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We have a member that occasionally plays an electric guitar with our praise team (once or twice a month). We also use piano, keyboard, electric drums, & organ.
I have never been very pleased with the sound of the guitar, but I know next to nothing about guitars (especially electric ones). We occasionally have someone perform with an accoustic guitar and they almost always sound good, wether we just mic the guitar or if it has a built-in pickup.
So, I am not sure if I am not happy with how the player is playing the guitar, or if it is not an appropriate solo guitar, or if it is the way we route it into the sound system.
The amp also seems to have a lot of buzz, no matter if grounds are lifted or not... it seems to be inherent in the amp.
I don't remember the type of guitar & amp... I thnk the amp is a Crate. I will try to get more info if it would help.
We have tried:
1.) Just a straight Direct Box (no amp)
2.) Direct Box between the guitar & amp
3.) Amp mic'ed backstage with a long guitar cable.
So, what suggestions would you have on how to approach this?
I'd say an electric guitar is a system and to get it to sound right you normally need to mic an amp. Some amps sound great, some not so great. Some that don't sound so great just sound bad from the beginning, some need service to replace noisy components. The cable from the guitar to the amp can also be bad.
Is the amp always noisy? If you connect the guitar directly to the amp with a shorter cable is it bad?
When you mic the amp it is important that you position the mic correctly. Have someone move it around in front of the speaker while the play is playing. You will find that it will sound different depending on where the mic is. Also, the mic you select will make a difference in the sound. I'd start with a simple SM57 and see what you get.
The other thing that can add noise into the system is pedals and the connections between them. Having them plugged into the same outlet as the amp could help.
Depending on how complex the setup you can have a lot of connections from the guitar to the amp.
Electric guitars can be a bit of a tricky thing. There are many factors in getting the sound clear. I think your 3rd scenario is the best, but needs some help. If you are running your guitar's output to the amp with a long instrument cable you will likely get a lot of noise. Radial makes a device that is for this very purpose. It is the SGI interface. Basically it is an active DI at the front and a passive DI at the end with an additional feature specific to guitar on it. We use these a lot.
One of the things that is helpful is to have the guitar player go to the amp with his guitar and get it set up the way he wants it. If he has a pedal board, then have him take that too. Then once he is on the stage it should be plug and play with a minor tweak here or there.
How are you micing the amp? What mic are you using and where are you positioning it relative to the center of the dust cap on the speaker in the amp?
Peace (Phil 4:7)
The noise is present no matter the length of the cable & with or without a DI in the path.
Seems to be inherent in the amp.
There are no pedals.
Mic we were using was just a spare old Electro Voice we had laying around stuck in front of the cab. Not ideal, I know, but I have never been impressed with the sound from the cabinet in the first place... not sure if it is just me or what...
Like I said, I know nothing about guitars. I don't think the player is really that experienced either. They just have a guitar that they can play....
For our purposes, I am first going to try micing the cab on stage. We are more traditional than contemporary... That way, monitors might be a little more forgiving....
Thanks for the feedback... I will try to get a recording sometime.
Keep the suggestions coming.
I don't know much about guitars, but our guitarist had a broken amp, we knew this for sure when we plugged in my mp3 player to it...you could also just try plugging in a keyboard....if the amp still sounds like crap, well, its the amp, if the amp sounds perfectly fine, then look up the chain towards the guitar....you can also try plugging in the guitar to another amp or even direct into the system....of course only do these things for testing purposes unless both you and the guitarist agrees something like going straight to the pa is smarter...
Josh Schultz, Technical and Media Director
The Bridge Community Church of the Nazarene
All our guitars (bass, lead electric and acoustic) go straight into the mixer desk using DI boxes - no amps on the stage. You need good quality DI boxes (and I always prefer passive units to active). The EQ, compresssor and gate settings are a nightmare to configure. Fortunately, we have two professional musicians and a digital desk so we have spent a long while with the musicians getting things just right and saving the channel strips so we can start from a reasonable set of settings to start with during the practice.
One of the bass guitars came from a well known, four letter, multicoloured auction site and it makes so much buzzing, crackling and hissing noises that we think we know why the original owner put it up for sale! Our bass guitarist sent it to a local music shop recently and got a new set of electronics installed and now it works just fine.
I tend to find that buzzes and crackles in guitars are down to poor quality, unshielded or unbalanced cables (unless the guitar electronics are bust as in the above story). I have a number of spare cables already made up that I know are 'good' and when swapped for something the musicians bring in almost always usually solve the problem.
We are now going to mandate that all of the cables on the platform are from our stock. At the moment, we supply the DI box and the cable to the floor socket and the musician supplies their guitar and cable to the DI box. Because of the problems, we will now supply the cable from the DI box to the guitar - or to the pedal effects. Our lead guitarist is one of the professionals - and he knows that good quality cables are a must - so we never have any problem with his equipment. It tends to be the 'less professionals' who think one cable is just as good as another.
I always prefer to mic the amp cab. I've used everything from an SM57 to a Sennheiser E906. Depends on what sound you're looking for.
Of course it also helps to have a digital desk or a lot of outboard gear. A couple of our guys have noisy amps, so I gate them. Works quite well. Roll off everything below 120hz. or so and tweak a little around 4k to taste.
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