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All new setup and loving it.


banditt11
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Just dropped out of a band that went for 9 years. What a run! Solo/duo gigs are really picking up around my area. I've got all my backing tracks on Mp3 now. I use Drums,Bass and a smidgen of keys so I can play guitar and sing to them. Makes for a great mix. Simple is better! LOL. Took all my MIDI and turned them into Mp3's. Just grabbed a couple of the new Alto 3XT12 powered speakers. nice and light and really put out some sound. Also use a 4 panel black accordion divider behind me along with velcroed battery operated par LED lights on each side. Makes people focus on my setup. I have my ZOOM L8 Mixer to handle the sound for me. Also grabbed a Cube EX street amp for my guitar. Super light and really puts out needed volume at 50 watts. Grabbed a new 15" laptop to run "Showplay" for my backing tracks and lyrics. Super easy to add moving lyrics to my Mp3's. Been doing the solo/duo thing off and on for the last 11 years. Collected a lot of equipment to do it. But as equipment get's lighter and more efficient I ugrade and store the older stuff away and use in a pinch if necessary. Already tried all this out on a couple of small gigs. Had a good time. At this point, I don't miss the band at all right now anyway 😁 Hope everybody is out there doing their thing too!

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MP3s are the way to go.

I learned my lesson many years ago.

I was playing the last Christmas party of the year. I had a 10 space rack of MIDI Modules including one sample player that loaded with a floppy disk (remember those). On the disk were samples of a Fender J Bass, plus drums, snare, kick, cymbals, and so on.

Before the gig we setup, loaded the samples from the floppy, and set something on top of the rack. The sample player turned off and on again and had to have the samples re-loaded. That took a minute or two. Testing it the slightest touch made the device reboot.

Our next gig was New Year's Eve, which was booked over a year in advance, for $2,000 (in the 2002), and for a steady client who wouldn't be able to book another band at this late date.

I took the device to the local repair guy who opened the lid, stuck a probe in to see if he was getting voltage, sparks flew and the unit was dead. He said I'd have to send it back to the factory. The problem was, the factory was closed until after New Years Day.

I didn't have a spare (I learned that lesson too).

There wasn't enough time to remix 300 or more sequences for new bass and drums from my other modules. So I started calling music stores from Miami working my way north. I would have flown to the west coast and back to meet my commitment with this customer.

Fortunately, I found one 200 miles north in a music store. Someone ordered it and changed their mind. The gig was saved!

So after New Years I bought two ThinkPad computers, recorded everything as a 192k mp3 file used a USB to Audio interface to feed my mixer, and with two up and running computers with identical data on them, any problem that happens is quickly remedied by moving the USB to the spare computer.

So IMO you are doing exactly the right thing.

I wish great success, lots of gigs, and no equipment problems for you.

 

Notes ♫

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I have my yamaha keyboard workstation. It basically plays everything I need behind me. It has a thumb drive with the sequences saved on it. I can access any song at any time, and I have made well over 1000 backing tracks. I also have a digitech vocalist pro rack harmonizer that is midi'd to the keyboard so when i play a song, it also plays the correct notes to harmonize so i dont have to turn it on and off all night. set it and forget it. Just sing the song and the harmony will be there when i sing. I still love using this keyboard because i can adjust stuff on the fly. play different versions of songs just like a band. lengthen, shorten, long lead solo, tempo, key change, etc.

I also have an old "windows vista" laptop that I carry with me to supply the break music (mp3's) and i also saved 600 of my main songs on it as a "just in case" safety precaution. I have never hooked that laptop up to the internet, nor have i ever let it update. It has worked perfectly since 2009.

I made a mistake one time between christmas and new years to update a laptop and it dumped all my break music at the New Years Eve party. Luckily, i saved the music on my home pc and had my girlfriend bring me a thumb drive to load back into the laptop. But that took nearly 2 hours for her to go home and get the thumb drive and get back to me at the party. In the meantime, I played 2 1/2 hours straight till she got the music back on my laptop. I was lucky that night.

I also now carry an ipad (actually 2) with my 600 mp3 tracks and 50 of the regular break song (line dance) stuff just in case.

come to think of it, my iphone also has the songs too along with lyrics if needed, (never use them) i can remember lyrics once the song kicks in.

So....yes have backup everything just in case.

I carry 2 Bose L1 Model ll with 4 B1 subs. One is usually needed

I also have 2 Alto 12" speakers with 800 watts for other rooms i may need to fill. plus tripods

2 mics

enough cables and power cords for any situation

I only carry one mixer, but have 3 more at home.

And a lighting system that is midi and the songs have light schemes programmed, so its another set it and forget it. when the song ends, it defaults back to one main light on me between songs. So, i love to use my keyboard because it controls the lighting on my backing tracks, plus cues the harmony as when to kick in and out.

oh yeah, a nice rug to setup on.

This makes 34 years of me doing my solo act. Learned a lot over the years

 

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I don't use mp3 files since I am on a Mac. A longtime friend and professional musician who saw me live said that MP3s sound compressed through a big system and recommended I use AAC files. I made the switch about 2012 and never looked back. I also run my entire show off my iPhone and before that, an iPod touch. Like Jay, I use a rubber mat to stand on. One of my friends here in Dallas brings a heavy rubber mat to his shows and he says, "it's not even an option these days." My new system is the Evolve 30 and it works unbelievably well. The newer lighter technology is a real blessing to my back!  I've been doing solo gigs exclusively for several years now and while I enjoyed performing with other musicians, playing solo means the only errors in the show are mine! 

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When I started doing mp3 files in 2002, access to storage was about 2G. I had well over 300 songs, which would have filled up the hard drive very quickly if I used lossless files.

Since I make my own backing tracks with high-end MIDI modules, I set up a test.

I sat up my PA set, and in one channel I put my MIDI file mix, in a second channel, I hooked my ThinkPad through a USB->Audio interface with the mp3 files on the ThinkPad.

I sat 4 musicians up with their backs to me to see if they could hear the difference. One of the musicians recently had her hearing tested and it was perfect, plus they were all critical listeners and interested.

I played the actual MIDI files and mp3 files at 128, 160k, 192k and 224k. I played slow songs, fast songs and songs with a variety of different instruments.

Everybody could hear the difference between the synths and the 128 and 160k files immediately. So I omitted them after the first song (I could hear the difference myself)

At 192k it was tricky. Some songs passed the test, and some had a slight degradation at the highest frequencies. At 224k nobody could tell the difference.

Since storage was limited, and we had well over 300s songs then, I chose 192k. I figured if trained ears couldn't tell anything but the slightest difference, the average listener in a noisy lounge environment wouldn't be able to tell at all.

Things have changed, and storage space is huge now. If I had to start over, I'd probably do WAV files.

My ThinkPad computers have been extremely reliable, almost bullet-proof. I use two, although I only need one (the show must go on). In the 19 years I've been doing this, I had to move the USB to a second computer twice. The first time the CMOS battery failed, and I later found I could still boot the computer manually, but switching the USB plug to the 2nd always up-an-running computer was easy. Repars cost $5.00. The second time the Hard Drive was making a mechanical noise, so I switched, replaced the HD the next day.

I eventually retired one of the 2002 ThinkPads when I dropped it, and broke the hinge. It still works, but replacing the hinge was out of the question, as it was 12 years old then. I just replaced the second 2002 computer for something with a brighter screen. The new screens are just better. 19 years later, it's still working and doing jobs at home for me with XP (I never hook it up to the Internet).

I never considered a Mac for 2 reasons; (1) I didn't want the glowing Apple icon on stage advertising that I'm using a computer. In 2002 that wasn't widely accepted yet and (2) if both my computers fail, I could zip on out to an office store, department store or many other places and get another Windows computer. It's another fail-safe thing.

I thought about an iPad, but I like having the keyboard up and available at all times. I can start a song playing on Media Player, hit Alt+Tab to bring the focus back to the File Explorer page. Right before the end of the song I'm playing, I can make a decision or change my mind according to how I read the audience for the next song. Since the Explorer window is up, I can type the first few letters of the next song which would highlight it, and when the first song ends, hit Enter and the next one starts immediately. That keeps dancers on the floor.

There are a few notes on the sax that can be played with the left hand only, so I can type those letters very quickly. If I had to mess with a disappearing on-screen keyboard, I wouldn't have the time to get back to the sax before the next two-handed note needed to be played.

Of course, there is more than one right way to make music. This is just my way.

Whatever works for anybody is a good way.

Notes ♫

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On 11/17/2021 at 6:49 PM, leftyjay said:

It has a thumb drive with the sequences saved on it.

Make sure you have a good backup. Thumb drives fail without warning. I lost a bunch of stuff a year and a half ago for exactly that reason. I haven't used a thumb drive for anything important since.

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i have 4 copies of my thumb drive, plus the files are stored on a laptop with a ssd drive.  Believe me...I have backups of backups of everything. If you don't, then you're not  taking your gigging seriously.

I've had plenty of issues over the past 30+ years. You learn how to correct those issues.

For some reason, musicians want to set up in 5 minutes and make only one trip to their car and be setup. That's is why there are venues paying the same as they did 30 years ago.

You need to show them you have more to offer. Give them something to talk about. Show them you're better then all the others (unless you know you're not better LOL) Show them you're taking the gig seriously. The people will notice, and better venues will hear about you, and better gigs will come...

 

 

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Posted (edited)

At the gig, I have my Mp3 files stored on my tablet, an identical back-up tablet, and on my phone. I also have my files stored on Google Drive, and plan to add them to Dropbox as well. Of course I also have the files stored on two home desktops and my laptop as well.  In addition, I can play enough tunes with just me doing guitar/vocal that I can make it through a gig. I don't like to, because it's hard on the hands, but I've done it.

I've had some hairy nights with equipment failures in the past, so I'm a little cautious these days.

Edited by Shaster
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On 12/31/2021 at 5:39 PM, Shaster said:

At the gig, I have my Mp3 files stored on my tablet, an identical back-up tablet, and on my phone. I also have my files stored on Google Drive, and plan to add them to Dropbox as well. Of course I also have the files stored on two home desktops and my laptop as well.  In addition, I can play enough tunes with just me doing guitar/vocal that I can make it through a gig. I don't like to, because it's hard on the hands, but I've done it.

I've had some hairy nights with equipment failures in the past, so I'm a little cautious these days.

but that is the essence of a solo gig...everything else is just 'lipstick on the pig'...IMHO...:wave:

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On 1/2/2022 at 10:05 AM, daddymack said:

but that is the essence of a solo gig...everything else is just 'lipstick on the pig'...IMHO...:wave:

That certainly was the essence, but the times they are a changin', even if they shouldn't be.

Besides some of the usual retro tunes I do, I get the most responses from doing stuff from George Benson, Pat Metheny, Santana, Wes Montgomery, SRV, BB King, Robben Ford and so on. So tracks or loops are pretty essential. I mean BB never even played any chords, so I'm not sure how I would capture the essence of The Thrill Is Gone without tracks - although maybe I could hum the lead guitar part :)

Anyway it's a moot point for me. My hands often cramp up when I do solo stuff without tracks, so I don't do it unless it's just for a couple of 45 minute sets

I checked out leftyjay's NYE video, and it's a great (IMHO) example of using tracks to one's advantage, in a solo situation. I should add there are plenty of others on this forum doing the same with great results as well.

Speaking of NYE, Happy New Year daddymack! 

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13 hours ago, Shaster said:

That certainly was the essence, but the times they are a changin', even if they shouldn't be.

Besides some of the usual retro tunes I do, I get the most responses from doing stuff from George Benson, Pat Metheny, Santana, Wes Montgomery, SRV, BB King, Robben Ford and so on. So tracks or loops are pretty essential. I mean BB never even played any chords, so I'm not sure how I would capture the essence of The Thrill Is Gone without tracks - although maybe I could hum the lead guitar part :)

Anyway it's a moot point for me. My hands often cramp up when I do solo stuff without tracks, so I don't do it unless it's just for a couple of 45 minute sets

I checked out leftyjay's NYE video, and it's a great (IMHO) example of using tracks to one's advantage, in a solo situation. I should add there are plenty of others on this forum doing the same with great results as well.

Speaking of NYE, Happy New Year daddymack! 

Thanks, Shaster, and right back at ya!:wave:

I don't like to whine, but once again my NYE 'sideman gig' was cancelled [the day before xmas eve]...and they did not let us keep the deposit...dirty trick, IMHO, even though my piece would not have been very much [5% of 10% ain't worth arguing over]. This is an ersatz 'small big band' made up mostly of 'road warrior' horn players, and old guys like me who can read and follow a chart...a dying breed apparently. No rehearsals, we all have the charts ahead of time, we ask questions where the charts are ambiguous [and many are ancient photocopies of ancient photocopies...:rolleyes2:...last year I offered to re-do the worst ones to be told, 'don't bother'...other guys have forwarded clearer versions, thankfully]; but as I am also a 'featured vocalist' in this group, I should get two cuts, right?😜

This actually came out of the jam I was hosting a few years back that catered to horn players [I co-led the jam band with the sax player/vocalist], and originally they wanted me to 'front' the 'small big band' thing, as I did with the jam band, but I declined. I deferred the 'leadership' to my buddy, the bassist, who is a Grammy winning songwriter, currently living off royalties for a rap 'standard' he penned decades ago...that keeps getting put into films and tv shows...he ain't complaining.😉

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On 11/13/2021 at 1:21 PM, banditt11 said:

Just dropped out of a band that went for 9 years. What a run! Solo/duo gigs are really picking up around my area. I've got all my backing tracks on Mp3 now. I use Drums,Bass and a smidgen of keys so I can play guitar and sing to them. Makes for a great mix. Simple is better! LOL. Took all my MIDI and turned them into Mp3's. Just grabbed a couple of the new Alto 3XT12 powered speakers. nice and light and really put out some sound. Also use a 4 panel black accordion divider behind me along with velcroed battery operated par LED lights on each side. Makes people focus on my setup. I have my ZOOM L8 Mixer to handle the sound for me. Also grabbed a Cube EX street amp for my guitar. Super light and really puts out needed volume at 50 watts. Grabbed a new 15" laptop to run "Showplay" for my backing tracks and lyrics. Super easy to add moving lyrics to my Mp3's. Been doing the solo/duo thing off and on for the last 11 years. Collected a lot of equipment to do it. But as equipment get's lighter and more efficient I ugrade and store the older stuff away and use in a pinch if necessary. Already tried all this out on a couple of small gigs. Had a good time. At this point, I don't miss the band at all right now anyway 😁 Hope everybody is out there doing their thing too!

 

On 11/17/2021 at 3:34 PM, Notes_Norton said:

MP3s are the way to go.

I learned my lesson many years ago.

I was playing the last Christmas party of the year. I had a 10 space rack of MIDI Modules including one sample player that loaded with a floppy disk (remember those). On the disk were samples of a Fender J Bass, plus drums, snare, kick, cymbals, and so on.

Before the gig we setup, loaded the samples from the floppy, and set something on top of the rack. The sample player turned off and on again and had to have the samples re-loaded. That took a minute or two. Testing it the slightest touch made the device reboot.

Our next gig was New Year's Eve, which was booked over a year in advance, for $2,000 (in the 2002), and for a steady client who wouldn't be able to book another band at this late date.

I took the device to the local repair guy who opened the lid, stuck a probe in to see if he was getting voltage, sparks flew and the unit was dead. He said I'd have to send it back to the factory. The problem was, the factory was closed until after New Years Day.

I didn't have a spare (I learned that lesson too).

There wasn't enough time to remix 300 or more sequences for new bass and drums from my other modules. So I started calling music stores from Miami working my way north. I would have flown to the west coast and back to meet my commitment with this customer.

Fortunately, I found one 200 miles north in a music store. Someone ordered it and changed their mind. The gig was saved!

So after New Years I bought two ThinkPad computers, recorded everything as a 192k mp3 file used a USB to Audio interface to feed my mixer, and with two up and running computers with identical data on them, any problem that happens is quickly remedied by moving the USB to the spare computer.

So IMO you are doing exactly the right thing.

I wish great success, lots of gigs, and no equipment problems for you.

 

Notes ♫

Still doing the midi modules route. I use Showplay like bandit11..ver 6.67. General Midi format. Primarily for live use...been using it since ver 3.1. Very steady and dependable, but with limitations. Got 7 or 8 GM modules. Anything from Sound Canvas, SC880, M-GS64, Ketron SD2, Yamaha MU100, Kawai GMega,etc. Best overall sounding module to handle the bulk of my material (Nat King Cole to Bruno Mars) is the M-GS64. I may have to tweak the drums up a little to give the midis a "live" feel but that's about it.

I've been looking pretty hard at the V3 Sonority GM module...anybody heard of this?

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