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Unable to hear my accordion !

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DaveGD

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I am a newcomer to accordions and play with a local group. I often end up sitting with a bass player on one side and a harmony player on the other which makes it difficult to hear myself play. It is not always possible to move. It has been suggested I place a mic in my accordion on the melody side and connect it to a small earpiece. Has anyone else had this problem and got a solution ?

DaveD
 

george garside

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hearing yourself play when in a 'group' is not always easy and needs a bit of practice. Also bear in mind that another musician sat on your left may himself feel drowned out by your bass!

You don't say what sort of group it is or what type of box you are playing or what the other instruments in the group are. ? is it a totally informal 'session' or a 'band pra ctice'. and? what sort of music is being played??

In an informal session it is up to you entirely to choose which instruments you have as close neighbours whereas in a 'band' it is normally up to the band leader to decide on positioning. In a 'band' practice or on stage I would as a start go for box, fiddle, bohran and maybe banjo or guitar on the front row with bass , drumset, piano to the rear. I would also prefer fiddle to be to the right of box and bohran to the left

george
 

Happy girl

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What a fantastic response George, is there no limit to your knowledge? :D
 

Corsaire

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I know the feeling of not being able to hear yourself !
I don't have a problem with the musicians - it's the singers when they're at full volume. I then can't hear my bass notes and sometimes I have to lean over to be sure I'm still in the right key. As I already have a mic to the speakers, I'm not sure it's possible to have yet another. But the earpiece idea is a good one.
 
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DaveGD

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Thanks to all for the responses. Sorry, I should have made it clear - we are all playing accordions.

DaveD
 

TomBR

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All playing the same instrument makes it harder - though there can be the view that, if you can't hear yourself, you must be right! (More applicable to, say, unison violins.)

Stethoscope? (Or "Gosport tube" ;) )
 

george garside

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inevitable in a line up of accordions your bass end is next to the player on your lefts treble keyboard and your treble keyboard is next to the bass end of the bod on your right and so on and so on!

To make this work well everybody should be keeping the bass relatively quiet in relation to the treble and possibly some not playing the bass and maybe alternating with others for that privilege!

I you are being amplified nobody needs to play loudly as so to do is a bit like having a dog and barking yourself ! play quietly and leave it to the sound system to govern what comes out of the speakers , that way you all stand a better chance of hearing each other playing.

There are such things as feedback speakers - small speakers facing inwards towards the 'band'' or sometimes giving feed back only for one instrument i.e. right in front of a player.These are expensive kit and only necessary for stage/dance band work.

At the end of the day its up to the leader of the 'group' to advise and encourage group members so that any problems such as the one you have mentioned can be , to a greater or lesser degree, sorted!
 

Stephen Hawkins

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Dave,

This is also a problem in folk clubs, especially when those who informally "join in" play at their own pace. It can be very off-putting when someone spoils your tune by inconsiderately playing in their own style, and largely ignoring the arrangement which you, as the principle player, have chosen to play.

I have my own way of dealing with this problem, and it isn't always pretty. The regulars at our club only join in when they are invited to do so, and the problem only arises when a few self-obsessed "celebrity" visitors decide to demonstrate how much better they are than everyone else. I usually prick their pomposity very early in the evening, to the relief and general approval of my fellow members.

Our own people, whenever they do join in, play softly and follow the principle player. This is well understood by all in our little community, and works perfectly well for everyone.

I know that it is not quite the same situation that you face, but there are parallels. Your MD (if you have one) should be addressing these problems directly, and offering guidance in order to alleviate the problems you have identified. If I were you, I would certainly voice my concerns with the MD.
 

george garside

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There are many and varied gatherings that go under the generic name of 'session'. They range from small ,sometimes not very welcoming, almost 'private' sessions in which a small number of bods gather regularly and stik to a well honed repertoire.

Then there are the musical equivalent of 'singarounds' or sometimes mixed singarounds and playarounds in which a ''leader for the night'' asks each person to have a turn and in those the tribal custom can be either all join in or don't, the individual sometimes saying something on the lines of 'please don't join in as it will put me off''

Festival sessions tend to be larger and more a free for all but there may well be a number of sessions at the same time catering for different musical preferences eg mainly English, fast Irish, playford, free for all etc etc and playing anything other than the norm for a particular session an rightly be frowned on or otherwise discouraged , often by regulars getting their heads in their bear or going for a pee!

Then again there are , usually large' led sessions with a 'booked' leader and sometimes playing a particular type of music throughout or catering for varying levels of experience. In these its very much down to the leader to lead and prevent anyone hijacking the proceedings.

For many years I ran large '' well known tunes at a steady pace '' sessions aimed at 'improvers''. The largest such session I ran was at Sidmouth folk festival with 150 assorted 'musicians'! At the beginning I asked people to follow the person who started a tune even if it was a bit slow and shaky on the basis that we all have to start somewhere. On the rare occasions when a smartarse hijacked a tune I immediately stopped the playing and duly embarrassed the smartarse with a little friendly pep talk!

george
 

Stephen Hawkins

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George,

There will always be someone, usually a visitor, who insists on playing throughout the evening. One such person visits our club on occasions, and never puts his guitar down for the entire evening. Five or six weeks ago, one of my friends was playing his guitar quite softly and sweetly, when this self-obsessed idiot drowned him out completely.

Though generally of a sweet nature, I was incensed by this thoughtless behaviour. Suffice to say that my dire prognostications were vented, and the situation altered significantly and immediately for the better. I haven't seen this cretin since, and have no desire to do so.

Tonight we all enjoyed a really pleasant evening. Everyone listened attentively and showed their appreciation in the customary fashion. One or two joined in, but only followed the principle player's lead. That is how it should be.
 

Geoff de Limousin

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I had a problem hearing my Concertina when playing with our dance band, a sometimes large group of quite powerfull instruments that include french bagpipes and Diatonic accordeons amongst others.

Like accordions , the sound of a concertina exits the instrument to the sides, away from the player's ears and straight into the soft ( and deadening) tissue of the musicians sitting on each side of you. My first solution was to employ a pair of attachable microphones, one on each side, plugged into a small guitar amplifier which sat just behind my chair. this boosted the output and could be adjusted to suit the ambient noise level. But once the general amplification of the band improved my personal monitor complicated the balance.

So, step two was to buy a much louder Concertina; even played 'normally' my noisy little beast provides sufficient thrust and cut to combat the barrage from my neigbours. The downside is that I cannot play that concertina in my house without my dog singing very loudly... in disgust I think. Luckily my pet makes no such complaint regarding my accordion playing...

Since I have recently introduced my accordion to the band ( or should that read subjected the band to) performances , I realise the same problem of hearing oneself without deafening the neighbour.... oh well.... perhaps practicing with ear plugs might help ? And for the dog also!
 

george garside

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just a thought, we are all fitted with articulated heads that can lean left or right in situations where treble or bass is difficult to hear!!

george ;)
 

debra

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Geoff de Limousin said:
I had a problem hearing my Concertina ...
So, step two was to buy a much louder Concertina;...

With accordions this may prove a bit harder to do. Of course there are differences between instruments but much louder may prove to be hard to find.
There are significant differences in how much of the sound of the accordion you as a player can hear. The better accordions project the sound forwards and sideways and not towards the player. When you need to play loud enough so that a large room with 100 people can year you well, how loud should the instrument then sound for the player? Thats why most of the sound is diverted away from the player. Playing in an orchestra just means you need to be extra certain of what you play. The audience will hear it. You do not need to hear it. You know how it sounds depending on what you do. You not only play blind (without looking at the keyboard) but also deaf (without hearing yourself).

It is of course easier said than done. I often play the bass and then I have many watts of amplification to help me hear myself. And when I do not play the bass I play the bayan which is twice as loud as most accordions... so it is easy for me to say you should just know what you are playing, not hear it.
 

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