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Ukejenny
07-14-2014, 05:53 PM
What is the etiquette for amplification (voice and uke) when you are playing in a group and as a group?

Ukejenny
07-14-2014, 05:53 PM
Whoops, I totally forgot where I was... Can someone please move this to the Uke Talk board?

sukie
07-14-2014, 06:19 PM
At our regular jams we don't use amps. Well, except for Karl when he plays his UBass. Open mic you'll want some kind or amplification. I went to one and sound stuff was provided.

Phluffy the Destroyer
07-14-2014, 08:18 PM
At my ukulele club meetings no one uses amplification. All the jams I get into are with other acoustic players, so I don't really know what the etiquette is for people who have electric instruments. I have an acoustic soprano that's plenty loud for a mic to pick up, but if I were a picker I would probably want to be amplified at an open mic event.

Wicked
07-14-2014, 08:29 PM
I use an amp with the Kamoa electric, when I play with the local group. I keep the thing pointed at my head to make sure I keep track of how loud it is, and I frequently ask others if I need to turn down. I think I am at a good volume most of the time.

DownUpDave
07-15-2014, 01:02 AM
I attend three different jams on a regular basis and everyone is non amplified. The U bass player is amplified of course and for the open mike portion there are two mikes set up, one for the uke and one for vocals.

RAB11
07-15-2014, 01:57 AM
The open mics I go to all provide the sound. One's fairly rudimentary, a Marshall guitar amp and two mics hooked up to a PA, with a monitor when it decides to work. Another one I go to has a proper PA system, and all sound goes through the mixing desk which is always manned so you can tweak your sound song-to-song. They even have specialised mics to pick up instruments but all mine have pick-ups anyway. Oddly though they don't really have a monitor and I'm not sure which I prefer. A lot of the time it puts me off but then other times I don't like it if I can't hear myself.

PhilUSAFRet
07-15-2014, 04:03 AM
At my uke club, only the leaders and those doing an "open mic" song use an amp for voice/uke

bonesigh
07-15-2014, 04:31 AM
I'm in a performance group with my club. If your in a group situation where there is a lead singer never sing louder than them. When there is a solo in the song play softer so the solo can be heard. We don't amp unless on stage for a performance.

Osprey
07-15-2014, 04:41 AM
In our weekly group gatherings the leader has a mike no one else does. The U bass is amped. One or two others may plug in just for fun especially pickers. No one over powers the group. We are an informal bunch. The whole point is to make some music and have fun doing it. The definition of music is organized noise. We pretty much qualify

Cornfield
07-15-2014, 06:03 AM
If in doubt, ask at your group.

Steveperrywriter
07-15-2014, 06:30 AM
Yeah, house rules. Ask.

At the open acoustic jam I've been attending, the song leaders rotate in and out, they write the chords on a white board, and have both vocal and instrument amps. Nobody else does, save the bass player. The leader will sing a couple of verses, then break for instrumental solos. Everybody plays quieter so we can hear the solo. Typically, there will be six guitars, a bass, a drum, flute, couple harmonicas, a keyboard, a cello, sometimes a sax, and a tenor uke.

At the jam group I used to attend, I played a classical guitar, and there were two steel-string guitars, a keyboard, banjo, harmonica, a mandolin. All of those were louder than my nylon-stringer, and they allowed as how I should amp up a hair for parity, which I did.

I sometimes go to an electric blues jam. When electric guitars crank, ukuleles run and hide, so you need to plug in or mic up, otherwise, you won't be able to hear yourself, much less be heard anywhere else ...

Gillian
07-15-2014, 09:42 AM
We use two Roland AC-33s which fill the 25' x 40' room fine and one Shure mic. We also have an amp for the U-Bass. We are thinking of getting a mixer so we can add more mikes and amps and control them from one device.

I have no problem with folks playing guitars, banjos, harmonicas, kazoos, tambourines, even shaker eggs...IF they are played competently, are appropriate to the song and don't overpower the ukes.
I felt bad about having to tell an old lady to stop shaking her egg, but it was so distracting and folks couldn't enjoy the song. I guess she didn't take kindly to my request and hasn't been back. :)

Rick Turner
07-15-2014, 10:26 AM
At the Ukulele Club of Santa Cruz, performers on "stage" can plug in if they want to...and it's often best that they do. Unfortunately many beginners have no clue as to mic technique and they drift far off mic too easily. Bear in mind that with 75 to well over 100 people at a meeting, the ambient noise level can get pretty high.

Ukejenny
07-15-2014, 02:21 PM
That's why I'm asking y'all - I'm making the house rules. We have a small group and had someone with a headset mic and the instrument also plugged in all night at our last meeting. Where I was sitting, I didn't hear much, but others have made comments that it was very loud. This is a really nice guy who has a heart of gold and I'm sure he would not have turned it up too loud, had he known that it was too loud for other folks.

So, I'm asking here what all of you do at your club jams. Not so much open mic, I should not have included that in the OP title. Right now, we do not have an open mic session at our meetings, but we may add something like that to fulfill the need that I sense is arising with some of our players.

I love the enthusiasm. I'm just trying to keep everyone happy, or as happy as fairly and humanly possible.

So far, what I'm gleaning is...

1. If you have a Ubass, you can amp it. (we don't have one but may add one soon)
2. Leaders/soloists are amped and miked at meetings. If not, listen to the leader.
3. Figure out a way to make sure people don't feel they are being drowned out by an exuberant player.
4. Try not to piss anyone off or hurt any feelings.

:shaka:

Am I missing anything?

acmespaceship
07-16-2014, 05:40 AM
Am I missing anything?

Nope :) Not unless you get a sudden influx of Ubass players who can't keep rhythm. One good steady bass is great for keeping the group together... but multiple bassists can be a problem. I've known jams that had to implement a "one bass per song" rule. Cross that bridge when you come to it.

Rick Turner
07-16-2014, 06:10 AM
There are few things as bad as a too-loud bass player who can't keep time or hit the changes properly.

OH, a drummer with the same mis-qualifications...

Loggerhead
07-16-2014, 06:15 AM
That's why I'm asking y'all - I'm making the house rules. We have a small group and had someone with a headset mic and the instrument also plugged in all night at our last meeting. Where I was sitting, I didn't hear much, but others have made comments that it was very loud. This is a really nice guy who has a heart of gold and I'm sure he would not have turned it up too loud, had he known that it was too loud for other folks.

So, I'm asking here what all of you do at your club jams. Not so much open mic, I should not have included that in the OP title. Right now, we do not have an open mic session at our meetings, but we may add something like that to fulfill the need that I sense is arising with some of our players.

I love the enthusiasm. I'm just trying to keep everyone happy, or as happy as fairly and humanly possible.

So far, what I'm gleaning is...

1. If you have a Ubass, you can amp it. (we don't have one but may add one soon)
2. Leaders/soloists are amped and miked at meetings. If not, listen to the leader.
3. Figure out a way to make sure people don't feel they are being drowned out by an exuberant player.
4. Try not to piss anyone off or hurt any feelings.

:shaka:

Am I missing anything?

Well 3 and 4 kind of are going to trip one another up .

Human Nature, nobody "likes" to be told not to do something ...the secret is in how they are told...asked...suggested spoken with......and that is all down to personalities as well .

Is the exuberant player exuberant and tuneful ...are they more advanced than the rest of the group and feel stifled ? .... perhaps Solo them ...give them a song to be i/c and ask if they can help with bringing others on.....if they don't want to suggest that they form another like minded and like levelled band....you can't keep everbody happy all the time ...sad fact of life....How somebody reacts to the input also tells a lot about them ..

Bottom line is though...if they do not realise that they are annoying people then they cannot address it....I speak as somebody who has recently joined an established Uke Group....

I may be the "exuberant" player so try and keep it on the down low......I'm very happy to just be part of something musical and so far do not seem to be annoying the rest.

Wicked
07-16-2014, 06:20 AM
Is the exuberant player exuberant and tuneful ...are they more advanced than the rest of the group and feel stifled ?

The problem is, they are often far less skilled than they believe themselves to be - and almost never have a sense of rhythm.

Loggerhead
07-16-2014, 07:27 AM
The problem is, they are often far less skilled than they believe themselves to be - and almost never have a sense of rhythm.

Oh, well thanks Wicked ...I must be the rhythmless un-skilled plucker of the group.....:o..

(I do hope not !!)

Loggerhead
07-16-2014, 07:29 AM
There are few things as bad as a too-loud bass player who can't keep time or hit the changes properly.

OH, a drummer with the same mis-qualifications...

Is this about playing as a group for fun ...or about playing to other people ?

Wicked
07-16-2014, 10:28 AM
Oh, well thanks Wicked ...I must be the rhythmless un-skilled plucker of the group.....:o..

(I do hope not !!)

Ha!... not pointing any fingers.

However, each group tends to have "that one guy." This is true for any informal musical ensemble. I think the Bluegrass types have a specific name for the breed, but I don't remember what it is. (Jam Killer, maybe?)



Is this about playing as a group for fun ...or about playing to other people ?

Sure, it's supposed to be fun - and it should be a place where everyone gets to develop their musical vocabulary. I had someone ask me the other day why I kept attending a local meet where the majority of attendees are not nearly as far along on their musical journey as I. Quite frankly, because it's fun.

However, sometimes it can be a drag when someone with no self-awareness gums up the works in a loud and jarring manner.

Nickie
07-16-2014, 01:45 PM
The bass and the leaders voice are amplified, no one else is, in our jams. In open mic, everyone performing is amplified. Love having my uke amp'd, but do NOT like singing into a microphone....

Rick Turner
07-16-2014, 06:56 PM
"Is this about playing as a group for fun ...or about playing to other people ?"

It doesn't matter! Bad musicianship amplified too loud is obnoxious whether it's someone dominating a group fun thing or performing as a "featured" performer.

Of course, bad musicians can rarely actually judge themselves very well. They think that enthusiasm trumps musicianship. There's the huge smile on the loudest person in the room...and they absolutely suck.

There's a point where being nice to the "limited" completely buries the fun of the group. If I have any criticism of the whole uke scene is that it is way too consciously non-judgmental. When it sucks, it sucks, folks. And that does not mean that I do not value beginners, but suck = suck.

There are situations where "suck" simply does not matter, but when it's a sucky amplified performer dominating over a group...well, that sucks!

Yeah, Simon Cowell of lutherie back at work here...

Don't f...in' play loud if you suck...

Loggerhead
07-17-2014, 12:46 AM
"Is this about playing as a group for fun ...or about playing to other people ?"

It doesn't matter! Bad musicianship amplified too loud is obnoxious whether it's someone dominating a group fun thing or performing as a "featured" performer.

Of course, bad musicians can rarely actually judge themselves very well. They think that enthusiasm trumps musicianship. There's the huge smile on the loudest person in the room...and they absolutely suck.

There's a point where being nice to the "limited" completely buries the fun of the group. If I have any criticism of the whole uke scene is that it is way too consciously non-judgmental. When it sucks, it sucks, folks. And that does not mean that I do not value beginners, but suck = suck.

There are situations where "suck" simply does not matter, but when it's a sucky amplified performer dominating over a group...well, that sucks!

Yeah, Simon Cowell of lutherie back at work here...

Don't f...in' play loud if you suck...

So you are the leader of a group . There is such an individual, happy as Larry ,blissfully unaware of his / her shortcomings in the Musicianship department.
Would you quietly pull them to one side and advise them of where they were going wrong ...perhaps ask them to play quieter / acoustically until they can achieve a standard. Or ?

I am curious because in our group we have a couple of issues and it would be interesting to see what other people of greater skill levels and Leaders might do to resolve / help....if it is away from the topic I apologise and perhaps would start a new thread.

kkimura
07-17-2014, 02:02 AM
"Is this about playing as a group for fun ...or about playing to other people ?"

It doesn't matter! Bad musicianship amplified too loud is obnoxious whether it's someone dominating a group fun thing or performing as a "featured" performer.

Of course, bad musicians can rarely actually judge themselves very well. They think that enthusiasm trumps musicianship. There's the huge smile on the loudest person in the room...and they absolutely suck.

There's a point where being nice to the "limited" completely buries the fun of the group. If I have any criticism of the whole uke scene is that it is way too consciously non-judgmental. When it sucks, it sucks, folks. And that does not mean that I do not value beginners, but suck = suck.

There are situations where "suck" simply does not matter, but when it's a sucky amplified performer dominating over a group...well, that sucks!

Yeah, Simon Cowell of lutherie back at work here...

Don't f...in' play loud if you suck...

I absolutely agree with Rick on this one. Whenever you're in a group endeavor you have an implied responsibility to that group's purpose which in this case is having fun making music together.

As a rank beginner, with all that implies, I am very conscious of my ability to add or detract from the group dynamic. If I can't keep up, I finger the chords and either strum lightly or not at all (air strumming). If I have the song down well, I join in at an appropriate volume. The same goes for songs I don't know the melody for. In a nutshell, the individuals in a group bear a lot of responsibility for making the session enjoyable for everyone else.

At the other end of the "experience" spectrum, the more accomplished players sometimes need to hold back a bit. (Although it's generally more pleasant to hear them over the crowd!)

Loggerhead
07-17-2014, 02:56 AM
I absolutely agree with Rick on this one. Whenever you're in a group endeavor you have an implied responsibility to that group's purpose which in this case is having fun making music together.

As a rank beginner, with all that implies, I am very conscious of my ability to add or detract from the group dynamic. If I can't keep up, I finger the chords and either strum lightly or not at all (air strumming). If I have the song down well, I join in at an appropriate volume. The same goes for songs I don't know the melody for. In a nutshell, the individuals in a group bear a lot of responsibility for making the session enjoyable for everyone else.

At the other end of the "experience" spectrum, the more accomplished players sometimes need to hold back a bit. (Although it's generally more pleasant to hear them over the crowd!)

I think that you make some excellent points KKimura and thank you , you clearly have the sensitivity to recognise the issues that can occur.

My question however is "How is it best to deal with a situation where this is happening ? " Should the leader grasp the nettle and deal with the individual in as sensitive ,assertive ,robust a manner as is appropriate.?

kkimura
07-17-2014, 07:18 AM
I think that you make some excellent points KKimura and thank you , you clearly have the sensitivity to recognise the issues that can occur.

My question however is "How is it best to deal with a situation where this is happening ? " Should the leader grasp the nettle and deal with the individual in as sensitive ,assertive ,robust a manner as is appropriate.?

Good question. I guess it varies with the person of interest and the group dynamic. Some require a subtle approach while others can be influenced more directly. Some members of the group can provide appropriate encouragement while others prefer to leave it to the leader of the group.

I believe the leader should be aware of how the group is interacting and try to head off situations that will detract from the group's well being. Yes, much easier said than done.

Rick Turner
07-17-2014, 06:53 PM
Two "for examples":

Many years ago I attended weekly Bluegrass get togethers at Paul's Saloon in the Marina District of San Francisco. Mandolin player Butch Waller led the jam which was strictly acoustic...I guess today an amplified bass would be ok, but then it was all acoustic. The folks just kind of naturally arrayed in concentric circles of A) ability and B) desire to solo. The inner circle were the hot and more advanced players, and it radiated out from that. BUT, if someone in a mid or even outer circle felt confident enough to "take it", they were welcomed to do so. That's how the outer circle players got better and moved in. The rules were unwritten, generous, and worked. I generally was in one of the mid circles...happy to play a lot of rhythm and then every now and then take a solo.

#2. I used to attend an open mic session in Culver City, and one night the PA was broken. We all clumped a bunch of tables in the middle and set up a circle of singer-songwriters and guitar players about eighteen around with "audience" back and concentric around the musicians, and the rules of the evening were one song and on to the next player...this was totally unamplified...and if you could grab the changes fast enough by ear, the play along, but don't overpower. This was utter magic. Everyone got to perform, many got to accompany, and nobody got to dominate. Yet, the pressure of being ON STAGE was lifted, and everyone listened intently.

ukulelekarcsi
07-18-2014, 12:06 AM
If you're looking for house rules, this could be handy: http://kimalex.blogspot.be/2014/01/learn-to-jam-20-tips-for-making-music.html

And rule 13 says something about ampliciation, basically only recommending it in large groups, for subtle instrumental breaks: "13. Get quiet for the instrumentals . The act of calling out an instrumentalist can be very subtle which is why it’s important for all players to pay attention and notice when an instrumental is underway. In an acoustic jam, especially big ones, it can be hard to hear the instrumentalists, so to amplify these players other players will “get quiet” on their instruments."

Wicked
07-18-2014, 01:01 AM
Yes, Rick has gotten straight to the heart of it. Most of he time "that guy/gal" either believes they are a really fantastic player, and feels it to be their duty to loudly grace the group with their ability... Or they believe that their "enthusiasm" is all that really matters.

As to how to deal with those people when they are harshin' the vibe... Being direct is probably the least painful for the group. You don't necessarily need to tell them that they suck - but nobody should take offense to being told to play softer, in a group setting.

It can be helpful to have some group rules in place. This will make things less confrontational when somebody needs to be reined in.

These were liberally lifted from some Bluegrass website with some changes:

http://files.meetup.com/1634379/UUOB%20Commandments.pdf

Tootler
07-18-2014, 11:49 AM
If you are playing together purely for your own collective enjoyment I would suggest acoustic only is probably the safest rule. Once you let one person amp up, it's the thin edge of the wedge and could easily get out of control. If you establish this from the very first or simply say that's the rule from now on, then it's going to be easier to deal with the odd person who brings a small amp. Unless you have a large room and/or it's a large group, I don't think it's even necessary for the group leader to be mic'd up or amplified.

Our group is typically 10 - 12 and we are all acoustic. The issue of amps has never arisen. The room we meet in is quite small so amplification is simply not needed. My role as group leader is simply that of chairman. Getting members to choose songs, counting in or setting the song off as necessary and maybe suggesting some ways of making the song more interesting to play. I don't need to be mic'd up for that.

I think it's reasonable to make an exception with a U-Bass as they are not loud enough without an amp.

SailingUke
07-18-2014, 12:00 PM
I agree acoustic is acoustic. I have led fairly large groups and found once everyone gets playing there is no need to amplify.
I have used a mic to start a song, but once started I step away.
I have found that sometimes strumming acoustic ukuleles cover up the voice, so I can't imagine amplifying the strummers.

Loggerhead
07-18-2014, 12:09 PM
I agree acoustic is acoustic. I have led fairly large groups and found once everyone gets playing there is no need to amplify.
I have used a mic to start a song, but once started I step away.
I have found that sometimes strumming acoustic ukuleles cover up the voice, so I can't imagine amplifying the strummers.

Which actually opens up a whole new can of wriggly bird food !!.......should you amp up just the vocalists (vox only) because the singing can be drowned out by the ukelele players....we are obviously talking about the strum and sing variant of ukulele bands here ....and not everybody does,wants to or (me) should sing !!

(Ahh, the relaxing therapy of music ........I think best served by outdoor ukulele, long relaxing bath and an endless supply of ginandtonixxiceandslice............. )

Ukejenny
07-18-2014, 01:30 PM
Nope :) Not unless you get a sudden influx of Ubass players who can't keep rhythm. One good steady bass is great for keeping the group together... but multiple bassists can be a problem. I've known jams that had to implement a "one bass per song" rule. Cross that bridge when you come to it.

Good to know.

Ukejenny
07-18-2014, 01:46 PM
This is a ukulele club - small group setting. My "knowledge" puts me near the top of the heap as far as ukulele ability goes - and I consider myself a novice/intermediate player.

So, no, we aren't talking about a great player feeling stifled. We are mostly beginners. Not just beginners to ukulele, but some of our members are beginners to music in general, unless they had a few piano lessons 40 years ago.

We play in a circle, so I can hear and see everyone. I "lead" the group without use of an amp or mic. We either have a play list or we call tunes around the circle.

We are a strum and sing kind of group, although I am showing them a few tricks and little diddles here and there. None of us are ready for Carnagie Hall!

I'm going to ask everyone if they can hear me and see me when we play, and tell them that they need to be able to hear me. If they can't, they need to say something. I'm hoping that will take care of it. If not, I will have to say something.

We don't have an open mic portion to our meetings, because no one is really ready for that. We may need to do that to facilitate the need for those who want to put it out there more.

Ukejenny
07-18-2014, 01:47 PM
I really appreciate all the feedback, gang. I sure don't want to hurt anyone's feelings, but sometimes you have to step on one set of toes in order to keep the rest of the group from getting angry.

CeeJay
07-18-2014, 02:27 PM
I really appreciate all the feedback, gang. I sure don't want to hurt anyone's feelings, but sometimes you have to step on one set of toes in order to keep the rest of the group from getting angry.

Yes ...you do....I just think it is how you step that makes a difference , and that difference is then down to the person being advised ....if they fly off the handle then you probably don't really want them in the group anyway...if they get upset and hurt but take it on board, well you feel like a sh*t for a bit but it gets better......and if they genuinely did not realise -- then you are the Hero/ine........anyway ....sounds to me like a lot of these groups take themselves far too seriously and may I come and join in with yours please . I have my own ukulele and I can sit in the corner .

Thank You

Tootler
07-18-2014, 10:37 PM
Jenny,

Your group sounds very much like mine and you seem to be approaching it in much the same way. If what you are doing works for you, you are doing it right. If at some point, you want to start an open mic, then I would keep it totally separate from your regular group meetings, even on a different day as it's a different type of activity. If there are other open mics in your area, I'd be inclined to encourage them to go to one of those.

Ceejay makes a good point about upsetting or not upsetting people.