Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Losing Some Weight

Now that my acoustic blues duo – the Scott Davis Project – is gigging regularly, I’m playing out 10+ times per month. I decided I didn’t want to lug my harp amp around to all the gigs with the duo because, well, it’s supposed to be “acoustic,” and I’m happy to take less gear to those gigs. It shortens the loads and eases the pains.

For the first few duo gigs I played harp into a Shure SM57 mic on a mic stand, plugged straight into the PA board with just a little ‘verb from the board. After a while I wanted a little more tone and texture on my harp, but I didn’t want it bad enough to start carrying the 5F2H amp to every acoustic gig. So I decided to check out multi-effects processors.

Richard Hunter is a well-known harp guy on Harp-L who strongly supports the use of effects boxes, particularly the Digitech RP series. I contacted him and he recommended the new RP350 or RP250. Those are cool products with lots of gadgets, but I decided I’d probably seldom use most of their features. I settled on the Digitech RP150. Musicians Friend had it on sale for only $79.95 including a cool gig bag.

One of the main features it lacks when compared to the 250 and 350 is the expression pedal, but it has a plug for an external pedal if I want to borrow one from my guitar player and try it. It also has the USB connector. I think you can combine fewer effects with the 150, and it may lack some effects like Envelope Filter. That’s okay… All I’m really looking for are a few amp models, delay, reverb, maybe a little compression. Maybe chorus. I don’t need any fancy looping or space-ship sounds.

So far, the RP150 fills the bill. I’ve messed with it at practice and at home, and I’ll gig it out tomorrow night. I’ve come up with a few FX combinations that I think will sound nice, but you never know until you play it in the club through your PA system. I'll update this post with recordings later.

Speaking of PA systems, I’ve taken another step to lose a little more weight: I sold my heavy (but excellent) Yamaha S115IV speaker cabs. Those suckers weigh a ton, and our weekly acoustic duo gig is in a smaller club that is down a long flight of stairs. Lugging those monsters up at the end of the night was a literal pain, even with a dolly. Plus, the Yamahas were serious overkill in terms of volume and size. They took up too much of our scarce stage space.

So, I took the money from selling the Yamaha speakers and bought a pair of Mackie C200 speakers. I’ve owned Mackie SRM450 speakers in the past and they were fantastic. The C200 speakers are the unpowered version the Mackie SRM350, a wonderful 10-inch 2-way cab. But get this: The C200 speakers weigh only 26 lbs each! They are not big and awkward like the Yamahas. One Mackie in each hand and the speaker load-out is done.

One of my bandmates in Roadhouse Joe owns identical Yamaha cabs, and another has big Peavey cabs, so mine were just sitting. Also, the Mackie C200 cabs can be used as monitors for the big blues band.

Here's a pic of the Digitech RP150. It is sitting in the gig bag, with the power supply and Audix in-line impedance matching transformer on the right.

The complete acoustic gig rig: Digitech RP150 and harp case. I'll leave the amp they are sitting on at home.

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