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Why sound-check if nobody will conform?


tarkus

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Last week I had a gig where I played Bass/Keys. I had been playing in a 'once-a-month jam' with a few guys in the city after work. A few weeks ago one guitarist presents us with this gig. We had a few tunes down, nothing crazy but it sounded like fun. We rehearsed a 5 song set the week before. It was an opener gig with several bands on the bill.

 

The night of the gig - I saw a very small stage loaded with gear. Since our band was pretty big and guitar heavy, I chose to stand on the floor.

 

After a quick warm-up/tune-up, we were ready to sound-check. Having the more performance exposure than the rest of the band I conducted the sound-check.

 

We ran through Mustang Sally as a check song with me in front of the stage asking respective palyers to turn up or down. The guitarist who considered himself the best player was way too loud. I told him: "We have a nice bed-room volume right now, keep your guitar in the mix, you're way too loud." He looked at me like I had two heads. "What did you say?"

"You are too loud - I can't hear the drummer."

 

So he turns the vlume down on his guitar (oldest trick in the book). We run through it again, sounds great. I tell all that not to mess with their stage volume and if you can't hear yourself the sound guys will bring up the monitor mix. Prior to the start, I get the sound guys to move his amp to the edge of the stage so his master volume is in arms reach of me.

 

Showtime: problem guitarist sets his pre-amp to nuke! Totally smushing every player on the stage.

 

I reach over and turn him down. He looks at me like I just killed his son. Between each of the next few songs I tell him not to even think about touching his amp or I'll unplug him.

 

Crowd loved it, the players - for many of whom was their first gig were eating it up. The problem guitarist looked a bit down. I said "hey good job, what gives?"

 

"You wouldn't let me turn up my volume for my solo. Nobody could hear me. That was a bad sound-check."

What a crybaby.

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just give him a big smack. :D
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There's a telling phrase in your third paragragh: "having more performance experience".

 

The first time I ran the mix for a friend during a recording was a fiasco.

All serious semi-pro musicians working in one band member's home studio where they were all (I presume) comfortable.

We ran through each instrument getting levels & EQ, then the drummer handed over the board to me & went out to his kit. They started the tune & everybody was louder!

Meters were smacking into the red & audible distortion occuring. I didn't know enough to stop them & make them start over but tried to reign in the sound on the fly, which I managed to do, thought the balance was still wonky.

They came in to listen & were quite annoyed but the fact was they played louder as a group than they'd done when setting up the instrument sounds.

 

That's not directly comparable to a live performance sound check but there are some similarities.

 

It takes a long time for even earnest players to get used to the necessities of stage volume control & the oddities that occur with being distant from your amp, other sound sources, etc., so it's understandable that there's a learning curve time period. To that we can add the natural excitability factor, which can not only get people keyed-up but actually interfere with their senses. Then there's the ego factor (which may've come into play with your guitarist pal).

 

Behaving professionally & trusting others enough to rely on their experience takes a while.

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Sorry to hear about your experience, but I'm not surprised. It takes a lot of concentration to play when you can't hear yourself well (read: I don't need to hear anyone else). I'm sure we've all had circumstances where we can barely hear ourselves, but you know that you are loud out there.

 

I've also seen where it's difficult to balance amps (as opposed to everything going direct and under a board's control).

 

Try putting SadGuitar out in a room and wack the balance of the rest of the band. Then have him come close and learn how different it can sound....

 

Tom

www.stoneflyrocks.com

Acoustic Color

 

Be practical as well as generous in your ideals. Keep your eyes on the stars and keep your feet on the ground. - Theodore Roosevelt

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Good story, makes me feel very glad I a) don't have a guitarist b)am in a band that trusts and makes friends with every soundman completely and c) always uses the monitors and never our amps to hear what we're playing.

 

There comes a certain point where you just learn to never get het up about things like that and you just do it to play. We had a rookie soundman the other day and after a good laugh with him (helping him set up the mics and stuff - something most bands never like to do)we managed to work out his board with him and even write him out a big list of things to keep an eye out for during the show. He pulled it off really well...and now can't wait for us to go back. Always think the of the soundman as the next member of the band for me (wheather they are in the band or not) and should always be in the same headspace (team work, entertainment) as us...it's not about ego then and it works.

 

Once soundcheck is done, we don't touch a thing - and it always works out fine.

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Soundcheck... Ah, I remember... That was when my favorite local guitarist would always do his solo concert (!) - featuring his wunderkind composition "My Loud Distortion Has Power (Chords)."

 

Evidently a lot of guitarists know his work; they often quote from it. I never would have guessed he was so well-traveled.

.
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I did that once. Once.

We asked the guy to turn down I don't know how many times. I finally walked over and did it myself. Unfortunately, it was one of the former song writers for Jefferson Starship (Hi everybody, my names Jerome Gallop and I'm king sh*t 'cause I have a gold record on my wall) and he left the stage. Boo hoo.

 

The guitar player and I are very serious about sounding good and we've gotten in the habit of going wireless even at clubs because:

 

1- It's really easy to get crazy and run around the joint and:

 

2- It's really easy to check your sound from any point in the room/ampitheater.

"He is to music what Stevie Wonder is to photography." getz76

 

I have nothing nice to say so . . .

 

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just last night i used my older, quieter amp and asked the guitar player to keep it down some, and of course he just rolls his volume knob on the guitar back. next thing you know hes'at 11 again. its pointless really. his attitude is "I'm the GUITAR player, thats what everybody wants to hear." so i guess he don't care about the song....

 

ce la vie. I wear earplugs.

Check out my work in progress.
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Originally posted by chewstermaniac:

just last night i used my older, quieter amp and asked the guitar player to keep it down some, and of course he just rolls his volume knob on the guitar back. next thing you know hes'at 11 again. its pointless really. his attitude is "I'm the GUITAR player, thats what everybody wants to hear." so i guess he don't care about the song....

 

ce la vie. I wear earplugs.

Does he use a master volume amp, or one of those oldies that has to be cranked to 1,000 all the time?

 

I know that master volume guitar amps do sound a bit different than the non master ones (esp. the tubey ones), but there are some surprisingly good models now out these days that can replicate that cranked sound without using too much volume. Or he could use a power attenuator, which would allow him to keep the overall volume reasonably low.

 

I like the current analog solid state models for guitar myself. The newer Marshalls and Peaveys are awesome, and they don't require that you mortgage your house just to buy one. :)

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Simple solution,

 

Video tape the gig. When he hears that he's the only thing that you can hear, he may not admit it. But he will feel a bit embarrased inside. It should do some good. Hey,it's happened to me. It's hard to trust the sound guy. Sometimes you are right not being able to hear yourself, and sometimes the soundguy is competent.

Mike Bear

 

Artisan-Vocals/Bass

Instructor

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[digi]videocams are a crap way to prove anything about the mix. Even if they are located in a proper fixed position for the entire shoot and thus not favoring a certain proximity, they have really crap microphones which are weighted to lose tons of low mids and low end so as not to pickup up their own self-noise from motors and lense assembly. Many of them DO SOUND clear - but to use them to prove something is just not right.
.
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Originally posted by greenboy:

Reversing the ground and hot wires on guitar amp works. Make sure the person has a microphone even if they don't sing.

Nice!! He can even warm up a snack for later too.

 

a.)Get the band behind you and confront him.

b.)Explain that if no one can hear anything but him, it makes him sound like feces.

c.)Get rid of him.

d.)Hook his amp up to a Variac (kind of like a light dimmer for his input AC). Turn that down.

 

It doesn't sound like nobody conforms, just him.

If you think my playing is bad, you should hear me sing!
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Volume wars are so dumb... but they usually come from inexperience, as a few folks already mentioned.

 

When I play guitar (and I play a LOT of guitar,) I watch my volume. Believe it or not, I tend to error on the lower volume side of things because I think having a dominant groove (i.e. bass n drums) is more important for live stuff. I prefer to mix in so that we sound balanced, not guitar-heavy. I can work with just about any reasonable guitar volume onstage... as long as I'm sort of audible to myself, I'm all good. I don't really need to hear myself to play our set, as I know the tunes by rote. I always look to the other guys to get my stage volume. #6 always wants more guitar, so I increase my volume until he gives the thumbs up. By then, Fu and Da Finga are smiling, so I know I'm in there. It's really simple.. get the basics first, then layer as needed.

 

People never say, "Oh the guitar was WAY louder than everything else" or "I couldn't hear the bass." They DO say we're really loud overall, though. But that's rock n' roll.

 

Like anything in life, finding a balance is key. We don't do volume wars. Our band is about four guys making music, not three sidemen and a "star."

\m/

Erik

"To fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists of breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting."

--Sun Tzu

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Yeah there is.

Originally posted by jeremyc lugosi:

There is never a solution to this kind of person. :cry:

First off, get the amp/cabs UP where the guitarist can hear himself. A little Fender amp sittin' on the floor, with the sound blowing past the guitarist's knees, guarantees he won't hear himself in balance with the drums & vox et al. So get him a full stack, or put the combo amp up on a stand or barstool or something. Unless he's a total jackass his volume will drop instantly because he now hears himself in context.

 

Second, get a boost switch of some sort. The guitarist is right to want to turn up a bit for his featured spots. Use a boosted amp channel or an external effect or whatever, but DO IT.

 

Third, as someone else stated get him to play out in the room during soundcheck so he gets an idea of what a balanced band sounds like FOH. Trust me, ten minutes of that will convince any but the most deadbrained player.

 

If none of that works, then get rid of the guy because he's deadbrained.

I used to think I was Libertarian. Until I saw their platform; now I know I'm no more Libertarian than I am RepubliCrat or neoCON or Liberal or Socialist.

 

This ain't no track meet; this is football.

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I just gotta love the ones I've convinced to get their amps up higher. Some have even went out and built stands for their 212 out of old director/lawn chairs. How precious. And then during last break or load out they talk about how their ears are ringing ; }
.
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Get a bigger cab and bring him to his knees. :idea: With enough power and a low B you could probably stop his pancreas or just knock him on his butt. May not be the most fiscally responsible solution, but it would be fun. :D

Let your speech be better than silence, or be silent.

 

For those who believe, no explanation is necessary. For those who do not, none will suffice.

 

"Rindase!"

"Rendirme? Que se rinda su abuela, *#@!^$"

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That's one of the reasons I'm leaving my band! The 2 guitarists just don't understand that they are too loud. We can barely hear our keyboardist! They both come from Rock backgrounds and pretty much have Rock setups but we play variety, disco, latin, etc. One cat has a Santana clone of a setup (Mesa-Boogie, PRS guitars, various rock oriented pedals) and he just cannot blend in. He's too loud all the time and when I tell him, he complains that he can't either hear himself or can't get his 'sound' unless it's at a certain volume. On top of that, he starts to pout and gets upset and shows it onstage while we're playing. He even once started packing up his shit while we were still playing. Very unprofessional. Ugh! I've had enough!
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Originally posted by DWBass:

when I tell him, he complains that he can't either hear himself or can't get his 'sound' unless it's at a certain volume.

What a load of crap. The only thing volume will get you is volume ... Does it really take a bass player to figure that out?

"I'm a work in progress." Micky Barnes

 

The Ross Brown Shirt World Tour

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Originally posted by Bumpcity:

If you play long enough, you'll eventually find guitar players who don't insist on having their amp at 11 all the time. They are out there.

Like The Loch Ness monster, these so-called tempered guitarists are but a mere myth, my friend ... ;)

"I'm a work in progress." Micky Barnes

 

The Ross Brown Shirt World Tour

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What a load of crap. The only thing volume will get you is volume ... Does it really take a bass player to figure that out?
Actually that isn't true. There are two main issues here:

 

1) Fletcher-Munson curve. This is often shown in graph form and describes the ear's inability to hear some frequencies as well as others at various amplitudes. Simply put, turning up will somewhat even out the discepancies the ear produces at lower volumes.

 

But anyone with their head about them could easily EQ a little different when playing at a lower volume. And the truth is, guitarists often don't need all that lower cruft in their sound once they are in a mix as they might prefer when playing alone. It contributes to a mushy stage sound. Also note that when they take their combo off the floor and onto a stand or chair that though a locak of coupling they may now lose lower mids they consider essential to their sound, and their rig's limited EQ and power may not be able to compensate. This is one reason simple TILTBACK arms such as Fender has featured in the past can be better than a chair or stand.

 

2) Especially with all tube combos/amps, there can be a marked difference in linearity and response/feel and tone (not to mention sustain and possible use of controlled feedback) at lower volumes.

 

More experienced guitarists that are smart find partial solutions to these conundrums, including lower wattage amps, power soaks, tiltback arms/adaptors, etc. and are more aware of the total mix.

.
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I knew that issue would come up. And this is why I prefer a full stack; it gets the sound up in your ear as well as giving you the floor-coupling. But having done the tilt-back thing I prefer putting the amp up on a stand if I cannot have the full stack.

Originally posted by greenboy:

Also note that when they take their combo off the floor and onto a stand or chair that though a locak of coupling they may now lose lower mids they consider essential to their sound, and their rig's limited EQ and power may not be able to compensate. This is one reason simple TILTBACK arms such as Fender has featured in the past can be better than a chair or stand.

 

2) Especially with all tube combos/amps, there can be a marked difference in linearity and response/feel and tone (not to mention sustain and possible use of controlled feedback) at lower volumes.

And you're right about this too. But don't expect non-guitarists to understand.... :rolleyes:

I used to think I was Libertarian. Until I saw their platform; now I know I'm no more Libertarian than I am RepubliCrat or neoCON or Liberal or Socialist.

 

This ain't no track meet; this is football.

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