Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
ElKrukador

IRs with Acoustic Instruments

Recommended Posts

In the past when using acoustic instruments with pickups, I would generally just plug straight into the board and play--but in my current band I switch off of electric guitar to play some banjo or ukulele and have just plugged them through my pedalboard to pickup some simple effects like reverb/delay.  Over the past month or so I've been working towards incorporating the HX Stomp into my rig and I've found a lot of great advice for using the Stomp for acoustic stuff.  By using the Studio Preamp, the LA Studio compressor, and EQ, I'm able to create a pretty sweet preamp setup and still leave room for some other effects.  

 

The part I'm still very confused by when it comes to acoustic instruments is the usage of IRs.  In most of the videos/posts discussing using HX stuff with acoustic guitars, there was an IR of an acoustic guitar used in the chain.  The results sounded great, but it was impossible for me to tell what role the IR played--do they make a huge difference?  If I'm using the Stomp with a banjo and ukulele, would there be a great benefit to tracking down a banjo IR and a ukulele IR?  I'm not displeased with the sound I'm getting from either, but am always interested in making it sound/feel better and even more interested in learning more about how all the stuff works.  Thanks!

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
13 hours ago, ElKrukador said:

In the past when using acoustic instruments with pickups, I would generally just plug straight into the board and play--but in my current band I switch off of electric guitar to play some banjo or ukulele and have just plugged them through my pedalboard to pickup some simple effects like reverb/delay.  Over the past month or so I've been working towards incorporating the HX Stomp into my rig and I've found a lot of great advice for using the Stomp for acoustic stuff.  By using the Studio Preamp, the LA Studio compressor, and EQ, I'm able to create a pretty sweet preamp setup and still leave room for some other effects.  

 

The part I'm still very confused by when it comes to acoustic instruments is the usage of IRs.  In most of the videos/posts discussing using HX stuff with acoustic guitars, there was an IR of an acoustic guitar used in the chain.  The results sounded great, but it was impossible for me to tell what role the IR played--do they make a huge difference?  If I'm using the Stomp with a banjo and ukulele, would there be a great benefit to tracking down a banjo IR and a ukulele IR?  I'm not displeased with the sound I'm getting from either, but am always interested in making it sound/feel better and even more interested in learning more about how all the stuff works.  Thanks!

 

Using an acoustic IR on top of an acoustic instrument is similar to what the Variax does... you're attempting to mimic an instrument of a particular make and model. The Variax can masquerade as a Strat, LP, Tele, various semi-hollows, etc etc...So in your case, if you had a burning desire to make your acoustic sound like a Martin D35, aTaylor "whatever", or Gibson J200, you could seek out the appropriate IR. Whether or not you'd like it better is anybody's guess. 3rd party IR's are not particularly expensive though, so it might be worth a few bucks to see if you like the results. Mileage varies...

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Additionally, it depends on how your acoustic instrument is amplified. A lot of people's acoustics have piezo pickups, which for some sound too duck like for them to enjoy. 

 

If you find yourself in that situation, then applying an acoustic IR (recorded in a studio setting with a microphone, not a piezo output) can reduce some of that quacking feel.

 

It's all subjective though. I have a few instruments that I think their plugged in output is perfectly fine (granted they aren't piezo) and I never add IRs to those. 

  • Like 1
  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have had mixed results and limited success with acoustic IRs used with an acoustic guitar. I agree with Kilrahi that an acoustic instrument set up with the right combination of EQ, compression, reverb, maybe a touch of chorus, etc. often sounds better without using an acoustic IR, especially if you have a decent quality acoustic guitar to start with. If your acoustic guitar or its pickup is not quite up to snuff though an acoustic IR can help give it the vibe of a higher end guitar, e.g. a 'Martin D28'. Somewhat a matter of taste though, I have had good results now and then with acoustic IRs and continue to experiment with them but in general find them more useful for making an electric guitar sound more like an acoustic.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Awesome--thanks for all the replies!  I haven't even tried my acoustic guitar with the HX Stomp yet, but I absolutely love the way the pickup sounds on it's own and don't really want it to sound like a different guitar, so I think I'd most likely skip the IR there--but since there are so many available it still might something I can experiment with.  

 

With the banjo, however, I'm using an under the bridge pickup that I think at least somewhat suffers from the darkness Kilhari describes above--and from my research this is a complaint with most banjo pickups leading to mics being heavily preferred when possible.  Within the context of the louder rock-ish band I'm using it for, even the pickup is getting pushed towards feedback at times, so a mic is pretty much out of the question.  All that said, I've only even run across one banjo IR online and it was on this forum as a part of Glenn Delaune's banjo simulation pack--so I might pick this up at this point after trying a show or two without an IR.  

 

Has anyone stumbled across IRs for non-guitar instruments like banjo, ukulele, and mandolin?  Beyond that single Banjo IR, I didn't have any luck on google thus far, but it also seems like the search gets a bit confused and spreads into a lot of non-related topics.  I don't feel like I NEED them, but certainly seems like something that would be fun to have in the toolbox.  Thanks!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I play in an acoustic band as well as a club cover band. In the acoustic band I use a Martin 00C with acoustic IRs in Helix. What that IR is trying to do is take what's coming off the piezo pickup and translate it to what would be coming out of the body of a mic'd acoustic guitar. Now the process of producing IRs that capture this delta are pretty straight forward, although somewhat complex. But the point is how well the IRs work for you depends on a lot of things.

 

First is the difference between your piezo pickup and the one used to create the IR. Oddly this one doesn't matter as much as you think. That's because a piezo pickup on a 2x4 and one on a $3K acoustic guitar won't sound that different - the piezo doesn't really pick up much of the sound of the body of the guitar. But what it does pick up is how the guitar influences how you play. So that can make a big difference.

 

Next is the body the IR is simulating vs. your actual guitar. Acoustic guitars sound the way they do because of resonances that result from the shape, size, wood, bracing, etc. An IR that models a really nice acoustic guitar might work well with your guitar and it might not. You have to try them and see.

 

Finally, don't be afraid of mixing some of the piezo sound with the IR - i.e., not 100% wet on the IR. Piezo pickups do respond well to pick attack and have good dynamics. Mixing some of that in with the IR can retain the dynamics and character of how you play.

 

I also play mandolin in that acoustic band, also through Helix. I haven't had as much luck with mandolin IRs. It seems like the higher tension of a mandolin exaggerates its resonances and the IRs tend to sound peaky and make feedback worse. I use a K&K pickup in my Collings mandolin and this sounds pretty good all by itself. I have the IR in Helix, but its mixed mostly off.

 

  • Like 1
  • Upvote 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
17 hours ago, ElKrukador said:

but I absolutely love the way the pickup sounds on it's own and don't really want it to sound like a different guitar, so I think I'd most likely skip the IR there--but since there are so many available it still might something I can experiment with.  

 

Keep in mind you would rarely, if ever use a 100% IR signal. Usually you would blend in just a little. Generally you are not trying to sound like a different instrument, you are just trying to capture some of the qualities of that instrument. 

 

Acoustic IR's will usually come with certain info that is required to understand the tonal quality you are adding....

* Model of the instrument

* Microphone used

* Microphone placement (bridge, sound hole, 12 fret, etc... etc...)

* Microphone distance. 

 

As you can see... the IR is not just the instrument... it is also the mic choice and placement. 

 

Example: Let's say you have a $300 Yamaha guitar with a Piezo pickup. Now add an IR of a Martin D-18 with a Royer 121 placed 12" off the bridge. Blended in nicely, that could give the inexpensive Yamaha a really rich tone, not possible with Piezo alone! 

 

@amsdenj provides some great advice and info above. One piece of advice given should not be overlooked.... every IR will sound different with every guitar it is used on. You have to experiment to find one that gives YOUR GUITAR the quality it might be missing.

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...