View Full Version : Guitar Direct into Mixer - Can I do this?

04-09-2007, 01:27 PM

From time to time we've provided supplemental sound for live performers at weddings we've done - keyboardists, soloists, and full bands. Each time they've had a mixer of their own that provided a feed into my mixer (Denon DN-X800).

I've got a wedding coming up in a few weeks where the Father of the Groom will be performing the first dance live. I've offered our microphone and he's now asking if we have a DI (Direct Input) on our mixer where he can plug in his guitar. He doesn't have a mixer of his own, and believes that the cord from the guitar terminates in a 1/4" plug.

Is it possible to run a guitar signal directly into the mixer? Does it need to run through an amplifier first?

Sorry if this is basic knowledge, but I haven't run across it before and I don't have any personal experience with guitar that I can draw upon.

Let me know.



Scott McKinney
04-09-2007, 01:51 PM
First thing I need to know is Electric or internally miked acoustic?

If it's a miked acoustic, just run the 1/4 inch into an open mike channel on your board. If it's an electric, you'll need some type of preamp as the signal from an electric is like plugging your turntables into a line input. You don't get much out.
My suggestion would be, go to Guitar Center (or your favorite store) and pick up a $50 Behringer 2 mike 2 line mixer. Charge the client the $50 for "added equipment" (above and beyond your typical setup) and go from there. You get the gig taken care of and at the end, wind up with a free mixer to add to your assets.

DJ Jake
04-09-2007, 02:23 PM
Going direct into your mixer is going to sound like crap no matter how you slice it because there are going to be no guitar effects on the guitar. Even if you have a mixer with effects they are not made in conjunction with a guitar. It will definitely have a flat sound that will not have the slightest warmth to it.

04-09-2007, 02:28 PM
I have done this several times and I always plug them into the Mic input on the mixer. I carry a 1/4 to xlr converter with me all the time, although several gutarists have had their own cord with a xlr end on it.
Wild Man

04-09-2007, 05:53 PM
Justin, I have done this directly.

There are several answers.

If it's an Ovation like guitar with a pickup and volume control, that means he's got juice and ability crank volume and actually eq it. These typically use a TRS 1/4 pulg, on both ends, much like electrics.

The crappy sound alluded to could be perhaps the guitars ability to overdrive the channel. He'd need medium to low volume, let you do the work of amplifying it, and run the channel flat so he can get the sound he wants.

If it's a guitar with a pickup and a direct box, you may require a mixing board with 48 volt phantom power to pull this off to get the right volume

It may also be more effective to mic the guitar live, and forget the electronic nightmares.

My advice is to get this guy over as soonas possible and do a run through to see what you are up against.

04-09-2007, 06:34 PM
Whatever you do, don't run an amplified signal into your mixer.

04-09-2007, 09:04 PM
I did a similar wedding last year... had to run acoustic guitar and two microphones into my system. Here's how I did it:

- Took the guitar output and plugged into a DI box (under $50).
- Went from the DI to one of the channels on an Alesis Multimix 8 mixer (around $150, but worth it). The Alesis mixer has built in reverb (for the mics), and I was able to use the mixer's EQ to tailor the sound of the guitar.
- Plugged my rack into the Alesis mixer as well, then went from the Alesis mixer to my Yamaha powered speakers.

It worked great, and it was a relatively simple setup. Having a DI box is key.

04-10-2007, 01:34 PM
Thank you for all of the replies. He's telling me it's an internally-miked acoustic - does that mean I can go direct into the microphone input?

04-10-2007, 05:46 PM
Yes I am 99.99 % sure , but check to see if he has volume controls, and set them very low. Them little hummers can throw a HOT signal

Bobby D
04-10-2007, 06:09 PM
I've done this many times since I'm a guitar player. I've plugged my Alaverez Electric/Acoustic into several mixers. Carvin, Peavy, Mackie and Behringer. The only thing is I don't know anything about your Denon mixer. A little reverb helps the sound of an acoustic a lot but isn't mandatory.

If he sets the volume on the guitar at half it should be a good starting point. Just use a quarter inch guitar cord, no DI box is needed. Too much volume may cause feedback mostly on the low end if too close to speakers. Also have a mic and stand with boom just in case. You shouldn't have any problems.

04-10-2007, 07:24 PM
Why not consider an easy way for this. Have the man bring his amp and just "mic" the amp. Anyone could do that. :lol: Why make things so difficult?

04-11-2007, 09:50 AM
The guitar player is probably charging his full rate as if he is bringing his own PA, but will rely on the DJ instead. Several times I've had this happen, I'm all set up the musicians arrive, hey man can we plug into your system so we don't have to use ours.

Sonic DJ
04-11-2007, 09:55 AM
The guitar player is probably charging his full rate as if he is bringing his own PA, but will rely on the DJ instead. Several times I've had this happen, I'm all set up the musicians arrive, hey man can we plug into your system so we don't have to use ours.


04-11-2007, 10:37 AM
An acoustic guitar with a pickup usually has a preamp inside bringing the output level up to line level. Plugging this directly into a mic input on your mixer can cause the input to be overdriven. Turning the gains way down on the guitar itself usually results in a noisy system. Plugging into a line input would then work.

Sonic DJ
04-11-2007, 12:11 PM
It's not often I let someone plug into my stuff. If they do, it goes through their mixer, and they give me a line level signal out of their mixer that I'll plug into. They're not blowing up my stuff!

04-11-2007, 12:19 PM
Joe, my thinking was that the Father of the Groom might have a little more to worry on that day about than to be bringing his own stuff in to play a song. I was thinking about the service aspect of making this really easy and letting him plug in and only needing to bring his guitar.

I was also thinking that from an elegance perspective, having the volume already preset and worked out ahead of time, and perhaps having the guitar and a stool ready to go and set up would make it a perfect personal touch.

I think, knowing Justin as I do, that this is his intent.

04-11-2007, 01:44 PM
Thank you, Bill - yes, that is my intent.

In providing "full service" I want to make this as easy as possible for the Father of the Groom and as elegant as possible for the happy couple.

Thank you all for your ideas / input.

Mark Beecher
04-11-2007, 02:06 PM
if you had the Bose L1 you could let the guitarist plug in directly to one of the mixer channels of the L1 and even provide proper eqing for his make and model of guitar...just sayin.....


04-11-2007, 02:34 PM
Okay if that was the intent. I would provide "full service" and bring one of my guitar amps (btw, good ones can be bought used for as little as $50). I would have it ready to go with a guitar cable plugged in and a mic setup in front of the amp. I'd even bring the guitar if that would make me more full service.

Back to my original thought.

Why not "mic" a guitar amp?

Bob Dietrich
04-11-2007, 04:32 PM
I agree with Joe. I have a small guitar amp for this purpose then mic that. I find it sound better overall usually. I also bring a guitar stand so everything is preset and ready to go...it looks better with the guitar sitting on the stand...the guests then know they're in for a special treat.

I can bring a guitar if needed as well...that's truly full service! Well...maybe not, I can't play it... :wink: Drums? That we can do!!

Bobby D
04-12-2007, 09:09 PM
An electric/acoustic guitar doesn't sound right thru a regular guitar amp. If the amp is for acoustic guitar then it would be ok to mic it. But, plugging directly into a mixer would give about the same sound with less connections. An acoustic needs a clean sound that a PA system will provide.

04-24-2007, 09:51 AM
Thank you all for your input. Usually when working with a live musician, we are provided a line-level out from their mixer and it's easy to provide sound reinforcement for them.

This was my first experience with plugging an instrument directly into the mixer, and - based on your responses - I can see there are many different ways to get the desired result.

The wedding was this past Saturday and we ended up plugging the DI cable (1/4") directly into a microphone input on the mixer. The guitar was turned way down and the mic level was set way down as well and it worked perfectly.

The groom's father sang a country-style "Sea of Love" for the Bride and Groom's first dance and the crowd loved it. A very special moment with him standing off to the side of our setup - directly in front of the fireplace - the bridal party lined up along the edge of the dancefloor, and the bride and groom dancing directly in front of him.

It worked out great and he was very happy. He did have his amp in the car "just in case", but all he needed was the guitar and the guitar stand and we supplied the sound and the microphone.

Thanks again for all of your help. I knew turning to the folks here for advice would be the right move.