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We started out from our parents - it's just a gift that we had in the family. Our mother and father they could both play. And see he was an old musicianer in slavery time. He played for the white folks at square dances and so it was handed down to us - Sam Chatmon

Author Topic: Ways of getting that "JUG" sound LOUDER??  (Read 679 times)

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Offline SGM

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Ways of getting that "JUG" sound LOUDER??
« on: September 16, 2017, 07:39:10 AM »
Hey all!

Anybody have any ideas about making a jug like sound Loud?


I'm trying to make it loud enough to compete with the other instruments when playing live (obviously without mics/amplification)

Any ideas would be greatly appreciated!


BTW I've tried a regular jug, a metal jug, I'm now experimenting with piping and a plastic water bottle...
« Last Edit: September 16, 2017, 07:40:47 AM by SGM »

Offline waxwing

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Re: Ways of getting that "JUG" sound LOUDER??
« Reply #1 on: September 16, 2017, 04:22:02 PM »
Well, if you are in a band where everyone pretty much plays as loud as they can, good luck. Personally I prefer a three person band, like Cannon's Jug Stompers, with a maximum of one strumming instrument, and players who play within the sound of the whole.

The jug makes some difference. Primarily you want to avoid a loud "wolf tone" as much as possible, that is the tone created by blowing across the hole. If this is loud it muffles the tones you are trying to create. Finding a good jug is a continuous search and until you have developed your technique and played a lot of jugs, you may not yet know what you are listening for. It is my experience that domed jugs, as opposed to cone topped jugs, are generally stronger across more notes. I believe this is because they provide a greater variety of paths for a standing wave to be created. But I have blown good cone top jugs. Don't expect any jug to suddenly make you sound as loud as Jab Jones.

Technique is 90% of the issue and it takes much practice and experimentation to begin to get good volume. Developing strength in the diaphragm and a good practice of vocal generation is very important. I would recommend "Freeing the Natural Voice" by Kristen Linklater. I was fortunate to have received instruction in this technique as part of an MFA acting program in my 20s (near 40 years ago). Having a strong column of air and understanding how to project sound are very important.

There are different approaches to mouth technique and pitch production and I can only really describe what I do, which seems to work well. There are jug players who use just the lips, like a tuba player, in which the vibrations and pitch control occur entirely between the upper and lower lip and the looseness or tightness creates the pitch. If you have training in playing a horn, this may be the technique for you. I was not able to make this work, and after reading a review of a performance Gus Cannon gave in the '60s, IIRC, in which his technique was described as a "Bronx Raspberry" I began experimenting with creating the vibration between my tongue and my upper lip, with the lower lip forming a strong support for the tongue, possibly like half of a horn's mouthpiece. I found this gave me much better volume. I have also had several jug players thank me for turning them on to this technique, so it must work for others.

I achieve pitch creation using my vocal chords. Lip players tend to use only their lips, I believe, but I feel that my vocal chords, through a lifetime of singing, even if only in school, church, or along with recordings, are already somewhat practiced in pitch creation and therefore miles ahead of my lip and tongue. So I am generating the sound and pitch with my vocal chords, and this allows me also to bring various resonators in my body into play for amplification. Vocal resonators are hollow areas in the body that can be used just as the jug, to resonate the sound. The chest cavity is very important, as is the arch of the glottal region of the throat and the hard palate of the mouth. Even the sinuses and cranium can be brought to bear on higher pitches. All of this is discussed by Linklater.

So you can see, playing the jug well is really a whole body experience. It's generally a good idea to stand up and move. When playing acoustically it is very important to point the jug at the audience or, if in a jam, toward the other players. 99% of the jug players I see point the jug straight back at their head, away from the audience. I stand sideways to the audience and hold the jug up, level with my mouth and to the right, so that it is somewhat pointing to the audience on my left. I also do not blow straight down the center of the jug mouth, but rather blow diagonally from one edge toward the other edge where the mouth enters the body of the jug. Works for me.

A note on playing with amplification: I find a head mic is very helpful. I use a DPA 4066, which I purchased on ebay for about half price. I run through an adapter on a belt clip to an XLR mic cable. Countryman makes a good one, too. Since I hold the jug to the right I wear the mic to the left and the jug is pretty much pointing right at it. It allows total freedom of movement and sure beats playing with the jug stuck to a mic on a stand. This is quite a commitment, but if you eventually get serious about it you may find it good advice.

I'm glad to hear someone really taking the jug seriously. Keep practicing!

Wax

Here's a band I used to play with. Listen with headphones.

"People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it."
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“Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't after you.”
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Offline SGM

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Re: Ways of getting that "JUG" sound LOUDER??
« Reply #2 on: September 16, 2017, 05:44:22 PM »
Wax!  Priceless information!! :)

I will re-read that again.  I've already adjusted a few things.  I agree about the technique...that is obviously the most important thing and one I'm still working on!


Have you ever experimented with "stovepipes" or Megaphones or anything like that? 

I have yet to hear anybody live get the volume I would want... and didn't most of the old bands have a few people playing jug?  The best sound I heard was someone with no jug "blowing" directly into a mic...but I'd like to find something acoustic if possible.

Thanks for your help!  You also helped me build a rack for a metal jug...

Offline Mike Billo

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Re: Ways of getting that "JUG" sound LOUDER??
« Reply #3 on: September 17, 2017, 08:12:39 AM »
  Agree with my friend, Wax, on all points, but he hits the nail on the head in his first paragraph.
  How well the jug can be heard depends more on the people you're playing with and their ability to blend with others, than anything else
  Also agree with him (You're a pretty bright fellow, John :-) ) about Cannon's Jug Stompers being the ideal template for a Jug Band
Jug, Harp and a "banjo family" instrument
Don't need nuthin' else

Offline SGM

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Re: Ways of getting that "JUG" sound LOUDER??
« Reply #4 on: September 17, 2017, 04:06:17 PM »
Great playing also John on that video.

I also agree wholeheartedly about the line-up...maybe add some kazoo's though ;)

In that video you sent you are being mic'd obviously, but I'm still searching for some other sort of natural amplification... 


Offline SGM

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Re: Ways of getting that "JUG" sound LOUDER??
« Reply #5 on: September 30, 2017, 07:35:23 PM »
Does anybody know what exactly a "stovepipe" was?  I know I have heard it referenced and obviously there is Daddy Stovepipe...

Offline SGM

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Re: Ways of getting that "JUG" sound LOUDER??
« Reply #6 on: September 30, 2017, 07:40:02 PM »
Or Stovepipe #1?


Offline waxwing

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Re: Ways of getting that "JUG" sound LOUDER??
« Reply #7 on: October 01, 2017, 01:06:25 PM »
This is the only visual evidence I have ever seen. Was posted on the Yahoo jugband group. It looks like this young man has a kazoo jammed into the pipe, but with the membrane, which is the amplifying aspect, clearly outside the pipe this would seem to be a lost effort to me. Having listened to King David's jugband many times, trying to understand what I am hearing, it often does sound like Sam Jones switches from a normal jug embouchure to a kazoo, but I have known players able to get that loud buzz sound with lips alone, like a trumpet player. I just can't do it. At other times he is clearly playing the instrument as a jug. Possibly he is able to do this through a wide tubed kazoo or mirliton, which I have read is an ancient instrument that may have first been created by humming through a hollow bone with a membrane fixed over a hole in one side. With this configuration, a tube kazoo affixed to some sort of configuration of stovepipe parts, Jones may have been able to play notes with a jug embouchure that are too low to excite the membrane, then, when he begins playing notes in the higher range that do excite the membrane, he can switch to humming with lips pressed tight to the tube. Or, as I said, he may have been able to create the buzzing sound with lips alone.

These are just theories of mine and I have never had the time, energy or inclination to experiment. If you do yourself, please let us know what you achieve. I doubt whether the stove pipe will somehow provide a short cut to great volume that you are unable to get with a jug. As I said earlier, developing lung power and good embouchure takes practice, but in the end really does pay off.

BTW, I did experiment with a 12 inch vintage megaphone, which I wired into my jug rack. It sorta worked but only for that portion of the audience toward which the cone was pointing. For the rest of the house it was actually damping the sound.

Practice, practice, practice!

Wax
« Last Edit: October 01, 2017, 03:03:53 PM by waxwing »
"People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it."
George Bernard Shaw

“Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't after you.”
Joseph Heller, Catch-22

http://www.youtube.com/user/WaxwingJohn
https://www.facebook.com/WaxwingJohn

Offline SGM

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Re: Ways of getting that "JUG" sound LOUDER??
« Reply #8 on: October 05, 2017, 05:25:05 PM »
Wax,

Thanks for the part about the megaphone and the picture of the stovepipe!  Very useful.  Have you seen those tuba's made out of pvc that they play in Mexico? 

Just curious if anybody knows of someone can play a jug loud enough to blend in nicely with a resonator guitar or loud banjo?  Most times I see people using mics or a few people at once.

Those pvc tubas are the same idea as the stovepipe photo kinda...

Thanks again!



Offline SGM

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Re: Ways of getting that "JUG" sound LOUDER??
« Reply #9 on: October 05, 2017, 05:28:49 PM »
BTW Wax, I'm not sure that you are correct about your kazoo theory.  I have had tremendous success attaching old car horns to the end of the kazoo (after the membrane).  It amplifies the sound and adds texture to it.

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