How to mix for Bass, Acoustic Guitar, Piano/B3 group?

Discussion in 'Live Sound [BG]' started by Bakkster_Man, Feb 4, 2013.


  1. Bakkster_Man

    Bakkster_Man

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2006
    I'm having some mix and tone issues at my church and looking for suggestions and advice. :help:

    The first big issue is that it's a fully volunteer operation. Four volunteer instrumentalists, and a few volunteer FOH engineers of varying skill levels and mixing tastes. Add on top that the congregation is pretty widely distributed in ages, meaning we are having troubles managing the "I can't hear the bass" opinions with the "if I can hear the bass it's too loud" ones . Namely it seems like the percussion and bass are being seen as overwhelming, even when they seem to be well below what might be considered a standard mix (say, for when we use recorded music).

    Add on top that I'm not sure what kind of tone I need to be heard, fill out the body of the of the music, and not run afoul of the more conservative sensibilities of those listening. I'm using a Stingray knockoff currently and believe that may be part of the trouble, just a poor sound source. I currently EQ with boosted mids and rolling off a bit at 4k and 40Hz. Previously I was boosting around 500-700Hz which seemed to end up a bit too harsh for the material, as well as cluttered in the sonic space thanks to relatively full-bodied guitar and organ sounds and an already somewhat harsh Stingray tone, so I moved down to boosting around 250-300Hz instead, but I think that may just be muddying up things worse.

    I have a Fender Jazz with noiseless pups on the way (only reason I'm not using my current jazz is the room has tons of EMI and gets killer hum), and am kinda depending on that to be a breakthrough. Right now my strategy is to use its mid boost (@500Hz) to get the bit of presence I need, coupled with flatwounds to fill out the low mids without needing to EQ them in (can't add what isn't there to begin with). Then the pickup pan can help tweak the tone depending on how bright of full bodied I need for a given song.

    To try and make a long story short, does anyone have experience with similar ensembles and getting them mixed? Is my jazz+flats strategy halfway reasonable? What can I do to create a sound that will sit in the mix without muddying it or being too harsh for a conservative audience? What can I suggest to the other instrumentalists (who thankfully are very open to ideas and changes) or the FOH volunteers to make sonic space for the bass? Any tips for teaching a ground of volunteers to mix the rhythm section in a way that is both well defined and 'old people friendly'?
  2. bigsnaketex

    bigsnaketex Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2011
    Location:
    Down South
    We have the same deal but were finally forced to go to a "hired" sound guy because we just couldn't make it work with volunteers. It costs us $150 every Sunday and is well worth it.

    One of the best things we did was that I built a drum shield out of 3 pieces of 4' x 8' plexiglass and then did overhead mic's for the drums - man, did that help the mix!!

    We don't run our bass into our monitor mix in order to keep stage noise down but do DI it into the PA system.

    The problem with sound is that it really needs to be mixed dynamically (meaning in real time) but you can get up there and set everything yourself and give whoever is running the board a starting place and show them how to bump up the bass, guitar, vocal, etc (or pull them down)

    Our sound guy spends time in all parts of the room before the services adjusting from a laptop.

    It really is worth the money to pay someone to do it!!
  3. Bakkster_Man

    Bakkster_Man

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2006
    I suppose I should mention we're fortunate enough to have a set of vDrums, and Behringer personal mixers with IEMs. Only the singers are on wedges.

    I don't think our FOH volunteers would be over their head for the most part, they're lacking experience and guidance rather than talent. Hiring an engineer is a possibility, though I would like to explore options utilizing the people and resources we currently have if at all possible.
  4. WayneP

    WayneP

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2004
    Location:
    Katy, Texas

    There’s the main part of your problem right there: The others are trampling around in your sonic space. Each instrument needs to have their low end filtered off (same with vocalists, too, especially men). When you do that, then the bass will be “underneath” everything and will be heard.

    Here’s a thread with some great information on how to EQ each instrument on the stage for a clean mix.

    It’s good that your FOH people have some talent, but moving sliders to adjust relative levels is only the first part of mixing – the easiest part. EQing channel by channel so that each instrument and vocalist sits in their own frequency slot in the mix, that’s much more difficult, at least for those who don’t have a natural ear for such things. Not everyone has that particular talent - the last post of linked thread, the OP gave up trying to develop an ear for equalizing and started relying on an RTA. It worked for him.

    Regards,
    Wayne A. Pflughaupt


    Administrator, Pedulla Club #45
    Administrator, Tobias Club
    Big Cabs Club #23
    My Rig: Stage and FOH Friendly


  5. Bakkster_Man

    Bakkster_Man

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2006
    That is one of the problems. Our mixing board only has a switchable 100Hz HPF for each channel. I would love to be able to HPF the vocals and especially the organ more aggressively, but don't have the equipment. Anyone know of a rackmount multi channel sweepable HPF?

    That's a great thread, thanks for the link. An RTA might work really well for our FOH, since most of the operators are technical people who just don't have highly developed ears. A visual indication of frequencies could work great for them. Any suggestions there?
  6. WayneP

    WayneP

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2004
    Location:
    Katy, Texas

    Hey Bakkster,

    The 100 Hz HPF is a great start, for sure. You should be able to improve beyond that simply with the mixer’s bass tone control for each channel. Also, most modern mixers have a quasi-parametric midrange control, and often it sweeps down to the upper bass frequencies. You can do a lot of “damage “with one of those (“damage” being isolating offending bass frequencies in other channels and reducing them). I think I went into that somewhere on that thread (the technique of boosting the gain knob a few dB, sweeping the frequency knob until the offending frequency “jumps” out, then reducing it).

    As far as an RTA, you might PM the OP in that thread and see what he’s using. AFAIK, most people these days are using computers and software programs for that; it’s much cheaper (assuming you already have a computer) than good-quality hardware RTAs .

    Regards,
    Wayne A. Pflughaupt


    Administrator, Pedulla Club #45
    Administrator, Tobias Club
    Big Cabs Club #23
    My Rig: Stage and FOH Friendly


  7. Bakkster_Man

    Bakkster_Man

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2006
    Yes, I've read the Moulton Labs article on that EQ technique. The EQ is relatively limited on our mixer, but using it to attack the 'mud' frequencies might work.

    It seemed like the OP of the other thread had an RTA built into the mixer, I'm guessing they have a digital board.
  8. WayneP

    WayneP

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2004
    Location:
    Katy, Texas
  9. bigsnaketex

    bigsnaketex Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2011
    Location:
    Down South
  10. Bakkster_Man

    Bakkster_Man

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2006

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