For many acoustic performers, it can be difficult enough to afford a good quality instrument (a must), but equally important is the ability to perform your music (live) so that it sounds good. Thus it is imperative to have quality sound reinforcement.
Many venues have ‘house systems’, but since many acoustic venues work on a shoe-string budget (live music being almost an afterthought), the quality of the ‘house system’ may be low-cost and/or over-used, at best. This can be a major problem when one arrives for a gig only to find that the house-owned mics don’t work, the cables are missing-in-action, or the PA amp has a blown fuse. I’ve heard many a horror story about how a performer ended up doing a purely acoustic gig in a noisy room because the house PA didn’t work.
Reproducing your music live should be well-planned out. Make sure you have extra strings, extra batteries, a replacement cable, a tuner, etc. Invest in a good quality instrument if you don’t already own one. And, invest in a good quality PA, and most importantly, learn how to use it.
Live sound isn’t difficult if you aren’t fussy. Turn on the PA, raise the volume and you’ve got noise. But just remember, you don’t want to just ‘make noise’, you want to ‘make music’.
Research information on how to amplify acoustic music (Google, books, magazine articles, etc), then put that information into practice. Note the word ‘practice’. Just like practicing your music, you’ll need to practice sound reinforcement. Set the PA up in your house and learn what the knobs do. Every new PA comes with a set of directions to explain the function of each knob. Learn them. Try them. Once you’re comfortable with the sound you’re trying to get, put it into use at your next gig. Remember that room noises (Barista machines, audience noise, room echo, etc) may require some tweaking, but with practice you’ll get a good sound.
Invest in a decent PA system. If you have a day job (hopefully), save until you can purchase your own system. If you are a full-time musician you should already own a PA. If not, shame on you. Never rely on the venue, or a friend of a friend. Getting paid for making music means you’re a professional. You need to look, act and sound like a professional.
Todd C Walker
Wispy Mop Music
F.A.M.E. Board of Directors
SAW Board of Directors