Amplification for Melodicas

Viewing 15 posts - 16 through 30 (of 34 total)
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  • #3007
    AvatarLowboy
    Participant

    By the way, I see I missed an important typo in one of my previous posts. I quoted: “The only thing I would run through a Roland Keyboard is a chainsaw.”

    The real quote is: “The only thing I would run through a Roland keyboard amp is a chainsaw.”

    Roland makes very good keyboards and I actually owned a Roland U-20, D-70, and their P-55 piano module. Still wish I did not sell the D-70.

    I did not want people to think I was ragging on Roland keyboards. Likewise, just having a bit of fun at their expense with the amp quote.

    Lowboy

    #3012
    AvatarAlan Brinton
    Participant

    Thanks to both of you guys for your generous advice and for your willingness to share your expertise and experience here in the real world (melodicaworld).

    #3221
    AvatarMelodica-Me
    Participant

    So as I forge through yet another amplifier for my Melodica, I came across a ampeg SS-70C solid state amplifier with hopes of being able to use between my Hammond 44 and Hammond Hyper as well as my vibrandoneon with the Meyers pick up.
    (See pictured below)

    http://i355.photobucket.com/albums/r445/BigPwr/16a8609a05fcb86c0a5954d5ca9f7d0f.jpg

    Unfortunately I am finding that I can’t get the warmth from solid state amplifiers, I used a stomp box pedal that creates a tube amp simulation and only found that unless you have the bottom end you basically are fighting the carrateristcics of the solid state amplifier, you basically loose the mid range or it becomes harsh and not defined. This last Tuesday I went to the local jam session at a neighborhood eatery “Perry’s Joint” and took my Fender Acoustasonic Jr. and only took my Hammond 44 and Hyper.

    http://i355.photobucket.com/albums/r445/BigPwr/Tuesday%20Jams/fd664673a47938da0db44793ba02d840.jpg

    While the Hammond 44 performed great the hyper did not do as well. It is my belief that a tube amplifier is the way to go for melodicas. My Magnatone 421 is not realiable enough for the occasional jam let alone a gig. So i need to decide if I want compact and take a couple of amps or struggle with the weight of a larger keyboard amplifier that will do the job better. The small PA system is in the same gatagory as the keyboard amp so that won’t help. This amplifier must be reliable and be under $1,500.00 USD and I would like it to be at the very most 35-40 lbs, reverb is not a big issue since I have a pedal for that, a nice vibrato would be great. So please keep your eye open next time you go to a garage sale or your local music store. Or if you are a guitar player and have a recommendation, I am all ears.
    Thank you
    Melodica-Me
    Monsters Of Melodica

    #3223
    AvatarLowboy
    Participant

    Hi Melodica-Me,

    When I think of a tube amp, I mostly think of overdriving the preamp amp stage and maybe even the power amp stage to really get some grit or breakup or significant distortion; but you don’t have to over drive a tube amp that much. You can just overdrive it a bit to get a warmer tone.

    Many many harp players (using a mic) use 5- to 15-watt tube amps and turn everything up to get significant warmth and distortion. There are several companies that make small tube amps just for harp (Harp Gear and Mission Harp Amps are two of the companies).

    Of course, as you know, Fender makes many tube amps that potentially could work very well.

    I will no doubt try a tube amp one of these days. I have played through two vintage Fender Champs (one of the holy Grails for harp players) for a few minutes but not long enough for a good evaluation. But I can tell you they did not jump out and scream “buy me.” But I would needs several hours to complete a really good evaluation. I had 5 minutes.

    I am getting great results using alto melodicas and running them through an SM57 mic, the harp delay and harp distortion pedals that I have, and a solid state, but very-high-fidelity, JBL, bi-amped, 2-way, 10-inch powered monitor. While the monitor is super clean with a flat frequency response, the harp delay pedal is essential at rounding off the high end, adding low end, and thicking the sound with delay. The difference is like night and day. The delay pedal does not even have a tone knob. These EQ characteristics are built right in to the pedal. This is the EQ curve that harp player like.

    Then I run into the “Harp Break” pedal, which has a triode-tube like component I believe. This pedal enables me to add realistic tube overdrive, and has a tone control for adding gobs of bass. When I have these pedals setup to get great tone with my melodicas, my voice nearly unintelligible through the mic because it is so bassy.

    For about $170, you can try the harp delay pedal, and always send it back if it does not do the trick. That is a lot cheaper that getting a tube amp. I doubt you will send this pedal back. It is awesome.

    If you want more bass and you want to add distortion, then add the Harp Break pedal.

    So far, here is the trick from my experience to get a good tone and get sufficient volume from a near-field monitor with minimal feedback… minimize effect pedal use and do not use really hot mics. I went back to the tired and true SM57 and stopped using the compressor pedal. I now only use two pedals (delay and tube distortion). I ensure my gain structure is good. I don’t get the wicked distorted sound that is in a couple of my demo recordings, but I can get just the right amount of breakup when I want using the right meoldicas and good mic technique. When I don’t want distortion or a sound with more presence, I turn off the Harp Break pedal, and can get a bright (but still rounded) sound for cutting through the mix or playing passages in the upper registers.

    Less is more. I keep learning this lesson over and over in my exploration of how to amplify the melodica.

    Regards,

    Lowboy

    #3224
    AvatarBinyomin
    Participant

    Not directly related to tube amps, but I’ve had very good results running my vibrandoneon –using the internal Sennheiser mic system Victoria installed for me — through an Acoustic Image Corus +. Super transparent sound.

    With regard to getting distorted sounds, I’ve been playing around a bit with Crumar/GSI’s Burn pedal. It’s a great Leslie sim with built in tube distortion and other effects. The problem I run into is that the acoustic sound of the instrument is right in front of me, making it hard to hear the effect live, unless I really crank the volume, which I don’t like doing. At any rate, I’ve gotten some nice crunch and color from that pedal.

    #3227
    AvatarMelodica-Me
    Participant

    Lowboy, Binyomin, thanks for the feedback. I have several pedals that I use to control reverb, delay, EQ along with the Leslie simulator, and B9 organ pedal and all work great, but I can’t get the tone I want out of (1) amp for (3) different melodicas. So I am limited in what I can take to perform with. Seams like a simple thing to fix but no luck so far. I use the built in pick ups and not a separate mic, Binyomin, what model Senhieser mic are you using. Unless I am at a show with a large sound system and a good engineer mixing and getting a good sound check to premix and and bus to separate faders I usually have to rely on my own mixing skill on stage and in a small room scenario I uslually only have room for one amp, and heck I don’t want to lug more than (1) small amp. I am able to get the tone I want from (3) separate amps I just want (1) and one that is not big. A 15-20 watt amp would be more than perfect. As for Solid State amps I just can’t get a clean round warm full sound for hammond 44, the hyper sounds good in the hire registers but not in the lower ones, the Vibrandoneon sounds good in the mid and lower registers but become week on the higher registers a lot to try to fix on the fly.
    Melodica-Me
    Monsters of Melodica

    #3228
    AvatarLowboy
    Participant

    Hi Melodica-Me,

    If you are playing without effects, and if you are trying to use a amp as “part of your instrument,” contributing to the sound in a significant way (very much like guitarists and harp players do), then I could see why you may be having trouble finding an amp that compliments your various melodicas.

    I gave up on keyboard amps (for my organ and other keyboards) about a decade ago. I found, like you have, that they had too much character of their own, and from my perspective, were kind of cheaply built. The sound from these amps at volume was horribly bright and brash and often distorted. So I started using separate components (power amps, crossovers, and high-quality non-pwered speakers) or high quality monitors in place of the keyboard amps. I shape my sound before it gets to the ultra-clean, ultra-flat amplification system. Warm sound in equals accurate, warm sound out. I have some 10-year-old JBL, bi-amped, two-way, 10-inch monitors that sound about a smooth as stereo speakers, and these are my “go to” personal monitors (and speakers in small venues). These are the best sounding monitors I have heard to date. I just ensure the sound going into them is good, primarily by setting up the sound using noise-cancelling headphones first.

    If you are using your pedals to shape you sound, then again, a high fidelity amplification system should reproduce the sound you feed it. If it sounds good with headphones, then the amp should reproduce the sound. Like Binyomin, I often have difficulty ensuring my sound is right because the acoustic sound off of the melodica is loud and disguises the sound coming from my monitor. I tried some in-ear monitors, but I returned the ones I purchased because they sounded to tinny and were hard to use. I am still exploring that avenue (headphone monitoring) with noise cancelling headphones.

    The only thing I can recommend that may be a good option is the modelling guitar amps. I think Line 6 makes one. Several companies make them. These are typically solid state amps that have the capability of modeling all the classic amps ever created. I am not biting, but that could be an options to try out. I am awfully tempted to try the Bose L1 system. You can purchase it with a T1 Tone match processor that offer 100 EQ settings to enhance known microphones and room setups.

    I struggle with your problem too.

    Regards,

    Lowboy

    #3229
    Avataragold
    Participant

    Hi everyone. My first post here. A myers pickup will be arriving fairly soon for a Suzuki Pro37 V2. I have wanted portable amplification for a while, so microphones don’t really work for me. I hope it works well and I’ll let everyone know what happens

    #3230
    AvatarMelodica-Me
    Participant

    Hello Abe, you will like the Meyers pick up, note: it sounds best if you can place it near the sound vents or maybe it will work at the end of your Pro37 as it has a sound hole at the end, placing the pick up at the keyboard location will not do much for it. Also I do hope you purchased the one with the goose neck mic as the one with out it will not work for you and is made for more percussion instruments. Try different amplifiers before you choose one as they all vary. take some pictures and let us all know how it worked for you. I use one with my Vibrandoneon and it works great for me.
    Melodica-Me
    Monsters of Melodica

    #3231
    Avataragold
    Participant

    Thanks Melodica-Me. Yes, I am ordering the gooseneck one, and I also will get the one without the gooseneck for my cajon :). I do a lot of the performing in the melodica on the street busking in NYC, which is why I am using such a small pickup. Below is the amp I usually use for backing tracks and what I will probably have to use outside. That and a pedal board. I might start doing some looping stuff with the amplified melodica (with an rc-50), and maybe try to do a live performance of this: (any other reich fans?). I hope it will be able to pickup the nice Jazz sounds like note bending. My amp

    #3236
    AvatarBinyomin
    Participant

    Melodica-Me, I’m not sure what the model Sennheiser mic is. I had Victoria install them when I shipped the instrument back to them a year and a half ago or so. It’s been a while since I looked inside, but there are three or possibly four Sennheiser mics attached to a circuit board made by Musitech, an Italian company.

    #3237
    AvatarMelodica-Me
    Participant

    Binyomin, is it possible to take a picture and post. I use a Myers pick up and like the simplicity plus it has a volume control. Does the system that Victoria installed require that You drill any holes in the Vibrandoneon?

    Melodica-Me

    #3239
    AvatarBinyomin
    Participant

    The system is installed in the cover of the vibrandoneon, and holes were drilled for the 1/4 jack at the bottom and the volume control at the top.

    How do I post pics to this forum? I’d be happy to share some.

    #3242
    AvatarMelodica-Me
    Participant

    Binyomin, you need to down load your pictures to a site like “Photo Bucket” where you can gi e them a HTP address. Then simply paste the HTP address in the box you are normally write on here on Melodicaworld.
    Melodica-Me

    #3248
    AvatarBinyomin
    Participant

    OK, I don’t have an account at any of those sites. So, I’m posting a link to the pics on Dropbox. I’ll leave them up for a few days for anyone who wants to see them.

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