Mandolin and Mandola Live

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Mike Stranks
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Mandolin and Mandola Live

Postby Mike Stranks » Sat Mar 14, 2009 11:18 am

My apologies that I'm off topic here (i.e. not about guitar matters) but I'm sure someone who inhabits this part of the forum will have some useful advice.

The band I work with most often has recently recruited a mandola/mandoline player. Both instruments have 'stick-on' pickups; I haven't yet investigated them in any depth. My approach thus far has been to DI him into the desk - as you would with anything else with a pickup - and to give him a dedicated floor-monitor so he can hear himself. However - particularly with the mandola - it can take a lot of work on the EQ to get a sound that's distinctive enough from the one or two acoustic guitars that are usually also playing, but at the same time doesn't completely mangle the tone of the instrument.

The other problem is that to hear himself - he often finds himself next to the sax player who is "enthusiastic!" - the floor-monitor has to be at levels which everyone - including me - is unhappy with. The vocalists then complain that all they can hear is mandolin!

So those are the problems. My thoughts:

1) Can you get pods/preamps something like the Line6 range for guitars, but specifically designed for the mandolin family, which will enable the sound to be modelled somewhat more creatively than simply twiddling the desk EQ?

2) Are we being failed by the pickups? Does anyone have recommendations? I've web-browsed some of the Fishman mandolin pickups that look good, but somewhat expensive. Some of the others I've seen in the £15-£30 range seem to me to be too low-budget. Anything that anyone can recommend (NB for mandolin) in the £50-£70 range? (The guy's a charity worker with a young family so I don't want to make suggestions that he won't have a hope of being able to afford.)

3) I'm going to try him on wired in-ears at the next concert. That's something I'm OK with, but I thought I'd mention that this bit is in-hand and covered-off!

Pointers to any mandolin-specific forums elsewhere would also be helpful.

Thanks in anticipation. Mike
The older I get, the better I used to be

Trevor Raggatt
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Ashworth transducers

Postby Trevor Raggatt » Mon Mar 16, 2009 1:37 pm

http://www.highlystrung.co.uk/acatalog/ ... ucers.html

I've had very good results with an Ashworth pickup on a Fylde Bouzouki which is in the same sort of range as a mandola. Also, using an Award GG10/AP10 sa a preamp/toneshaper wouldn't go amiss either - particularly the ability to filter out the piezoness at the top end at the flick of a switch.

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Mike Stranks
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Joined: Sat Nov 03, 2007 8:47 pm
Location: Cirencester, UK

Postby Mike Stranks » Mon Mar 16, 2009 7:13 pm

Many thanks Trevor; that's just the kind of advice I needed!

I'll investigate and we'll see how we go.

Tried the mandolin man with some in-ears and a small mixer yesterday. Gave him a direct feed on one channel and a general foldback feed of keys and lead vocal on the other. He could then blend the two to his preference. He was very happy and so was the rest of the band. Only problem is, looks like the fiddle player wants something similar now! :)
The older I get, the better I used to be

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TimH
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Postby TimH » Thu Mar 19, 2009 1:32 pm

Hi Mike,
The in-ear monitors sound interesting. Any chance you could let me know what model you used and how much they cost?
Thanks,
Tim.

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Mike Stranks
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Location: Cirencester, UK

Postby Mike Stranks » Thu Mar 19, 2009 5:29 pm

Hi Tim

I didn't do anything complicated or expensive. The mixer was a little Behringer 502 - perfectly adequate for this job - with nothing connected to the outputs - simply driving the in-ears.

The actual earpieces were a pair of Sony in-ear headphones from Argos! As I recall, they were about £30. I prefer these rather than true in-ear monitors when working with people who are not used to in-ears, as the ordinary audio earphones do allow some "outside" sound in too. With 'proper' in-ears there is usally a complete seal of the earpiece to the ear-canal - and you even get different size earpieces to ensure that good seal. This can be disconcerting and disorientating to some musicians who are then only hearing what's coming through the earpieces. That's why sometimes engineers will rig ambience mics solely for use in the monitors so that musicians don't feel so isolated.

Incidentally, one of my engineer-friends who works a lot with musicians of international reputation uses the same basic set-up, but uses Thomann in-ear monitors which were about £10 the last time I looked!

Hope that helps. Mike
The older I get, the better I used to be


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