Live Vocals question.. Singing thru guitar amp onstage?

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Live Vocals question.. Singing thru guitar amp onstage?

Post by cyrusjulian » Wed Mar 03, 2004 12:40 pm

Hello everybody!

Just wanted to ask everybody's opinions and/or advice on live vocals. Our band will be going on tour this summer and were considering using a guitar amplifier for vocals and just micing that thru the P.A. We would be doing that because

1) Our singer would be able to hear her vocals onstage as we've had plenty of experiences where we could barely hear her..

2) We would have more control over the effects that are place on her vocals..

Does anybody have any thoughts on this. I initially got this idea from seeing this really brilliant band by the name of The Clientele and his vocals were amazing live... He basically sung thru a guitar amp and they just mic'ed it..

I also remember somebody (i think it was djslayerrick) saying that they used a BBE Enhancer to help their heavily effected vocals cut thru when playing live.. If anybody has an opinion, they would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks!
Cyrus

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Re: Live Vocals question.. Singing thru guitar amp onstage?

Post by Brian Brock » Wed Mar 03, 2004 2:09 pm

At the Tape Op Conference in 2003 there was this great band that was just all out punkabilly and the singer sang through an olden style mic and a guitar amp, I think. Anyone remember that?

It seems like you might want to consider the tone you get, and unless you like the guitar amp sound, figure out what's going wrong with the monitoring.

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Re: Live Vocals question.. Singing thru guitar amp onstage?

Post by bedbug » Wed Mar 03, 2004 2:44 pm

I had to sing through an amp onstage once when the soundman no-showed. Feedback like a mofo.

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Re: Live Vocals question.. Singing thru guitar amp onstage?

Post by Scodiddly » Wed Mar 03, 2004 3:20 pm

Only if you specifically like the sound of vocals through a guitar amp.

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Re: Live Vocals question.. Singing thru guitar amp onstage?

Post by cyrusjulian » Wed Mar 03, 2004 3:47 pm

It's not that we necessarily like the sound of the guitar amp better, but rather that it would be a lot more consistant if you're playing from club to club not knowing how the sound is at these clubs.

Also, in response to Brian's post, there have been times where we just didn't have the luxury of having a decent soundcheck.. sooo we would much rather have a decent guitar amp vocal sound, than having some boxy, barely intelligible vocal from the P.A. from a soundguy who isn't familiar with our vocal sounds. (Yes, we could do research and contact all the diff soundguys at all the venues, but try doing that with 20 different places across the country) Oh well, please keep em posts coming..

Feedback is another concern to me. Does anybody have tips on how to reduce feedback in this scenario. Thanks again everybody!!

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Re: Live Vocals question.. Singing thru guitar amp onstage?

Post by gravy boat » Wed Mar 03, 2004 3:55 pm

Unless the sound of singing through a guitar amp is your "thing", i.e the sound you really want, don't do it. It will sound like ass out front where it really counts. Singers should either bring their own mic/effects rig or just deal with it like the rest of us do. You can't count on monitors. You can't count on soundpeople, you can't count on the acoustics of an unfamiliar room.

The long and short of it is you are trading one problem for an even greater one.
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Re: Live Vocals question.. Singing thru guitar amp onstage?

Post by aurelialuz » Wed Mar 03, 2004 3:58 pm

reducing feedback: put the amp in front of the vocal mic in questions so the mic isn't facing towards the speaker of the amp and is in fact (slightly) isolated from it. the problem here being that you're not going to help problem #1 at all.

but let me also say that while i understand your desire to trump bad soundmen with this approach, i can almost gurantee you're going to piss off alot more sound people than you're going to trump. going "over their heads" like this makes that odd soundman who's trying to actually do right by you a lot less likely to want to cause now they have to adjust everything else around the level of this vocal amp.

if you're running her through effects anyway, you're going to have to make the jump from XLR to 1/4", right? so why not just tack a DI onto the end and make it that much easier for the soundman to get her a good signal? soundmen LOVE DIs.

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Re: Live Vocals question.. Singing thru guitar amp onstage?

Post by AGCurry » Wed Mar 03, 2004 4:30 pm

When I was 14, we did this in my first band because we couldn't afford a PA.

I would advise against it unless you use some kind of full-range amp like a an acoustic guitar or electric piano amp - one with a tweeter and closed back. That will provide the consistent monitor you desire, and then you can take a DI out of that into the main system.

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Re: Live Vocals question.. Singing thru guitar amp onstage?

Post by cyrusjulian » Wed Mar 03, 2004 4:38 pm

AGCurry wrote:
I would advise against it unless you use some kind of full-range amp like a an acoustic guitar or electric piano amp - one with a tweeter and closed back. That will provide the consistent monitor you desire, and then you can take a DI out of that into the main system.
Thanks, I'll keep this in mind. I'll also definitely look into diff types of DI's. Any recommendations on what type of DI works well for this type of thing.

I'll also suggest the in-ear thing to her as well.

Thanks again!

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Re: Live Vocals question.. Singing thru guitar amp onstage?

Post by jajjguy » Wed Mar 03, 2004 4:55 pm

Use something like a JBL EON, which is a powered PA speaker with a mic input and an instrument input, and a line out. That way you get the benefit you're looking for, but with a system that's designed for vocals (and acoustic instruments), and you can give the sound person a line out instead of making them mic a speaker for vocals, which will seem wrong to them.

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Re: Live Vocals question.. Singing thru guitar amp onstage?

Post by djslayerissick » Wed Mar 03, 2004 4:56 pm

you want to illiminate the worries of the venue's onstage monitor and you want to run your own effects....

why bother with a guitar amp when you are really talking about a portable PA system?

if you get a eurorack mixer, all your processors, and a 150watt home stereo amp, and some stereo speakers - you'll be set.

there is no point in micing the speakers of a guitar amp or portable PA (unless again, you want that 'effect'). you want the most direct sound you can get. if everything stays at XLR, just give the soundman an XLR out. if you have to go 1/4" to plug in one of those processors, use a DI. you can get your own pretty cheap, but most venues have their own DI's.

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Re: Live Vocals question.. Singing thru guitar amp onstage?

Post by sunsetyellow » Thu Mar 04, 2004 8:18 am

I've seen The Clientele live a few times (as I live in London) so I know what you are getting at. Ultimately if you like the sound of your vocalist's vocals through the amp, do it. That's what The Clientele do it for. If you do, tell the soundperson that you are doing it for the effect otherwise they will get pissed off at you and might make the rest of your band sound shit.

If you don't like it then please please trust the soundperson. That's what they're there for. Feel free to tell them if you don't like what they're doing, but they're employed to make you sound good. If they don't then they aren't doing their job properly and (hopefully) will be fired soon so one of us guys who use our ears can take over from them. Actually being friendly and bribery work best to get the soundperson to pull their weight behind the desk. A nice little chat and a beer can do wonders...

By the way, I've been saying "soundperson" because in my experience the best sounds I've got onstage in numerous bands have been generally mixed by women. Has anyone else experienced this?
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Re: Live Vocals question.. Singing thru guitar amp onstage?

Post by joeysimms » Thu Mar 04, 2004 8:29 am

I agree that IF the singing thru an amp is what you want, do it..

But as far as the problems you're currently having, why can't you guys hear the singer on stage? Does she sing quietly and the band plays really loud?
If you're a loud rock band, she will need to project more. Or, the band will have to turn down.. How does it sound when you rehearse? What do you do during rehearsal that makes it so she and the band can hear her singing better than when on stage?

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Re: Live Vocals question.. Singing thru guitar amp onstage?

Post by Red Rockets Glare » Thu Mar 04, 2004 8:49 am

man, you're gonna piss some soundmen off if you have your singer going through an amp.
I've found it's best to keep them on your side. here's an idea that joey just touched upon; turn down the marshall stacks and put a choke collar on john bonham back there so your singer can hear her vocals more clearly. :D

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Re: Live Vocals question.. Singing thru guitar amp onstage?

Post by djslayerissick » Thu Mar 04, 2004 9:49 am

also - never under estimate the power of a compressor on soft vocals. you can add 20 dB or more of controlled gain - b/c if she gets loud, it just goes to normal gain.

i've got other stuff going on too, but thats the essential part of my live rig other than the mic itself.

i cant sing/perform the way i do w/o loads of compression b/c i get whisper soft and screamin demon loud.

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