Amplification 104

Save your aching hands

One of the great side benefits of using high quality amplification for classical and flamenco guitarists is that it may literally save one’s career…. by helping to avoid repetitive motion injuries to the hands (carpal tunnel, tendonitis, tenosynovitis, etc.). Using the2Mic™ with a high quality powered PA speaker reduces the need for an overpowering attack and elevated string height above the fingerboard. The end result is that using good amplification can help a classical or flamenco guitarist avoid developing repetitive motion injuries.

Classical and flamenco guitarist spend thousands of hours practicing, and then many hours performing….. sitting in the same position and repeating the same basic motions of hands and fingers.    When we are very young, our hands are strong, and we rejoice in our growing abilities to draw sound from the strings.  The string height above the fingerboard grows higher and higher as our young stronger hands pull more and more sound from the guitar.  But as we grow older, and if guitar playing continues to be our profession, careers are often impacted by problems due to repetitive motion injuries.  Anyone aspiring to become a professional guitarist would be wise to pay attention to this issue early in their career, before even the slightest symptoms appear.

There are many physical exercise techniques for helping to avoid developing repetitive motion injuries.  It is wise for every classical and flamenco guitarist to pay attention to doing some of these techniques to counter any tendency for developing repetitive motion injuries.  And now amplification can be added to this list of techniques for helping protect the careers of professional guitarists.

When compared to other orchestral or popular instruments, the relatively low acoustic output (volume) of classical and flamenco guitars has always forced performing guitarists to focus most of their attention on producing a maximum volume level at all times.  Creating the maximum volume  of a guitar requires developing, and constantly using, a lot of hand strength (force level).  Without amplification, even delicate passages must be approached with an elevated force level to generate sufficient volume during performance or ensemble rehearsals.

Amplification of classical guitars and flamenco guitars using stand mounted microphones has not helped to reduce extreme force levels for performing.  The sound pressure level of a guitar is at the maximum across the plane of the soundhole, but at the sound pressure level, and signal strength of a microphone, decreases exponentially away from the soundhole.  Six inches (150mm) away from the soundhole, the sound pressure level is reduced by 50%.  Low sound pressure level means the mic must be “turned up”, and this creates many potential problems with sound distortion, signal noise, or feedback.  Plus, the guitarist needs to remain very rigid to avoid drifting away from the reception pattern of the microphone.  the2Mic™ resolves many of these issues by using 2 microphones inside the guitar, and with one of these mics placed directly across the plane of the soundhole at the location of maximum sound pressure level for a classical guitar, or a flamenco guitar.  the2Mic™ send such a strong signal to a powered PA speaker, or mixer, that even the most delicate and light playing style can now be amplified to whatever sound level desired.

Decades of pushing the muscles of the hands through the same repetitive motions to the maximum force levels creates a ripe environment for development of repetitive motion injuries.  But if by using the2Mic™ with powered PA speakers, a lower force level can be employed by the guitarist,  this will reduce the chance of injury, but without affecting the playing style or tonal palette of the guitarist’s individual style.

As classical and flamenco guitarists begin to use the2Mic™ and powered PA speakers, they are encouraged to “lighten up”, and reduce the force levels applied in their playing style.  High force levels can now be used for specific dynamic effects, rather than merely to produce a constant volume level capable of working with an unamplified room, or a stand mounted microphone.   Powered PA speakers are small enough, and lightweight enough to use with during any rehearsal or performance. the2Mic™ and a high quality powered speaker will soon become an essential part of a guitarist’s “Kit”, much the same way a bow & rosin is needed for a violin or cello.

Good health is important,  excellent health even more so.  Looking at our lives from the perspective of a career, we realize how every occupation has its health-related issues.  If approached openly and realistically, these health issues can mostly be addressed with simple and overall helpful practices.  We hope the2Mic™, with powered PA speakers, can be part of these healthy practices for classical guitarists, and flamenco guitarists for a long, and pain-free career.