last week I played a show in the smaller room/stage at the House of Blues in New Orleans. I use my own amps but my bandmates like to take advantage of the available house backline, which is extra nice because the club is in the busy and crowded French Quarter with its narrow antiquated streets and load-in/out is a pain, especially if there's a show in the main (it was George Clinton and PFunk, that night) that has gear trucks and buses that take up all of the parking the club can claim out front on the street.
Anyway, our drummer is not a basher but the lovely DW drum set he got to use was too loud for that smaller stage... and that created a problem in that I spend more than half of this gig on 6 and 12 string acoustic, and when I'd cranked my Ashdown Acoustic amp up to where I could hear myself the soundman was getting annoyed at feedback and I couldn't make him happy with the notch filters on either the amp or the BBE Acoustimaxx preamp pedal I use... so he asked that I turn way down and he'd give me what I need in the monitors... which drives me crazy and is why I bought the Ashdown to begin with... anyway, I tried to make the band play as loud as they thought they would get when the show gets them pumping and was satisfied. Feedback is never a problem with that setup, but this stage put us in closer than usual quarters and with that louder than usual drum set.
So, when the show starts the adrenaline is pumping and the drums are even louder and I can't hear myself, and signals for more monitors, as well as outright requests on the mic, don't seem to be getting an appreciable increase (I also couldn't hear my vocals, so I just gave up). Result, of course, is that I played harder than usual and by the middle of the second set had broken strings on both acoustics and just played the electrics for the rest of the gig. We all agreed the texture of the acoustics was missed.
So, what to do? This has never been a problem before... may never be a problem again... but just in case?
Well, I ordered a scratch and dent Line 6 Variax Standard, which will serve as the universal back-up for the 4 guitars I use in that gig and the utility tool problem solver. I've been wanting Godin A12 and Michael Kelly Rick Turner S6 solid-body acoustics, anyway, just for the smaller amount of space they take up in transit and less to worry about when they sit in a hot or cold van and no feedback would be a bonus, so eventually I will get those... also, the Variax will come in handy if the fly-in dates we're being offered come through... maybe just that and an electric 12. It should arrive this afternoon. I played one for a few minutes a while ago... it's basically a low-end Yamaha Pacifica with the Line 6 electronics added. The only thing I disliked was the plainsawn neck... I don't expect that not to warp, but it is a bolt on so maybe a better neck can be swapped out.
Who knows? Maybe this will end up seducing me to the dark side and I'll just chunk the amps for a Helix and only use the Variax? If it's good enough, surprisingly, for John McFee of The Doobie Brothers...