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Dealing with "unfamiliar" sound men (or not)


MuzikTeechur

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As my group plays larger clubs in the corridor between Portland and Boston, we're frequently in clubs that provide a PA and a sound man.

In addition to the age-old "not enough/too much in the monitors or mains", I'm finding that club sound men have a problem balancing my key mix.

I use three sound sources - main stage piano, "effects" keys on top, and a module for adding saxes to the horns, layered strings, etc. Everything is daisy-chained together via MIDI so it's virtually impossible to tell what the sound source is just by looking at where my hands are at a given moment.

I've tried giving the sound guys "total control" - that is, they pull out the direct boxes and I give them three feeds from the keys (or six if we're in stereo). Then the "fun" begins. They're chasing my levels all night as I use the different sound sources, turn down the wrong source, no keys in the monitors, etc. Very frustrating.

My other option is to put everything into my own amp, let the sound guy take the "XLR OUT" of the amp and I send him a "pre-mixed" signal wherein I control my stage level and the keyboard mix. The problem here is that I'm on the stage and have no idea what the mix sounds like out front. When I get it so I can hear everything well, the sound guy will come up (usually when I'm really busy) and say "Turn THIS keyboard down", not knowing that the keyboard he's pointing at isn't being used at that time and that the sound is actually coming from the module sitting on top of it.

 

So, I'm wondering if any of you have encountered this problem and how you've gotten around it. I don't mind controlling my own sound and mix, but when I do something gets overpowering out front. When I leave it up to the sound guy, I'm buried in the mix.

Muzikteechur is Lonnie, in Kittery, Maine.

 

HS music teacher: Concert Band, Marching Band, Jazz Band, Chorus, Music Theory, AP Music Theory, History of Rock, Musical Theatre, Piano, Guitar, Drama.

 

 

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Weve all encountered this. You have to do some pre-production homework and customize the sounds to the songs, and you absolutely must have some sort of mixer. I advise using a line mixer that has independent master sends to the FOH and to your onstage monitoring. This way, the individual channel volumes sent to your onstage rig will be identical to those you send to the FOH, but having independent master sends will allow you to boost the overall level that goes to your onstage rig without affecting what is going to the front. Make sense so far?

 

You will set your instruments/modules output levels and the input levels on the mixer so you have a unity gain structure (they have close to the same volume); from then on, you shouldnt be touching the volumes on the instruments themselves, youll do your tweaking in the programming, so that the volume levels you need are consistent night to night, and song to song.

 

Now, to tailoring your patches: I have songs where I have to cover brass, and I despise the brass patch mentality and approach as I think the results are very very sterile and border on cheeseville. In my case, I layer a Motif module with some sforzando attack, my FantomXr with full trumpets and sax, and my JD990 module has some analog-y yet sheeny effected brass with chorus and a touch of delay). The combined effect of all of those is very thick, very nice, and very very convincing. The level of each depends on the song and the part Im playing, and may also involve the addition of some Prophet-5 brass courtesy of my Muse Receptor. So on a song where the brass section is very important and prominent, the Fantom might be louder; on an arrangement where that slow attack is the important/obvious element, the Motif will be louder. I dont reach over and adjust those levels. I use an A90 controller, and I program the song in that controller so that the levels are where I want them. If you dont have a slick midi controller like that, youll need to write those patches into new user locations on your modules with the correct volume levels, and if you use those sounds in a number of songs with different levels, then write them into memory in the needed number, with the correct volumes.

Make sense? If not, think of it like this: I use a Marcato String patch on Kasmir, and again on another song, like All of My Love. On Kasmir, that sound is covering the big climactic modal line near the end of the song, so it would need to be very Very Big. So I write that at a volume of 127 and save it as KASMIR 1; on All of My Love, its a chordal pad part, so I write that patch a second time at a volume of 90 and save it as MY LOVE 2. Its the same sound, but the volumes are very different because of how theyre being used. But every time you call those patches up, they are good and ready to go.

 

Many people will tell you all patches need to be the same volume. Uh, maybe, but I find that I do a lot of color work, and many times the volume or the presence of the sounds and parts Im playing varies, and as a result, they NEED to be different volumes. The key is to have them set appropriately to the song and to the levels the others in the band are using (assuming they have their $hit together), and then the engineer and you dont have to be fussing with things unnecessarily during the songs and shows. At soundcheck, show the sound guy your quietest (lowest volume) patches and then your loudest patches so that he isnt surprised during the gig.

 

Doing it this way is a little more work, but the net results are much more pleasing, and gratifying on the gig.

 

As your rig seems relatively simple, your piano should stay relatively constant, and you could insert a volume/expression pedal for your module and control the effects keys via its knob, but again, writing patches with their appropriate volumes will go a long way to making your life and sound better.

 

At the very least, you DEFINITELY need to have a mixer in line to sort these things out if youre not going to tailor your sounds.

 

Hitting "Play" does NOT constitute live performance. -Me.
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The real answer is to carry your own sound guy, but that is not always practical. Second best answer, do a totally ampless complete band mix, ands send him a feed.... he gets what you mix.

Third best, you do a keyboard mix and send him the stereo feed.

"I believe that entertainment can aspire to be art, and can become art, but if you set out to make art you're an idiot."

 

Steve Martin

 

Show business: we're all here because we're not all there.

 

 

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As Tony mentioned, homework is critical.

 

Similar advice can be found in the 'compressor' thread.

 

Also, it pays to communicate well regardless of whether the sound engineer is dedicated or on the house (no pun intended).

 

A sound engineer can have a hard time getting a decent level on 1 or 2 KBs with no elaborate splits, layers, volume changes, etc.

 

It takes a dose of advanced preparation and communication to properly mix KBs. :cool:

PD

 

"The greatest thing you'll ever learn, is just to love and be loved in return."--E. Ahbez "Nature Boy"

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Weve all encountered this. You have to do some pre-production homework and customize the sounds to the songs, and you absolutely must have some sort of mixer. .........

 

Now, to tailoring your patches: I have songs where I have to cover brass, and I despise the brass patch mentality and approach as I think the results are very very sterile and border on cheeseville. In my case, I layer a Motif module with some sforzando attack, my FantomXr with full trumpets and sax, and my JD990 module has some analog-y yet sheeny effected brass with chorus and a touch of delay). The combined effect of all of those is very thick, very nice, and very very convincing. The level of each depends on the song and the part Im playing, and may also involve the addition of some Prophet-5 brass courtesy of my Muse Receptor. So on a song where the brass section is very important and prominent, the Fantom might be louder; on an arrangement where that slow attack is the important/obvious element, the Motif will be louder. I dont reach over and adjust those levels. I use an A90 controller, and I program the song in that controller so that the levels are where I want them. If you dont have a slick midi controller like that, youll need to write those patches into new user locations on your modules with the correct volume levels, and if you use those sounds in a number of songs with different levels, then write them into memory in the needed number, with the correct volumes.

because of how theyre being used. But every time you call those patches up, they are good and ready to go.

 

Many people will tell you all patches need to be the same volume. Uh, maybe, but I find that I do a lot of color work, and many times the volume or the presence of the sounds and parts Im playing varies, and as a result, they NEED to be different volumes. The key is to have them set appropriately to the song and to the levels the others in the band are using (assuming they have their $hit together), and then the engineer and you dont have to be fussing with things unnecessarily during the songs and shows. At soundcheck, show the sound guy your quietest (lowest volume) patches and then your loudest patches so that he isnt surprised during the gig.

 

Doing it this way is a little more work, but the net results are much more pleasing, and gratifying on the gig.

 

As your rig seems relatively simple, your piano should stay relatively constant, and you could insert a volume/expression pedal for your module and control the effects keys via its knob, but again, writing patches with their appropriate volumes will go a long way to making your life and sound better.

 

At the very least, you DEFINITELY need to have a mixer in line to sort these things out if youre not going to tailor your sounds.

 

Good post!

 

I haven't done many large live gigs the last couple of years so I can see where presenting the soundman with your own mix is much better than depending on HIS ears. It at least gives you a chance for a somewhat balanced mix out front.

"Music should never be harmless."

 

Robbie Robertson

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We're playing venues from small clubs with 100 patrons to large outdoor concerts on Hampton Beach with 700+ audience members. We played a county fair a few weeks back with a VERY nice sound system and the one sound guy who got it right - he insisted on total control but had to babysit my levels all night.

We don't carry our own sound guy because it's not economically feasible at the moment. However, the larger venues have really stepped up and have some very nice PA's with house sound guys.

Tony really hit it on the head - my patches and their levels are all over the map, and they really need to be. Certainly the brass on "Brick House" would have to be louder than the strings on Marvin's "What's Goin' On." The problem seems to be getting that across to the sound guy.

My biggest source of frustration is having some big brass on a tune, the sound guy turns me way down, and then on the next tune I'm playing a Clav and B-3 sound for Superstition and I have ZERO volume out front or in the monitors. ARGH!

Meanwhile, the guitar player has his Matchless amp that can light the stage on fire, and the bassist has his 400W Hartke that shows up on seismographs. Trust me, we can hear THEM just fine.

 

Tony, after this weekend we have two weeks off so I'm going to spend some time looking at individual settings for each tune. I only have 32 set-ups on my main board, so I'd have to look something with more capacity to store setups.

 

Muzikteechur is Lonnie, in Kittery, Maine.

 

HS music teacher: Concert Band, Marching Band, Jazz Band, Chorus, Music Theory, AP Music Theory, History of Rock, Musical Theatre, Piano, Guitar, Drama.

 

 

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Yeah, use a submix. Send L and R to front of house. I try to base my level around my bread-and-butter patches. When I know a patch needs to stand out, I give it more volume. It mostly works.

 

I was really good at it with my old rig. My new rig needs some work. I'm a little worried that my Evolver is going to break something (like an eardrum).

 

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Tony's got the best advice. If you do your homework, you should have little to no adjustments to make on the fly. For what little you may need to do, a good monitor mix is critical - IEM's are the best.

 

Once you know you have a good, consistant mix, the hardest part is letting go and trusting the sound guy to make it sound right in FOH. There's a tendancy if you think something should be louder to bump it up yourself. If you do, he'll just pull it down, and you'll be fighting with the mix all night. A lot of sound guys don't trust the keys because too often, they never know when out of the blue you're going to blast them with some loud patch. Once they get to know you as someone with consistent levels, they will be more likely to mix you better. It also pays to give them a songlist ahead of time so they know what to expect.

Dan

 

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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" the hardest part is letting go and trusting the sound guy to make it sound right in FOH. There's a tendancy if you think something should be louder to bump it up yourself. If you do, he'll just pull it down, and you'll be fighting with the mix all night."

 

Darned right.

 

If you do not trust the sound guy, why is he there?

 

Do not send your girlfriend or best drunken buddy up to him to tell him how to mix.

 

Even if he sucks, he is out front, you are not. He can hear what it sounds like out there, you cannot.

 

In the best of all worlds, he is caring, competent, and the gear is top notch... but he doesn't know you, and doesn't know your music, and would be as useful as a one night fill-in guitarist...nothing may explode, but it is not going to be the best presentation of your music, either.

 

If you do not carry your own sound guy, you are totally at the mercy of the fates, and I don't think that you have room to complain about what you get. Because even in the punk days when bands were playing for cases of beer and 'exposure', somehow the ones who really cared about their sound managed to drag around a sound guy. And there weren't that many back then!

"I believe that entertainment can aspire to be art, and can become art, but if you set out to make art you're an idiot."

 

Steve Martin

 

Show business: we're all here because we're not all there.

 

 

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Everything Tony said. Especially regarding the submixer and pre-programming volume levels among your synths/patches.

 

My current rig consists of two external keyboards and three modules in a rack. At a recent gig the sound guy said "turn down this keyboard" pointing to my lower keyboard. I then told him that he could be referring to any one of five different "keyboards," each of which has hundreds of sounds. He then looked at me with this glazed, confused look. Apparently the concept was beyond his rational capacities. To help troubleshoot the issue, I asked "what song" contained the boisterous patch and we figured out it was "Smokin'" by Boston. I then said, "Do you mean the big pipe organ patch?" and he said "Yes!" As it turned out, the pipe organ was actually from my upper keyboard, MIDIed to my lower (controller) keyboard, a Nord Stage.

 

So the moral may be to conversate in terms of songs, then in terms of sounds....instead of keyboards. Since you do not have a designated sound man, if different sound guys consistently mention the same problematic song/sound, this may contribute a degree of convergent evidence/validity to the identification of the hairy patch.

 

"We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing."

- George Bernard Shaw

 

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You could have a friend in the audience who isn't afraid to grab the right knob when the knucklehead of a house supplied sound man is off having a smoke......

 

Thanks Tony! and probably Moonglow too!

 

Oh yea, What Tony said above. Get your own levels together before you send it to the FOH. Most sound techs will have a hard enough time getting you in the mix, let alone mixing multiple channels of keys. Sad....

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We've finally gotten to the point where we're trying to add a soundman full time. It just takes a huge load off your mind to have someone out there that is as familiar with your tunes as you are and mixes accordingly. Plus I have enough shit to do without having to worry about the PA, too.

 

 

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"You could have a friend in the audience who isn't afraid to grab the right knob when the knucklehead .... Most sound techs will have a hard enough time getting you in the mix, let alone mixing multiple channels of keys. Sad...."

 

Interesting how you all assume that the FOH guy is incompetent, and yet you expect him to know YOUR music, YOUR arrangements, to know WHICH of your keys or modules are producing the patches, and get the levels correct. Interesting. And he's never seen you before. Meanwhile, you've been rehearsing and playing the same songs for how long? and the levels of your patches are still not balanced or matched? hmmmm... yeah. sound guys.,.,they all suck......

"I believe that entertainment can aspire to be art, and can become art, but if you set out to make art you're an idiot."

 

Steve Martin

 

Show business: we're all here because we're not all there.

 

 

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"

If you do not carry your own sound guy, you are totally at the mercy of the fates, and I don't think that you have room to complain about what you get.

 

Unfortunately, I'm not the guy who makes those decisions. This isn't my first time at the rodeo - I've been gigging for 20 years now, but my previous gigs were mostly in small clubs, small jazz gigs, solo piano, VFW's, Legions... I've been with this band for about 6 years now, and we're playing many of the larger venues north of Boston. Our bandleader, the bass player, feels that with his vast experience he can control the mix adequately from the stage (I know - a bit of hubris there) so the band "owners" don't hire a sound guy.

Previously, I had just listened to recordings made by someone out front and noticed where I could/couldn't be heard, and also where there were glaring problems and fixed those myself prior to the next gig.

My problem is arising from sound men who are unfamiliar with what is called for from tune to tune.

 

Best advice so far:

* Do individual set-ups for each sound set, if not for each tune.

* Give strange sound men (aren't they all a bit strange?) a set-list with patch notes in the margin

* Pre-mix myself with a mixer (I've been doing this all along, but on the amp itself, before sending an XLR cable out to the sound board)

 

Thanks to all who have contributed to this discussion - some very good advice. Keep it coming! Humorous anecdotes are welcome as well.

Muzikteechur is Lonnie, in Kittery, Maine.

 

HS music teacher: Concert Band, Marching Band, Jazz Band, Chorus, Music Theory, AP Music Theory, History of Rock, Musical Theatre, Piano, Guitar, Drama.

 

 

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"My problem is arising from sound men who are unfamiliar with what is called for from tune to tune."

 

yes, and within tunes. It is always a drag to try to get the best sound possible out front, and have the band sabotage you from on stage (which can happen any number of ways...) and it is almost impossible to do your job and try to read per-song notes on the fly in low light, think about what they mean while still thinking about what you are supposed to be thinking about, and hopefully implementing them correctly and on time.

 

If the sound guy would be free to just read and try to implement your notes, that would be tough enough to do on the fly not knowing the music or the arrangements, but on top of that he has to watch the rest of the band and the rig itself. This makes it really hard to expect the house sound guy to cover you, when he knows that he is covering a position for your band, and not getting paid for it. On tour, many low budget opening acts don't want to pay the freight to carry their own sound guy, so they'll pay one of the systems guys an extra $75-$125 a show to mix their set. Advantage to the sound system guy, is that he makes a little extra cash. Advantage to the band is that they don't have to pay to house and move and feed a sound guy as well as pay his daily rate. And the system guy gets some extra time at the console that he would not normally get, and he eventually learns the band set and acts pretty much like a band-employed sound guy. Works out for everyone but the sound guy that they left at home.

 

"I believe that entertainment can aspire to be art, and can become art, but if you set out to make art you're an idiot."

 

Steve Martin

 

Show business: we're all here because we're not all there.

 

 

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"You could have a friend in the audience who isn't afraid to grab the right knob when the knucklehead .... Most sound techs will have a hard enough time getting you in the mix, let alone mixing multiple channels of keys. Sad...."

 

As Ive said before, there are sound guys and there are engineers, just like there are guitar players and guitarists.

 

After 30 years of gigging, some periods when I could afford an Engineer for the band, most periods when it simply was/and is not feasible, I have encountered every variation on the two species. Without going into specifics, what Redkey was referring to was a night when Moonglow and myself went to see Red play. Said SoundGuy set some very cursory and ineffectual levels (you can hear drums and vocals) and then literally kept leaving his station to go smoke, or get a cocktail, or get a cocktail and a smoke. So during Deep Purples Highway Star, I decided that since this @$$ was too busy to come back and even see if everything was working or sounding okay, I would just take it upon myself to go turn the keyboards up (since they were so low in the mix) and give them their appropriate place in the mix.

 

The sad truth is most Sound Guys just plain suck at their job because they are lazy, and are no longer able to hold a gig as a musician, and as such, take as little interest in their newfound position as humanly possible. NO other gig would permit you to leave your station for the bulk of your time on the clock to go smoke, drink, use your cellphone, download porn, or do whatever it is these morons do. There is that small percentage of sound guys who suck just because theyre extremely untalented and/or have no idea what theyre doing.

 

Then there are engineers. When you find one, treat him with the respect and dignity he deserves: he is generally a true artist who really cares that the room sounds good, that the band sounds good to the patrons in the establishment, and that the band sounds good to themselves because he knows the more comfortable the musicians are, the better they will perform. A real engineer is an asset to the club/theatre/band that hires him, and in fact, are more in demand than keyboard players.

 

If I didnt love playing so much, Id have jumped behind the console already. I studied sound reinforcement at Columbia, and sometimes think that at my age and with my lack of beauty sleep, thats probably the position I belong in now. I know all the SMART musicians I know got into sound reinforcement a long time ago, and most of them are doing quite well at it.

 

But, Bill is correct: you cant blame sound guys or engineers if your own rig isnt together. Take care of yourself first, and make things easier for everyone.

 

Hitting "Play" does NOT constitute live performance. -Me.
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I just don't interact with sound persons, or with the PA. All I play are piano/rhodes and B3 organ. I have a small mixer I use for piano, but usually run the B3 straight out of two MS rotary amps, left and right. I can always hear myself with this set-up. What the soundman does FOH I don't bother with or care. I have plenty of bandmates who are intensly interested in this stuff, and I leave it all up to them!
"Forget it, Jake. It's Chinatown."
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Every bar/club we play has house sound guys. Most of them do a very good job. But we've now worked with all of them long enough now that they know exactly what to expect from us and exactly how each song should sound. We do give them a set list at the beginning of the night, but no notes. If it's someone who has never run us before, I'll usually try to get our Tech Rider to them in advance so they have an input list and understand out monitor setup.

 

We also try to treat the sound guys really well and have in fact become friends with many of them. A lot of times they have to deal with primadonna a-holes screaming at them all night, so if they like working with you and you treat them like a band member, that will go a long way.

 

All that being said, I have unfortunately had a handful of situations, which I have shared here, that I could just not make work with the house guy. In those cases we've worked it out to bring in our own guy, which we paid out of our pockets, to run on the house system (usually supervised by the house guy). Kind of creates an uncomfortable situation, but sometimes you gotta do it.

Dan

 

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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We were at a club in Austin called Momo's to see Seth Walker (who kanker sometimes gigs with) and I was getting a laugh out of the sound guy there, in a good way. At first, I didn't realize who he was. We were on the opposite side of the room from the mixer, so this guy that kept coming over to the side we were on, looking at the stage, thinking a bit, making an imaginary list on his fingers, and then disappearing to the other side seemed a little weird. Then I realized it was the sound guy and he was checking the sound on the far side of the room from where he worked. I was impressed.

 

(He was a little dorky looking, which didn't help his "who is this weird guy?" case. ;) )

"I'm so crazy, I don't know this is impossible! Hoo hoo!" - Daffy Duck

 

"The good news is that once you start piano you never have to worry about getting laid again. More time to practice!" - MOI

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Some sound advice here for sure, I'd love to find some time to sculpt and organize my patches according to some of these tips. I've had great success running my entire rig through a rack bag containing a furman power conditioner, a MOTU 828mk3, a Glyph hard drive, and a Presonus HP4 headphone amp. Two keyboards plus Ableton live running samples, sequences, click tracks, or soft synths at any given song made me realize I want to have a constant routing situation no matter if i'm playing in a big club or in a farmer's market with my junky keyboard amp.

 

Almost all sound guys I encounter go from frown (seeing allll my gear) to smile (when I tell them that it's just a big stereo submix, and no, you dont even need to shell out your precious DIs because the MOTU already has XLR outs). I've gotten quite used to the CueMix software and it's great to control my own FOH mix, keyboard amp mix, headphone mix, click mix for each band member all from one console and change it from gig to gig if necessary.

 

That said, I would love to spend some time listening to board recordings of different gigs and trying to normalize the levels on some of my Ableton sequences or carve some EQ out of a blaring brass patch that's supposed to sit in the background (but somehow still be heard). I also would like to make some custom cables/snakes so that I can further minimize spaghetti syndrome.

 

Perhaps the search for a musically able soundman is not so far off as a search for a soulmate: luck and grace seem to play a big part!

CP4, Stage EX 73, Ableton

Me The Beast Orquesta GarDel

 

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A real engineer is an asset to the club/theatre/band that hires him, and in fact, are more in demand than keyboard players.

 

If I didn't love playing so much, I'd have jumped behind the console already.

 

I know all the SMART musicians I know got into sound reinforcement a long time ago, and most of them are doing quite well at it.

 

But, Bill is correct: you can't blame sound guys or engineers if your own rig isn't together. Take care of yourself first, and make things easier for everyone.

Tony and Bill are preaching the gospel.:thu:

 

For the reasons mentioned above, I'm so tempted to dive into sound reinforcement.

 

In fact, GAS for me is PA equipment. :cool:

PD

 

"The greatest thing you'll ever learn, is just to love and be loved in return."--E. Ahbez "Nature Boy"

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To me this is one of those things that gets covered by that dumb "Serendipity prayer" (...grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can...).

 

I provide the FOH with a Left and Right channel submix from my keyboard mixer ... and hope the guy behind the board has a clue. This is the "grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change..." part of the prayer.

 

On the "courage to change the things I can ..." side of the ledger - I take it upon myself to carry a small stereo PA to serve as my stage monitor rig (small board, amp, 2 floor wedges).

 

In the end - I ALWAYS sound good to me because I sit fat, dumb and happy in the middle of my own personal stereo field that I have complete control over. What the FOH hears may well be a different story - but hey, if there's a sound guy out there that's his domain and I simply don't get to control that.

The SpaceNorman :freak:
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I would like to state for those taking the sound guys' side out there:

1) Our sound people are ALWAYS paid the same cut as the members of the band.

2) It isn't *always* bad when we have sound guys, it's just that when it's bad it's usually pretty memorable. When you're still getting feedback in the middle of the second set, someone is either asleep at the board, flirting up the girls, or just plain inept.

3) I've had the distinct privilege of working with some true Sound Engineers. You can always tell them from the beginning because they're pros (as opposed to arrogant pricks who think they invented the sine wave).

4) I'm always courteous to sound men, bouncers, bartenders, waitrons, club managers, and club owners. My wife usually hears my true feelings on the way home from the gig, but on the job I keep my opinions to myself unless they're of a positive nature.

 

 

Muzikteechur is Lonnie, in Kittery, Maine.

 

HS music teacher: Concert Band, Marching Band, Jazz Band, Chorus, Music Theory, AP Music Theory, History of Rock, Musical Theatre, Piano, Guitar, Drama.

 

 

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If I don't already know him, I always go up to the sound man, shake his hand and introduce myself before I even set-up. We try to agree on how he will take my mix and I will give him all of the leeway that I can. But, sometime during the conversation, I will tell him that I play with dynamics and that I truly mean for some things to be louder, some things to be softer and I will be returning to base levels afterward. Then, I will play him the softest and loudest sounds he is going to get from me and we agree on the median level. Once he understands that the loudest sound is a transitory sound that is temporary and that I haven't just turned up the whole rig on a whim, I usually don't have a problem the rest of the gig. Since we discussed it beforehand, there is no surprise factor for the sound man when the loud parts happen. However, I have to keep up my part of the bargain and stick to the agreed-upon level the rest of the time.
Everybody's got to believe in something. I believe I'll have another beer. W. C. Fields
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We were at a club in Austin called Momo's to see Seth Walker (who kanker sometimes gigs with) and I was getting a laugh out of the sound guy there, in a good way. At first, I didn't realize who he was. We were on the opposite side of the room from the mixer, so this guy that kept coming over to the side we were on, looking at the stage, thinking a bit, making an imaginary list on his fingers, and then disappearing to the other side seemed a little weird. Then I realized it was the sound guy and he was checking the sound on the far side of the room from where he worked. I was impressed.

 

I've worked with two or three different engineers at Momo's, but they're always top-notch, and always genuinely excited to see me schlepping the Leslie up the fire escape in the back - never have to ask to get them to mic the bottom rotor, which is usually a pretty good indicator. The guy at the Saxon Pub is also outstanding - far and away the best live mixes I've ever heard, both on-stage and in the house. The room has something to do with it, but he definitely knows his craft.

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My mom, who is 75 now but still can play the hell out of her Hammond, played Hammonds for clubs/functions for years and years from the 60's through the 90's. Early on, she had a Hammond "Porta-B", later she had a Hammond B-200. In the late 70's I was her chief "schlepper" and hauled those Leslies up many a flight of stairs. She paid my buddy and me $20 to take her stuff to the gig and set it up. I guess she sweet-talked the other guys in the band into packing it up at the end of the night.

In this area you don't see anybody using a real B-3 on a gig anymore - no club pays enough to justify the work, and the function folks don't know the difference. Of course, when my guitar player pulls out his original Fender "No-Caster" the guitar gearheads come out of the woodwork.

 

Muzikteechur is Lonnie, in Kittery, Maine.

 

HS music teacher: Concert Band, Marching Band, Jazz Band, Chorus, Music Theory, AP Music Theory, History of Rock, Musical Theatre, Piano, Guitar, Drama.

 

 

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This is going to sound counter intuitive, but I can always tell that the sound guy is going to be horrible by the following:

 

1) He brags about gear he has, other big name bands he's run sound for, and points out the physics of the room, including where all the reflections and standing waves are, yada, yada, yada.

 

2) When he finds out we're all direct with electric drums and IEM's, he goes on and on about how easy it's going to be and how he's not hardly going to have anything to do.

 

3) Sound check takes longer than 20 minutes. Worse yet, the drum check takes longer than 20 min (remember, electric drums - 5 ch's: kick, snare, toms, FX (cowbell , claps, etc), and HH - all direct. The guys that are good and know us do the entire sound check in 10 min and it sounds great.

Dan

 

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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