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Busking Experiences?

GUEST,SeanSiegfried 05 Aug 11 - 10:57 PM
GUEST,Ear ache 06 Aug 11 - 07:26 AM
GUEST,Desi C 06 Aug 11 - 10:26 AM
GUEST,SeanSiegfried 06 Aug 11 - 10:42 AM
Big Ballad Singer 06 Aug 11 - 11:08 AM
Spot 06 Aug 11 - 11:33 AM
GUEST,SeanSiegfried 06 Aug 11 - 11:46 AM
Lox 06 Aug 11 - 12:07 PM
Crowhugger 06 Aug 11 - 12:35 PM
Mark Ross 06 Aug 11 - 12:42 PM
GUEST,SeanSiegfried 06 Aug 11 - 01:15 PM
Crowhugger 06 Aug 11 - 01:26 PM
Teribus 06 Aug 11 - 01:39 PM
Teribus 06 Aug 11 - 01:40 PM
josepp 06 Aug 11 - 03:20 PM
Jim McLean 06 Aug 11 - 03:25 PM
GUEST,SeanSiegfried 07 Aug 11 - 12:06 AM
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Subject: Busking Experiences? (Nervous Newcomer)
From: GUEST,SeanSiegfried
Date: 05 Aug 11 - 10:57 PM

I just wondered if anybody here could share some of their experiences and give me some advice. I've been practising away at my traditional, early music and blues tunes (on steel-string guitar) and finally have most of the equipment I need (a Crate Taxi amp, Shure SM57 because I hate the sound of the pickup). But I'm dead nervous! I've played for a long time, since I was a wee lad, but I haven't performed in public fashion for years. I live in Devon, near Exeter - in case there are any local folk with local tips!


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Subject: RE: Busking Experiences?
From: GUEST,Ear ache
Date: 06 Aug 11 - 07:26 AM

Suggest you leave the amplification at home - a lot of folks and e.g. shopkeepers (Those who can't move away) don't appreciate it. If you're any good people who want to listen will listen.


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Subject: RE: Busking Experiences?
From: GUEST,Desi C
Date: 06 Aug 11 - 10:26 AM

I noticed quite a few young buskers in Ireland recently using these small amps, but not really earning anything. Because as someone above me pointed out, it does annoy local shopkeepers and public in general. Example, I passed this young chap with an amp in Kilkenny a few times in the same hour one day and he hadn't taken a cent. Then I spotted an old timer with a beat up banjo in the same shopping area,no amp, he must have had a good 50 Euro in his cap! Leave the amp at home


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Subject: RE: Busking Experiences?
From: GUEST,SeanSiegfried
Date: 06 Aug 11 - 10:42 AM

Thanks for the advice, both of you. Problem is that I'm a finger-picker with a light touch, not a strummer (otherwise I would lose the amp). The idea is to use the amp to fill out the sound a tad, so that people barely notice it's there (I hate the electronic sound of an amp trying to reproduce an acoustic guitar).

For a laugh I played a finger-style song, just acoustic, in London a couple years ago and I couldn't even hear MYSELF. People around probably wondered why this fellow on the street was miming.


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Subject: RE: Busking Experiences?
From: Big Ballad Singer
Date: 06 Aug 11 - 11:08 AM

What you need is a LOUD guitar. I know you probably have your favorites, but here's my two cents.

A LOUD, percussive, mid-range-toned guitar, even one that sounds like absolute pants in any other setting, would probably do very well on the street. What you need to remember is that playing in front of talking people, honking cars and general noise is no different than playing an acoustic guitar with an amplified band behind you. What needs to come through first is the PRESENCE of the instrument, the brassy, cut-through-the-mix tone. THEN, after people see/hear you, they will stop. A LOT of people wouldn't know good guitar tone anyway, and the point of playing on the street is to make some dough besides loving the music, right?

I have played kids' guitars, student models, that were GREAT for the street, because their tone might have been a bit boxy, but they were LOUD as anything when I played some ragtime-style block-chord strumming.

Find yourself an acoustic that is really loud and has good sustain. Look especially for older import guitars; I have had several Japanese dreadnoughts that were good and loud.

I play exclusively finger-style as well, so I understand the trouble with being heard.

LOSE the amp. I have a friend who lost his spot on a street because his amplified guitar AND mp3 backing tracks were disturbing the local business people.


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Subject: RE: Busking Experiences?
From: Spot
Date: 06 Aug 11 - 11:33 AM

SS

Do not use amplifier...do not use amplifier... etc etc..

Nothing worse!!

I was in Stratford UK yesterday.. a guy playing loud electric guitar to loud backing tracks... he was an excellent player but the sound carried far enough over to mingle unsuccessfully with the equally talented amplified and equally loud classical guitar player to create what I thought was an unbearable mishmash of noise. The unamp'd fiddle and squeezebox duo were the ones who got my dosh!! ;-)

I also busk but wouldn't dream of amps....

Just my 2p's worth...

Regards to all...Spot ;-)


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Subject: RE: Busking Experiences?
From: GUEST,SeanSiegfried
Date: 06 Aug 11 - 11:46 AM

Ok I guess my guitar's fairly loud on it's own, I'm just very anxious about how it would hold up on the street. It's an auditorium body and I put medium strings on it and play with fake nails, so that does a bit to give it a strong natural tone.

I'll heed your words and just go out there with the guitar then. Here's an example of the stuff I play, to give you all an idea of what I'd playing out there. I certainly like the idea of not having to carry an amp around, as my guitar case is already quite heavy. And if people would prefer me 'o naturel', then that is what they shall have! Now to work on the nerves...


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Subject: RE: Busking Experiences?
From: Lox
Date: 06 Aug 11 - 12:07 PM

I think there are exceptions to the "lose the amp" rule.

I sing and bash out chords, so an amp would generally be offensive:

1. because the sound is always rubbish when buskers sing and play through a PA

2. Because nobody likes it - there is no icentive to stand and watch a busker at close proximity id his PA is so loud you can hear him up the street.

3. because it drives other buskers off the street which undermines the whole busking marketplace

4. it pisses off the local businesses - who then ensure that buskers are constantly being moved on ...

5. most importantly, it kills all the romance of street performance - to be in business, you have to understand your product - and the idiom of street performer is all about the romance. The guys who blare their stuff out through PA's show no awareness of the public they are playing to let alone anyone else trying to do any other type of business around them - and often they are crap.


HOWEVER


Classical guitarists for example won't be heard unless you stand within 5 feet of theem, and even then you have to lean in to hear properly.

In such circumstances, the considerate option is to use an amp.

1. You aren't just an inaudible obstacle on the footpath

2. you can add to the atmosphere in a shopping area which businesses like

3. your audience can stop and listen and enjoy.


The buskers art is to be able to draw a crowd and hold them for 2 or 3 songs before giving them time to move on so a new crowd can form - thats how to make your money.

You need to be a positive addition to peoples day.


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Subject: RE: Busking Experiences?
From: Crowhugger
Date: 06 Aug 11 - 12:35 PM

Glad you got the message about amps. Use it for restaurant gigs and the like.

Busking IS how you work on nerves, not ahead of time, so suck it up and just go do it :-). Nothing cures nerves like surviving a day (or half-day) of people variously ignoring you, stopping to enjoy your music, and telling you to get lost.

If you truly are very quiet when you play, choose your locations accordingly, perhaps a pedestrian area so there is less car noise (if there is such a spot). Recessed doorways can serve as a natural soundbox to some degree, some are better than others.

Are you often inclined to apologize for your playing? If so, save it for your family and friends, don't share that part of you with your street audience.


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Subject: RE: Busking Experiences?
From: Mark Ross
Date: 06 Aug 11 - 12:42 PM

Just remember, busking is not about playing music. There is a big difference between PLAYING & PERFORMING. Think of it as theater. I heard of a busker in the Bay Area in California who figured out what his 6 best songs were, the ones that pulled in the most money. He would play those all day, not in the same spot though. He did keep moving so as not to annoy the neighbors. Did quite well too, from what I heard.

Mark Ross


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Subject: RE: Busking Experiences?
From: GUEST,SeanSiegfried
Date: 06 Aug 11 - 01:15 PM

Crowhugger - 'Got the message'? That's a bit harsh, isn't it? I 'got the advice' anyway and am very grateful for it.

The reason I was worried about volume is because I play very quiet stuff, not because I want to be heard across street. The idea with the amp was to literally support the guitar - To make it a fraction louder, not to project it at the unwitting. When I talk to people about this I sometimes worry they're picturing somebody pelting out C, G and A open chords with a right hand like Pete Townshend. When those kind of people don an amplifier I'm just as angry about it as anyone else.

I play music that you'd normally hear on a nylon-strung guitar. So to that end I empathise with Lox's comments to some degree.


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Subject: RE: Busking Experiences?
From: Crowhugger
Date: 06 Aug 11 - 01:26 PM

You're right Sean, upon re-reading, I'm sorry I came across more harshly than I'd intended.


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Subject: RE: Busking Experiences?
From: Teribus
Date: 06 Aug 11 - 01:39 PM

Some good advice there GUEST,SeanSeigfried.

By the bye I thought your palying is superb if that was you palying on the link you supplied - Cose your spot and the passers-by will love it as will those who work in the neighbourhood.

Go for it and the very best of luck to you.


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Subject: RE: Busking Experiences?
From: Teribus
Date: 06 Aug 11 - 01:40 PM

I sahll correct the above:

Some good advice there GUEST,SeanSeigfried.

By the bye I thought your playing is superb if that was you playing on the link you supplied - Choose your spot and the passers-by will love it as will those who work in the neighbourhood.

Go for it and the very best of luck to you.


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Subject: RE: Busking Experiences?
From: josepp
Date: 06 Aug 11 - 03:20 PM

When I play with my fingers, the guitar cannot be heard. I use a little Roland Micro-Cube amp with battery power. Someone else said it should only be loud enough to be heard and not blowing people off the sidewalk. I add a little bit of chorus effect to it. It just does something for the sound which I find very cool but, again, just barely there.

But I have only busked on the street once this year. It's just been too hot and too humid. Like right now, it's not hot but it is oppressively humid and I just don't feel like busking in that. I already have several rags and singalong type songs ready to go on the uke which has electronics installed on it but I'm waiting for a bit better weather.


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Subject: RE: Busking Experiences?
From: Jim McLean
Date: 06 Aug 11 - 03:25 PM

I busked all over Europe, Yugoslavia, Greece, Turkey and Egypt in the early 1960s and never used an amp. Mind you, I played the bagpipes!


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Subject: RE: Busking Experiences?
From: GUEST,SeanSiegfried
Date: 07 Aug 11 - 12:06 AM

Crowhugger - No problem there!

Teribus - Why thank you very much! Yes that's yours truly in the video.

I looked up busking in Totnes here in Devon today, as it's close to me. They have a code of practice which doesn't allow amps, so there you go! It's not a very noisy town, so I think I'll be ok. Carrying just the guitar will make life a lot easier. From visiting the place it seems there are a lot of kind-hearted and cultured types so hopefully they'll dig a bit of Baroque and be accommodating! I wouldn't say the same about Torquay, unfortunately. They're both close to me.


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