In a while I will have to play a gig with my band outdoors. We have our own PA system which is certainly well enough to be able to have good sound quality outdoors. However, there will also be playing a small band with an accordion. I am not sure how I have to amplify that. Does it need amplification in the first place? Will a standard SM57 be enough to amplify that? Should I provide the mic for an accordionist that will play in my backyard?
closed as primarily opinion-based by JCPedroza, Meaningful Username, MrTheBard, Shevliaskovic, Pat Muchmore Jul 6 at 13:07
Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.
|show 2 more comments|
Since it's not your band, and you're alerady kind enough to provide a PA system, don't do anything. Let the accordionist make do with what you have (e.g. mic stand and SM-57) or else bring his or her own equipment (such as clip-on mics and a pre-amp) to plug into your PA.
Musicians have to be responsible for this kind of thing themselves, if they want the best possible amplified sound in any situation, as well as more control over that sound.
If that band is not experienced in amplified performances, maybe send them an e-mail ahead of time to warn them that you don't have specialized amplification solutions for their instruments, and that they should "gear up" if they want the best possible live sound through a PA system (such as yours, or any other).
|show 4 more comments|
Since there's a lot of bickering about it, I'll give you the three best solutions. ("Best", as in, this seems to be the sentiment of everybody who has posted so far.)
High budget solution
The only very effective way to amplify an accordion is with multiple microphones attached to the accordion itself. On this picture you can see three, but I've usually seen people using four microphones (two on each side):
Remember that the sound of an accordion does not come from one central spot; each note comes from a different place in a fairly large area. I used to be the accordion player in a very amateurish band, where we used a Shure 57 microphone to amplify it. The very high and low notes were too far from the mic, while the middle range ones were amplified too loudly. With one single microphone, there is no good way to solve that.
Additionally, using one microphone limits you to the right-handed notes only; the bass notes are all off limits, as they come out from the left side of the accordion. Additionally additionally, a microphone on a stand is quite difficult to work with, since the accordion is typically an instrument that doesn't stay in exactly one place.
Sadly, since you're talking about two to four microphones per accordion, this can be a little too pricey for your particular situation. Nonetheless, for the sake of this question's usefulness (which SE is about), I am going to state that this solution is the only really good one.
Low budget solution
In case you want to save a lot of money, you can simply hire these things for this one day. I do advise you to test the system before trying to use it on stage though; the more complicated your microphone system gets, the more can go wrong.
Very low budget solution
Lastly, if you are really not able to spend any money on this, simply use your Shure SM57 microphone. In this case, try to make the accordionist aware of how to play when using a microphone on a stand. Here's a picture of yours truly, where you can see what I mean. (Please do ignore the awesome hat -- let's just say that this is part of some traditional Belgium dress-up culture.)
Firstly, you'll notice that the left hand notes are not being amplified, so there's no use in even playing them. On this picture, I seem to be doing a good job at pretending I am, though. Secondly (and just as importantly), the high notes come out from the lower end of the accordion, and the low notes come out from the top. On the picture you can see that I'm playing high notes, so I'm holding the accordion up a bit higher, aligning the lowest end with the microphone. If the accordionist does not do this, you'll have a very hard time giving every note the same amplification.
|show 6 more comments|
The problem with accordions (as with some other instruments) is that the sound comes from multiple places and at least part of the sound source is always in motion. That makes getting consistent results from fixed mics difficult.
Mics strapped to the instrument, as in @LeeWhite's answer, are indeed the best solution, akin to other instrument pickups.
If you can't do that, stepping back and doing zone/area micing can be a viable alternative. It does make isolating the accordion from other sounds/performers difficult, and it can sometimes be tricky to manage for feedback. But as the mic moves back, the distance/direction variations become less significant. Close mics are not the only answer!
[Apparently my keyboard was moving too; a few words vanished. Corrected now. Sorry.]
Typically you use two mics for accordion. The right hand end of the instrument is the treble end and stays still (is strapped to the performer) and the left hand end is the bass end and moves about more as the bellows open and shut. The right hand mic therefore can be placed quite close to the instrument and the left hand one needs a bit more space.
If the accordionist frequently plays in bands they may have dedicated mics built into the instrument or clipped somehow to it.
SM57s are industry standard for instrument amplification. On a stand will be good, but it could depend on how animated the player becomes ! Put beside the holes where the sound emanates is best. If the guy wants to be more mobile, you could gaffa tape the mic to the accordion, but that may not go down too well with the owner. The best way of course is to use an electronic accordion, but you probably won't have that privilege. If you do, it can be D.I-d into your p.a.
|show 19 more comments|