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FDP Forum / Performer's Corner / EQing acoustic/electric live

Contributing Member


Aug 2nd, 2019 11:30 PM   Edit   Profile  

My Taylor acoustic-electric has been my faithful live companion for years, but EQing it seems a crapshoot. It's usually one low frequency - often a low open string - and it can vary room by room. The bottom just usually sounds muddy, with various frequencies booming more than others. I currently have a nice Fishman Platinum EQ with 2 controls - a variable midrange knob allowing you to change the frequency and level (cut or boost of that frequency) but with no info. about the frequency range/sweep. The other control is a notch filter from 45Hz to 1kHz and you can boost/cut that.

I found online a chart of the frequencies of different notes. Should I use that as a guide to find what to cut and use the notch filter? What about the mid sweep whose specific frequencies I don't know?

Juice Nichols
Contributing Member

Panama City, FL

I'm just a dude, playing a dude...
Aug 2nd, 2019 11:58 PM   Edit   Profile  

I’m not really clear on what your question is. Do you want your guitar to sound brighter? Are you having trouble with your guitar feeding back? Keep in mind, if you’re listening to yourself behind the main speakers with no foldback monitor, your guitar is going to sound muddy because your not hearing much of the highs.

Contributing Member

North ON, Canada

Aug 3rd, 2019 05:31 AM   Edit   Profile  

I’m curious about clarification on the q (and a’s) here too as I’m having trouble with my Taylor feeding back.

Contributing Member

Middle Tennessee

Guitar Slave
Aug 3rd, 2019 06:32 AM   Edit   Profile  

An external, multi-band equalizer can help with the feedback. Amplified acoustic guitars often have troubles with low, and low mid, frequency feedback. Cutting the level of the offending frequencies can help eliminate feedback. It's usually around 100Hz. Your low A string is 110Hz so it's right there in that range. Once it starts resonating it can get out of control very easily.

The notch filter is typically used more for feedback control and the EQ is used more for making it sound better but, the EQ can be used for feedback control as well if needed if it will allow you to get to the frequency range where the feedback is occurring.

The way to find the offending frequencies is to turn the overall level of the guitar up until it just starts to feedback. Next, reduce the level of the notch filter by about 1/4. Then sweep through the frequencies slowly until the feedback goes away. Turn the overall guitar level up again until it starts to feedback. Move the filter's frequency selector to see if it helps or makes it worse. If moving it makes it better then stop where it is the best and turn the filter level down more at that frequency. If it gets worse move it back to the frequency it was at when you started and cut (reduce) the level at THAT frequency more. Lather, rinse, repeat, until it gets as good as you can get it. If you can get the feedback to stop then boost the EQ level a little and sweep through its range and listen for where it has the most influence. I would bet it is more for mid range and top end. If so, use it to put some sparkle and clarity on the sound.

A couple of bands of EQ or filters may not be enough to eliminate all of the problem frequencies at the overall volume you prefer but, it's better than having no options at all. That's why a multi-band EQ is advantageous. It allows you to manipulate more frequencies. An EQ pedal will work just fine. It doesn't have to be a rack mounted one. That's what I used because that's what I had.

It comes down to messing with it enough to find out what works. Set it up at home and fiddle with it. A LOT! That can help you figure out what the different controls do so when you get to the gig you'll have an idea of what works, and what doesn't, and won't have to screw with it as much. The gig is not a good place to do Research and Development. You'll need to find out what the limitations of the gear are. After a point it won't get any better. You need to find out where that is and know when to stop fussing with it. Sometimes you just have to turn the overall level down and live with it when the problems cannot be overcame with what you have. Sometimes it just sucks and you can't get it how you like and there's nothing more you can do about it without using more, or different, gear.

Keep in mind that different rooms will have varying resonance problems and as such the feedback problems will be different. So, what setting works best at one venue may not work at another. If you play at the same places a lot then keep a log and write down the settings you end up with at the different places. Having that for reference will be a big time saver and you'll see patterns emerge that will help you to figure out how the stuff works.

I used to hate playing live with my acoustic and having to depend upon the wedge-stage-monitors for my way of hearing what I was playing. I didn't have an acoustic guitar amp and it sounded terrible through my Twin Reverb. I had a bunch of un-used gear lying around so I put a live acoustic guitar rig together and never had another problem. I could drown out the drummer with my acoustic if needed and it sounded wonderful.....every time.

WAAAAY more than necessary

(This message was last edited by ninworks at 09:43 AM, Aug 3rd, 2019)

Contributing Member

North ON, Canada

Aug 3rd, 2019 09:40 AM   Edit   Profile  

Thanks for the info ninworks. “The gig is not a good place to do Research and Development. “......so true.

Te 52

Laws of Physics

strictly enforced
Aug 3rd, 2019 11:54 AM   Edit   Profile  

Parametric equalizers are really the tool of choice for killing room resonances. The bands on graphic EQs are usually too wide for this purpose, you need to be able to adjust the 'Q' to be very narrow.

(This message was last edited by Te 52 at 01:56 PM, Aug 3rd, 2019)

Contributing Member

American Patriot

About as ordinary as you can get.
Aug 3rd, 2019 12:34 PM   Edit   Profile  

Your audience will not know the difference. I know we all want to sound good so as long is your rig sounds good to you and the guys in the band, that's all that matters. The audience won't know squat.

Contributing Member

Middle Tennessee

Guitar Slave
Aug 3rd, 2019 12:36 PM   Edit   Profile  

Te, you are correct but,

I mentioned multi-band EQ. Not specifically "graphic" EQ. That was not an accident. If you'll notice, I said "sweep" through the frequencies." That was for the Fishman he already has. I don't know of many outboard graphic EQ's that allow one to 'sweep' through the frequencies until you get into the high-end gear.

Parametrics do work well but, many of them don't have many bands and feedback problems are often in more than one frequency area. They will be at the fundamental, the first and or second harmonic above that.

I didn't want to confuse the issue by spelling out 'parametric' EQ. My thoughts were that if they don't yet understand what the notch filter and EQ sweep capabilities of the Fishman do then calling out a parametric EQ could just add confusion to the equation. Just trying to keep it simple as possible.

(This message was last edited by ninworks at 02:39 PM, Aug 3rd, 2019)

Contributing Member

If irritation occurs

discontinue use.
Aug 4th, 2019 09:48 AM   Edit   Profile  

If you gig a lot and use your own PA, consider a DBX DriveRack. These work really well to balance your sound for any size room.

These are discontinued now, which means you can find them used for around $250.


Contributing Member


Aug 4th, 2019 10:16 PM   Edit   Profile  

Thanks all - excellent input. I will experiment with the notch filter for a while, perhaps make some markings on it to give me a rough idea of where the frequencies are. Beyond that it looks like my best option would be a parametric EQ because, for one, none I've seen feature the 110 Hz for the A string. Doesn't look like there are many options, but Boss has a discontinued one called the PQ-4 and Tech 21 makes one that's more expensive.

Contributing Member

St. Louis

"Thumbpicks don't slide into soundholes"
Aug 5th, 2019 09:42 AM   Edit   Profile  

In the vein of the drive rack I bought what was called a gorack a few years ago.
It has feedback busters in it as well as 10 eq settings with compression as well. I have used it to warm up acoustic electric guitars and feedback killing is automatic in a narrow or broad frequency band.
In a pinch it can work well as a two channel mic mixer and direct box as well. They are discontinued I think now but there are a ton of the out there used.


What It Was!

Fairly Unbalanced
Aug 5th, 2019 11:15 AM   Edit   Profile  

My Baggs PARA EQ box solved that for me. A lot of the time just flipping the red phase button takes care of the bass gremlins that pop up in a new room.

Contributing Member

Columbia, SC

Aug 18th, 2019 10:57 AM   Edit   Profile  

I have an older on board Fishman blender (now paired with a K&K UTS replacing the original Fishman element).

The notch filter does an excellent job finding the "hum" spot on my A string (fretting second or third position usually finds the offending frequency). I can dial myself in pretty quickly using this approach.

Having said that, getting an ideal live acoustic sound is a bit more complicated, but if I'm sitting in or doing an open mic I've learned not to get too fussy. It's true that the audience will probably never notice.

FDP Forum / Performer's Corner / EQing acoustic/electric live

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