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When does 'acoustic' become 'electric'?

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Steve Parkes 11 Dec 00 - 08:52 AM
GUEST,Roger the skiffler 11 Dec 00 - 09:08 AM
GUEST,Sarah 11 Dec 00 - 09:15 AM
Troll 11 Dec 00 - 09:22 AM
Midchuck 11 Dec 00 - 10:00 AM
Rick Fielding 11 Dec 00 - 10:21 AM
GUEST 11 Dec 00 - 10:43 AM
GUEST,Sarah 11 Dec 00 - 10:58 AM
GUEST,Sarah 11 Dec 00 - 11:01 AM
GUEST,Sarah 11 Dec 00 - 11:02 AM
Steve Latimer 11 Dec 00 - 11:04 AM
RichM 11 Dec 00 - 11:05 AM
A Wandering Minstrel 11 Dec 00 - 11:40 AM
Stewart 11 Dec 00 - 12:50 PM
Rick Fielding 11 Dec 00 - 01:04 PM
GUEST,Russ 11 Dec 00 - 01:28 PM
Grab 11 Dec 00 - 02:44 PM
GUEST,MTed 11 Dec 00 - 02:53 PM
Bernard 11 Dec 00 - 02:54 PM
MMario 11 Dec 00 - 03:06 PM
Bernard 11 Dec 00 - 03:10 PM
McGrath of Harlow 11 Dec 00 - 03:13 PM
Llanfair 11 Dec 00 - 07:19 PM
Bill D 11 Dec 00 - 07:42 PM
Grab 12 Dec 00 - 09:14 AM
GUEST,MTed 12 Dec 00 - 11:08 AM
MichaelAnthony 12 Dec 00 - 11:58 AM
Hamish 12 Dec 00 - 12:30 PM
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bec 13 Dec 00 - 01:00 AM
blt 13 Dec 00 - 02:00 AM
GUEST,Paddy R 13 Dec 00 - 02:16 AM
GUEST,Sarah 13 Dec 00 - 03:33 PM
M.Ted 13 Dec 00 - 03:37 PM
mousethief 13 Dec 00 - 04:20 PM
GUEST,Marcus Campus Bellorum 13 Dec 00 - 07:02 PM
Llanfair 13 Dec 00 - 07:02 PM
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Subject: When does 'acoustic' become 'electric'?
From: Steve Parkes
Date: 11 Dec 00 - 08:52 AM

Some friends of mine went to a pub which advertised live acousrtic music. What they actually found was: an elctric bass, two electro-acoustic guitars, two mics, a mixing desk and big speakers; the net result was uncomfortably loud. At what point does "using a p.a. system" turn into "becoming an electric band"?
?
OK, htat's a silly question: there isn't a point where it magically happens. But should acoustic only apply to completely unamplified sound, or (at a pinch) to modest use of a p.a. so the folks at the back can hear well enough?

Steve (strictly non-electric!)


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Subject: RE: When does 'acoustic' become 'electric'?
From: GUEST,Roger the skiffler
Date: 11 Dec 00 - 09:08 AM

Well, Steve, mate,you know I'm pig-ignorant on these matters but I think I'd call an instrument non-acoustic if it can't be heard unless plugged in (like a solid body or a keyboard). Where you draw the line beween playing an acoustic instrument into a mike or with a pick up I don't know. Once they start using effects pedals I think you can safely call them non-acoustic!
I agree with you on volume, in general PAs seem to be set at the threshold of pain
RtS


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Subject: RE: When does 'acoustic' become 'electric'?
From: GUEST,Sarah
Date: 11 Dec 00 - 09:15 AM

Steve,

IMO that the best PA is a campfire, but I'm getting old and tired: my second question, when buying sound equipment, is "What does it weigh?"

But to give you my tuppence-wor' on acoustic/electric: Although I'm inclined to forgive an electric bass as a cost-effective beginner's instrument (I'll probably get in trouble for that!), and will happily listen to a plugged-in acoustic guitar if I can't hear it over a microphone, I draw the line at blasting me out of the building with equipment so loud I can't hear the music.

It may have simply been inexperience, though -- with the room, the crowd (some crowds, after all, are more interested in mating rites and the pool table than the music; and sometimes the band turns it up so they can hear themselves...I have played in these dives), or even their equipment. One relies on listening audience members in new and untried situations to be helpful here. I know I want to know if the viola is drowning the vocals or if the people in front are getting a headache while the folks in back can only hear mushy sound. It takes a bit to get that electronic junk to balance across a room.

Which may be why I prefer campfires.

Sarah


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Subject: RE: When does 'acoustic' become 'electric'?
From: Troll
Date: 11 Dec 00 - 09:22 AM

Good Question.
When my wife and I worked as a duo and later as a quartet, we used a PA . She has a soft voice, mine is loud. My guitar is relatively loud, her dobro playing tends toward softness.
Trying to balance all these variables without sound reinforcment was near impossible. With two vocal mics, a soundhole mic and a mic for the dobro, we were able to get the balance that we needed.
We always tried to keep the volumne down to an acceptable level.
Later when we added fiddle and bass, the same rules applied. There is nothing inherently "wrong" with an acoustic-electric guitar or electric bass. With todays amps and effects it can be hard to tell the difference sound-wise.I'll get argument on this I know. Save your time. Everyones ear is different.
My point is that the end result is what is important. If a PA is used, it should be used tastefully.
If the problem is aesthetics, I can't help you . You have to decide.

troll


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Subject: RE: When does 'acoustic' become 'electric'?
From: Midchuck
Date: 11 Dec 00 - 10:00 AM

Three points:

1) You can't sing well if you're yelling all the songs.

2) People under 50 or so have been listening to loud amplified music their whole lives, and most of them haven't the slightest concept of shutting up and listening, and letting other people listen. They expect to talk - not whisper, talk loudly - while the music's going on, and to be able to hear it over their own conversation. God damn them all for selfish slobs, but that's the way it is.

3) A guitar "plugged in" never sounds as good as a guitar played into a decent quality mic. Many manufacturers of acoustic guitar pickups claim they can produce a true acoustic sound. They are liars. If the room is really noisy, though, it probably doesn't matter.

In terms of sound quality, an unamplified guitar is best, playing into a good PA through a good mic is second best, a pzieo pickup is next, and a magnetic pickup is worst. In terms of being heard in an large, noisy, acousticly bad room, the above order would be exactly reversed.

Peter.


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Subject: RE: When does 'acoustic' become 'electric'?
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 11 Dec 00 - 10:21 AM

Hi Steve.

I think the lines got blurred a few years ago. These days, the vast majority of Festivals, folk clubs (bars) and open stages that feature "Folk" or "acoustic" music, mean acoustic-electric singer songwriters. Simply the way it is.

I often have guests come on my radio show with amplifiers and various sound-processor pedals. They simply DON'T play acoustically, and seem to be lost if asked to. I just go with the flow even though it seems a bit silly to have amps in a tiny studio.

Even on workshop stages, most "folkies" plug in. The ones who don't are the Dinosaurs. It'll swing back. Always does.

Rick


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Subject: RE: When does 'acoustic' become 'electric'?
From: GUEST
Date: 11 Dec 00 - 10:43 AM

I am interested to know where Sarah gets this idea that the "electric bass as a cost-effective beginner's instrument" from.

What does cost effective mean ? Cheaper than an acoustic bass guitar ? Cheaper than a double bass ? Cheaper than a tea chest bass ?

Of course it depends on the quality of the instrument but I would not describe an resonable bass and amp setup as cheap.

What does a beginner's instrument mean ? Are Dave Pegg (Fairport), Ashley Huchings (Steeleye, Albion etc) et al beginners ?

To play the bass well requires restraint and musical sensitivity more than probably any other instrument.

Having said all of the above in defence of bass players I personally think that 9 times out of 10 just adding a bass player (guitar or double) to a traditional acoustic group doesn't work.

Ian


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Subject: RE: When does 'acoustic' become 'electric'?
From: GUEST,Sarah
Date: 11 Dec 00 - 10:58 AM

Ian,

I said I'd get in trouble for that...

To avoid too much drift here, a small clarification: I've known a lot of upright bass players who start by buying an electric bass because they 1) can get one of moderate quality for less than an upright, 2) can't find the notes without frets when they first start, and 3) plan to buy only one upright and want to wait until they know exactly what they want when they do.

Yes, there are plenty of good, excellent, experienced bass players who use electric.

Okay?

Sarah


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Subject: RE: When does 'acoustic' become 'electric'?
From: GUEST,Sarah
Date: 11 Dec 00 - 11:01 AM

Ian,

I said I'd get in trouble for that...

To avoid too much drift here, a small clarification: I've known a lot of upright bass players who started by buying an electric bass because they 1) could get an electric of decent quality for less cost than an upright, 2) couldn't find the notes without frets when they first started, and 3) planned to buy only one upright and wanted to wait until they knew exactly what they wanted when they did buy.

Yes, there are plenty of good, excellent, experienced bass players who use electric.

Okay? May I prefer uprights, anyway?

Sarah


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Subject: RE: When does 'acoustic' become 'electric'?
From: GUEST,Sarah
Date: 11 Dec 00 - 11:02 AM

SORRY, I hit the button before the edit...

Sarah


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Subject: RE: When does 'acoustic' become 'electric'?
From: Steve Latimer
Date: 11 Dec 00 - 11:04 AM

Midchuck makes a good point. I'm always amazed at the number of people who talk over performers. I saw Dylan this year and was surrounded by about a dozen people who knew each other, they didn't shut up the whole time. Our seats weren't the greatest, so the sound wasn't getting to us to begin with. Man it was annoying.

I think given the size of most clubs it is necessary to use P.A.s. It's amazing how a good sound person can capture the acoustic sound. A case in point would be when I saw Rick at Greenbank and at his CD release party. But then again, at these venues the sound didn't have to be cranked up because the whole audience was respectful and listened rather than talk through the performers.


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Subject: RE: When does 'acoustic' become 'electric'?
From: RichM
Date: 11 Dec 00 - 11:05 AM

This thread seems to be about 2 separate camps of musicians; Those who play for themselves and those who play gigs....

I do both. I prefer the sound of my guitar unamplified when I am at home or in an informal jam. But I use the Baggs pickup/microphone combo thru the PA system or a guitar amp in a gig.

This weekend our celtic band (10-12 instruments) played a very noisy pub. The PA system was necessary. Even then, the crowd sometimes overpowered the band. Playing for noisy conversationalists is not my favorite kind of gig!

All instruments in the band are "acoustic"---but most of us have pickups or built in mics. We have found they are the most reliable way to get a good sound without PA feedback. -And it's the easiest way to set the tone and levels to give a reasonably good balance between instruments.

Rich


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Subject: RE: When does 'acoustic' become 'electric'?
From: A Wandering Minstrel
Date: 11 Dec 00 - 11:40 AM

ans to original question.....

about 1/100th of a second before someone asks "where's that £!"%^$*&)*&^)ing feedback coming from!!

If people talk when I'm playing I stop and draw everyones attention to the reason. seems to work in most cases...


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Subject: RE: When does 'acoustic' become 'electric'?
From: Stewart
Date: 11 Dec 00 - 12:50 PM

As a classically-trained singer, I was taught how to project in an accoustic hall (no electronic amplification) and have confidence in my voice even though I might not have any feedback (monitors). I find singing in front of a microphone unnatural, although I am getting used to it. A good sound system with a well-trained sound person can do wonders and create an almost natural sound. But singing unaccompanied in a live acoustic hall is one of my most pleasurable experiences. Last summer at Fiddle Tunes I performed in their open mic (sans mic) in the old auditorium -- what an experience! There was no need of any amplification, as the acoustic hall supplied all the necessary amplification. That was real acoustic music! IMO, the less electronic intervention necessary, the better it is.

Cheers, S. in Seattle


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Subject: RE: When does 'acoustic' become 'electric'?
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 11 Dec 00 - 01:04 PM

Merle Travis once said (when commenting on the number of folk clubs and festivals who'd asked him to leave his electric guitar behind)

"Electric or acoustic, it's all the same to me. My electric guitar just has the microphone built into it. I don't know why people worry about such things".

He had a point. But how many folks could play as subtly or with as much skill as Merle?

Rick


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Subject: RE: When does 'acoustic' become 'electric'?
From: GUEST,Russ
Date: 11 Dec 00 - 01:28 PM

I agree with RichM. I would be astounded if I attended any sort of "performance" and there were absolutely no provisions for electrical amplification.

I remember a performance by Major Contay and the Canebrake Rattlers years ago. The person who booked them had forgotten to also arrange for sound. The venue itself had no sound equipment. They put on a great purely acoustic set. Probably one of the few groups who could have carried it off.


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Subject: RE: When does 'acoustic' become 'electric'?
From: Grab
Date: 11 Dec 00 - 02:44 PM

Ideal is a smallish room with good acoustic properties and everyone being quiet, then you don't need any amplification at all. Change any one of those three requirements, and you'll need amplification. If the guys at the back can't hear you, they'll get pissed off and either start talking or just bugger off to the bar - either way isn't achieving what you'd like.

Grab.


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Subject: RE: When does 'acoustic' become 'electric'?
From: GUEST,MTed
Date: 11 Dec 00 - 02:53 PM

I think Rick's point is a good one? What difference does it make? Why do people worry about such things? Truth be told, there are only a few, performance styles that work without amplfication, and contemporary audiences aren't much interested in them anyway--they might like to see someone holding an acoustic guitar, but they like it loud!


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Subject: RE: When does 'acoustic' become 'electric'?
From: Bernard
Date: 11 Dec 00 - 02:54 PM

I agree.

Acoustic is ideally exactly that. Once the audience or room is too big for comfort, electronic assistance is needed - both from the listeners' and the performers' points of view.

The point where it becomes 'electric' is where the 'sound' has priority over audibility - in other words, the P.A. isn't there to help people hear, or to avoid sore throats, but it is needed to obtain a specific effect.

That doesn't necessarily mean it has to be loud, though...


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Subject: RE: When does 'acoustic' become 'electric'?
From: MMario
Date: 11 Dec 00 - 03:06 PM

I remember several years ago attending a concert - the venue normally has microphones and amplifiers all over the place, and the sound is lousy. This particular night was a chanteyman - unamplified - and he filled the whole room. Not the slightest problem hearing him over several hundred attendees and in any portion of the room. it was heaven


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Subject: RE: When does 'acoustic' become 'electric'?
From: Bernard
Date: 11 Dec 00 - 03:10 PM

Exactly! It's very rare that I resort to amplification - and I'm a full time P.A. engineer!

I learned to sing properly (project, dahling!), so it's not an effort to make myself heard. I'm often told I'm too loud without P.A.!!


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Subject: RE: When does 'acoustic' become 'electric'?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 11 Dec 00 - 03:13 PM

"When my wife and I worked as a duo and later as a quartet" - cloning!

One thing that amplification does it make it possible to bring together impossible combinations of instruments - a brass-section together with a mountain-dulcimer, for example. Whether that is a good idea I'm not so sure.

In a big room or with a noisy crowd or on stage amplification is necessary of course - but when you get singers who get too used to murmuring into mikes to the extent that they can't cope with singing without one in a small room , you've really lost something. The heart of folk music is the unamplified music. And the heart of singing is the unaccompanied song. And when the heart is sound, you can add on all the other stuff.


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Subject: RE: When does 'acoustic' become 'electric'?
From: Llanfair
Date: 11 Dec 00 - 07:19 PM

Jim has been searching for a long time for a totally accoustic bass that can be heard. No success so far, and most are semi-accoustic with prices to match.
He will continue to use his "cheap alternative"(sorry, couldn't resist!) Rickenbacker, and is working on a battery- powered amp, so we can play anywhere.
Cheers, Bron.


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Subject: RE: When does 'acoustic' become 'electric'?
From: Bill D
Date: 11 Dec 00 - 07:42 PM

I'll tolerate using mics to make acoustic instruments heard in a large room or at a festival...and I'll tolerate 'some' pick-ups for special circumstances...(I've seen fiddlers that simply couldn't stand still when they played!)...but once you start plugging in instruments that were designed as acoustic, you are probably playing music that I don't like anyway, so I'll stay home.

(Fortunately, I know some nice musicians who play in living rooms, and go to several festivals where there's lots of jes' plain playin'....)


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Subject: RE: When does 'acoustic' become 'electric'?
From: Grab
Date: 12 Dec 00 - 09:14 AM

Some instruments can naturally fill a room without amplification - any instrument used in orchestral music (violin/fiddle, flute, voice, etc) will do that. But guitar and upright bass don't, so unless you've got perfect conditions then it'll be drowned out. Remember that in jazz and big-band in the 30s and 40s, where you really needed to fill a noisy dance-hall with purely acoustic music, guitar and bass were merely percussion. They just had to hit the strings in time, and whether the notes were right or not was incidental. Of course there were exceptions (Django for one), but not many. I'm sure this'll get me flamed ;-) but listen to those jazz standards and see if the bassist is actually doing anything more than random notes...

Llanfair, I've seen resonator basses advertised on the web, and was very tempted. Have you tried those? and if so, what do they sound like?

Grab.


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Subject: RE: When does 'acoustic' become 'electric'?
From: GUEST,MTed
Date: 12 Dec 00 - 11:08 AM

Most of us are familiar with tradtional and folk music primarily from recordings, which means of course, that it has been miked and is really amplified and electric--I've done a a little bit of recording, and it strikes me that generally, the "natural acoustic sound" requires much more processing and electronic manipulation to achieve than the electic sound--


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Subject: RE: When does 'acoustic' become 'electric'?
From: MichaelAnthony
Date: 12 Dec 00 - 11:58 AM

I think that the pickup makers that claim to get "acoustic" sound are like the restaurants that claim "fine dining".

Man, all those built-in-pickup guitars sound the same to me--the ol' direct sound...I'm amazed that a lot of the players don't seem to care...or notice.


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Subject: RE: When does 'acoustic' become 'electric'?
From: Hamish
Date: 12 Dec 00 - 12:30 PM

Are we talking about the difference between reinforcement and amplification?

hamish http://www.lombardy.clara.net


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Subject: RE: When does 'acoustic' become 'electric'?
From: GUEST,Art Thieme
Date: 12 Dec 00 - 04:33 PM

Acoustic becomes electric at just about the same exact point where it becomes obvious that the 'loser' is about to become the 'winner' of the U.S. presidential election. All those who value the right to vote in a Democracy must demand that their ballots (votes) be counted!

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: When does 'acoustic' become 'electric'?
From: bec
Date: 13 Dec 00 - 01:00 AM

Hmm...

I guess I'm lucky I've discovered the smaller Jazz clubs in Melbourne, where they have a hard and fast rule that is no talking during a performance. The ones in Sydney though don't seem to have that sort of rule and I can definately understand the noise for a decent PA system when a hundred or so people are yelling at the top of their lungs. Some people have no appreciation.


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Subject: RE: When does 'acoustic' become 'electric'?
From: blt
Date: 13 Dec 00 - 02:00 AM

I tossed around the idea of having a pick-up put into my 1974 Martin D-28 but in the end, I gave up. There just wasn't any way to make the Martin sound better (or even decent) through a pick-up. I've played through a mike for years or I've chosen to play in small enough cafes where a PA of any sort was meaningless. When I was doing a lot of open mikes, I was impressed by the fact that most every guitarist would plug in (which, in my misplaced desire to fit in, is why I thought I needed a pickup), and then the sound guy would go crazy trying to make the sound palatable. I think there can be a judgement made that playing without a pick-up is somehow less "professional," which is only useful if one is worried about that sort of thing. For me, that gets in the way of simply standing on stage and playing, singing. I love the sound of my guitar and want others to hear it as it is, not as a pick-up manufacturer would like it to sound. Maybe that's my definition of the difference between acoustic and electric.


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Subject: RE: When does 'acoustic' become 'electric'?
From: GUEST,Paddy R
Date: 13 Dec 00 - 02:16 AM

Great to read the many comments in this thread. It is a topic dear to my heart.

I recently sent a message to the organisers of the Woodford Folk Festival, here in sunny (except during the festival!)Queensland, suggesting that the performers' sound needs to be amplified to the extent that each person in a venue should feel that they are embraced by the sound and energy of the performance. No one should feel that they are listening in. Equally, it is quite inappropriate that the sound becomes a physical barrier with the force to actually repel the audience! Many years ago I was involved with a semi-acoustic band (one acoustic guitar and one electric). We did a gig at a Working Man's club somewhere in Oxfordshire. After a fairly rousing, and not very acoustic, opening song (Donovan's 'Season of the Witch' - if I rightly recall) one of the working men approached me with the request:

"Would you mind turnin' your amplificators down?"

That was my message to the organisers of the WFF. I'll find out whether they have taken any notice on 27/12/00, I guess.


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Subject: RE: When does 'acoustic' become 'electric'?
From: GUEST,Sarah
Date: 13 Dec 00 - 03:33 PM

Llanfair,

Yeah, the problem with those old Rickenbakers is you have to keep restringing your bow...

(ducking and scuttling away) Sarah


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Subject: RE: When does 'acoustic' become 'electric'?
From: M.Ted
Date: 13 Dec 00 - 03:37 PM

The big problem is that, no matter how small or inconpicuous it may seem, a PA takes on a life of it's own---and it there has to be someone listening from the audience perspective who has control of the sound levels--and it has to be someone with a good ear--

I was once in a band that played Scandinavian music, and we featured two fiddles who played in harmony--On one job, we played a stage outside with an independently booked "professional" sound set up, complete with a rock concert type sound technician--We carefully explained our set, did all the set up--about half way through the show, we discovered that the techie had decided that the harmony fiddle was the soloist and miked her up, and mixed the melody player into the background--


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Subject: RE: When does 'acoustic' become 'electric'?
From: mousethief
Date: 13 Dec 00 - 04:20 PM

For Bob Dylan, 1965.


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Subject: RE: When does 'acoustic' become 'electric'?
From: GUEST,Marcus Campus Bellorum
Date: 13 Dec 00 - 07:02 PM

All recordings are electric (in the last few decades or so, at least).

So, even acoustic music, when played on a CD or on vinyl or on tape is electric.

This makes your walkman, your boombox, your HiFi system, your "stereo", a PA system.

So, PA systems are not really the problem. And they do not make music "electric".

Again, its not PA systems, or drummers, or electric guitarists that kill music, PEOPLE DO.


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Subject: RE: When does 'acoustic' become 'electric'?
From: Llanfair
Date: 13 Dec 00 - 07:02 PM

Jim has tried all the alternatives, Grab, and doesn't seem to like any of them. He does limit the volume sensitively when we play, so I've no complaints.
Late in the evening, when he's had a few alcoholic beverages, he does turn it up to do "psychokiller", or "lil'red rooster"!!!!!!
Sarah, I had to confiscate his bow!!!!!!
Cheers, Bron.


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Subject: RE: When does 'acoustic' become 'electric'?
From: keberoxu
Date: 17 Jun 22 - 08:52 PM

This is just to observe that,
for lo! these many decades,
the music of the duo Seals & Crofts has given me listening pleasure.
Clearly the guitar picking of Jim Seals was acoustic.
What I did not realize was that
Dash Crofts, all this time,
had combined electric mandolin with acoustic mandolin.
Sly fox, Mr. Crofts . . .


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Subject: When does 'acoustic' become 'electric'?
From: gillymor
Date: 17 Jun 22 - 09:18 PM

I wasn't much of a fan (especially not of their anti-abortion politics) but they also had some great electric guitar work on their recordings thanks to studio legend Louie Shelton, who also produced some of their albums.


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Subject: RE: When does 'acoustic' become 'electric'?
From: MaJoC the Filk
Date: 18 Jun 22 - 06:23 AM

Hamish (12 Dec 00 - 12:30 PM) has it right. The best amplification I've heard was in our previous church; I couldn't tell it was there .... only when it wasn't. Admittedly we didn't usually have a rowdy crowd around the communion rail.


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Subject: RE: When does 'acoustic' become 'electric'?
From: PHJim
Date: 18 Jun 22 - 07:45 AM

Bluegrass venues used to be the last holdout for acoustic instruments being played into mics. You would never see a plugged in guitar at a bluegrass festival, then, sometime in the eighties, someone convinced Doc Watson to plug in. I had heard Doc a few times and was a real fan, but the first time I heard him plugged (Pinnacle Hill BG Festival in Renfrew, Ontario?) it sounded terrible. This is not just my opinion, it was the topic of conversation at the festival. He played the same, but his guitar sounded quacky and twangy, not the lovely sound we'd gotten used to.
Tony Rice in an interview: "Any interviewer who asks me what type of pickup I use, has never seen one of my shows."
Gillian Welsh, John Hammond Jr., Country Joe MacDonald, David Rawlings. . . all play through mics and forgo using pickups (or they did last time I saw them) and they sound wonderful.

I will admit that I have pickups in my guitars and do resort to using them when I am playing in a group with drums or when the rest of the group has pickups, but this is purely out of self defense and I really miss being able to "play the mic" (-move in close for solos and step back for rhythm, the way I do with my voice)
I've also noticed that the days of the 5 minute sound check seem to be gone, but the overall sound has not improved over the sixties when no one plugged in.


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Subject: RE: When does 'acoustic' become 'electric'?
From: gillymor
Date: 18 Jun 22 - 08:03 AM

I had a similar experience with Doc Watson, the first couple of times I heard him his sound was glorious, probably at the Cellar Door, later on at a larger venue, Constitution Hall, he'd plugged in and it just didn't sound right (but hell, it was still Doc Watson). I've heard the sound of those under saddle pickups described as "rubber bands stretched across a cigar box" and I have to agree but I was able to get a pretty decent sound from a K&K sound board pickup with a Baggs preamp, the kind you clip on your belt.


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Subject: RE: When does 'acoustic' become 'electric'?
From: Piers Plowman
Date: 18 Jun 22 - 10:54 AM

It's horses for courses. I think the consensus is that a microphone is the technology of choice for acoustic instruments. It makes sense. The sound inside a guitar is different from the sound out in front of it, so even miking a guitar with a mic inside it isn't going to give you the amplified acoustic sound. Even the sound in back of the guitar is different from the sound in front. A pickup just picks up vibrations from somewhere and transduces them into an electrical signal. It won't give you the sound from the air in front of the guitar. You can't use a chisel to drive in a nail. Some people will try to do this anyway, and if you lend someone a chisel, you can be sure that's what he's going to do, unless he uses it as a paint scraper.

I have an fully acoustic bass guitar which has a pickup. It's kind of nice to have the pickup because the instrument is fairly quiet, but only in combination with the acoustic sound. When I recorded directly with a cord from the pickup to the digital recorder, it didn't sound anything like the instrument itself.

On the other hand, I have a solid-body electric guitar which I bought mainly to experiment with effect pedals. Without the pickups, there's barely any sound. That's just how that instrument works.

I must say I find it more interesting to make different sounds acoustically. I think the best PA system for acoustic instruments is the one that makes everything loud enough, but where you forget that it's there.


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Subject: RE: When does 'acoustic' become 'electric'?
From: Sol
Date: 19 Jun 22 - 05:38 PM

A big grey area covers the transition between what's "acoustic" & what's "electric". If you discount the grey part, it's pretty obvious which is which. ;-)
Obviously, everybody has their own opinion on where the cross-over is.


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Subject: RE: When does 'acoustic' become 'electric'?
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 19 Jun 22 - 07:34 PM

Ancient post and thread but... I often have guests come on my radio show with amplifiers and various sound-processor pedals. They simply DON'T play acoustically, and seem to be lost if asked to. I just go with the flow even though it seems a bit silly to have amps in a tiny studio.

“(James O.) Weldon later liked to tell horrific stories of the power of those stations. He said that at about 9:00 p.m. on a summer evening, just before full dark, if you stood near the five towers of XERA in Ciudad Acuña you could see a bluish white light glimmering from the guywires leading to each tower. The eerie glow was a corona effect outlining the framework of the structures as the transmitters pulsed out that overpowering transmission.

"And," he said, "when we were going at full power, 750,000 watts, folks over in Del Rio would call us and complain that when they turned on their fluorescent lights, they couldn't turn them off."


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Subject: RE: When does 'acoustic' become 'electric'?
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 19 Jun 22 - 07:52 PM

What & When & Where… back or forth... is in the transducer. “Good” or “bad” is in the consumer.

A microphone or speaker (or whatevs) is electroacoustic. There are more types than one can afford. Selection and placement of both is both science and art.

With minor exception, a speaker driven from an electromechanical input is not recreating acoustic energy.

Pick-ups are electromechanical. Piezoelectrics will respond to acoustic energy only after it encounters the mounting surface and has been converted to mechanical energy. Magnetics will respond to any field present including noisy mains and guitar strings. There are engineering pros & cons to both types.

“Likes” are just that. An acoustic guitar on a shellac 78rpm record is still an acoustic guitar regardless of the sound quality.


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Subject: RE: When does 'acoustic' become 'electric'?
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 23 Jun 22 - 05:25 AM

All the technical talk is interesting, but to me, “acoustic” means no electricity in any shape or form, whatever you call your instruments.
If you add in microphones, pick-ups, etc, it then becomes “electric”.


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Subject: RE: When does 'acoustic' become 'electric'?
From: MaJoC the Filk
Date: 23 Jun 22 - 12:28 PM

> If you add in microphones, pick-ups, etc, it then becomes “electric”.

It's ultimately a matter of taste, and what one's brought up with. (Personally, I view with sadness the generation of street musicians who believe it necessary to use battery-powered amps, but I'm an olde pharte, so whaddo I know about busking in the 21st Century?)

There was a similar war of words, I understand, when microphones made their way into recording studios, then into live-playing contexts. Mikes made being a "crooner" possible; but the crooners were loathed, loudly and often, by the previous generation of singers, who'd had to make themselves heard without electric aid over a full band. Were I to discover that one of the pre-electric singers had invented the term "crooner" as an insult, it would not surprise me.

.... If the venue's got a lively acoustic, drop the mikes; if you're combating a sea of plush velvet curtains, by all means turn up the wick, but not too much. A good roadie is part of the band, but happens to be sitting at the mixing desk halfway down the audience.

Let there be flames.


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Subject: RE: When does 'acoustic' become 'electric'?
From: Piers Plowman
Date: 23 Jun 22 - 01:06 PM

"(Personally, I view with sadness the generation of street musicians who believe it necessary to use battery-powered amps"

I view them with annoyance whenever I go downtown. I'm not too keen on the accordeonists who have been there every day for the last 10 years or so playing the same songs, either.

"but the crooners were loathed, loudly and often, by the previous generation of singers"

I'm not sure this is historically accurate or it might at least not be the full story. Possibly the first crooner was Gene Austin, who had been a singer on stage without a microphone and wasn't loathed, but was one of the most popular singers of his era. He found many imitators, presumably also people who used to sing without microphones. I could imagine that many singers were very happy to have something that would make their jobs easier and also make more subtle interpretations possible.

"If the venue's got a lively acoustic, drop the mikes"

Please don't encourage mike dropping! Those things are expensive and fragile. (I do know what you meant.)

Without amplification, it's very difficult to achieve balance and I don't think, for example, a concert with a clavichord, i.e., an instrument whose sound has been described as hair pins dropping onto the floor, in even a moderately-sized venue could possibly work without amplification. Without amplification, when an dulcimer goes head to head with a banjo in a contest of volume, bet on the banjo. To say nothing of string basses.


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Subject: RE: When does 'acoustic' become 'electric'?
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 23 Jun 22 - 01:34 PM

Tattie Bogle: All the technical talk is interesting, but to me, “acoustic” means...

There's only one you and you're a "Who." The thread title says "When."

Engineering is independently reproduceable where "too loud" is a health & safety or zoning law. "Likes" are another subject altogether. The audience... and the next door neighbors... will each decide for themselves.


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Subject: RE: When does 'acoustic' become 'electric'?
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 23 Jun 22 - 08:12 PM

Phil: I’m talking about the literal meaning of the word acoustic; not about me or anyone else, who or when!
This definition agrees with what I understand it to mean:
“ Acoustic music is music that solely or primarily uses instruments that produce sound through acoustic means, as opposed to electric or electronic means”.
This is not to say that I disapprove of using microphones or PA systems to achieve what other posters have described as “balance” : that’s when it ceases to be acoustic music and becomes electric.


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Subject: RE: When does 'acoustic' become 'electric'?
From: Piers Plowman
Date: 23 Jun 22 - 09:46 PM

Life is full of compromises.


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Subject: RE: When does 'acoustic' become 'electric'?
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 24 Jun 22 - 04:24 AM

Tattie: All God's "whos" got definitions. I don't see where yours disagree with science about music production. The human voice produces acoustic energy. An electric guitar does not, needs a transducer, or three or four, before ears can even 'hear' the strings.

But, post-production, it doesn't matter if it's coming at them through a PA, radio or computer speaker, consumers will accept it as "acoustic music" if that's how it was made at the other end... no matter how far apart in time or space that may be.


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Subject: RE: When does 'acoustic' become 'electric'?
From: saulgoldie
Date: 24 Jun 22 - 07:42 AM

My sense of when it is acoustic and when it is electric has already been posted. I don't know what I would add.

But more importantly, to me anyway, is the fact that people are engaged enough to want to discuss it.

Saul


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Subject: RE: When does 'acoustic' become 'electric'?
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 24 Jun 22 - 07:53 AM

Does it matter? Electronics are available to convert an electric guitar signal to that of an acoustic guitar, circuits are out there on the internet.


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Subject: RE: When does 'acoustic' become 'electric'?
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 24 Jun 22 - 01:58 PM

Someone has had a pedant's bypass! Plainly does not understand my simple view.


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Subject: RE: When does 'acoustic' become 'electric'?
From: Piers Plowman
Date: 24 Jun 22 - 02:16 PM

If it's electric, it must have been an impedants bypass.


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Subject: RE: When does 'acoustic' become 'electric'?
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 24 Jun 22 - 03:27 PM

Pedantic point being... you are at the center of your universe but not the universe. Unless you are playing your acoustic guitar alone on a desert island... there will be more than one "view" for every note played.

For the OP's question, it's the perspective of the other person what wrote the advert or liner notes one must learn and accept if one wants to understand what's on offer inside. The last promoter's labels & definitions; and the one next week or year; and one's personal opinion of it all... fairly useless.

"Too loud" same-same. The fine line between MUSIC and NOISE!

'Member when it was a loudspeaker? I 'member. Should have never let 'em put those newfangled electric wind pumps in the church organ. The old pipes just don't speak the same in my view.


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Subject: RE: When does 'acoustic' become 'electric'?
From: Piers Plowman
Date: 24 Jun 22 - 03:39 PM

They never should have put those newfangled organs in the churches in the first place, viz., Thomas Hardy "Under the Greenwood Tree" and the Mellstock Quire.


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Subject: RE: When does 'acoustic' become 'electric'?
From: MaJoC the Filk
Date: 24 Jun 22 - 04:22 PM

In our old church in Highbury, the electric bellows was barely adequate for the fifty stopsworth of pipes at the best of times (the story behind *that* need not detain us here). Our young organist went through Vidor's Toccata like an express train; when it got to the flat-out ending, the poor organ deflated on the last chord. Full of sound and fury, and signifying EUuuuuu .....


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