Friday 9 March 2012

A Gig!

I've played twice now at the café down the road from me, and they are still keen to have me back.  I'm enjoying it - sure, to 90% of people you are just background music, but the 10% of people actively listening give you the audience interaction that makes it nice.  I find my brain scrambles up a bit due to performance anxiety; stuff I'd play okay by myself in a relaxed environment doesn't come out as clean in a proper performance situation.  But, play through.  That's why I always encourage you to play a song from start to finish, playing through your mistakes, it teaches you how to play through your mistakes when you need to.

I also need to slow down, performance anxiety causes speeding issues!

I discovered that a few songs in my repertoire are too rusty to play, and some are a bit rough.  There is a bit of re-learning and practise to do.  However I found that I could play non-stop for 1 hour 50 minutes without repeating anything.  Not bad.  And it's all good stuff, there are no "fillers" in that.  It does include just short of 25 minutes of Dark Side of the Moon too :)  But it would be nice to polish up a few rusty ones, and learn a few more easy ones from tabs just to extend out the song list; Blackbird and Mad World spring to mind.  Just to have good coverage for different audiences on the night.

Speaking of, so far the audience have been primarily "an older crowd" (ha ha)  late 30's early 40's, but also a lot of 50+.  Some kids, but not many.  That works out alright for me, my selection of music ties in with the late 30's early 40's :)

I have been asked for a business card once per gig by someone from the audience.  Weddings, this point in time it's still a hobby for me and I'm avoiding weekend work (I play Thursday nights) so I've been politely declining.  My day job pays a lot more than a gig does!

From the café owner's point of view I've been good for them - the first night they had advertised "local acoustic guiarist" and packed the joint, 70 people, and had a record takings.  The second time they didn't advertise, smaller crowd, which was nice because I felt less pressure; boost confidence.  It will be interesting to see what happens, crowd wise, whether me being there makes any difference.  The café is near the entrance to a shopping centre, there is a lot of people walking past; will it create interest?  We will see.

Safe to say that folding stuff has been pressed into my hand at the end of the night; not to mention a glass or two of red wine along the way.  Just the way I like it :)

I was asked about my amplification by one of my mates, I'll repeat it here.  Very simple.  It's just the little Ashton Busker amp (BSK158) that I bought a few years back to replace my home brewed amps...because it sounded so much better. It has a 12V battery in it but I'm playing it plugged in. It has a surprisingly clean and crisp sound, it gets muddy if you start to crank it or the acoustics of the area are not nice, but I guess that is the case for all amps.

Ideally I'd like an AER compact 60 acoustic, the best amp I ever tried on nylon. However since I'm only running my little 15W amp at 75% volume tops, I hardly need 60W. And I don't have a lazy $2k to spend on an amp. The sound I can get out of the little Ashton is not that far off what I got out of the AER when I was comparing them, so it will do for now.

I think the key to sounding good is a good foundation - I started with a quality classical guitar (Esteve 1GR-11) and I put in what I thought was the nicest sounding pickup for a nylon that I could find (B-band A6T). Amplified I'm only after a "true" sound, that is what the guitar sounds like unplugged. No reverb, no delay, no effects, just some EQ to make up for any environment imbalance. If the lay of the land is nothing but concrete I sweep out the mids, if it's open and grassy then up the mids. Trebles and basses generally stay flat.

So the gig is going to keep me busy - I'll give you updates if anything interesting happens...or anything uninteresting happens!  For now, it's good to interact with an audience, it's what I've wanted for quite a while.


  1. Good news! Let us see the setlist, I guess it's sticked on the back of your guitar :)

    Is this Ashton an acoustic amp? I have a Kustom acoustic and it's got a lovely sound. I ordered a new mic+piezo pickup this week, I hope the plugged-in sound will improve a lot.

    By the way, don't play that long at one stretch, screen some of your best YT videos in between and have a cup of coffee :)

  2. Man, that's awesome news. Very happy you have made it to where you want to be :)

    I can't wait until my repertoire is large enough for something like that. I find myself unmotivated though recently.

    I got a Randall RG75D amp a few days ago, from a friend. It's not exactly the best choice for an acoustic but its way better than the Peavey Studio Chorus 220 I was using. Neither have a great "true" sound, but the Randall is so much closer :)

    I'm going to have to go look at those pickups you mentioned. That may be a large factor.

    Thanks for the tips, as always. And again, Conngratz!


  3. L3fty - setlist not currently stuck to the back of my guitar (but it was), it's a text file on my smartphone. I'm not sure if it is bad occasionally looking at your phone (you checking your facebook or something buddy?) perhaps I should go back to back of guitar?

    Ashton Busker amp is not specifically acoustic, but the sound sure has an acoustic feel. Perhaps most buskers use acoustic so that's what it was aimed at? Microphone+piezo is great, that's my favourite. The Fishmann you see in a lot of quality steel strings is really nice, but it doesn't have the edge you get when you mix a bit of mic in. And the magic material the B-band guys use (it isn't piezo they tell me) is just great. I'd love it if B-band sponsored me, because I've only got nice stuff to say about their product and their customer support :)

    Playing for two hours was a test, to see if I could do it. My back got sore and my legs went to sleep, so yeah, test complete, don't need to so that again. The first time I split it into two sets with about 15 mins in between, I reckon I'll stick to that formula. My fingers are still quite tender even 3 days after - I normally play for maybe an hour at the most!

    Setlist (in alphabetical order, I play them in random order depending on how I feel):
    A Kind of Magic
    Another Brick in the Wall part II
    Another One Bites The Dust
    Baby Can I Hold You
    Breathe/Time/Breathe Reprise/Gig Sky/
    Us&Them/Any Colour/Brain Damage/Eclipse
    Choir Girl
    Come Together
    Crazy Little Thing Called Love
    Don't Change
    Goodbye Blue Sky/Anybody Out There
    Head over Feet
    Here Comes the Sun
    Jealous Guy
    Logical Song
    Losing My Religion
    Rock a bye bear/Where's Jeff?
    Space Oddity
    Stupid Girl
    Sunshine of Your Love
    Super Mario Theme
    Take me Back
    Who Made Who
    Wish You Were Here

    I need some practise on about 5 but I'm not afraid to tackle any of them and fumble through mistakes. With about an hour or two each I could bring another 6 or 7 back into the fold that I could once play (Whiter shade of pale, Nights in White Satin, California Dreaming, Canon in D (heh heh), Ghost and Goblins, Day Tripper/Lady Madonna, others). And with two or three hours each I could put together something nice enough from other peoples tabs and complete some outstanding tabs of my own (Blackbird, Mad World, You shook me all night long, James Bond Theme). I have plenty to do!

    Ryan - work on easy ones. So many songs sound fantastic - and complicated - but actually consist of maybe two or three 4 bar phrases (with very minor variation) that you play over and over. Have a few epics you chip away at for yourself, but have crowd pleasers for the crowd :)

    The first little amp I bought about 10 years ago was a Peavy general purpose thing, I current still run my drums through it. Horrible. When I have visited guitar shops in the past, and gone through their amps, I've been surprised what works nicely with nylon string. Pretty much none, very rarely one or two, and not because it is big or expensive. And that is using my "fancy" pickup or with a shop standard piezo pickup. So try everything. I'm probably going to the wrong guitar shops (everyone wants to be a wailing shredder on electric?) but amplification has never been important to me. Perhaps it will be one day, but for now I'm quite happy playing quietly to a small crowd (max venue 70) - I could almost go unplugged, but then I would be "thrashing" the guitar to get some oomphf out of it. Not the right way to play a classical guitar!


  4. Congrats JAW. Thats good to hear.
    Where abouts is the cafe you play at.
    It wouldnt happen to be somewhere in Melbourne, would it?

  5. Thanks Ink. Unfortunately I'm not in what would seem to be the heart of The Arts in Oz (Melbourne) - I'm over in that capital of the sunny mining state of WA, Perth.