Oh, was that bad!

Have you recently participated in a zither event, or know where the history of the zither can be experienced firsthand? Share your experiences here.

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Rudy Mueller
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Joined: Thu Sep 08, 2011 8:33 am

Oh, was that bad!

Post by Rudy Mueller » Wed Nov 14, 2018 5:57 pm

Our Bavarian Trachten Verein d'lustig'n Wendlstoana Stamm had its 91st annual fest On November 3, 2018, at The Bavarian Bierhaus in Milwaukee, and our little music group (hackbrett, blockflötte, zither, accordion) was part of the program. This was in an open hall with four other Bavarian dance groups, (five in total) lots of guests, and half-priced drinks for anyone in lederhosen or dirndl. We had assumed...(the word "assume" has three other little words within it [ass..u..me..])...we could use either the "house" sound system, or that of the dance band of the evening. WRONG! (...Don't touch our mikes !...)

Man, I literally pounded on poor Meinel, but above the din, could not hear a note of what I was playing (Wien bleibt Wien, Lamberger Marsch), and we went down in infamy. Schmaarn.

Our group faces these questions: Amplification? Smaller venues? Small amp so at least I can hear what I am playing?

Any thoughts?


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Re: Oh, was that bad!

Post by NutmegCT » Thu Nov 15, 2018 11:36 am

Rudi - I'd pose the question as: "What does your group want?" Big audiences in large halls with amplification? or does your group want to play folk music as it was originally intended?

Amplification will let many more people hear you - but they may not actually be there to hear you at all. I've seen that happen in videos of Austrian and Bavarian bierstuben, where the group plays but the conversation and laughter drown them out.

If you're there to add background music, then all is well. But if you're there so people can hear the details of what you're doing, you might as well give up on the "authentic sound".

If you want to play music as originally intended, maybe the answer is to play for groups that assemble in small places to hear the music - not to yell and shout and buy hundreds of tickets.

Look what happened to good American ol' country music when theaters and dance halls were built bigger and bigger, to sell more tickets. We went from authentic folk sounds to amplified, brightly lit, colorful costumes covered with glitter, and plastic cowboy hats ... and the music became "Nashville-ized".

Last edited by NutmegCT on Thu Nov 15, 2018 5:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Rudy Mueller
Posts: 475
Joined: Thu Sep 08, 2011 8:33 am

Re: Oh, was that bad!

Post by Rudy Mueller » Thu Nov 15, 2018 5:20 pm

Thanks Tom,

As usual, you are a font of knowledge, but more importantly, a well-spring of wisdom. I will read your response into the minutes of our Vereins January business meeting.

In two weeks we will celebrate our membership Christmas party....but in a private hall, members only, and most attending will be within 25 ft (~ 8 meters) of the singers and musicians....and the kids are usually especially quiet, awaiting Santa...

...we've been practicing Christmas music since mid-August. This is my favorite time of the year....and we'll play with no amplifiers...


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Re: Oh, was that bad!

Post by Kennethpauls » Fri Nov 16, 2018 10:44 pm

On Anne's suggestion from Tomy I bought an AKG mike C411 from Amazon. I found it works best instead of sticking it on the zither, to have it stick on the table near the instrument. It's attached to a phantom that descrambles it and that attaches to a Cube amp. The Cube and phantom have the option of using batteries if you want to play outside without electrical outlets. I'm happy with it, though I havent been brave enough to try it at a restaurant ( I prefer not to amplify my mistakes yet- a glass of wine only helps so much).

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Re: Oh, was that bad!

Post by kenbloom » Wed Nov 21, 2018 1:10 pm

Years ago, I used a pickup that Rudi Wacek made for my Menial and just ran that through an amp. Worked fine. These days I use a nice Sennheiser condenser mike which I run through an acoustic amp that I have and that gives me plenty of power for most things that I do. This setup preserves the acoustic sound pretty well. Mike placement is crucial and chamges with the room I'm play8ing in. If you have a group then you have to decide does each individual work out his or her own way of amplifying themselves or do you do a sound sysytem for everyone. the sound system approach is only as good as you want to pay for and you have the onus of dragging the thing around and setting it up and down. I think htis depends on how much you use it. The mike+amp setup works well for me. One thing to remember. When you are playing amplified you are no longer listening to the instrument. You are listening to the speaker of the system or amp. You will only sound as good as the quality of the equipment you are using. Have a great Thanksgiving everybody!!

Ken Bloom

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