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Thread: Advice Please for Uke Group Wanting to Take First Steps Towards Amplification

  1. #1
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    Default Advice Please for Uke Group Wanting to Take First Steps Towards Amplification

    I'm no newbie to individual instrument amplification and have had experience as a film sound recordist, but I have no experience with designing a reasonably priced sound system for the Uke group that I am currently playing with.
    I would appreciate some guidance for these parameters:
    Group size: 12-20 (depends on the weather)
    Playing environment: Mainly indoors (medium sized rooms) but sometimes outdoors.
    Some of the players have their own amps but most do not or even own instruments with pickups.
    1-4 serious lead singers so require voice mics. (I have always like the Shure SM58).
    I'm thinking a PA, a small field mixer and 2-3 mics might be the most flexible way to go but would greatly appreciate all thoughts and advice from those who have faced the same requirements.
    Cheers!
    "All worthwhile things in life should be easy to learn but hard to master"

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  2. #2
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    I have been going through live sound equipment for my 50 person uke group for a couple of years. I finally settled on this;

    6 Samson mics (SM58 knockoffs)
    6 Nu-X wireless mic adapters (maximum of 6 channels and why I chose six mics, also I don't want to deal with mic cables)
    An 8 channel analog mixer (inexpensive with 8 XLR inputs, tried a WiFi Behringer but got too much interference)
    6 mic stands that collapse very small (actually they're drum mic stands to which I added a longer boom for people)

    I plug it into my Carvin Bass amp, but any P/A would work.




    This is Michael Kohan in Los Angeles, Beverly West near the Beverly Center
    9 tenor cutaway ukes, 5 acoustic bass ukes, 11 solid body bass ukes, 11 mini electric bass guitars (Total: 35)

    • Donate to The Ukulele Kids Club, they provide ukuleles to children in hospital music therapy programs. www.theukc.org
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  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by kohanmike View Post
    I have been going through live sound equipment for my 50 person uke group for a couple of years. I finally settled on this;

    6 Samson mics (SM58 knockoffs)
    6 Nu-X wireless mic adapters (maximum of 6 channels and why I chose six mics, also I don't want to deal with mic cables)
    An 8 channel analog mixer (inexpensive with 8 XLR inputs, tried a WiFi Behringer but got too much interference)
    6 mic stands that collapse very small (actually they're drum mic stands to which I added a longer boom for people)

    I plug it into my Carvin Bass amp, but any P/A would work.




    This is Michael Kohan in Los Angeles, Beverly West near the Beverly Center
    9 tenor cutaway ukes, 5 acoustic bass ukes, 11 solid body bass ukes, 11 mini electric bass guitars (Total: 35)

    • Donate to The Ukulele Kids Club, they provide ukuleles to children in hospital music therapy programs. www.theukc.org
    • Member The CC Strummers: YouTube: www.youtube.com/user/CCStrummers/video, Facebook: www.facebook.com/TheCCStrummers
    Thanks very much for your advice. That looks like a good end goal for the group but gives me a pathway to start at.

    One question though, are the various SM58 knockoffs close enough in quality to justify not spending the extra on the original Shure model?
    "All worthwhile things in life should be easy to learn but hard to master"

    Hoffmann Lutherie - Baritone - Master Grade Ebony and AAA Red Spruce
    Beau Hannam Custom Tenor - Vintage Hand Rubbed Sun Burst all Tassie Blackwood
    Barron River Tenor - Satin Box Maple and Alaskan Yellow Cedar
    Hoffmann Lutherie - Concert - Angry Owl Ebony and Cedar

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by hollisdwyer View Post
    One question though, are the various SM58 knockoffs close enough in quality to justify not spending the extra on the original Shure model?
    Don't get me started on Shure SM-58's. The real question is, who doesn't make a SM-58 knock off that's better than the original.
    I was just at a regular blackboard gig last night that uses Shure SM-58's just like everyone else and the sound was mud, mud, mud, mud. Mud is what SM-58's are know for and that's what we got. People were listening intently at this gig to understand the lyrics but most couldn't make them out.
    Funnily enough, I personally am one of the few singers with the power and vocal intelligibility to make an SM-58 work for me but I still don't like them.
    end rant on SM-58's/

    As to the PA system. Are you going to have someone running the PA?
    A pair of XY pattern condensers for the uke orchestra and 4 vocal mics for lead singers is a LOT to contend with and isn't really suitable for a set and forget sound reenforcement setup. PA's for largish groups is rather complicated and needs an experienced sound person to run it. When you get an experienced sound person I would ask them for advice. If performers start wanting foldback monitors as well then it gets quite complicated to run.

    You'd be surprised how complicated just running two mics, a foldback monitor and a couple of main speakers can be.
    Last edited by anthonyg; 10-13-2019 at 07:46 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by hollisdwyer View Post
    Thanks very much for your advice. That looks like a good end goal for the group but gives me a pathway to start at. One question though, are the various SM58 knockoffs close enough in quality to justify not spending the extra on the original Shure model?
    I think they sound very good. One of the reasons I good a mixer is to have better control of the mic sound with 3 band equalizers on each channel, helps a lot with variations in mics.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by anthonyg View Post
    Don't get me started on Shure SM-58's. The real question is, who doesn't make a SM-58 knock off that's better than the original.
    I was just at a regular blackboard gig last night that uses Shure SM-58's just like everyone else and the sound was mud, mud, mud, mud. Mud is what SM-58's are know for and that's what we got. People were listening intently at this gig to understand the lyrics but most couldn't make them out.
    Funnily enough, I personally am one of the few singers with the power and vocal intelligibility to make an SM-58 work for me but I still don't like them.
    end rant on SM-58's/

    As to the PA system. Are you going to have someone running the PA?
    A pair of XY pattern condensers for the uke orchestra and 4 vocal mics for lead singers is a LOT to contend with and isn't really suitable for a set and forget sound reenforcement setup. PA's for largish groups is rather complicated and needs an experienced sound person to run it. When you get an experienced sound person I would ask them for advice. If performers start wanting foldback monitors as well then it gets quite complicated to run.

    You'd be surprised how complicated just running two mics, a foldback monitor and a couple of main speakers can be.
    Quote Originally Posted by kohanmike View Post
    I think they sound very good. One of the reasons I good a mixer is to have better control of the mic sound with 3 band equalizers on each channel, helps a lot with variations in mics.
    Well, there's two responses that represent the polarity of opinion!

    That begs the question, if not a SM58, what would people recommend up to the same cost? I have a ZT Acoustic amp ( https://www.ztamplifiers.com/lunchbox-acoustic-amp.html ) that has a mic channel and provides EQ on that channel. As a first step to amping our group it will probably be this amp which will be used for our vocalists.
    "All worthwhile things in life should be easy to learn but hard to master"

    Hoffmann Lutherie - Baritone - Master Grade Ebony and AAA Red Spruce
    Beau Hannam Custom Tenor - Vintage Hand Rubbed Sun Burst all Tassie Blackwood
    Barron River Tenor - Satin Box Maple and Alaskan Yellow Cedar
    Hoffmann Lutherie - Concert - Angry Owl Ebony and Cedar

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by hollisdwyer View Post

    That begs the question, if not a SM58, what would people recommend up to the same cost? I have a ZT Acoustic amp (link deleted) that has a mic channel and provides EQ on that channel. As a first step to amping our group it will probably be this amp which will be used for our vocalists.
    SM-58's are a victim of their own success. They can't change and they can't get better because everyone is just so used to them and want's them. Anyway, if all you need is an SM-58 then you can get the same performance for WAY less with an iSK DM-58 or a Behringer XM8500. For the money of a new Shure SM-58 I believe that people really should try out a few mics at a good store and pick a mic that works for their own voice.

    Amplifying a large group of performers is not something I would recommend that any one tries to do on the cheap or for a lark. It's actually quite a difficult technical thing to do.
    Last edited by anthonyg; 10-14-2019 at 11:53 AM.

  8. #8
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    I second anthonyg's recommendation of the Behringer XM8500 ($20 or less in the U.S.), and I suggest a Rode M1 (from the OP's and ag's homeland) as a substitute for the default SM58. The price is the same (at least in the U.S.) = $99.
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  9. #9
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    I meant the Samson sounds good. I believe any of the around $30US mics now would be good.

  10. #10
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    You're in for a headache. My recommendation is as follows:

    First, remember that you only need to be heard. You don't need to be loud.

    The simplest setup would be a x/y microphone up high in front of the group, but this is not necessarily the cheapest, and getting a good balance between the voices and instruments may prove difficult. You could add a cardioid condenser several feet to either side of the x/y setup as needs demand. This approach makes it easy for the group to monitor their own sound and grants the flexibility for soloists to approach the various microphones for a natural boost.

    Alternatively, groups of 3-4 ensemble members could each share 1 cardioid microphone set at a height about halfway between their ukes and mouths. The groups could each be built around one lead singer, with the remaining players being assigned based on their height. The members could then use spacing from the microphones to control dynamics. This method allows you to push higher SPLs but also requires considerable discipline on the part of ensemble members.

    Either way, I would restrict instrument amp use to only one or two reliable rhythm or lead players (possibly with a good singer on the amp's xlr channel). Set the amp to a low level and use it as a monitor to minimize bleed. You can then mic the speaker cabinet if you need it in the mix.

    Neither of these solutions is perfect, but either one is accessible.
    "Who hears music, feels his solitude Peopled at once -- for how count heart-beats plain / Unless a company, with hearts which beat, / Come close to the musician, seen or no?" - Robert Browning, "Balaustion's Adventure"

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