singing with a guitar

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swarfrat

Guest
I'm not sure why this jumped out today. I've been playing acoustic guitar and singing at church every month or two for about two years. The sound guy is ... Not a lot of help. Tiny country church. More than a few times me and big Al (baritone jumbo) carry the room unamped and the vocal mic is usually a condensor. Sound guy usually shows up last minute and we just roll with minimal reinforcement. Actually keeping the guitar out of the PA makes his job simpler and allows me to push the guitar harder.

I decided to try singing with electric guitar this time for a song I wanted to do. And wow. I switched to a dynamic because I was curious and wanted to get a bit closer on the mic.

It was at this point I learned that eating a stand mounted dynamic while playing guitar is a whole new skill that has nothing in common with "stick a wide pattern condensor sort of near some guy singing and playing acoustic guitar while only being semiconcious of the mic."

I see this is going to need some work.
 
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swarfrat

Guest
Not just mic position, it became pretty obvious that I'm "pulling punches" at times trying to feign more power without actually increasing my volume, and when I do, my volume actually drops a lot.

Definitely need to practice singing with a mic. Particularly if you're also playing guitar at the same time. Not a skill you just pick up by accident
 

mayfly

Senior member
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8,300
oh yea.  I've been working on mic technique while playing electric for about, er, 30 years now  :)

Harder than it looks and I feel that I still have not mastered it.  Yet.
 
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swarfrat

Guest
Part of me has this deep seated "you don't need to be loud if you're practicing" mindset. Which is probably true if you're practicing snare drum rudiments, but this one by definition requires amplification.

One of the reasons I switched from the AT2020 to the SM58 was plosive control. But clearly it's not immune. I have a mixer that I was actually hoping to get rid of soon, as lately everything runs straight to the interface. But for this maybe I should hold on to it for the HPF.



 

NedRyerson

Senior member
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451
I tried with a standard, straight mic stand.  That failed miserably (only time it works is during karaoke :) ).  My bass kept colliding with the stand

Switched to a boom mic stand and that was my game-changer.  Had more room to move forward or back depending on the dynamics needed by the vocals at any given time, and whether I was singing lead or back-up.
 

new-killer-star

Senior member
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266
Just chiming in - yes it's a whole different technique.

Also one thing that I've found that helps is to have IEM or headphones, it can keep you from over or under singing to hear what is going into the PA.  It's also a much faster feedback loop for learning how the mic sounds and the technique that works.
 
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swarfrat

Guest
Yeah, I have a boom stand but realized I was using it wrong. With acoustic guitar I usually play seated. I was using the boom for height and reach and not just for reach. Still hitting occasionally. (And not in an intentionall mic stand as slide gimmick sort of way.)

I'll certainly give the headphones a try. I was avoiding them because I was trying to practice in the same way I'd be playing.

Right now this is an outside shot. I'm sure I'll practice the remainder of the week and then bring my acoustic. One song the electric comping would be good. The other I'm sorta trying to make it work so I don't have two guitars two fiddle with for 4.5 minutes.

At least it's eleven Rack and not a real amp.
 
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swarfrat

Guest
Another well duh observation. You gotta have your guitar parts down cold. No looking AT ALL. Runs while singing are tricky anyway - but the second you cut your eyes the voice trails off into nothing.
 

mayfly

Senior member
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8,300
and you need to be engaged with the audience as well - making eye contact, telling the story of the song with your expressions (facial or otherwise) all while playing the damn thing and trying to sing like George Jones.  :icon_thumright:
 

Rick

Senior member
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4,507
A good sound man is a great asset.  As to singing, I know I’m looking at the audience but I don’t see them and I try to let the mic do the work when it comes to volume.
 
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swarfrat

Guest
Yes, a good sound guy... This one is deaf as a post. Seriously. I would do it myself if we had a digital mixer and I could do it from the pew, but I have a 7yo to wrangle. If dad was in the booth every Sunday his mom would be on the news.  And they JUST bought an analog mixer. 🙄  I was seriously thinking about donating a Behringer XR12 and maybe an Ultradrive before they did it.
 

Rick

Senior member
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4,507
The only way around that is to set things up before the perfomance, get everything dialed in, then let the sound man only work the volume.
 

aarontunes

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swarfrat said:
Another well duh observation. You gotta have your guitar parts down cold. No looking AT ALL. Runs while singing are tricky anyway - but the second you cut your eyes the voice trails off into nothing.


Yup. Add using a talk-box (which I do in two of my bands) for an extra degree of difficulty. That tube basically keeps your face pinned to the mic.

For example: during the little talk-box lick in the second verse of Living on a Prayer. Here's what going on:
  • Have to be ready to stomp the talk-box on, without looking
  • Have to play the lick (which has a large position shift) without looking, while manipulating the talk box. Ends with a whammy bar dive.
  • Have to stomp the box off, without looking
  • Have to disengage from talk-box, while trying to simultaneously hide the slobber and drool
  • Have to quickly move to vocal mic and be ready for backup vox in pre-chorus
I have learned that mic placement is critical. I position the mic a little below my mouth, pointed up just a bit. This will cause you to look down slightly (a position I find facilitates singing anyway), and give you easier chance to sneak a peak at your guitar now and then. Standing on your tippy-toes when necessary can also give you a better angle, as it forces you to look down even more in order to keep your mouth in front of the mic.

As far as learning to work the mic for soft/loud passages, in-ears are the best!

Good luck....I'm still learning tricks all the time to help with this stuff.
 
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swarfrat

Guest
I was thinking about trying the mic a little off to my left, pointed at my mouth - so hopefully if I DO shift left a tiny bit I'm turning into the mic. I mean - it should still be pointed AT me the whole time, I'm just .. oh well. Nothing to do but try it once I knock off work for the day.
 
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swarfrat

Guest
I guess I should follow up. I punted back to acoustic guitar.  I'll keep working at singing with electric though. That seems to be something I need to work at.
 
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swarfrat

Guest
Making another go at this. And I'm starting to think my stand sucks. I've already tried to not adjust it without loosening, but it still wobbly on the threads.

I saw onstage has a slip on counterweight, but then I got to thinking about my stand and upgrading it instead.

I'm also gonna try a clamp on music stand for practice/learning. Just to get more of that in while standing and singing into the mic.

I did play electric at church since, and despite a few hiccups (and a major embarrassing one where I kicked my amp off),  it was well received and I'd like to work a lot more on close mic singing while standing and playing electric. (Mostly because it needs a lot of work.)

So.. I'm looking for a stable rock solid boom stand that doesn't cost $500. I don't think those are giggable anyway. One thing I've found is that in this day and age, just being willing to pay more doesn't mean you're getting more, more often than not it seems you just find the entrepreneur who's eager to sell you the same crap for 2x, and I believe this is one area where that's pretty bad. Easy to buy a $100 mic stand from the same factory as a $30 mic stand with a different sticker on it.
 

BroccoliRob

Senior member
Messages
912
What u do is like me, record your vox (vocals) on a cassette and clip a Walkman to your pants (smaller than any CD player with decent anti-skip buffer) and run the headphone cable to a megaphone or wearable speaker  and then you lip sync and put the mic up to the speaker or megraphone.  I would share pics of the crowd at my last gig before the apocralypse, but seeing a bunch of peoples faces melting might be a little morbid and flagged for graphic content
 
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