January 15, 2014 at 6:29 am #1523
Just a quick question,
I am currently using the K & K pickup on my HM-36 and its just clanky as hell! What other Melodica pickups have you guys used? I ask because I’m getting buried at jam sessions and the clank is almost too much!
ThanksJanuary 15, 2014 at 8:35 pm #1529
Hello Steve, The Schertler A DYN unit worked really well on my Vibrandoneon. I do not own it as it was provided by the sound company. I took the information down and I am looking into purchasing it for myself. It was nice and clear and I heard no clanking of the keys. The 36 is a bit noisy more so then the vibrandoneon so I can not tell you for sure that it would eliminate the clanking altogether.
I currently run my Hammond 44 through a Traynor K4 amp that I am not happy with and looking to pick up one of the Jam 150 amps from Schertler soon.
I hope my input helps you
Mellodica-MeJanuary 15, 2014 at 11:01 pm #1530
Hi Steve, I used to use a pair of AKG 516ML mini gooseneck condenser mics for my Vibrandoneon, which worked well for live. Have you though about a handheld harmonica mic? There’s lots of interesting info here:January 17, 2014 at 2:33 pm #1550
Troy, thanks for the link to the harp/microphone website. Wow, what a host of information. Just what I have been looking for as I am only now getting started with amplification. Melodica-Me, that looks like the contact mic to get if one is to use a contact mic. It looks very high end.
Steve, to answer your question, one way of minimizing the key click is to roll off the high end frequencies using an EQ. And of course, play the the keys more smoothly and softly if possible. I like to pound on the keys due to my organ playing background, so trying to trigger the keys smoothly is a big adjustment for me.
Here is what I am doing now for amplification. I am using an SM 57 mic running into a Presonus RC 500 preamp/channel strip (1 rack space). This is a solid state, very clean preamp that includes compressor and EQ sections. I only received this preamp a few days ago, but it is blowing my mind. It is just what I wanted and enables me to really shape my sound. (I am returning a Summit high-end tube preamp that while very good, just did not do it for me. I think I am preferring a clean sound for now, but I definitely am going to explore a gritty over-driven harp type sound when I can.)
My signal passes from the Presonus preamp/channel strip to a Lexicon MPX-1 multi-effects processor where I am experimenting with delay, reverb, and many other effects such as pitch, modulation, EQ, etc.
From the multi-effect processor, I run the signal through a Rane 31-band EQ and really squash the high and low frequencies (which I am also doing on the Presonus channel strip). All this squashing of the high and low frequencies gives me a harmonica tonality (like having a bullet mic) but I retain a very clean sound.
I use a JBL full-frequency two-way powered monitor (10-inch and a horn) to amplify the sound.
This is my starting point, and I am liking it a lot. The tone is a smash up of accordion, harp, and saxophone. And I can play the melodica in all of these roles as I play along with blues and roots music.
LowboyJanuary 17, 2014 at 3:24 pm #1551
Next time you are at a jam, ask if you can play through one of the vocal mics. Ask the guy at the board to roll off frequencies above 5 or 6k. That possibly will work well to increase volume and minimize key click.
By the way, on some songs (groove oriented or even some blues numbers) you may actually want to incorporate key click into the sound as a percussive effect.
The electronically-generated key click on a Hammond organ is considered an essential part of the sound. So much so that the digital Hammond organs have settings to vary the amount of click, both “key on” click and “key release” click.
Generally, I do not like the mechanical key click sound on my melodicas either. (Although I may but it to good use on a selected song or two.) But when you are squashing all the high end frequencies like I am currently doing, it is a non issue. There is very little if any key click to be heard no matter how hard you play.
LowboyJanuary 17, 2014 at 9:24 pm #1552
Lowboy, do you have a recording of your setup, just curious on how your melodica sounds with no high end and no low end, and all midrange going through all that signal processing. the DYN pickup worked great for the Vibrandoneon which is an all wood melodion so a resonator pickup worked great with in the sound chamber. please post a picture of your setup.
Melodica-MeJanuary 17, 2014 at 10:07 pm #1553
Yes, it is a highly processed signal, but it sounds great, at least to me. I am trying to capture the essence of a blues harp but without trying to duplicate it. I want the melodica to bring its own character and advantages to the table.
I will take a photo in a couple of days when I finishing getting the equipment properly installed in the rack.
I have a six space rack with a pull handle and wheels. Three spaces for the rack gear. The remaining room in the rack will hold my melodicas, microphone, and cables. I should be able to walk into a gig pulling the rack in one hand and carrying the JBL monitor case in the other hand. I might have to go back for a mic stand and rack stand. I can also send a signal to the house PA if there is one.
I do really like the sound of my melodicas in their natural state. That is the reason for the clean amp. So by flipping a couple switches, I can bypass the EQs and effects processor and call up a more natural sound.
I would not expect to process the heck out of the thing on every song. I mostly just use some delay, which is a staple of the blues harp players. On a couple of songs, I might go for a octave doubler or tremolo effect just to mix things up. Actually a bit of tremolo sound really good.
But I don’t want the effects to get in the way of learning good technique. I have a long way to go there.
I was planning on making and posting a recording so those interested could hear what it sounds like. I might need a week or two to get there.
I am still exploring and pondering, and who knows where I might end up. But the sound I am getting now fits right in with the old blues masters and contemporary blues/R&B people like the Neville Brothers, Robert Cray, Bonnie Rait, Etta James, etc.
LowboyJanuary 18, 2014 at 12:09 pm #1555
As I look at my EQ, I am rolling off the highs at about 6 to 8K not 5 to 6K as I suggested you do above.
A quick thought or two. My rig (I hope to post a photo today or tomorrow) may seem like it performs a lot processing, but it is really not much more than that applied by most harp players. Most blues harp players play through a bullet mic which has a very narrow frequency response emphasizing the mid range (steep roll off at about 6K and a less step, but pretty deep, roll off as the low end is approached. (I am doing the same thing only I am using an EQ.) Most contemporary harp players then run into a delay unit to thicken their sound. Finally, they run into a 7 or 20 or 50 watt tube amp and turn the amp up to 10 so that they get tons of power amp tube distortion (at least those who seek the dirty Chicago blues harp sound). And their amps usually have a three-band EQ which they use for final tone shaping. So their sound is a long way from that of a harp played acoustically. But you have to like the Chicago blues harp sound! Little Walter comes to mind.
I am doing the above only because I am trying to capture the tonal character of a blues harp (the melodica’s cousin and a reed instrument). This may not be appropriate for other types of music.
I am rolling off the EQ at about 200 to 400 Hz on the low end and 6 to 8 KHz on the high end. Most of the musical energy from most instruments and program material is in the range between these two points. So it is not as severe as it may sound.
What it does do, is to really smooth out the highs (no harsh, squeaky, squealy sound) and tighten up and define the lowest notes on the melodica.
I look forward to getting a recording up so you and others hear it. As I said, that may take me a week or two.
LowboyJanuary 19, 2014 at 5:06 pm #1563
I have a photo of my rack but I do not see any easy way to upload it. I see the img button above and will investigate that further. I tried copying and pasting but that did not work.
Is there an easy way to insert a photo in a post?
LowboyJanuary 19, 2014 at 5:45 pm #1564
You need to upload via a link.
Melodica-MeJanuary 19, 2014 at 9:49 pm #1565
So hopefully the image of my rack or a link to the image will appear below.
The equipment was described in a previous post above. The only addition is a second 31-band EQ, the bottom one, which I use to normalize the speaker or room.
You should be able to see some of the settings. These are preliminary settings and I am sure I will be modifying them a bit as I zero in on the sound. I will post a recording in a week or two when I get time.
LowboyJanuary 20, 2014 at 12:25 am #1567
Lowboy, do you use an amplifier or feed into the house system from your setup. I think you mentioned that you run a 10″ JBL is this a powered box or do you have a separate amplifier. I used to use a Masteroom XL 305 spring reverb unit that I bought new in the mid seventies but about a year ago I started to down sized and just use a cathedral pedal which I am not all that happy with but it works. I have use a Traynor K4 amplifier for about 6 years now that works great for my keyboards but not very good for my melodicas (Hammond 44) and run a mic for my vibrandoneon and Clavietta through it for small rooms. The Masteroom reverb unit would probably make a good match for the sound you are looking for.January 20, 2014 at 5:21 pm #1576
I have not gone out with this rig yet. I am rehearsing with a band now and am probably several months away from a gig.
Right now, I am amplifying the signal with a powered JBL monitor (a two-way, bi-amped monitor with about 140 watts total). I can also run a line out of a direct box and feed the house PA if there is a house PA. I am hoping to be able to go through the house PA in many instances to save me carrying equipment. But sometimes the sound systems are bad and it may make sense to at least monitor myself with the JBL. Time will tell.
What is a cathedral pedal? I never heard of that.
LowboyJanuary 20, 2014 at 5:24 pm #1577
Quick correction. I still get some key click even when have lots of high cut on the EQ. But it is so minimal, it is rare to hear it over the sound of the melodica.
LowboyJanuary 20, 2014 at 9:06 pm #1583
Hello Lowboy, The Cathedral Pedal is basically a stomp box. I first used it with my Kurzweil then started experimenting with it on my Hammond 44 and Hammond BB melodicas. I used to have a lot of rack effects but have sold them all for the exception of my Master-room XL 305 spring reverb that is now in my daughters studio. I did not used many of them for years and I want to be able to carry all my effects in a small pedal board briefcase instead of a heavy flight case.
Here is a link to the Cathedral pedal http://www.ehx.com/products/cathedral
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