Question: Do you have any tips for festival miking? (Part 3, Guitar and Bass Amps)
Answer: Setting up mics for a guitar or bass amp at a festival requires can be fast-paced. But, you also need to acquire a rich tone when you are behind the board. You know, that tone that gets every audience member up out of their lawn chairs with their fists pumping. This is all really a matter of the types of mics you use, how they are mounted, and where they are placed. Below you will find some useful tips on miking amps at a festival.
Tip #1: Mic Types
Consider the types of mics you will need to when miking an amp. It is likely you will have to mike multiple bands throughout the day. The bands may even perform music from different genres, meaning the makes and models of the amps for each band could vary. Sticking with one or two options of mics for the amps allows for a quicker setup and lets you get back to the board for sound check straightaway. The best options for miking guitar amps in this application would be the ATM650 Hypercardioid Dynamic Instrument Microphone, the AE2300 Cardioid Dynamic Instrument Microphone, or the AE3000 Cardioid Condenser Instrument Microphone. For festivals where the bands tend to be rather active on stage, consider the more rugged and inexpensive ATM650. However, the AE2300 and AE3000 microphones excel in use with guitar cabs and can handle high-SPL while providing extremely accurate and open sound.
Tip #2: Stands
You need to decide how the microphones will be mounted on stands. Depending on the gear you have available to you, the standard boom stands that would be used for a vocalist would work here as well. Fortunately, there are various mic stands available specifically for miking amps. You could get a small miniature boom stand to mount the mic or even a clamp that attaches to the side of the amp so it doesn’t sit on the floor. Having these smaller mic stands allow more room on stage, making it less likely the musicians will bump the stands and move the mic out of position!
Tip #3: Mounting the microphones
You will need to mount the mics onto the stands and have them placed by the amp. A go-to spot for mic placement would be toward the edge of the speaker about a half inch or so from the grille (if it’s a 4×12 cab, just pick a speaker, perhaps one of the top two). When you are experimenting with the tone of that position, you can also back the mic up a few inches from the amp. You may be surprised by how much the tone can change from slightly moving the mic around.
Tip #4: AE3000 Trick
Need a faster setup solution? Short on mic stands? No Problem! Just take an AE3000 microphone, hook it up to an XLR cable, and loop the mic through the amp handle. Then drape the mic over the top of the amp so it hangs in front of the speaker. This solution is recommended when you will be setting up quite a few bands in a short amount of time.
Now that you have a plan for miking guitar and bass amps at festivals, you are all set to get behind that board and start mixing! If you have any questions about miking amps at a festival, feel free to contact us here in the Audio-Solutions Department.
Read the next installment in this series: Part 4: Tips for Miking Vocals at a Music Festival