How to Amplify a Bassoon?

MrWookiee

Country Gent
Jun 17, 2020
1,708
SoCal, USA
I wasn't sure if this belonged in the Ampage Area or the Tech Side, so here it is.
I want to amplify my bassoon, and as an amateur it has to be cheap. Pros discuss this online but the cheapest solution (for a pro) is $1k+. My need is just to be heard in a hall during concert band performances. Proof of concept in my room using the contact mic from a tuner into my Supro Blues King 12 was successful but bassoons have a wider frequency range than guitars: about 50Hz - 10kHz (presumably due to harmonics). Would it make more sense to go with a powered PA unit instead of a guitar amp, or could I get away with putting a full-range speaker in my son's disused Frontman 10?
Edit: I should have mentioned that the rest of the band is not mic'ed so I'm competing with brass, percussion and woodwinds. Bassoon is not a loud instrument to begin with, and it's timbre doesn't cut through "the mix" the way an oboe or English horn does.
 
Last edited:

wabash slim

I Bleed Orange
Feb 10, 2010
19,398
lafayette in
I wasn't sure if this belonged in the Ampage Area or the Tech Side, so here it is.
I want to amplify my bassoon, and as an amateur it has to be cheap. Pros discuss this online but the cheapest solution (for a pro) is $1k+. My need is just to be heard in a hall during concert band performances. Proof of concept in my room using the contact mic from a tuner into my Supro Blues King 12 was successful but bassoons have a wider frequency range than guitars: about 50Hz - 10kHz (presumably due to harmonics). Would it make more sense to go with a powered PA unit instead of a guitar amp, or could I get away with putting a full-range speaker in my son's disused Frontman 10?
Edit: I should have mentioned that the rest of the band is not mic'ed so I'm competing with brass, percussion and woodwinds. Bassoon is not a loud instrument to begin with, and it's timbre doesn't cut through "the mix" the way an oboe or English horn does.
Lavaliere/clip on mike in the 'bell' of the bassoon. Small PA monitor would work best. Many of those have EQ built in and take a mike level signal. Guitar amp wouldn't be the best.
A Crown PCC-100 lavaliere has saved my butt on plenty of occasions.
 
Last edited:

MrWookiee

Country Gent
Jun 17, 2020
1,708
SoCal, USA
That's interesting! I found a cheap-o lav voice mic with integral preamp in my drawer that was an unneeded part of a bundle I bought a couple of years ago. Tried it a few hours ago with the horn and a line-in to my Fly-3. Got reasonably good balance and no key noise, so the Silver Bullet and a PA might be perfect. Still more than I'd like to spend but maybe I can borrow a PA or find a used one.
 

wabash slim

I Bleed Orange
Feb 10, 2010
19,398
lafayette in
That's interesting! I found a cheap-o lav voice mic with integral preamp in my drawer that was an unneeded part of a bundle I bought a couple of years ago. Tried it a few hours ago with the horn and a line-in to my Fly-3. Got reasonably good balance and no key noise, so the Silver Bullet and a PA might be perfect. Still more than I'd like to spend but maybe I can borrow a PA or find a used one.
You ought to be able to find a small powered monitor at a pawn shop for cheap. I'd use the lav that you have before spending big bucks on a new one.
 

Scott Fraser

Country Gent
Jan 14, 2012
1,650
Los Angeles
More sound comes out of the holes than the bell of woodwinds, so I'd be looking more at miking the side of the instrument than the bell. For a budget mic check the AudioTechnica Pro35, or better yet, a pair of them mounted centrally with one aiming up & the other aiming down the length of the instrument. It will take some improvising to come up with a proper way of mounting this sort of clip-on mic to the middle of a woodwind, but I've seen it done.
 

wabash slim

I Bleed Orange
Feb 10, 2010
19,398
lafayette in
More sound comes out of the holes than the bell of woodwinds, so I'd be looking more at miking the side of the instrument than the bell. For a budget mic check the AudioTechnica Pro35, or better yet, a pair of them mounted centrally with one aiming up & the other aiming down the length of the instrument. It will take some improvising to come up with a proper way of mounting this sort of clip-on mic to the middle of a woodwind, but I've seen it done.
Miking wind instruments has never been easy, and that's before you get into feedback issues. Miking the bell (or mouthpiece on a flute) is a tradeoff that is controllable.
 

Seamus

Country Gent
Gold Supporting Member
Feb 25, 2011
1,259
New England
I wasn't sure if this belonged in the Ampage Area or the Tech Side, so here it is.
I want to amplify my bassoon, and as an amateur it has to be cheap. Pros discuss this online but the cheapest solution (for a pro) is $1k+. My need is just to be heard in a hall during concert band performances. Proof of concept in my room using the contact mic from a tuner into my Supro Blues King 12 was successful but bassoons have a wider frequency range than guitars: about 50Hz - 10kHz (presumably due to harmonics). Would it make more sense to go with a powered PA unit instead of a guitar amp, or could I get away with putting a full-range speaker in my son's disused Frontman 10?
Edit: I should have mentioned that the rest of the band is not mic'ed so I'm competing with brass, percussion and woodwinds. Bassoon is not a loud instrument to begin with, and it's timbre doesn't cut through "the mix" the way an oboe or English horn does.

Firstly, I have a friend and former bandmate you should meet, because there can't possibly more than two people on the planet who need to know this! :) Secondly, I automatically respect anyone who wants to amplify a bassoon. And thirdly, another option other than a PA might be an acoustic guitar amp with a mic input, since they have full-range speakers.
 

wabash slim

I Bleed Orange
Feb 10, 2010
19,398
lafayette in
Firstly, I have a friend and former bandmate you should meet, because there can't possibly more than two people on the planet who need to know this! :) Secondly, I automatically respect anyone who wants to amplify a bassoon. And thirdly, another option other than a PA might be an acoustic guitar amp with a mic input, since they have full-range speakers.
I agree with the acoustic guitar amp. Since most of them have a mike channel they are really little PA systems. You probably will get a reverb built in as well.
 

Scott Fraser

Country Gent
Jan 14, 2012
1,650
Los Angeles
Miking wind instruments has never been easy, and that's before you get into feedback issues. Miking the bell (or mouthpiece on a flute) is a tradeoff that is controllable.
Yes & no. I mixed a Joe Lovano gig many years ago where he was playing soprano sax. He had a clip on mic of some sort attached, pointing into the bell. There is just one note on a woodwind where the sound is produced entirely out of the bell, the lowest note. Every time Joe hit that note, it was like 4 times louder than everything else on the horn. It was ridiculously unbalanced. Of course feedback is an issue, but I'd rather fight that battle than have a spot mic focused on just one note on the horn. Bassoon is tough, sound projection is diffused over a lot of length. I end up recording them often, and it's a combination of close mics for the primary tone & presence, along with an overhead for the room as well as the bell. And that would never work in a live band situation.
 

wabash slim

I Bleed Orange
Feb 10, 2010
19,398
lafayette in
Yes & no. I mixed a Joe Lovano gig many years ago where he was playing soprano sax. He had a clip on mic of some sort attached, pointing into the bell. There is just one note on a woodwind where the sound is produced entirely out of the bell, the lowest note. Every time Joe hit that note, it was like 4 times louder than everything else on the horn. It was ridiculously unbalanced. Of course feedback is an issue, but I'd rather fight that battle than have a spot mic focused on just one note on the horn. Bassoon is tough, sound projection is diffused over a lot of length. I end up recording them often, and it's a combination of close mics for the primary tone & presence, along with an overhead for the room as well as the bell. And that would never work in a live band situation.
Damned if you do; damned if you don't.
 

MrWookiee

Country Gent
Jun 17, 2020
1,708
SoCal, USA
The issues being discussed (great discussion btw!) and the cost of having 2-3 close-up mics, as some pros do, is why I was initially thinking of a contact mic on the bocal. A piezo wouldn't sound natural, but micing at the bocal might not either. Maybe a mic near (not pointed into) the bell would work if there were some kind of AGC but then I'd sacrifice dynamics.
Maybe I just need to get a harder reed and blow harder.
 

Scott Fraser

Country Gent
Jan 14, 2012
1,650
Los Angeles
The issues being discussed (great discussion btw!) and the cost of having 2-3 close-up mics, as some pros do, is why I was initially thinking of a contact mic on the bocal. A piezo wouldn't sound natural, but micing at the bocal might not either. Maybe a mic near (not pointed into) the bell would work if there were some kind of AGC but then I'd sacrifice dynamics.
Maybe I just need to get a harder reed and blow harder.
A friend of mine has a Countryman lav element mounted in the barrel of his bagpipe chanter, which is somewhat the equivalent of the bocal, though more completely in the vibrating stream of air. It involved drilling into the barrel & gluing the mic element in place. Countryman measured SPLs in excess of 120 dB in that location. It was definitely a custom install but works great for live gigs. I know clarinetists who have done the same installation.
 

Henry

I Bleed Orange
Apr 9, 2014
19,504
Petaluma
Yea experiment with different mics. I'd ve more worried about picking up the other instruments than feedback as it seems like you will play at low volumes, since others will be unamplified. Most PAs will be too much as well at this volume. A mini PA, or acoustic guitar amp eill work, but honestly at very low volumes and with some eq, a guitar amp may work, especially if you don't have to buy anything. Kinda depends on how serious this group is.

I would look at analogous instruments, like baritone sax maybe.
 


Latest posts

Top