test drive].

    I'm leaning away from the Stagepas ... while it prices out around the others, I feel like it's got an `upper limit' on how useful it is, only has limited inputs, and is not really a `nice around the living room' sort of device. I have no current band/duo .... and feel like $500 is something I could afford if needed in the future.

    While my test drive next week will be informative, I'm leaning towards one of the Rolands. If the AC33 truly was enough volume ... I'm tempted as it's small and can hide easiest in the living room, is incredibly portable. That said ... I'd hate to have it max out [or limit/clip] in my living room.

    Thus, I'm most aimed at the AC-60. As that's the one I want, I don't have a lot of experience .... I'd bet that I find it pleasing when I test drive, as I'm unsure how informed a judge I will be.

    Well, that's my rambly rant.

    I'd love any and all advice you got, you don't have to ramble as badly as I do.

  2. #2
    man about town Markus's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Location
    Madison, Wisconsin
    Posts
    1,945
    Blog Entries
    1

    Default Re: What acoustic amp solution for me?

    Tried a couple out tonight:

    AC-33. Glad I found one ... great little amp, but too small. Was in a big room, found it's maximum good volume ... not bad, but not ideal. I don't want to be itching for just a little more volume, which only costs $70 and isn't that much larger.

    Fishman Loudbox Mini and Loudbox [full]. Mini lacks feedback control, the instrument/room needed it ... nope.

    The Loudbox was good to play, as it's quite nice and was good to have power compared with the other two.

    -- Outcome:

    Will try Ultrasound CP-100 and Roland AC-60 next. The Loudbox [on sale now] falls between them in price and wasn't a terrible amp, but didn't totally sell me.

    AC-33 and Loudbox Mini out, though with a little regret for the AC-33 which was charming.

    Didn't test out the Yamaha, but wasn't impressed at the little board that came with it. If I wanted that direction, small unpowered mixer and single powered PA speaker [QSC or such] would seem wisest .... though that's a whole step past where I need now, really.

    Would love to be convinced to go the PA route, but I'm not.

  3. #3
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Duluth Mn.
    Posts
    437

    Default Re: What acoustic amp solution for me?

    I have the Ultrasound 100. You have no need to look any further. It's that good. Big venue- mike or direct line to PA. Nuff said.
    Chief. Way up North. Gibson 1917 A model with pickup. JL Smith 5 string electric. 1929 National Triolian resonator mandolin with pickup. National RM 1 with pickup. Ovation Applause. Fender FM- 60 E 5 string electric (with juiced pickups). 1950's Gibson EM-200 electric mandolin. 1954 Gibson EM-150 electric mandolin. Custom made "Jett Pink" 5 string electric- Bo Diddley slab style. Jay Roberts Tiny Moore model 5 string electric.

  4. #4
    Registered User Brian Court's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Belgrade, MT
    Posts
    52

    Default Re: What acoustic amp solution for me?

    I sure like my Schertler David - clean, presence and cut -- real nice amp
    Brian Court

  5. #5
    Registered User foldedpath's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Pacific Northwest, USA
    Posts
    5,010

    Default Re: What acoustic amp solution for me?

    Quote Originally Posted by Markus View Post
    Primary Uses:

    =Instruments=
    Mandolin with K+K twin [Breedlove OF]
    Acoustic with K+K [future install]
    Microphone on either of above and ukulele, fiddle, hand percussion.
    Question: what kind of hand percussion are you planning to run through this amp?

    A standard "acoustic instrument amp" can handle the smaller stuff through a microphone like tambourine, maracas, and shakers. But these acoustic amps don't have the low frequency response and speaker excursion to do well with deeper-voiced instruments like bodhran or djembe (depending on tuning), or a cajon. That's getting into a territory where you'd probably do better with a keyboard amp. Roland makes some nice ones. Or, a compact 4-channel mixer running into a single powered PA speaker. The Peavey PR-12D would probably fit your budget.

    This applies even at very low living room volume levels; you need that low-level "thump" to sound right. If you're not using any of the deeper-voiced hand drums, then a good acoustic amp should work fine.

  6. #6
    man about town Markus's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Location
    Madison, Wisconsin
    Posts
    1,945
    Blog Entries
    1

    Default Re: What acoustic amp solution for me?

    Good point, I do not plan larger !drums ..... My djembe got me a noise complaint unamplified

  7. #7
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    The "Hip to be Square" State
    Posts
    65

    Default Re: What acoustic amp solution for me?

    For what it's worth, I'm in the exact same scenario as you. Though I have a Fishman SA220 for gigging purposes, I'd like to have something at home that can double as a monitor, etc.

    From all the things I've found thus far, I'd reconsider the Loudbox Mini. While it doesn't have a feedback control, I'm not sure you'd need one at the volumes you've discussed- moreover, it has a lot of compelling features (not to mention a great price). I demoed one today and was surprised at its fullness. It's EQ section is really quite good (particularly with the K&K's mid-range) and very useful. It's only downfall in my eyes it the lack of phantom power on the mic side. If only...

    Have you looked at the ZT Lunchbox Acoustic Amp? Very cool feature set, small package. Good luck in the search!
    music | blog | et cetera
    2004 Collings D1 | 2008 Collings MT
    "If this isn't nice, I don't know what is." - Vonnegut

  8. #8
    man about town Markus's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Location
    Madison, Wisconsin
    Posts
    1,945
    Blog Entries
    1

    Default Re: What acoustic amp solution for me?

    disguise, that lack of phantom power was a no-sale for me.

    As for the lunchbox .... store that carried them locally closed, so I can't test them out. While I know I don't need a lot of volume ... playing that small Roland last night made me realize that the only real failure I can make here is to get something lacking in volume [other sound considerations are what your ear likes, but not loud enough is universal].

    I would also say, now that I've convinced the wife that an amp of some sort is good .... might as well not need to talk her into another [thus the smallest size I'm questioning].

  9. #9

    Default Re: What acoustic amp solution for me?

    I love my Genz Benz Shenandoah Jr...purchased it new from a music store on eBay 2 years ago for $300.00 with free shipping and it even included a padded cover. I had a Fender Acoustasonic SFX amp that I sold before I purchased the Genz Benz, and I think it's much better sounding and has more features than the Fender...GREAT amp!

  10. #10
    Mandolin Botherer Shelagh Moore's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Leicestershire, UK
    Posts
    1,378

    Default Re: What acoustic amp solution for me?

    I have the Yamaha StagePas 300 which I like and which is small and portable. I've also used an Ashdown Engineering Acoustic Radiator 1 amp (100W; jack (active or passive) and XLR channels) which I also liked and which was very compact and reasonably powerful.

  11. #11
    Destroyer of Mandolins
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    New Jersey
    Posts
    5,017

    Default Re: What acoustic amp solution for me?

    Given all you've said, I think you'll find your winner when you have a chance to test the CP-100 and the AC-60. One of those will do it.
    Dedicated Ovation player
    Avid Bose user

  12. #12
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    The "Hip to be Square" State
    Posts
    65

    Default Re: What acoustic amp solution for me?

    Quote Originally Posted by Markus View Post
    disguise, that lack of phantom power was a no-sale for me.

    As for the lunchbox .... store that carried them locally closed, so I can't test them out. While I know I don't need a lot of volume ... playing that small Roland last night made me realize that the only real failure I can make here is to get something lacking in volume [other sound considerations are what your ear likes, but not loud enough is universal].

    I would also say, now that I've convinced the wife that an amp of some sort is good .... might as well not need to talk her into another [thus the smallest size I'm questioning].
    Fair enough. I owned a Roland AC60 for my singer/songwriter gigs and it worked like a charm for the most part. Good volume (pleasant at high volumes too, not shrill) but I eventually moved up into a PA due to a growing band. When I went back to playing solo gigs primarily, and after really considering what I wanted in sound, I picked up the SA220 because it's the easiest way to do everything I need to do easily and without schlepping a lot of gear.

    What if you went the route of a small powered speaker and a desktop mixer? The guys over at the Acoustic Guitar Forum are big proponents of the Allen and Heath ZED10FX 10 channel mixer (very small, USB, GREAT mic preamps) and a QSC K8 speaker? Small enough for the house, versatile enough to gig with and the mixer could be added into a future home recording setup.

    Or not. Regardless- best of luck.
    music | blog | et cetera
    2004 Collings D1 | 2008 Collings MT
    "If this isn't nice, I don't know what is." - Vonnegut

  13. #13
    man about town Markus's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Location
    Madison, Wisconsin
    Posts
    1,945
    Blog Entries
    1

    Default Re: What acoustic amp solution for me?

    disguise - That's a really interesting idea, as the mixer itself is a nice product. The Stagepas mixer was a weak link and this seems much more a system suited for expandability [if I end up wanting to do gigs, add another speaker and off I go].

    Stagepas, without gigs I need it for, is not ideal for now and not buying into the future - that Allen + Heath + speaker seems more to be. I like your thinking, as I've found ways to use most of my audio technology for purposes other than intended. This mixer gave me crazy ideas ... I like crazy ideas.

    Stopped by and saw/played with the Ultrasound today ... quite impressed. Need to bring my mando down when I have some time [played shop guitar for 10 minutes] - but it's surprisingly small for such a big sound. Seems more `directional' than anything else I played, though in different rooms things sound different.
    Last edited by Markus; May-13-2011 at 1:29pm.

  14. #14
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    The "Hip to be Square" State
    Posts
    65

    Default Re: What acoustic amp solution for me?

    Markus- glad that helped. For what it's worth, a fellow singer/songwriter (and dear friend) have held a residency at a coffee shop for the last few years. Every Tuesday night, we play for three hours, splitting the set. She owns a Stagepas system and has brought it several times to provide sound and, while I like the convenience factor, I've never been pleased at the tone of the thing. It's very hollow, honky and boxy- if those three adjectives even go together. ...of course, I'd never tell her that.

    I demoed an AER Compact 60 today with my Collings D1 and went back to demo the Fishman LB Mini with the Collings afterward. That AER is amazing. Absolutely incredible. SO much tone in such a small package. It's featherweight. Yes, it's very expensive, but man alive was it good.
    music | blog | et cetera
    2004 Collings D1 | 2008 Collings MT
    "If this isn't nice, I don't know what is." - Vonnegut

  15. #15
    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    Outer Spiral Arm, of Galaxy, NW Oregon.
    Posts
    16,137

    Default Re: What acoustic amp solution for me?

    AC 60 is the one I have, need for any louder , and it feeds the main mixer..
    padded gig bag has a shoulder strap, and a couple pockets,
    I coil the extension cord, stow under the lid on the bag, and I'm good to go.
    writing about music
    is like dancing,
    about architecture

  16. #16
    Registered User herbsandspices's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Chicago
    Posts
    246

    Default Re: What acoustic amp solution for me?

    I've seen a few used Schertler Unico's on Craigslist in the past for just over your $500 budget - I don't think you can any better than this amp. We've used it with mandolin, ukulele, guitar, banjo, and vocals. It rocks, plain and simple.

  17. #17

    Default Re: What acoustic amp solution for me?

    Quote Originally Posted by herbsandspices View Post
    I've seen a few used Schertler Unico's on Craigslist in the past for just over your $500 budget - I don't think you can any better than this amp. We've used it with mandolin, ukulele, guitar, banjo, and vocals. It rocks, plain and simple.
    I have the smaller brother, the David. Thats the end of my search for sure. Beats any AER or other acoustic amps like Fender Acoustasonic, Marshall and even the Roland 30 or 60, except a good PA. But it's small (30x35x25 cm), has enough power (80 Watts)to fill a room, it's great with instruments AND vocals. Only downside is that the reverb isn't very good,but otherwise it's simply Grand. Like quoted poster, i have played uke, mando, guitar through it, with the vocals coming out wonderful!The Unico i'd love to stumble upon.

  18. #18

    Default Re: What acoustic amp solution for me?

    I use a Shertler and a Fishman Loudbox 130. I usually put up an old AKG C100s too. I used to use a Roland AC60 but I like the sound of the Fishman better.
    Gerald Jones

    Acoustic Music Camp August 6-8, 2015 in Arlington Texas
    Teachers: Paul Glasse, Tim May, Dix Bruce, Robert Bowlin, David Hamburger, Nate Lee, Wil Maring, Keith Yoder, Jim "Texas Shorty" Chancellor, Dale Morris Jr., Gretchen Priest, Irl Hees, Alan Tompkins, Sam Swank, Lee Thomas, Gerald Jones,
    For more info: http://AcousticMusicCamp.com

  19. #19
    Registered User Mark Seale's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    Houston, TX
    Posts
    878

    Default Re: What acoustic amp solution for me?


  20. #20
    Horton River NWT Rob Gerety's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Vermont - Upper Valley
    Posts
    2,589

    Default Re: What acoustic amp solution for me?

    Quote Originally Posted by disguiseglasses View Post
    What if you went the route of a small powered speaker and a desktop mixer? The guys over at the Acoustic Guitar Forum are big proponents of the Allen and Heath ZED10FX 10 channel mixer (very small, USB, GREAT mic preamps) and a QSC K8 speaker? Small enough for the house, versatile enough to gig with and the mixer could be added into a future home recording setup.
    This is what I would do.
    Rob G.
    Vermont

  21. #21
    man about town Markus's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Location
    Madison, Wisconsin
    Posts
    1,945
    Blog Entries
    1

    Default Re: What acoustic amp solution for me?

    Well, about a week ago I walked into a local music store to test out their AC60 and made a lowball offer.

    For once, that worked. I'm the happy owner of an AC60. Loud enough for any gigs I'd be playing, any louder at home and it would be a problem. To my ear, it gives me a nice tone out of my mandolin ... feedback control seems to work well too.

    The CP-100 was a great amp, but at $150 more [and no strong need for the greater volume] I took that that money to buy a simple mixer to tie my home studio together.

    It's been a heck of a music year for me ... after upgrading my mandolin in August I have since added a digital recorder, installed a pickup, got an amp, keyboard, looper, mixer, and a half dozen mics. Built a cajon, and added quite a lot of hand percussion [great for my toddler] ... what was an instrument or two on stands sitting around is now 4 instruments hanging on the wall, mic stands, keyboard and sound equipment, amp, area rugs covering cables, and a comfortable stool sitting in the middle of it all waiting for me.

    I was quite relieved when my wife smiled as she stated `you pretty much have a mini music studio now'. Yes I do, and I'm one happy clam. It sure isn't high end, but it's all I really need ... the purpose is to make music and write songs with as much ease as possible. A small PA is tempting ... but at the moment not really needed. Until I'm in a settled musical group [all ad-hoc currently] and I know what my cohorts have I don't want to invest.

    Of course, now I've got no good excuses when I look at the blank lyric sheet for the two tunes I'm working up.

    First gig with all this is tonight ... sitting in with a friend's duo as it's his birthday. Hopefully everything works out nice and smooth - another distraction to the music to have to sort out. I'm planning on getting sound settings that sound ok and fairly flat at 20' away before heading to the gig - and doing my best to just find decent tone settings in short order there and for the most part leaving it alone. While I'm tempted to bring a mic and try a blended signal ... I don't need to have my first plugged in gig be dominated by knob twisting and technical details.

    Thanks to everyone for your help. I did a lot of thinking about the ZED/QSC route as well as became aware of a few amps that I will be keeping an eye out for a deal on [and planning as eventual upgrade]. Gear is a tough decision, and I ended up happy with mine thanks to help here.

  22. #22
    Destroyer of Mandolins
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    New Jersey
    Posts
    5,017

    Default Re: What acoustic amp solution for me?

    Good job Markus! Pick long and prosper.
    Dedicated Ovation player
    Avid Bose user

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •