Is this proper jam etiquette?

Discussion in 'Bass Humor & Gig Stories [BG]' started by TheOxRocks, Apr 14, 2014.


  1. TheOxRocks

    TheOxRocks

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2013
    Location:
    White Plains, NY
    I played an open-mic jam this past Saturday. Provided my bass rig - a Carvin BX1500 with 2x10 and 18 cabinets. There were three other bass players there, and we spent most of the night swapping in and out of the band. No problems anywhere...

    ... until Kirby showed up about three hours in. Now I'd heard about Kirby - great player, but somewhat on the eccentric side. Likes to mash-up tunes without telling the other players about it. Spends more time fiddling with his amp settings than he does actually playing. I was more than ready for him, though.

    I introduced myself as the owner of the bass rig, and politely asked him if he could leave the settings as they were, since the other bass players and I were more than happy with the tone. A non-committal nod from him. When he got up, he spent at least 20 minutes tweaking seemingly every knob on the head. I sat quietly and watched. When he was satisfied, he started playing. I walked over to the amp, waited for him to finish his first song. When he turned (huge s***-eating grin on his face), I held up my cell phone to show him a picture I'd taken earlier in the evening: "These were the settings on my amp before you started monkeying around with it. What you do with your own amp is your business, but what you do with MINE is something else altogether. You can now go back to the mike and sing your second song, during which I'm going to put the amp settings back EXACTLY the way I'd had them, and which I'd asked you not to mess with. Please don't touch the amp again."

    He finished his second song, and right away walked over to the amp and started playing with it again. I went over and said to him "I guess nice doesn't work on you", pulled his cord out of my amp and started breaking the amp down. The jam leader asked me not to leave as the jam would've ended at that moment, and I said "this guy doesn't understand a simple request, such as 'don't mess with the amp settings.' I couldn't have explained it in plainer English than I did. Gave him three chances. He's done, or I'm done. Your choice." The jam leader being a friend, he told Kirby to sit down for the night.

    Did I do the right thing, or should I have just let him be and reset it when he was finished?
  2. StayLow

    StayLow

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2008
    I think a 2x10" + 18" sub is excessive for an open mic.

    The rest is true heroism in music. Kudos!
  3. marko138

    marko138

    Joined:
    May 24, 2013
    Location:
    Perry County PA
    Good for you. This guy clearly didn't have any respect for your wishes for you own gear.
  4. Bassbubble11

    Bassbubble11 Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2010
    Location:
    West Babylon, New York
    Good for you man. I would not have given him 3 chances though. As soon as he touched the amp he would have been done. You're a nice guy.
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  6. Gab124

    Gab124 The path is greater than the destination Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2006
    Location:
    Tulsa
    I had a guy put a cup of coffee on top of my amp once, it was in a gator case, and then allow it to spill (which due to the case no real harm done). When finished he looked at it grabbed his bass and just walked away. I never allow anyone to play my bass or through my rig any longer. I think what you did was correct.
  7. Passinwind

    Passinwind Charlie Escher Supporting Member

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    I play lots of open mikes. It takes me 10-15 seconds to tweak the house amp's controls to my liking, and should take you or the next guy up the same. It works like that in my world about 98% of the time, more or less. Once any of the participants fall outside that paradigm all bets are off though. If you told me not to touch the controls I'd simply stand down and not play a lick -- can't recall anyone ever telling me that in 40 years though. If Kirby took 20 minutes to get the amp to his liking his set would already be over. ;)
  8. karl_em_all

    karl_em_all

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2013
    Location:
    St. John's, Newfoundland CAN
    +1 It's open mic, not MSG.
  9. Mushroo

    Mushroo

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2007
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    You way over-reacted. If you are providing backline equipment to share with other bassists, then you must anticipate that they will adjust the knobs to dial in their tone. Since you had a cellphone photo of "your" settings, you should have been able to set them back very easily without the drama. You put the jam leader in a very uncomfortable situation. :(
    vasilio likes this.
  10. JohnMCA72

    JohnMCA72

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2009
    Technically, you are in the right about setting rules for the use of your gear, & the consequence of not following them.

    About those rules, though: Amps are made with a variety of user controls. It's pretty easy to change anything you want to again, after somebody else has set them to their preference for the moment. When I provide an amp I always tell the other players to go ahead & change anything they want because I can set it again, to my liking. It's no big deal, & I can do it without taking pictures, writing down settings, marks on the amp next to the controls, etc.

    Of course, I have this silly notion about setting EQ, etc. based on what my ears tell me about the sound in the space, rather than what my eyes tell me about where the knobs are set. Oddly enough, settings seem to change from one room to another, one day to another, as temperature & humidity change, as the room fills & empties of people, other instruments come & go in the mix, etc.

    Spending 20 minutes fiddling with amp controls isn't exactly the best use of time in a multi-band/festival/open mic setting. At the very best it's disrespectful of other musicians & anybody in the audience who's there for a show consisting of something other than somebody standing around fiddling with gear. In my experience/observation, those who spend ridiculous amounts of time tweaking controls don't know what they're doing. "Magic ears" or not, it's rude to the 99.9% of people who can't tell the difference of +/- 1dB at 500 Hz.
  11. kcole4001

    kcole4001

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2009
    Location:
    Nova Scotia
    Any time I let other guys use my amp, I tell 'em change anything you like.
    I know where my usual settings are, and can dial in pretty quickly.
    Of course if they're endangering my gear in any way (too loud, bass cranked full, etc.) then I just go up and change it myself.

    It IS my amp after all.

    That's how I look at it: if it's your amp, then it's your rules. Period.
    I respect that, so should everyone else.

    And yeah, 20 minutes of tweaking = set over in my book...if you can't get a tone you can use on a decent piece of gear within 2 minutes you should go back to the basement.
  12. bkbirge

    bkbirge Supporting Member

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    +1, but on the other hand I think this was more of an ambush for the known problem player so not that big of a deal. The guy was given the rules and openly flouted them twice so really the blame should fall on him. If the bandleader got uncomfortable then it's junior knob jockey that should be held accountable for that. The OP is within his rights to determine the rules for his gear usage, if I was playing I'd respect that even if I thought it was weird I wouldn't be allowed to dial in my own sound.
  13. Thumpinshelton

    Thumpinshelton

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2010
    Good job! I think it is a unwritten rule of respect that you ask before you change anything on someone's amp even in an open jam situation. My method is to tune up, hit a few key notes (IMHO you should know by only playing a couple quick runs if it "suites" your style), and then ask if you feel you would like a change in tone. But, don't ask for drastic changes. My usual request is "can I bump up the mid's?" or "can I back the Hi off a little?". If this guy would have made a simple request you probably would be more willing to go with it...but, to just tweak everything without asking is BS and I would have not given 3 chances.
  14. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

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    I'm of two minds. I get that it's your amp and your rules, but seeing as how you took a cellphone pic of your settings, how hard would it be for you to put it back to where it was?
  15. lfmn16

    lfmn16 Supporting Member

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    +1

    Sorry but I have doubts that he actually took 20 minutes to set his tone. Are you saying that the BL stood there for 20 minutes while this guy played with the knobs??
  16. MTBK

    MTBK

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2013
    It seems like to me you set out to irritate him and escalate things from the get go once you learned of his past history.

    If they're not tweaking it to a point where it damages your equipment what's the big deal? They want to have just as much fun at the jam as you.
  17. Passinwind

    Passinwind Charlie Escher Supporting Member

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    Yep. I might be tempted to ask to use the bass the amp is dialed in for in that situation, but I guess asking "mind if I rip out the frets" probably wouldn't go too well...:cool:
  18. hdracer

    hdracer Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2009
    Location:
    Elk River, MN.
    I go to a lot of jams.
    It is just a jam. No body cares about "my" tone.
    I plug into the supplied amp and play.
    Why mess with the amp? The sound guy already has everything set.
    If I have to have "my" tone I will bring my amp and cabs.
    BluesBear likes this.
  19. musicman666

    musicman666 Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2011
    Location:
    ca
    Don't think I would want to play an open mic on your rig......Give Kirby a break, that's what knobs are for.
    vasilio likes this.
  20. DWBass

    DWBass The Funkfather Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2003
    Location:
    Newport News, VA via NYC
    Disclosures:
    Kohlman Bassworks
    I don't think I would have a problem with anyone changing the setting to their preference but.........if they boost everything and my rig is about to blow.....I'll go to the amp and reduce what needs to be reduced. They have to remember, it's not their rig to destroy. They need to respect it. I think White Plains has a noise ordinance. I recall playing in White Plains and the venue owners citing the guidelines to us. So I had to keep my bass and volume level at a respectable setting.
  21. Bassassin31

    Bassassin31 Supporting Member

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    Feb 4, 2014
    Location:
    Menomonie, WI
    That's a situation where I'm really happy with my TC Electronic RH750, I can get all of my settings back with the touch of a pre-set button. When you set up your rig for an open mic, you should expect people tweaking your head settings... and you're always going to have guys who don't care who's equipment it is.
    vasilio and Munjibunga like this.

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