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#2872575 - 08/12/17 07:47 PM OT: Being The PA Guy For Your Bar Band
cphollis Offline
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Registered: 10/05/13
Posts: 1845
Loc: Massachussets, Florida
So, this role has been creeping up on me for a while, so I've decided to embrace it. If not me, then who?

Bar bands, outdoor fairs, and other low-life gigs. No $$$ for sound guy. I care about how the band sounds, so I guess it falls on me.

Gear-wise, I had to buy a few new pieces. A pair of well-used QSC KW153 towers. A thumpin' RCF sub. A dandy 16 channel analog board. And a nice pair of Shure IEMs to run off the board.

So now, I monitor the band FOH sound, with the mixing board right at my side. I don't get to selfishly listen to myself anymore -- unless I pull out the IEMs - it's all about Band Sound.

That being said, the new pieces really help out. The KW153 units are solid wood towers with decent oomph. The RCF sub bring some serious thump. And if I put my primo FA 12ac units on top, well, the party is just beginning.

So -- a question for my keyboard brethren -- how many of you have found yourselves responsible for bar band sound?
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#2872586 - 08/12/17 10:50 PM Re: OT: Being The PA Guy For Your Bar Band [Re: cphollis]
zxcvbnm098 Offline
Platinum Member

Registered: 12/02/05
Posts: 1116
Loc: Southern Calif.
I've always been the PA guy because I frequently was the organizer of the band. I just made sure I had the PA. Still the case usually.

But the question is, do you get bigger share? How do you compensate yourself for being responsible for the PA?

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#2872589 - 08/13/17 12:33 AM Re: OT: Being The PA Guy For Your Bar Band [Re: zxcvbnm098]
J. Dan Online   content
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Registered: 07/25/08
Posts: 10938
Loc: St. Louis, MO
I was in my early days. Then I graduated to being able to hire it out all the time. En I left that band and started doing an acoustic thing (playing bass) mostly for fun. Bring an acoustic electric bass, plug it in, done. Didn't care if I only got a hundred bucks,

But yes, the curse.....didn't care for the sound, so started bringing out some of my own stuff, which means I have to run it, on top of that, one of the other guitar players had played keys on a few songs. Well then they want me to okay some keys, I'm not doing Bloody Well Right with the EP sounds in the guitar player's XP80. So now I'm bringing my Kronos. There's sax, so I'm bringing that. Before long, I'm bringing a full PA, running it, bringing my Kronos, my bass, my sax.....for $100. Not fun anymore, so I quit. If I could have been happy just playing my bass and left everything else alone, I'd probably still be doing it,
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Acoustic/Electric stringed instruments ranging from 4 to 230 strings, hammered, picked, fingered, slapped, and plucked. Analog and Digital Electronic instruments, reeds, and throat/mouth.

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#2872614 - 08/13/17 07:20 AM Re: OT: Being The PA Guy For Your Bar Band [Re: J. Dan]
Stokely Offline
Platinum Member

Registered: 12/15/12
Posts: 1484
Loc: Florida
I haven't. I don't really have a lot of live sound knowledge (phasing with subs etc) but I could hook everything up.

Our bass player owns the PA and as far as I know doesn't get a bigger cut grin . It's a tough job but modern PA and lights make it WAY easier than it used to be.

I would do it if I owned a PA, but only if the following were true (which they are in my current band):

-- everyone helps with tear-down and load-in (if they can be there early)
-- everyone puts in the time to make sure their rig/settings are consistent from gig to gig

Our gigs often have no time/permission for soundchecks and it's no problem. We all plug in, things are the same as always and we roll. 30 minutes from van to the first note in a pinch. Granted these are small-ish gigs compared to some of you guys I'm sure smile

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#2872615 - 08/13/17 07:42 AM Re: OT: Being The PA Guy For Your Bar Band [Re: Stokely]
AnotherScott Online   content
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Registered: 10/19/09
Posts: 10737
Yeah, I've had to run the band's PA many times.

One thing I do, which is non-standard, is avoid dedicated monitor mixes.

Particularly if you've got numerous vocalists (sometimes singing lead, sometimes singing harmony), keeping everyone balanced is not something you want to be bothered with having to do while you're also playing keyboards. So instead of doing a traditional "monitor mix," my monitor mix is usually post-fade (or even tapped right off the mains) so that the vocal mix in the monitors is exactly the same as the vocal balance out front. So then a harmony singer can tell whether he or she is properly balanced with the lead. That is, I count on the singers to balance their voices themselves, instead of having the sound person do it for them. It's not a perfect solution... I have one singer who isn't really capable of that, she's used to the "normal" way where each singer can hear as much of themselves as they want in the monitors and it's someone else's job to make it blend, and she's not great at keeping herself balanced, unfortunately. But if your singers can do this (which means being comfortable singing their part even when it's being over-powered by other voices), it can keep things sounding good with a lot less real-time effort on your part.

Making the monitors identical to the mains means also means that you, as the mixer, can hear what the balance is like out front (even though you still don't necessarily have an on-going sense of the balance between the PA and the live instruments). In cases where, for whatever reason, you do not want the monitor mix to mirror the mains, and you must use a separate monitor mix, I will try to run one more "extra" monitor that I keep near me that is tapped off the mains, so I can always hear what the mix is like out front. I keep it on the opposite side of me from wherever my keyboard amp is, so I can "tune in" to either my own playing or the FOH mix as need be, which becomes even more important of I have some keys in the FOH as well. You may also want to arrange things so that you can easily cut your own keys amp (if it's really just being used for your own monitoring), so you can hear only the mains mix to be sure your keys are well balanced in that mix. But you can go a long way toward that even just by keeping one completely on your left and the other completely on your right and focusing your attention accordingly.

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#2872619 - 08/13/17 07:47 AM Re: OT: Being The PA Guy For Your Bar Band [Re: Stokely]
Mighty Ferguson Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 12/02/14
Posts: 218
Loc: Massachusetts
I have to help run sound from the stage from time to time and I always hate it, mainly for the ways it affects our playing. First off, in a bar situation, more often than not the setup is rushed. So I'm usually stressed out after getting sounds, etc., and not really able to settle down and just play. The second reason is that I think the whole band feels less confident when we don't have a sound guy. We don't really know how it's sounding out front and we don't play with the same confidence. Fortunately we've had good luck with having people to run sound lately.
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#2872623 - 08/13/17 08:18 AM Re: OT: Being The PA Guy For Your Bar Band [Re: Mighty Ferguson]
mate stubb Offline
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Registered: 10/26/03
Posts: 15090
I have owned PA in the past, but always had somebody to run it. Now I refuse to be part of the hassle, although I am the light guy.

We now have 2 powered speakers, monitors or in ears, an X18, and a laptop. Everybody has their own monitor mix which stays pretty consistent. One band member steps out front for the first tune to set levels and off we go.
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#2872629 - 08/13/17 10:05 AM Re: OT: Being The PA Guy For Your Bar Band [Re: mate stubb]
harmonizer Online   content
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Registered: 08/11/06
Posts: 596
Loc: NJ, USA
I was the main person for running the mixing board and PA for several years, a role that my son has increasingly taken over during the last year. We are a 7 piece band with 5 of us having vocal mics, so there are a lot of inputs to deal with (15 lines into our Carvin powered mixer).

We take 14 line sends from the Carvin mixer to record the individual tracks on my Korg D3200 (the 2 lines from our rhythm guitarist are sub-mixed on the Carvin for a single line into the D3200, which can only take 14 inputs). The D3200 enables us to get a very good multitrack capture, so I can get a high quality audio for the videos that we post.

We have 2 Yamaha FOH speakers, and every noise our band makes get sent thru the board and FOH. Our stage monitors only get sent the vocals and the line from an acoustic guitar that our rhythm guitarist plays on 3 songs only. The guitar amps and keys amp are mostly serving as stage monitors, although the audience hears a lot of direct sound from our bass and rhythm guitar players in particular.

Gear ownership is distributed. I bought 3 stage monitors several years ago at the same time 2 other band members bought out the share of the PA owned by a departing band member, and I bought the D3200 in 2007. Our rhythm guitarist bought the Carvin powered mixer about a year ago, and he owns that. The FOH speakers and the old PA head are considered owned by the band overall.

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#2872645 - 08/13/17 11:22 AM Re: OT: Being The PA Guy For Your Bar Band [Re: harmonizer]
MotiDave Offline
Platinum Member

Registered: 12/04/12
Posts: 1471
Loc: San Diego, CA USA
I act dumb and turn away anytime I even sniff the possibility of the subject coming up. I'll just go back home if there's no PA or somebody tending to it.

That said, we always play where there's a FOH. Even a dive, even for half of one $, there's a FOH. (Who makes more than I do, but then again I'll do anything to avoid being PA guy)
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#2872650 - 08/13/17 11:49 AM Re: OT: Being The PA Guy For Your Bar Band [Re: AnotherScott]
DrMRG Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 04/27/12
Posts: 36
Originally Posted By: AnotherScott
One thing I do, which is non-standard, is avoid dedicated monitor mixes.


I own the band PA. As I have gotten older, I retired the passive monitors and invested in IEMs. With IEMs and a digital mixer, we just let each performers mix using their own phone or tablet.
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#2872654 - 08/13/17 12:08 PM Re: OT: Being The PA Guy For Your Bar Band [Re: DrMRG]
AnotherScott Online   content
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Registered: 10/19/09
Posts: 10737
Originally Posted By: DrMRG
Originally Posted By: AnotherScott
One thing I do, which is non-standard, is avoid dedicated monitor mixes.


I own the band PA. As I have gotten older, I retired the passive monitors and invested in IEMs. With IEMs and a digital mixer, we just let each performers mix using their own phone or tablet.

That's great... though someone still needs to be responsible for the FOH balance. As I mentioned, the tricky part of that is when someone is sometimes singing lead, and other times singing background. How do you deal with that?
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#2872675 - 08/13/17 02:12 PM Re: OT: Being The PA Guy For Your Bar Band [Re: AnotherScott]
WesG Offline
MP Hall of Fame Member

Registered: 02/16/13
Posts: 2864
Loc: Inverary, ON, Canada
I try to keep the vocal balance in the monitors pretty close to the vocal balance out front. My guys balance themselves pretty well. I lightly compress the vocal subgroup, which helps keep things on an even keel out front. Watching the gain reduction meter on the compressor also helps me get a sense of how loud the vocalist is.
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#2872717 - 08/13/17 07:30 PM Re: OT: Being The PA Guy For Your Bar Band [Re: WesG]
KeyMoe Offline
Platinum Member

Registered: 01/11/09
Posts: 1179
Loc: Texas
I also run FOH for the when needed. Not particularly happy about it, but been doing it years. Same reason as you, important to me for the show to sound as good as possible. Now we use an X32 and IEMs, so everyone controls their own monitor mix so it's pretty easy.

I also keep a K10 of only the FOH mix next to me for general reference after FOH sound check. Gotten pretty good at judging whether I need to go out front with what I hear from the K10.
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#2872725 - 08/13/17 08:15 PM Re: OT: Being The PA Guy For Your Bar Band [Re: KeyMoe]
cphollis Offline
Platinum Member

Registered: 10/05/13
Posts: 1845
Loc: Massachussets, Florida
Yah, well, ran sound tonight for a rehearsal.

A pair or IEMs that sealed out stage noise. and me with my hand flying over knobs as the night progressed. The problem I notices is that I have to drop out when it's time to adjust sound.

The band house sound was stellar. I had monitors all around, a pair of QSC KW153s with my primo FA 12ac units on top.

Ear candy for everyone smile

I ain't no background fill, so when my hands move to tweak knobs, the sound degrades 30% right there. I have to learn to tweak when it's not keyboard playing time.

Another skill to learn. In my world, there's no extra pay for this. It's just because I care.
_________________________
Life is too short to be playing bad music.

Keys: Nord Stage 2, Piano 2, Electro 4D
Practice: Yam N3, Bosie 200 Klimt Model
Amps: FA 12acs, RCF TT08as, QSC Ks, SSv3
Stuff: Spider Pro, MG06, etc.

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#2872762 - 08/13/17 11:28 PM Re: OT: Being The PA Guy For Your Bar Band [Re: cphollis]
Lee T Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 09/21/15
Posts: 108
Loc: North West UK
I have to set up FOH for one band I work with as they are completely inept in that department. Last year we moved to using an Allen and Heath QU-SB which makes it a lot easier. IEM monitor mixes are done by the individuals using a phone app which locks them out of everything except their own aux out.

Saying that, it's still the bane of my life with the drummer, who can only hear properly out of one ear, constantly complaining that something has changed in his drum sound as his IEMs sound crap. One look at the levels he's set and it's understandable. A quick reset and everything's good for a couple of gigs before he starts moaning again. He's been close a couple of times to have an iPad inserted at a very awkward and painful angle.

Thankfully in another band I play in the bass player is a sound engineer which makes things much more pleasurable.
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#2872765 - 08/13/17 11:41 PM Re: OT: Being The PA Guy For Your Bar Band [Re: Mighty Ferguson]
roygbiv Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 05/04/15
Posts: 315
Loc: Pacific NW
Originally Posted By: Mighty Ferguson
I have to help run sound from the stage from time to time and I always hate it, mainly for the ways it affects our playing. First off, in a bar situation, more often than not the setup is rushed. So I'm usually stressed out after getting sounds, etc., and not really able to settle down and just play.


I was going to respond with a word of advice based on a similar sentiment - if you do get roped into running the PA (which used to happen to me, although recent band has someone else much better than I, with equipment) - make sure you set up your keyboards BEFORE you set up the PA.

That sounds counterintuitive, and it is, since the PA is realistically more important than any one person, including you, the keyboardist).

However, if you don't, and instead spend all your time setting up the PA, then find yourself stuck at the last minute rushing to set up your keyboard, while everyone else in the band (who have amazingly seemed to forget yours set up the PA while they got a beer) start commenting on "how we need to get going", and "wow, you take a long time to set up your stuff".

You will find yourself biter and angry as the situation Mighty Ferguson notes above ensues.

So, my more recent strategy - make sure I have at least the basics of my set up going on, then set up and tweak the PA.


Edited by roygbiv (08/13/17 11:46 PM)

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#2872771 - 08/14/17 02:17 AM Re: OT: Being The PA Guy For Your Bar Band [Re: roygbiv]
SteveQB Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 04/11/14
Posts: 183
Loc: Devon, UK
I run the sound for the current band. Having the XR18 has really helped as its easy to get a balance out the front during sound check. We have spent a lot of time trying to get our levels right (keys patches even, guitar volumes right for solos etc) as that's the only real way of getting a good mix without a dedicated sound man. We still aren't fully there, but almost.
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#2872776 - 08/14/17 03:54 AM Re: OT: Being The PA Guy For Your Bar Band [Re: SteveQB]
WesG Offline
MP Hall of Fame Member

Registered: 02/16/13
Posts: 2864
Loc: Inverary, ON, Canada
Ha! Roy, you're so right about the keyboard rig setup. I have a frustrating problem where folks want to interrupt keys setup to do their PA part. I don't say anything, though, since I'm happy to have the PA help. My bar-band-mates are responsible for getting their own instruments and mics to the board, and the drummer supplies his own sub-snake. Pretty great.

Chuck - playing and mixing is why I likely won't be going X32-rack any time soon. I like the physical control surface; I can reach over with my left hand and peripheral vision to make small adjustments. And I setup the same every time...if we're not using a particular piece of equipment that night, its channel becomes unused, not reassigned.
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Hammond: Split L111, '58 M3, '59 B3, Northern DV
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Band Site: http://DrBombay.ca/

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