A Lousy Sonic Experience

Discussion in 'Bass Humor & Gig Stories [BG]' started by BrewsterRooster, Sep 27, 2016.

  1. We played a large stage at the county fair this past weekend, and something happened I'd never experienced before. Whenever we were playing a tune in E or A, the bass and rhythm guitar were beating badly against each other, and sometimes both would disappear altogether. Everybody on stage heard it and were visibly irritated. The rhythm player and I both immediately questioned our tuning, even though we'd both used the same tuner right before we started. So between songs, he gets the tuner back out and puts a big pause in the action while checking his tuning. Verified good, he took it off and handed it to me with a callous nod toward my bass as if it was the culprit. I clipped it on and quickly proved to him it was dead-nuts accurate, and strongly suggested he get busy playing the next song. (Sheesh, dude! I'm pretty sure I know how to successfully use a clip-on tuner! is what the back of my mind was shouting.) This acoustic nonsense went on for a 70-minute set and was intolerable whenever we hit open A or E strings together. Oddly, tunes in most any other keys seemed just fine. I was still never so glad to leave a stage as I was that day. The audience had seemed content, despite the fact I was certain this had to be equally obnoxious to them.

    After we got done, I instantly saw what had happened. They had the bass running SVT4 -> SVT810, the rhythm running through an (open-back) mic'd up Twin Reverb...and the Twin was on a rack case lid, about a foot in front of the SVT, and overlapping the lower left hand speaker. Somebody had moved it right before we started playing - I think they were adjusting the kick drum mic and just never put the guitar amp back where it belonged. We were adding/cancelling on open As and Es as those were tuned close to identically, just an octave apart, so about all we'd hear during cancellations was the harmonic misalignment between our instruments...and it was awful! This was all neatly summed out at the board and routed back through our stage monitors, as if to add insult to injury. Of course nobody in the audience heard it that way from the FOH - it just sounded like guitar and bass doing their thing. In fact, the bass player for the next act - an area guy with skills and experience similar to my own - told me as he passed by that it had sounded incredible out front. So the first thing I did was warn him about the conundrum with the amps/mic. He listened in horror and then thanked me vigorously for the information. Once they started playing, I noticed the Twin had been slid about two feet back to the left. Good decision!

    So, yeah. Don't ever do this.

    That's all, really. Just a quick laugh at my expense.
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  2. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Gold Supporting Member

    whoa! that's a horror story, or at least a horror moment. i'm curious about the other band members: did all of them have the sonic experience that you and the rhythm player had? or, were any of them spared by virtue of stage position?

    as a bass player, i'm thinking we get more than our fair share of weird acoustic/hearing phenomena anyway. but that one is a wild one, for sure. glad you survived. glad the gig went well. :thumbsup:
    JCooper and Ubersheist like this.
  3. I think most everybody heard it. The sax player was visibly distraught, the lead player kept looking back at us with a question mark over his head, the singer would occasionally glance back with a sickly expression on her face. I think the drummer may have been oblivious - he had no monitor, and seemed more concerned with making the kick pedal do his bidding. Whatever the case, the phenomenon was mercifully confined to the stage mix.

    Also, it finally gave me a reason to be grateful for tunes in the keys of Bb and Eb, so that was a plus.
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  4. dbase

    dbase Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 3, 2008
    South Jersey, USA..
    Those Twin Reverb's with their 2 12's pack quite a punch as to compete with any bass amp... I get that sound when my keyboard player uses his left hand for the low notes interrupting my bass. I always feel like bitch slapping him ;)
    s0c9, Grumry, aprod and 6 others like this.
  5. buzzbass

    buzzbass Supporting Member

    Apr 23, 2003
    Tenn. & NJ
    wow, freaky. I'm not sure I would've figured that out. Good for you.
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  6. viper4000


    Aug 17, 2010
    I had similar experiences with a heavy left-handed keyboardist. Our rigs were always close to each other at small venues due to stage size, and we were on the same side of the drums. He used a 2X12 and I had a 4X10 HLF.

    On bigger stages, like fairs, we always made sure our speakers were in their own space on stage. Pretty cool you figured it out so quickly to give the next bass player a heads-up.
    Ubersheist, Roberto Nunez and dbase like this.
  7. this is the kind of stage stuff that makes everyone pull their hair out. Amazing you figured it out so quick.
    I bet the audience was wondering why everyone on stage was looking crazy at each other!:laugh:
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2016
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  8. guy n. cognito

    guy n. cognito Secret Agent Member

    Dec 28, 2005
    Nashville, TN
    As an aside: why no stage tuner?
    Ubersheist likes this.
  9. bassbully

    bassbully Endorsed by The PHALEX CORN BASS..mmm...corn!

    Sep 7, 2006
    Blimp City USA
    Sound waves can do some crazy things. My band started a set and right away I noticed this weird howling sound when ever I was hitting the E string hard. The guitarist and drummer kept looking at me like it was my rig which it was not. Turned out the guitarists acoustic on a stand out from me was picking up the bass sound waves and feeding back. We got the soundman to cut the guitars feed and all was good.
    Rip Van Dan and Ubersheist like this.
  10. +6dB Dan

    +6dB Dan

    Dec 8, 2015
    Chicago, IL
    That's weird! Never heard of that happening before. Thanks for sharing, and hope it doesn't happen again!
  11. Broke


    Sep 9, 2015
    I've been playing bass for a year and I have very little understanding of what actually happened here. :)
    Jimmy4string likes this.
  12. Josh Kneisel

    Josh Kneisel

    Jun 17, 2016
    phase can be a bitch
  13. I was going to say: This sounds like a phase issue. Sound waves can and will cancel each other out or add together and generally the way the OP described it is what you hear... I'm still tweaking the setup in my basement to combat phase issues! It's worse when the waves are bouncing off walls etc.
    JCooper likes this.
  14. DWBass

    DWBass The Funkfather

    I personally can not stand being setup next to a guitar players rig! Especially those that play low chords in my sonic range! Ugh!
  15. elgecko


    Apr 30, 2007
    Anasleim, CA
    Consider a couple more dues PAID! :thumbsup:
    HolmeBass and pcake like this.
  16. Exactly. I have one right on my board...that I also use as a mute switch
  17. StraffordMike


    Apr 25, 2015
    Our last rehearsal I started noticing my bass was sounding more like a cello. There was no "impact" of the note more of a slow fade in and slow fade away, and if I was pedaling on a note they just disappeared in a long low hum. Turned out the mic for the kick drum was pushing me through the pa's subs. Probably pretty obvious to everyone here but it had us scratching our heads for a few minutes
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  18. SonnyBassPlayer


    Nov 29, 2013
    It once happened to me that during band practice my bass really sounded out of pitch/tuning, it was really horrible. After a pair of songs I just lowered the volume because we were all in tune but just my instrument sounded really off.
    We were recording all tracks via DIs and guess what? Every track was just sounding good. The only difference is that the first ones sounded better because I had volume, while the next ones, sounding better in person, were crap recorded. We played 5-6 times in that place and it only happened once.
    Joebarnes likes this.
  19. Plug-and-play gig...acts on the main stage all day, three to five minutes between each. We pre-tuned off stage; further, the tuning itself was not at issue. In point of fact, it probably would have sounded better if we'd been a little further out of tune. The beating came from the difference in our attacks, when a string goes out of tune by some tiny, indeterminate amount before settling into a pitch. Attack -> beat frequencies -> utter cancellation, in that order...but only on open A and open E. No other notes cancelled, most likely because of intonation differences between the instruments. The bass I used (Yamaha TRBX505) had recently been put through a full setup, and the intonation is as close as it's likely to get. I have zero doubt the stage monitors contributed greatly to the cancellation we were getting on stage, and as mentioned above, that could easily have been a phase issue compounding the problem. But the bass player that went on after me - having moved the guitar amp - appeared to be suffering no ill effects.

    I did discover mid-set that the problem remitted slightly if I avoided open A or E altogether, instead fretting them on the B or E strings, but it didn't get better by much. In an annoying way, it turned out to be good testament to the accuracy of the intonation!

    No worries, Broke. I've been playing bass for closer to 40 years and my understanding isn't much beyond your own! Jokes aside, all that physics of sound hoo-ha can get real in a hurry. In this case, it bit us...but the show went on, and nobody (not even the musicians in the audience) were any the wiser. Thankfully.
    JCooper likes this.
  20. .

    Also, it finally gave me a reason to be grateful for tunes in the keys of Bb and Eb, so that was a plus.[/QUOTE]

    Now THATS saying something...
    BrewsterRooster likes this.