Saw Notes

A Resource for Musical Saw Enthusiasts

Jules Lawrence: How To Amplify Your Saw

Amplification-

Working out exactly how to amplify a saw can be quite tricky. However- down the ages I’ve hit on this combination which works pretty well in more or less any context. Playing from a seated position (obviously) I’ve got a short mic stand, the type used to mic up bass drums, to my right and –very importantly- behind me. Having everything behind you is very important here, in that it prevents any banging your bow into a stand at a crucial moment.
As for the microphone itself condensers seem to me to give a richer and warmer response than dynamics- it’s a small difference but noticeable. Point the mic upward toward the under surface of the saw about half way along and set its height low enough that, at maximum bend, it’s not going to get knocked and you’re good to go.
How you then set up the sound is another issue- from big, echoing and atmospheric through to a raw, clean sound most suitable for traditional styles of playing-bluegrass, vaudeville etc (on the subject of Vaudeville- has anyone noticed the number of Looney Toons sound effects which seem to originate from a saw… the classic ‘birds fly round someone’s head after they’re whacked with a mallet’ sound is there at our disposal- much fun to be had!).

 

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Jules

Jules from the south coast of the UK here. I’m, for want of a better term, a rock multi-instrumentalist specializing in various wind instruments- saxes, flute, harmonics, as well as the musical saw. While I’ve always been something of a jack-of-all-trades this has served me well down the ages- from Glastonbury through to the Vienna Jazz festival & The Barbican Centre in London….