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How does a band best control their volume?


Bob L

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This may be a question more for the weekend warriors than the pros on this forum. My cover band has a gig in a small club. I heard the band they had there last week and nothing was miked but the band did a remarkable job of being at an appropriate volume and having a balanced sound. The guitar player had a small Mesa Boogie amp that just sounded great (they had no keyboard player). The place has a bar and tables that maybe seat 100 people!

 

We usually gig with a sound man, everything going through the board (including a direct out from my keyboard amp, all instruments miked including drums). Our PA has a subwoofer we can choose not to use (nice when miking the bass and for my keyboards). We won't be bringing the subwoofer on this gig or miking anything.

 

Our usual sound man is coming to the gig anyways (nice of him) so we will have someone to listen and give advice.

 

We are drums, bass, guitar, and keyboards (two of us sing). We have a tendency to try to compete on stage from a volume perspective (bad habit, so things get progressively louder). Also we use in ear (wireless with ear buds) for monitors - no floor monitors.

 

Sorry to ask what seems like a basic stupid question but this club gig raises the bar for us (some pretty good bands play there) and we want to sound good, please the crowd, and please the owner so he has us back. Also a little strange that one of our more important gigs is in a much smaller room. Any advice you can give would be much appreciated.

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We all get the same mix. This is a frustration. Our guitar player tends to not wear them because he doesn't care for them (which is a bit of a bummer as he does backing vocals). I definitely need the in-ear so I can sing on key (I do all the lead vocals in addition to keyboards).

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...a gig in a small club.

 

...nothing was miked

 

...an appropriate volume and ...balanced sound.

 

...seat 100 people!

 

We won't be bringing the subwoofer on this gig or miking anything.

 

Our usual sound man is coming to the gig anyways (nice of him) so we will have someone to listen and give advice.

 

...compete on stage from a volume perspective

 

...we use in ear (wireless with ear buds) for monitors - no floor monitors.

 

...one of our more important gigs

 

...in a much smaller room.

 

In a small club, when nothing is mic'd, how can you monitor your volume relative to everyone else, and run sound, when you are using IEMs?

 

You would be more comfortable with a small keyboard monitor or two (K8 or K10) and a floor monitor for vocals.

 

If you have a tendency to compete on stage volume-wise, you'll need to hear each other and monitor your balance. Without a guy out front running sound and making it sound good from the audience's perspective, if you wear IEMs, you are setting yourself up for failure.

 

Plus, you need to set up so that it's easy to have eye-contact with each other at all times. If you play in a small club like this, not only do you have to watch overall volume, you also have to consider dynamics within the music itself. You can only do this if you can see each other.

 

Viewing your pictures on Facebook, you should let the guitarists set up next to the drummer and you off to one side... for balance. This way you can turn your rig a bit to see the drummer. Also, if the audience can see your hands, that will help to engage them. Setting up so that my side is to the audience, at an angle, is my preference.

 

Also, if you can turn the mains so that you can hear them too, you hear what your audience is hearing. This will help you balance the sound and keep the overall volume in check. However, it has to be a small room or you may not be able to get much gain before feedback from the mics.

 

Good luck!

 

Tom

 

 

 

 

 

"Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent." - Victor Hugo
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I play with a great guitarist and sometimes I have to reach over and turn him up during our performances. He does not suffer from a big ego and he is very sensitive to the music. I attribute that to volume control. He plays appropriately.

Harry Likas was the Technical Editor of Mark Levine's "The Jazz Theory Book" and also helped develop "The Jazz Piano Book."    Facebook Harry spends his time teaching jazz piano online and playing solo piano gigs.

 

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I play with a great guitarist and sometimes I have to reach over and turn him up during our performances. He does not suffer from a big ego and he is very sensitive to the music. I attribute that to volume control. He plays appropriately.

 

Pretty much this.

 

Another easy solution is make sure each of the players prone to volume wars (keys, guitar, bass) has a small amp (10" small combo, ideally) on stage, on a kickback stand, positioned like a monitor in front of them. Then they can have as much extra "me" as they need/want, without causing any undue grief to the rest of the band.

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...a gig in a small club.

 

...nothing was miked

 

...an appropriate volume and ...balanced sound.

 

...seat 100 people!

 

We won't be bringing the subwoofer on this gig or miking anything.

 

Our usual sound man is coming to the gig anyways (nice of him) so we will have someone to listen and give advice.

 

...compete on stage from a volume perspective

 

...we use in ear (wireless with ear buds) for monitors - no floor monitors.

 

...one of our more important gigs

 

...in a much smaller room.

 

In a small club, when nothing is mic'd, how can you monitor your volume relative to everyone else, and run sound, when you are using IEMs?

 

You would be more comfortable with a small keyboard monitor or two (K8 or K10) and a floor monitor for vocals.

 

If you have a tendency to compete on stage volume-wise, you'll need to hear each other and monitor your balance. Without a guy out front running sound and making it sound good from the audience's perspective, if you wear IEMs, you are setting yourself up for failure.

 

Plus, you need to set up so that it's easy to have eye-contact with each other at all times. If you play in a small club like this, not only do you have to watch overall volume, you also have to consider dynamics within the music itself. You can only do this if you can see each other.

 

Viewing your pictures on Facebook, you should let the guitarists set up next to the drummer and you off to one side... for balance. This way you can turn your rig a bit to see the drummer. Also, if the audience can see your hands, that will help to engage them. Setting up so that my side is to the audience, at an angle, is my preference.

 

Also, if you can turn the mains so that you can hear them too, you hear what your audience is hearing. This will help you balance the sound and keep the overall volume in check. However, it has to be a small room or you may not be able to get much gain before feedback from the mics.

 

Good luck!

 

Tom

 

 

 

 

^^^^This

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To me, volume control in situations like this ALWAYS starts with the drummer. If you have a drummer who's a banger, every individual instrumentalist will likely turn up his or her amp loud enough to be monitored cleanly over the drums. With a simple setup of guitar, bass, keys, and drums, those volumes, by themselves, can be enough to overwhelm a small room.

 

If you're lucky enough to play with a drummer who can control his/her volume, you're WAY ahead of the game. If not, I think the first place to start when you need to manage the overall volume is the drummer.

 

Noah

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Seriously: it only takes only one to drive the level up, but to keep it down, it takes everyone. It takes serious skills to be able to play a drum kit at any level, though. The rest of us can turn down -- but all too often, don't.

 

Another easy solution is make sure each of the players prone to volume wars (keys, guitar, bass) has a small amp (10" small combo, ideally) on stage, on a kickback stand, positioned like a monitor in front of them. Then they can have as much extra "me" as they need/want, without causing any undue grief to the rest of the band.
You'll have a hard time talking the guitarist into turning his rig to face inward. But if you can talk him into using a kickback stand and pointing the amp at his head, you'll go a LONG way towards curing his end of the volume war. Ditto for your own monitor: make sure YOU hear it loudest.

 

I think there should be a consumer protection law that requires all guitar amps to have kickback stands built-in.

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To me, volume control in situations like this ALWAYS starts with the drummer. If you have a drummer who's a banger, every individual instrumentalist will likely turn up his or her amp loud enough to be monitored cleanly over the drums. With a simple setup of guitar, bass, keys, and drums, those volumes, by themselves, can be enough to overwhelm a small room.

 

If you're lucky enough to play with a drummer who can control his/her volume, you're WAY ahead of the game. If not, I think the first place to start when you need to manage the overall volume is the drummer.

 

Noah

 

^^^^ This! The reality is that keys, bass and guitar CAN fix whatever volume problems exist with a simple turn of a knob if they are willing to make the adjustment. Granted, there may be compromises in tone and feel - but it's still fixable with a simpel turn of the gain control. A drummer who has a tendency to be a heavy hitter (or equally problematic - a fiend in terms of his use of cymbals!) - must learn to keep every note they play "under control". THAT is a tall order for many.

 

The first challenge is getting everybody truly on board regarding the need to control volume. The minute a band member starts talking in terms of what they can't do - you're doomed.

The SpaceNorman :freak:
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1- Don't get into a pissing contest

 

 

then either of these two things

 

1- have a really good sound guy, who actually checks from stage, and the audience, stays in the booth and doesn't just move faders so he feel like he's doing something.

 

2- *my personal choice in small venues

 

if you can, put the mains way wide and sort of even with you even maybe a little behind.

don't throw unnecessary things into the PA

hear the room, since you hear what the crowd hears, as long as you sound good, everyone else will hear the same thing.

 

MOST IMPORTANT

 

Play with people with good control of their volume and their dynamics. This solves all problems.

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from my experience, it's usually the drummer who pushes the fist domino...so if your drummer can't play dynamically (and most weekend warriors, even the ones with great time, struggle with this...) then it's an uphill battle. In ears for a club gig? That's your problem. Hard to play dynamically if only some of you have them and the rest are using amps. I would ditch in ears altogether...it will force you to play more dynamically.
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bring an auto clave to put the drummer and guitarist in.

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I only know one drummer thar can play really good soft but he wants to play keys. the rest are bangers. The guitarist.. make him a customn headset with two 10's

Triton Extreme 76, Kawai ES3, GEM-RPX, HX3/Drawbar control, MSI Z97

MPower/4790K, Lynx Aurora 8/MADI/AES16e, OP-X PRO, Ptec, Komplete.

Ashley MX-206. future MOTU M64 RME Digiface Dante for Mon./net

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bring an auto clave to put the drummer and guitarist in.

 

a bassist can do plenty of damage too.

 

 

Toys: Hammond SK1, Yamaha Motif ES6, Voce V5+, Virus ti 61, Mason & Hamlin upright, Everett upright, Hammond M3, Korg CX3 analog, Motion Sound Pro145, QSC K10, H&K Rotosphere.. etc
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My first suggestion would be IEMs. You already have this, so you need to work on how to reduce stage volume and it should not be that difficult. In my band, our singer is still "working on" getting his IEMs and so he is the only guy using a floor wedge. It is loud, but so so much less volume than the time when we all used stage monitors.

 

IEMs should fix your problem, but if your drummer is too loud, get him some plexiglass panels.

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I disagree...bands with IEM rarely play dynamically. If you mix yourself by working as a team, having everyone set-up tight with amps staged properly, it will result in a more dynamic performance. Putting everyone on IEM may reduce stage volume, but at the cost of having your band sound very boring.
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I disagree...bands with IEM rarely play dynamically. If you mix yourself by working as a team, having everyone set-up tight with amps staged properly, it will result in a more dynamic performance. Putting everyone on IEM may reduce stage volume, but at the cost of having your band sound very boring.

 

Agree to disagree. To you have any experience playing with IEMs? I never bought the hype until I tried it.

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A lot of variables here. There is absolutely no reason why you can't play dynamically with IEMs. If that were the case, pros wouldn't use them, and most do. But you have to have individual monitor mixes, period. If the guitar player used them, and wanted o have his guitar blasting in his own ears, he could have it without cranking his amp and with no impact on the rest of the band.

 

Without IEMs, if the drummer can control his volume and you're having trouble with the guitar player, have him get one of those tilt-back amp stands so h can poin it at his head. A lot of time, the poblem is that he's pointing it at his knees and is listening o reflections off the wall in the back of the room.

 

Finally, if you have a sound guy there, do what he says. He will mix you using your amps instead of a mixer - same thing...let him do his job.

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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Wait. :taz:

 

Do you have a sound guy in front actually RUNNING SOUND? If not, then who is on stage running sound?

 

I don't understand how a guy onstage wearing IEMs and playing an instrument can run sound. He's listening to the monitor mix in the IEMs. You need someone to run the mains who is hearing what the audience is in order to determine the loudness & balance.

 

Am I missing something? Eric, you have a guy out front running sound, right?

 

 

 

 

"Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent." - Victor Hugo
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Bob L:

 

Are you going to have an opportunity to load-in, set up, and adequate time to not only do a sound check, but practice (at least 1/2 hour or more) without an audience or many people in the room?

 

If you're band usually plays larger rooms with a FOH system and IE and are switching to small stage equipment and LOW volume, you are less likely to succeed if you don't have enough time to setup, EQ the room, sound check, practice, and get acclimated to the lower volume.

 

As others have said, if the drummer usually plays loud, you are in for trouble.

 

If you are using small stage amps, and are unable to talk to each other on stage without raising the volume of your voice to be understood, you're too loud. The IE's complicate that statement. My last band used that as a measuring rule long before the advent of IE. We used stage monitors for vocals only and told the drummer if he was too loud in the first set, he wouldn't get paid. If he continued to be too loud in the second set, he could find another band. :rimshot:

 

Good luck!

 

 

Mike T.

 

 

Yamaha Motif ES8, Alesis Ion, Prophet 5 Rev 3.2, 1979 Rhodes Mark 1 Suitcase 73 Piano, Arp Odyssey Md III, Roland R-70 Drum Machine, Digitech Vocalist Live Pro. Roland Boss Chorus Ensemble CE-1.

 

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Wait. :taz:

 

Do you have a sound guy in front actually RUNNING SOUND?

Am I missing something? Eric, you have a guy out front running sound, right?

 

 

Absolutely.

 

OK. That's the only way I can see IEMs working out.

 

 

"Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent." - Victor Hugo
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