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Author: Subject: Oud sound in contemporary band
gregorypause
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[*] posted on 3-9-2017 at 10:41 PM
Oud sound in contemporary band


Hi everyone,

I have a question about what affects the sound of an oud. I have an Egyptian oud that has nice sound if I play it on its own. It's an ideal sound for maqams. Quite full and with good bass. However, I find it a bit too bassy when playing with a contemporary band. I find that for an oud to sound good in a band with a piano, guitar, bass and drums it has to have a more snappy midrange heavy sound. I came across this song that showcases this sound: https://open.spotify.com/track/2doI02N6H6i4wxEY6IKgX0

My question is: is this because of the shorter scale of a Greek/Turkish oud? Is it a question of the size of the bowl?

Thanks in advance
Gregory
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John Erlich
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[*] posted on 3-11-2017 at 10:59 PM


Quote: Originally posted by gregorypause  
Hi everyone,

I have a question about what affects the sound of an oud. I have an Egyptian oud that has nice sound if I play it on its own. It's an ideal sound for maqams. Quite full and with good bass. However, I find it a bit too bassy when playing with a contemporary band. I find that for an oud to sound good in a band with a piano, guitar, bass and drums it has to have a more snappy midrange heavy sound. I came across this song that showcases this sound: https://open.spotify.com/track/2doI02N6H6i4wxEY6IKgX0

My question is: is this because of the shorter scale of a Greek/Turkish oud? Is it a question of the size of the bowl?

Thanks in advance
Gregory


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0MG4703Kexs

I think your surmise is partly correct. Turkish/Armenian/Greek ouds have a brighter tone and somewhat louder sound than Arabic ouds. I think it also depends on the equipment, the mic/pickup, sound system, etc. The main world music venue in my home town has a crummy sound system, I think. At my last gig (using a Turkish ud), we tried to mic the oud, but there was too much feedback when they cranked it high enough to be heard over the rest of the ensemble (large 10-piece group). So, I had to use my Najarian pickup instead. The sound was tinny and "electronic" and still not quite loud enough to be heard well. On the other hand, I've had other engineers with other equipment manage to get a great sound, both mic'ed and using the pickup, quite easily and quickly. A lot of engineers don't know how to work with acoustic, non-Western instruments.
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John Erlich
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[*] posted on 3-11-2017 at 11:06 PM


Another good example would be John Bilezikjian's recording with Leonard Cohen, "The Partisan" - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ezCqzt3vAXw . I doubt an Arabic oud would have "cut through" the way an Armenian oud did.
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gregorypause
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[*] posted on 3-12-2017 at 12:01 AM


Thanks for your reply. How to mic and EQ the oud is also an interesting topic. Last time I played he oud on stage I just used a condenser mic and got reasonable results. Not so many instruments on stage though so the stage monitors didn't need to be loud. I find that unless there's a built in mic there's always the risk of feedback. I have this problem with the resonator guitar I play occasionally as well.

At least I know where to start acoustically (smaller bowl, shorter scale) and amplifying is going to enhance the difference between the sound of the Ouds. I also find it interesting that you mention that despite the smaller bowl the Turkish oud is louder. I wonder why that is.
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Jody Stecher
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[*] posted on 3-12-2017 at 07:08 AM


I played a gig a few months ago using a microphone on a Nazih Ghadban Arabic oud. The other instruments were "acoustic" guitar with an elaborate DI setup, electric bass, and a full drum kit. No feedback. No problem with the oud being heard well by the audience and by the band in our monitors. And it was not an ideal acoustic environment at the venue. We had a good sound crew. That is essential. I can't remember if the mic was a condenser or a dynamic mic. At any rate there was no feedback, the audience heard the oud well, the oud sound was natural and lovely. Now the band was not playing at maximum volume. The drummer was not playing as loud as possible. I did not need earplugs. But the string instruments were certainly loud enough to be heard over a drum kit. IF there had been a problem of the oud cutting through I would have played closer to the bridge. But I didn't need to do that.
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[*] posted on 3-12-2017 at 07:51 AM


Hi Jody. Thanks for your input. I don't use earplugs. The volume is not that loud. Do you use stage monitors? I think that might be the issue in my case. Is your Nazi Ghadban shorter or longer scale? The point you make about playing closer to the bridge is valid. I should try that.
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[*] posted on 3-12-2017 at 10:38 AM


The comment about earplugs was just to convey that the band wasn't enormously loud. Yes we had four stage monitors, one for each musician. The scale of the oud I used is 61.5 cm. Why would that matter? Placement of the monitors and the type of microphone and how wide a pattern it has and placement of the mic are all factors that can create feedback or avoid feedback. All this is to say that I don't agree with the widespread idea that microphones are unsuitable for oud in the context of an ensemble. What I think is unsuitable is sound engineers who are unskilled in using microphones to produce beautiful sound and unskilled in overcoming the various obstacles to beautiful sound that some performance venues present. It can be a formidable job and I have deep appreciation for skilled sound tech folk.
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[*] posted on 3-12-2017 at 11:57 AM


I recently got an acoustic preamp, the BBE Acoustimax, and have been having good prelimimary results. It's good for reducing feedback, and great for EQ. It easily adjusts the bassy/midrangey balance the OP mentions above. My pickup is a passive K&K twin spot; my amp is a Genz Benz acoustic guitar amp.
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Jaffa Road
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[*] posted on 3-14-2017 at 12:32 PM


From playing many shows with Jaffa Road, I think I have this figured out.
http://www.jaffaroad.com

1) When playing a traditional oud, I have used a najarian pickup to capture the sound of the instrument , I run it through a boss bass eq pedal with all of the mids scooped out and and into a small acoustic guitar amp (fishman loudbox mini is my current favorite). This amp is on a stand pointing at me. This is used for monitoring purposes only so that I can keep an ear on my intonation and play properly.

(I found that if I rely only on the pickup then I am not happy with the tone of the oud. If I rely only on the microphone then once the band starts playing I never will get enough oud in the monitor to hear myself properly. )

Then I have the sound tech mic the oud with a SDC mic, and this is the sound that goes to the house. In a band setting you will usually need to EQ more low and mid out than what you would normally consider to be good oud tone ( if you where playing solo).

OR

2) The Godin Multi-oud with the FISHMAN AURA preamp ( they have two models one with Aura and one with a simple piezo system) is IMO the best way to play oud in a contemporary band setting. It solves all of the above problems, and for less traditional stuff it interacts with FX pedals really well.


And thanks to John Erlich for posting those L.Cohen clips. that made my day
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[*] posted on 3-14-2017 at 10:31 PM


Quote: Originally posted by Jaffa Road  
From playing many shows with Jaffa Road, I think I have this figured out.
http://www.jaffaroad.com

1) When playing a traditional oud, I have used a najarian pickup to capture the sound of the instrument , I run it through a boss bass eq pedal with all of the mids scooped out and and into a small acoustic guitar amp (fishman loudbox mini is my current favorite). This amp is on a stand pointing at me. This is used for monitoring purposes only so that I can keep an ear on my intonation and play properly.

(I found that if I rely only on the pickup then I am not happy with the tone of the oud. If I rely only on the microphone then once the band starts playing I never will get enough oud in the monitor to hear myself properly. )

Then I have the sound tech mic the oud with a SDC mic, and this is the sound that goes to the house. In a band setting you will usually need to EQ more low and mid out than what you would normally consider to be good oud tone ( if you where playing solo).

OR

2) The Godin Multi-oud with the FISHMAN AURA preamp ( they have two models one with Aura and one with a simple piezo system) is IMO the best way to play oud in a contemporary band setting. It solves all of the above problems, and for less traditional stuff it interacts with FX pedals really well.


And thanks to John Erlich for posting those L.Cohen clips. that made my day
My pleasure, habibi!
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gregorypause
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[*] posted on 3-15-2017 at 10:54 PM


Thanks for all the great suggestions. Jaffa I heard from elsewhere that using a pickup AND a mic helps in this situation as well.
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[*] posted on 3-16-2017 at 06:31 AM


yes and just to be clear, the pick up and amp are just for you to monitor yourself. Generally that signal does not go to the FOH. You may also want some of the mic in your monitor as it sounds better and better sound will inspire better taqsims :),

But by not relying on the mic for monitoring yourself you will greatly reduce the possibility of feedback.
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[*] posted on 3-16-2017 at 06:32 AM


yes and just to be clear, the pick up and amp are just for you to monitor yourself. Generally that signal does not go to the FOH. You may also want some of the mic in your monitor as it sounds better and better sound will inspire better taqsims :),

But by not relying on the mic for monitoring yourself you will greatly reduce the possibility of feedback.
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gregorypause
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[*] posted on 3-16-2017 at 10:13 AM


Quote: Originally posted by Jaffa Road  
yes and just to be clear, the pick up and amp are just for you to monitor yourself. Generally that signal does not go to the FOH. You may also want some of the mic in your monitor as it sounds better and better sound will inspire better taqsims :),

But by not relying on the mic for monitoring yourself you will greatly reduce the possibility of feedback.


Got it! :bowdown:
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[*] posted on 3-16-2017 at 08:23 PM


Quote: Originally posted by Jaffa Road  
yes and just to be clear, the pick up and amp are just for you to monitor yourself. Generally that signal does not go to the FOH. You may also want some of the mic in your monitor as it sounds better and better sound will inspire better taqsims :),

But by not relying on the mic for monitoring yourself you will greatly reduce the possibility of feedback.


You know, that is a very good idea!
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