Suggesstions for Amplifying Fiddle?

Suggesstions for Amplifying Fiddle?

Every St Pat’s I wind up doing a least a few gigs where I wish I had some kind of direct input method of amping my fiddle. I’m thinking along the lines of some kind of small clip-on condenser mike. I don’t like the fishman/bridge type of pickup since it really ruins the sound of the fiddle when you’re playing unamplified, which in my case is about 98% of the time. Can anyone suggest some favorite brands or models? Could you include approximate prices?

Posted by .

Re: Suggesstions for Amplifying Fiddle?

Murph,
when Martin Hayes was playing at St George’s Hall in Bristol (UK) a few weeks ago I could see that he had what appeared to be a tiny mic mounted on the tailpiece of his fiddle and, I think, directed at the treble foot of the bridge. A wire went from the mic to a small radio transmitter in his back pocket, sending signals to the soundboard nearby. Clearly, the mic, since it wasn’t mounted in any way on the belly of the fiddle, would have a minimal effect on the tonal quality - which, btw, was something to die for. I have no further information, but my observation seems to show that what you require is possible (probably at a price!).

Re: Suggesstions for Amplifying Fiddle?

I use a bowtronics pickup that clips onto the end of the fingerboard. We have had a similar discussion a couple of months ago take a look at the link
https://thesession.org/discussions/1207

Oh, by the way the bowtronics sounds rich, full and beutiful. It might be worth buying one. Ask your the guy in your local music shop!

Re: Suggesstions for Amplifying Fiddle?

Well I

Re: Suggesstions for Amplifying Fiddle?

Oh, I forgot to say that my friends who like the miniature condenser mikes like the Countryman ISOMAX.
Cheers
Sean

Re: Suggesstions for Amplifying Fiddle?

I too recommend the Fishman approach. You do have to adjust the tone through the pre-amp (you need the pre-amp) and the PA. But for St. Paddy’s day, it’s a good compromise and the crowds aren’t that discriminating.

I’ve worked with condenser mics in the past on acordions and fiddles and they create too many feedback problems. They’re OK for concerts where the audience is listening. But mics will distract you all during your St. Paddy’s Day gig.

The condenser mic approach is a high maintenance solution that’s inappropriate for crowded, loud situations.

The fishman approach, or something similar, is much more flexible, easier to control and you give up a bit on tone, but again, the "listening" audience on St. Paddy’s Day won’t notice.

Re: Suggesstions for Amplifying Fiddle?

Shertler (?) is a German company that makes a great stick on pickup that works well with fiddles, guitars mandolins, etc. It sounds great but is expensive .
Baggs is a good pernanant (in the bridge) pickup. The bridge must be fitted to your specific fiddle. It is much more full sounding than the Fishman and doesn’t require a pre-amp. The acoustic sound is not affected drastically although discerning ears can probably tell.
Does anyone have experience with the soundpost pickup? These are very expensive but some say they are the best.
Condenser mics are a good choice. Something as simple as the old Sony ECM150 lapel mic can sound great. I’ve been told Radio Shack makes some pretty good sounding condenser mics these days if cheap is important.

Joe

Re: Suggesstions for Amplifying Fiddle?

Hi Murph.. I use a fishman pickup installed in the bridge slot and run through a fishman pre-amp. I remove it from the fiddle when I’m not amped ..which is most of the time.The reason I remove it is more to prevent snagging than interference with the acoustic sound. There is the Headway pickup called "the band" which I haven’t tried yet but I heard played at the guitar festival at Healdsburg California and it sounded very full and rich. It was reviewed in Strad magazine recently. It comes in the form of several disk type pickups encased in a fabric band which you place around the fiddle behind the bridge and velcro in place. Have a look at Headwayelectronics.com. It looks a bit clunky but it sounded great.

Regards
Bob

Re: Suggesstions for Amplifying Fiddle?

I have one, I think it’s called Heath something. It fits in the little gap at the bottom of the bridge on the belly of the violin. It seems to work well, I feed it through a Maplin Fish&chips pre-amp/equaliser. I have to be carefull with the battery on the pre-amp, when it goes it starts making a loud whisling noise !! It was a bit baffling the first time it happened.

Posted by .

Re: Suggesstions for Amplifying Fiddle?

Hi there,

i’ve tried a few pickups over the years (makes me sound so old!) used a fishman through a fishman preamp which sounds good if you are doing your own sound and have time to work on it, but if your doing big concerts with a proper sound guy, they seem to find it difficult to make the fiddle sound good (and for some reason take offence when you offer them advice - its not like you’ve been playing with the thing for years and actually know what works!!!!)

But i decided i needed something a lot better, a friend of mine - aiden o’rourke, was using a condenser mike pickup called an ‘Accusound’ which is from a guy in england. Aiden plays all over the uk and in europe and america frequently and its the first pickup that he’s used that all sound guys seem to be able to just plug in and sound like a fiddle! (which is a HUGE plus!)

I bought one last year and all the concerts i’ve done and festivals i’ve played at have been so much easier, because the sound guy can sort out the fiddle sound in about 30 secs! i’ve never had a bad sound with it! plus it just clips on and off the tailpiece!
check out the guys website - www.accusound.com he does them for all kinds of instruments! you’ll not be dissapointed if you do!
Jamie

Re: Suggesstions for Amplifying Fiddle?

"Frankly, after years of trial and error and numerous improvements, I can say that, if an instrument is made of wood and has strings, I can guarantee it is possible to reproduce its authentic sound" (Stephan Schertler, Switzerland) …. go check http://www.schertler.com.

The swiss made Schertler transducer system is the best I found in search for natural sounding fiddle amplification. It consists of the transducer and a Preamp. It is expensive (nearly 500 Euros for the transducer and some more 350 for the preamp). I played it twice now ? first time in a big music shops rehearsal room and second time on a live gig. This amazing experience made me start saving to buy one in a couple of month.

A transducer is a microphone, but unlike standard mics it does not pick up the sound waves from the air. It is mounted to the fiddles back side and takes sound waves directly from the wood. So this system has much higher tolerance to feed backs and loud instruments next to the fiddle player than mini mics (condenser). And it delivers a higher, more natural sounding quality.

The Schertler system can be mounted and remounted easily ? so you can play in situations where amplification is needed and next day (or even hours) in unplugged session situations without any lack of sound quality. But fixing the transducer to the instrument needs some attention and experience. Schertler has developed a special plasticine that does not harm even the surface of old and top quality instruments. The attention and experience is needed because you have to find the individual best spot on your instrument to fix the transducer. As well you have to find the proper amount of plasticine to get the best sound results and keep the transducer staying where it should even when the fiddling gets tough.

As I said I could not afford a Schertler system yet. So far I still use my little audiotechnica condenser mic. I fix it to the chin rest with a flexible mini mic stand. Had some problems with feed backs especially in situations when I put down the fiddle to sing some backing vocals (and swing the fiddle closer to the stage monitors). So I had to learn to control even the spontaneous movements of the fiddle while not playing.

I thought it might be a solution to combine good natural fiddle sound picked up by a mic with the much more insensitive to feed back piezo pick up. Glued a shadow piezo into a bridge and took a fishman preamp. Great possibilities to get a tough amplified almost natural and almost feed back free sound ? but too much wiring and the sound setting possibilities can only be described by complexe chaos theorie. So well, I

Re: Suggesstions for Amplifying Fiddle?

I also play unamplified about 98% of the time, and I carry a Dean Markley transducer. I adhere it right on the top, not the bridge, and simply wrap the cable around the chinrest. The Dean Markley is unusual in that its output is large enough that I don’t use a preamp, and I am not drowned out by the drummer. For under $50, it’s a great occasional pickup.

Re: Suggesstions for Amplifying Fiddle?

A little shadow transducer pickup works pretty good onmost fiddles.Ive had good luck with putting them behind the bridge or near the bottom of the e side f hole and one fiddle really sounded good with the pickup under the fiddle near the bottom of the soundpost. Depends on the fiddle. They are all pretty cranky.

Re: Suggesstions for Amplifying Fiddle?

Hi Crannog – so you’re talking about the Schertler Dyn-V? – For mostly acoustic (folk) use it may be OK, but for higher volumes the Stat-V gives more Feedback resistance (folkrock, any folky stuff with drums etc.). It doesn’t sound bad at all. But it’s expensive like the Dyn, as you mentioned.
As you say best natural sound results one will get with a mic. Next come (for my taste) the magnetic systems (Schertler, Bowtronics, Stringamp, Rebo).
All piezos need a lot of EQ (or an ideal amp-transducer- combination one needs years to find) and influence the acoustic sound of a traditional instrument.

@russellrapport: so you’re playing with a drummer & you don”t have problems with the Dean Markley neither with muffled sound nor with feedback? Isthis a special violin transducer or a guitar device? I know DM just as producers of guitar systems & strings. I’ve looked at their site without finding fiddle material. What’s your system called?