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  Sax Effects

Greg Vail

Sax Effects, Saxophone electronics, sax gig rig for live shows


You can make these racks huge and very expensive and cool too. My tour rig in 95-98 was 2500.00 in just custom wiring and set up alone. Two 4 space racks all hard wired with bla bla... who cares. Sounded amazing and was, but travel expense involved as a sideman had it home most the time and eventually pulled apart with a few tears. 10-12 Grand at purchase to get together.

Then there was the rig I used 1 time with Peter White before it was stolen. Wireless mic and wireless in ears, TC M1; it was sounding great and I could hear myself everywhere, all the time, in stereo with great effects. Now gone tooÖ 5 Grand pulled out of trunk and more tears.

GEAR, set up and monitors

So what is really necessary?

I have a little SKB 3 space short rack this week. It has a 1 space, 6 channel Rolls mixer with 2 band EQ, effects and Aux sends and Pan on every channel. Very basic and about 300.00. I have the Lexicon MPX200 effect in the rack and a Korg rack mount tuner.

GEAR and Set Up

I have channel 1 on the mixer set for Phantom Power to use my clip on ATM 35 mic. I have been just leaving that channel alone because the clip-on needs phantom and a very low gain since it is a very hot output with the ATM 35.

I have channel 2 set for a standard mic input Ė vocal, bari sax mic, Wireless AT or any other thing needed.

Channels 3-4 are OPEN now (but I did have an Alesis Quadraverb in the rack at first and used these channels for Effects Returns.)

Channels 5-6 are effects returns for the Lexicon Digital Effects. Mixers do have FX Returns for Effects but you only have control over volume if you use them. Mixer Channel controls allow adjustment of effects volume, but also Pan (are you going stereo or mono, 1 or 2 cables into the PA) so you can turn a knob from stereo and mono.

The EQ (on chanel returns for effects) lets you adjust the sound of the reverb on the spot. The verb sounds to bright tonight, turn down the highs on the channel instead of trying to reprogram on the Effects Unit while on the gig.

The only problem using Mixer Channels for Effects Returns is possibility of feedback. If you have the FX send on the Channel turned up on the same channels you use for returns, that will cause feedback. Thatís one of the reasons I like to put the returns on the far end of the mixer so I donít screw up.

Let me say it again. When using Channel 5-6 to bring the Effects into the mixer and add to the Sax, you need to make sure the FX Send (effects send) is off on 5-6. You canít send and return the same thing on the same channels without it looping with feedback.

The Lexicon uses 1/4 inch cables in from the effects send on the mixer and 1/4 inch effects out that go into 5-6 on the mixer. Some effects units have mic(XLR) ins and outs but this is more for the studio uses; smaller mixers donít support it so it does not really help you here.

I use the Monitor send on the Rolls mixer to power the Tuner and then can use the tuner on anything (any channel) I might need. If I have my sax mic in Channel 1, I will turn up the Monitor send on 1 so I can tune my sax on stage.

If I was to change out that tuner with another effect I would power it with the Monitor send output and return the Effects thru the effects return or channels 3-4 on the mixer. I have used this set up when running 2 effects.

My mixer is a Rolls RM65. It does not have XLR outs so I did buy a pair of DI Boxes to send the PA an XLR signal. You can use little adaptor cables but I donít really trust them for durability, sound or proper signal matching. You can plug into the PA with ľ inch cables too but you want to keep the length down when using ľ cables and they can be noisier thru the PA.

If this sounds too hard or confusing, a quick recap.

My rack has a little Rolls mixer and the Lexicon 200. I plug my sax into the mixer and mix effects by using a couple of channels on the mixer. This is the most basic, cost effective sax set up that gives you control over your sound and the effects before plugging into a PA System.

It also gives you a send to power a monitor.

Diagram of Mixer with set up

Sax Monitors - Hear the Sax?

"What do you suggest and would you use for your own monitor in such situation?"

EONs are good and easy to use. I tend to like 10 or 12 inch rather than 15 inch speakers because the sax does not need a ton of low space; not even a Bari. A 12 Inch speaker should be more friendly in the Mid Frequencies where most of your sax tone and range is found.

I think the EON 15ís might have more power which could help. It is a matter of your ear. You want a monitor to encourage, not discourage your playing. Either would be a lot better than a keyboard amp.

I have lots of gear around the house so I have options when I go out. I bought some great sounding monitors made in So. Cal. from A3. I have been using them with a power house QSC amp; mid-line and around 700 watts a side. I am very happy but this stuff was pretty expensive and sounds like it.

If I want to go light, I bring the amp and a set of small Ramsa speakers and put them on stands behind me. If Iím late and lazzy I use a Boss powered monitor on a mic stand off one side of the mixer and send the other side to the PA. This works fine and is really small and light; works great if you are using a good PA with the band.

Diagram of Mixer with set up

ATM Sax Clip On ATM35

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