Vocals through guitar amp

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LupineSound
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Vocals through guitar amp

Post by LupineSound » Wed Dec 31, 2014 7:21 am

Hey gang, I was wondering if any of you use guitar tube amps for vocals in a band practice setting.

I've always used a PA for vocalists because that's what everybody does, but being a tone geek about my guitar sound maybe me wonder why we settle for such vanilla sound for vocalists. When I play guitar through some solid state PA head, I'm pretty uninspired, but give me an old tube amp with some overdrive and I'm all fired up!

Seeing as I play in a psyche/sludge band, I thought the vocals could use a little more character, so when our 2nd guitarist had to bail on practice yesterday, the drummer and I decided to try using his MIG50 and Marshall 1960A for the vocals. With the modern marvel that is the Mixing Link, this could not have been easier! We got some awesome tones using a Fulltone FET driver and random smattering of oddball effects. It really made me wonder why more vocalists don't run their own half stack. I think when I last saw Tomahawk, Mike Patton was using a regular ol JCD800 and 1960A for his distorted vocals--and it sounded awesome. He also had a second mike that appeared to go through a laptop or something (lol).

The only drawback from our experiment last night was ungodly feedback. It was tough to position the mic and gain stage everything to control it. Next time I'll try a noise suppressor and see if that helps. The other shitty part was that we couldn't seem to avoid having some cymbals leak into the vocals which sounded really harsh with distortion.

Any of you ever mess around with this?

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Post by kslight » Wed Dec 31, 2014 8:23 am

Most people don't do this live because of feedback, stage volume, and intelligibility concerns. If you're trying to send a full frequency mic to a guitar amp with loads of gain you're inevitably going to end up sending more drums/guitars to your amp than vocals, and create that ugly sound you're talking about. And then in the parts where you're not singing too... Not to mention that guitar speakers are almost never full frequency, so can be difficult to achieve intelligibility on vocals. Then the sound guy has to mic that thing up...hurting it further...

If you're deadset on using a guitar amp, it might be somewhat helpful to invest in an ISO cab and a really tight low sensitivity mic.

However, the advantage of the Mixing Link is that you can mix wet/dry signals and send to the PA like that...I find that I can get better and more intelligible results with guitar pedals and avoid the amp entirely.

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Post by LupineSound » Wed Dec 31, 2014 12:00 pm

Very good points. Yea, I guess guitar amped vocals are probably best utilized in studio/recording fuckery and not live sound.

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Post by vvv » Wed Dec 31, 2014 12:14 pm

Jammed inna garage last week and used a 200 w. Peavey 15" bass combo for the sole vocal mic.

It worked; the graphic EQ helped.
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Post by floid » Wed Dec 31, 2014 3:35 pm

we used to use a Peavey bass amp for vox in my first couple bands - mainly due to it being the available option that could be heard before feeding back. We found that even if you could set up a git amp to not feedback, it would start doing so once everyone was playing.


there was a local noise band that used some type of toy voice changer, it had a little electret mic on a lead. they taped it on their cheek and then held the box with the speaker up to the 58 running to the p.a.

Mike Patton, check him out in that God Hates a Coward video if you haven't already.
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Post by Magnetic Services » Wed Dec 31, 2014 7:59 pm

The Shure Unidyne III (or probably the whole series of them) is good for this because they can be internally switched to high or low impedance, have an on/off switch (handy for live or practice), SM57-like pickup pattern, and sorta limited frequency.

Another suggestion, thopugh I haven't tried it, is the Green Bullet or one of those harmonica mics.

Or a trucker microphone like Isaac Brock of Modest Mouse uses.

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Post by ott0bot » Thu Jan 01, 2015 10:00 am

it can work, if you're carefull. Use a reamp for impedance after a DI. Try to high pass and low pass frequencies so you get mostly midrange or use a mic that generally has that effect naturally. And just be mindful of the amp and mics proximity.

But the live sound tech will still hate you. So if you want a similar effect, with more control, reamp to an effects pedal like a sansamp and whatever else you want for tone shaping, and sent that to FOH. they'll just dislike you instead or having pure hatred.

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Post by GooberNumber9 » Fri Jan 02, 2015 6:04 am

This isn't too different from using a guitar amp for a harmonica live, which can sound super awesome in the right hands. Popular amps for this are the small, low-powered ones like a Fender Champ or a Pignose. Feedback is also a big problem and your best bet is to get the amp far away from the mic and pointed elsewhere, then mic up the amp into the PA and put just enough in the monitors for the harpist (or vocalist) to hear it. Also best to use a purpose built mic like the Shure Green Bullet and to pretty much cup it and touch your lips with it, to help keep the cymbals and mess out of it.

If I put my sound guy hat on, I would definitely advise a band to always have a normal vocal mic into the PA in addition to a mic going through an amp and to only use the amp mic as a special effect. Even if you don't want people to understand your lyrics (which will be quite hard through a guitar amp), the audience will get tired of the amped vocals because they can really be fatiguing, especially since they will basically blend with the guitars and it will just sound like a huge mess of guitar sound (and distorted cymbals and bass and everything else).

And keep in mind a live sound adage: every mic on stage is a drum mic. :D

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Post by ashcat_lt » Fri Jan 02, 2015 5:17 pm

Yep. The soundguy in me just hates everything about this proposal. It sucks in your practice room and it will suck on stage. Even if you go to an iso cab or pedals, it's still gonna suck. It might almost work if the distortion is only coming out of the FOH, while any on-stage monitoring is clean, but it's going to be completely hit or miss depending on the room, the PA, etc, and even then it could change at a moment's notice if the number or position of people in the room changes, somebody opens or closes a door, or just about anything changes ever.

That said, Alan Sparhawk does it with Black Eyed Snakes (through a harmonic mic, in fact) all the damn time. I think the trick there is to just make the feedback work in the mix...

A "push-to-talk button" could help, though. Somebody mentioned an on/off switch on the mic, but that takes paying attention. CB mic is not a bad idea. I had an "effects mic" for a while that was run through a number of pedals and a momentary stomp switch. Put the switch in front of the mic stand, step on it when you want the mic to be heard. If it screams like crazy, hopefully it'll startle you and you'll step back, and your foot will come off the switch, and... We weren't trying to get anything intelligible out of it, though, in fact quite the opposite, but we ended up just never using it because it was pretty much uncontrollable at stage volume.

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Post by numberthirty » Thu Jan 08, 2015 11:07 pm

ott0bot wrote:it can work, if you're carefull. Use a reamp for impedance after a DI. Try to high pass and low pass frequencies so you get mostly midrange or use a mic that generally has that effect naturally. And just be mindful of the amp and mics proximity.

But the live sound tech will still hate you. So if you want a similar effect, with more control, reamp to an effects pedal like a sansamp and whatever else you want for tone shaping, and sent that to FOH. they'll just dislike you instead or having pure hatred.
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Post by vvv » Fri Jan 09, 2015 4:08 am

David Eugene Edwards in the awesome bands 16 Horsepower and now Wovenhand had what looks sometimes like an old Shure Elvis mic (55?) and others (old EV's?) that seemed to go into an amp that he used about every other song to cool effect.

No idear how they did it, but the 16HP DVD is worthy and there's tons of youchoob vids illustrating the sound. (See here, for example, where he starts on the distorted mic, cool switch at 4:10 ...)

I think Matt Johnson in The The did it, also.
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Post by jgimbel » Thu Jan 15, 2015 8:54 pm

vvv wrote:David Eugene Edwards in the awesome bands 16 Horsepower and now Wovenhand had what looks sometimes like an old Shure Elvis mic (55?) and others (old EV's?) that seemed to go into an amp that he used about every other song to cool effect.

No idear how they did it, but the 16HP DVD is worthy and there's tons of youchoob vids illustrating the sound. (See here, for example, where he starts on the distorted mic, cool switch at 4:10 ...)

I think Matt Johnson in The The did it, also.
Really cool video. Anyone have an idea what kind of mic it is? I don't think it's a Astatic 77, it kind of looks wider and flatter to me. It's definitely having more of an effect mic that makes things sound bandpassed more than distortion, which seems would be a lot less of a hassle for FOH to handle, though I probably still wouldn't feel like being ballsy enough to mess up their flow. Anyway, the mic? Anyone know?
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Post by vvv » Fri Jan 16, 2015 12:19 pm

There is another way to do it.

Weiland in Velvet Revolver would use a megaphone into the mic; I suspect that the megaphone might have been altered to distort a touch .l..
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Post by Nick Sevilla » Sat Jan 17, 2015 11:14 pm

Howling at the neighbors. Hoping they have more mic cables.

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Post by elbows » Mon Jan 19, 2015 9:57 am

A friend of mine in Sperm Donor (http://spermdonor.bandcamp.com/) sings through a Fender Blues Jr. live, and has the sound guy mic that up. Exquisite results. I'm sure any low wattage tube amp will do the trick.

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