What do you consider an "acoustic" gig?

Olderschool

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What about using amps or mics for an acoustic gig?

Why do I ask? Have an outdoor gig coming up. This is an outdoor gig next to a highway. I've NEVER played an outdoor gig without some amplification. Hell.....even in jail last night I played in a small room and the ceiling was chain links in the outside and even then the guitars were hard to hear without amps.
Anyway, the leader wants to go "acoustic". He says singers will have no mics, no amps for my Taylor acoustic guitar, Sax player, flute player, violin player and maybe a snare with a brush. I don't think it will work. I think we need some amplification or the sax will blow my guitar and the violin away. The leader is real easy and will listen to me if I say we need amps. Anyway....opinions?
 

JDA

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"even Pete Seeger used a PA".
Only one that shrugged off amplification was Enrico Caruso.
 

tommykat1

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I think you'll be fine. I do a lot of gigs like this in the summer, outdoors. No electricity. Every musician has to play to the quietest instruments, which are the vocals and piano. That is what acoustic music really is, IMHO. It's a challenge, but also a ton of fun.

I use brushes 99.9% of the time, with the occasional cross-stick or cluster stick on the hats. I actually have three different thicknesses of brushes, one with extremely thin wires, one with thicker wires, and one with steel balls welded to the ends of the wires.

Obviously you'll need coated heads, though I keep one snare on standby with no coating--just in case things get REALLY quiet. I use sizzle chains on an 18" Paiste flat ride and 14" thin crash. My hats are 11" Zildjian paper thins from the 1930s. I play either a cocktail kit or my suitcase kit.

With a standard drum set, you might want to muffle the bass drum with a pillow laying against the front head.

What not to do: I'm not a fan of trying to pound drums with sticks on heads covered with towels. The sound you achieve will be exactly what you expect: drums being pounded that sound like muffled drums being pounded. Brushes sound like brushes. the sweep with one hand is like a ride cymbal being hit quietly with sustain, and the backbeat with your other hand is suitably muted. Everything is played underneath the melody makers.

I assume an acoustic piano will be set up, and also a stand-up bass? A good horn player will be able to mute his horn. One guy I play with has a clarinet and two saxes on a stand that he rotates. Another uses an Ernie Ball acoustic bass guitar--it's 8" thick and carries nicely.

Sometimes we can't wheel a piano outside so we have a little mini amp that we use for an electric piano, but it is monitored for volume.

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Pibroch

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Without mics and amps, if there are no surfaces such as walls to trap the sound and / or the audience is not very small and right next to the band, it won’t work plus the sax will drown out the rest.

It’s all dependent on the location which we have very little detail about - how loud is the highway noise?

The other thing is why were you hired? Just as background music while people chat or for a concert?
 
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Olderschool

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I'm not sure how we got the gig? I hate to even call it a gig but maybe a once a year freebie where we go to a local restaurant and play a bunch of Christmas music for the locals down here in the Keys. Works out real nice and we give back to the community.
FYI...we played this same place two years ago with full mics, amps and soundman. Maybe people complained that we were too loud so this is why the leader is talking about acoustic this time?
As far as highway noise...I think it's significant. It's US1 that runs up and down the Keys. Our only road and people run about 50-55 mph. LOADS of traffic as we are in a tourist area.
 

dcrigger

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no amps for my Taylor acoustic guitar, Sax player, flute player, violin player and maybe a snare with a brush

Even when my ex (a flute player) does a flute and guitar duo - the guitarists always bring a small amp. If not, then the flute will simply be too loud. So with the ensemble you describe - the flute and violin will pair nicely. The sax will have to play soft, but can still probably make that been work. Without an amp, the guitar will be too soft. Same with the singer (probably even moreso).

The just the smallest help for the guitar and voice will greatly balance everything up. Without that help - the flute, violin and sax are going to really struggle to pay soft enough. The guitar player will need to play full out - the whole time - and then still be under-present. And the vocalist will totally blow out their jobs trying to sing acoustically above it all. Heck even a small amp shared by the quitar and voice should solve the problem.

At lease, that's my opinion.
 

DanRH

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It’s funny, whenever we do an “acoustic gig”, there’s always amps, keyboards... hell, I’m the only one that’s always “acoustic”. Personally, I take a bop kit and I’m good.
 

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In the summer, I play with a brass band, doing show tunes along with the standard brass ensemble. A snare, 18” bass, 18” crash-ride, and hats are fine. Volume is never an issue, even outside. The horns never drown out my drums. You could even ditch the hats without missing much. About 2-3 quick trips on stage and I’m ready.
 

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Pibroch

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In the summer, I play with a brass band, doing show tunes along with the standard brass ensemble. A snare, 18” bass, 18” crash-ride, and hats are fine. Volume is never an issue, even outside. The horns never drown out my drums. You could even ditch the hats without missing much. About 2-3 quick trips on stage and I’m ready.
How do 4-leg thrones work on uneven surfaces outdoors?
 

blueshadow

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Better to have and not need than to need and not have....I would say some sort of small pa and you can run vocals and guitar through it turn it down as low as needed or up as needed. One of my bands rehearses almost all acoustic. Upright bass, fiddle, acoustic guitar, snare with brushes and a tele through a very small amp. we circle up and it works ok...I can barely hear the vocals just in that setting so I would suspect you'll need mics for vocals
 

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I bring a Roland HPD-15 (handsonic). I mount it on a stand. I have the expression pedal for hats, the KD-8 kick trigger pad with a DW pedal for my bass, and a neat amp on wheels. The entire system packs in a Macintosh Classic backpack that sits on the amp for hauling in and out. One trip.
It allows me to play standard kit or a wide variety of percussion or even melodic accompaniment. Most importantly ... I can adjust the volume.
 

Polska

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I consider my band acoustic, (acoustic drums and hand percussion, mandolin and acoustic guitar) but we run all the vocals, the mandolin and guitar through a Bose PA. We also mic the bass drum and usually use an overhead. Just gives us better control over the sound, but I've never played a gig where the vocals at least didn't go through a PA. My thoughts are that a PA gives a band better control over better sound. Just because equipment is coming in doesn't have to mean "loud".

I think you'll likely get comments that no one could hear the vocals. Then again, if the point is that you are simply background music then it really doesn't matter I guess.
 

BennyK

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Piano lounge , restaurants , sidewalk busking , stuff like that where amplification is incidental, if any .
 

JDA

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I consider an acoustic gig when the Leader is a saxophonist.
I don't care how much amplification is around..
I know he and I are playing an acoustic instrument/ ha
 


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