1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)

A series of noob questions about live sound

Discussion in 'Live Sound [BG]' started by pocketgroove, Jul 31, 2012.

  1. pocketgroove


    Jun 28, 2010
    Hi everyone,

    I've gigged in the past, but they were always small gigs where professionalism didn't matter so much. Now, I'm finally getting back into it after a long break, and I've got some serious concerns.

    I have a Peavey Tour TNT combo, and a VB-2 with an Acoustic 410 cab; probably both will end up being gigged on at some point. My main bass is a Precision with a Dimarzio Model P and roundwound strings. We play mostly covers, and a large range of rock/blues/pop/funk stuff across the 60s, 70s, and 80s.

    I like to change my tone to suit the song - small eq adjustments, channel switches, flipping other switches on and off; obviously, my bass sound for Rush covers isn't going to work for the Beatles. How do you guys change your sound on stage for the song, especially if you use different settings throughout the gig? I could easily reach over between songs and tweak settings that way, but something about that seems a little unprofessional.

    That leads me to my next point. If most venues want to run bass DI, then how does my stage sound translate to the audience? Do the settings on my rig matter? How do I get the sound I want if my sound is being run through the PA and set up by someone else?

    I'm sorry if these are stupid questions, but I'm truly baffled and I want to transition back into the gigging world as painlessly as possible.

    Thanks in advance to anyone who can help out.
  2. cableguy

    cableguy Supporting Member

    Jun 4, 2009
    North Bend, WA
    Youo could use a VT Duluxe or something like it to switch sounds. Or sometype of programmable amp/cab emulator like a LINE 6 bass pod XT. You could also just use finger position & tone controls. Truth be told though, most bar patrons don't care as long as the singer is good and the band is in tune........
  3. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    You can use pedals, or you can use a bass with an onboard preamp...my main bass has EMG's and a BQC preamp, and it's very cool to be able to change sounds directly on the bass.

    Or you can fool with the knobs on the amp. Really, it's perfectly fine if you want to quickly make a change or two on your amp in between songs, but the one thing you can't do that really does look unprofessional is change a setting, plink on your bass, change another setting, plink on your bass some more, etc. That's what makes you look like a piker. If you make a change, do it quickly, don't fuss with it, and if it's not perfect, don't spend the first 30 seconds of the song changing it while you vainly attempt to keep playing.
  4. nolezmaj


    Sep 22, 2011
    I play covers also, so I recommend my rig - good preamp and a active monitor.

    I use rack bag with good preamp and multi-effect -I prefer Rocktron Blue Thunder at the moment and it does everything really good (decent compressor, great parametric EQ, couple of other cool things). I configure presets at home and fine-tune them at the sound rehearsal, so I can get Motown thump, Marcus hifi slap or reggae fat bass with flick of a switch (onboard or midi footswitch), even in the middle of the song. One of the preamp-out cables goes to mixer and other to my active monitor. Good active monitor is (almost) full range and produces preamp character very credibly.

    I am keeping things simple these days, so I don't even own that active monitor - I just rent it together with the rest of the PA. Renting is very cheap, and someone else gets to carry it around :)
  5. Dantreige


    Oct 22, 2009
    A couple things to make it easy:

    Use a pedal like a sansamp PBDDI or a VT Deluxe. This will give you three "tones" to start with and act as a di as well. (Be carefull when you set your channels up so they match levels. Don't go overboard on when eqing.)

    Use a bass with an onboard pre. Like JimmyM said, it will give you tone control on your bass that is easily manipulated. I prefer three bands so I have low, high and mid control.

    Use a good multi effects unit. You can get one that will add dirt, chorus, flange, etc. I use a pod xt live (when I need something). I hear good things from TBers on the M9 and M13s. Boss and others make some good muti effect pedals.

    Use your hands to get different tones. Don't be afraid to change from a pick to fingerstyle or pluck in a different area on your bass. Bridge plucking and neck plucking can add a lot of variety to your tone.

    A wireless is a great tool to get out near the audience to hear what you sound like. And check if you are sitting in the mix with your band.

    Don't get to concerned about nailing every tone on the covers. Pick a couple and learn to work with those. I like to have a clean tone and a dirty tone. Everything else is slight tweeks on the onboard eq, pickup selection and plucking technique.

    Experience is the best teacher. Start small and work your way up. Having a band rehersal with full pa will help and can be a great learning experience for the whole band on what needs to be done to sound good together.

    Good luck!
  6. pocketgroove


    Jun 28, 2010
    Thanks for the advice so far everyone! I already use dynamic playing and the controls on the bass to get different sounds. For now, I'm probably more inclined to work with the DI that's built into my amp, because it's what I'm familiar with.

    I have general sounds for general genres, so it's not as if I'm going to need to change settings for every song. I know my amp pretty well, so it's really good to know that I can quickly reach back as needed and make an adjustment.

    So, assuming that I use the DI built into my amp, if I send my signal post-eq, will the sound the audience hears be similar to what I hear directly from my amp? And on that note, do most sound guys prefer a pre-eq signal?
  7. wcriley


    Apr 5, 2010
    Western PA
    Unlikely unless your stage cab has a frequency response that's very similar to the PA cabs.
  8. seanm

    seanm I'd kill for a Nobel Peace Prize! Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2004
    Ottawa, Canada
    I would argue that small EQ adjustments aren't going to be noticeable to the audience in a live setting. I wouldn't even bother worrying about them.
  9. phmike


    Oct 25, 2006
    Nashville, TN
    Beware of sending the sound guy (drunk/deaf/grumpy/under paid) a different sound/EQ/etc for every song. He will not be happy. Complain to the house all you want (hard to do during a set) but your audience will most likely hear whatever compromise the sound guy can do. It ain't pretty but in the real world this happens more often than a lot of non-gigging musicians believe.
  10. Chances are (depending on the sound guy) your stage sound, will not sound the same as it does to most of the crowd anyways. Pre-eq or Post-eq.(remember you are going through their system....different speakers...different crossovers...different FOH amps at every gig) If you have your own soundguy who tries to duplicate your rig sound for you on each of your gigs it will sound closer. But looks like this isnt the case. "Fiddling" with your amp when its post-eq D.I'd will just drive the soundguy crazy and he will just end up turning you down out the FOH speakers. Seen this 100's of times

    YES... obviously based on my above comment.

  11. Not true...you forgot that there is a whole chain of stuff inbetween his D.I and the FOH speakers that is going to change his sound....not even including the soundguys fingers...which are going to adjust/change it even more.

    Edit:not to mention that we are talking a D.I from his head here.....that has nothing do do with his cabs frequency response
  12. Dantreige


    Oct 22, 2009
    I disagree. I think small adjustments can have a significant impact on the overall sound. Remember your singer, your guitarist, keyboard players, etc are all using different tones to create the songs. I think you need to pay attention to that and make adjustments for your tone to sit well when those changes are made. Sometimes you need to get out of the way and lay back, sometime they do.
  13. ??

    Small or any eq adjustments done on his head while post-eq D.I'd will not have any change to most of the audience
  14. Stev187

    Stev187 Peavey MegaBass Club!

    Jan 11, 2011
    Toledo, OH
    I'm going to agree with seanm and phmike (posts #8 and #9 above) and go a little further, which will probably make more than a few people disagree with me.

    First, I am nearly in your exact situation. After many years away, I'm playing bass in a cover band with very similar material as you, which means a wide variety of approaches/styles to playing. After gigging pretty regularly for the past 6 months, my experience has been this:

    My attempts to change my equipment to generate the bass tone I want for a particular song are seldom--if ever--noticed by anyone other than me. I play a P-bass with flats on the Motown/Stax stuff; when I don't, the crowd doesn't know or care and my band mates don't even notice. I try different EQ settings to get different tones; it almost never matters in the house mix. Even when musician friends come to hear us (including bass players), they don't seem to take note of these changes.

    This has brought me to the personal conclusion that I need to make my tone fit the song with only two pieces of equipment: my hands, and the bass itself. Slap/fingerstyle/palm muting/playing with a pick: these changes get noticed. Amp selection/EQ settings/string type: nobody cares but me. Most people can't even notice the differences between the tones of my different basses! What matters happens before the DI. In other words, it's just you and the bass, baby!

    [Note: There's an obvious exception for effects such as envelope filter/octave, etc. Just put those ahead of your DI signal.]

    I realize this view is probably controversial, but those other posters nailed it: the FOH mix is going to define your sound no matter what, and it will need to change based on all kinds of variables that have nothing to do with you or your equipment. Hopefully the person mixing your band is someone you trust to get the right sound. On this current gig, I am running the board. Theoretically, I could make sure I get whatever tone I want FOH. But you know what? There's a lot more going on during the gig, and even I realize that compromises in my ideal "bass tone" are required for the overall mix.

    My final thought is to get a decent DI box of your own. I've never worked with an amp that had a DI that worked predictably or well. And if you get one of the tone modeling DI's suggested earlier, you can get closer to the tone you are looking for. I've only had a couple of sound guys refuse to us my DI.

  15. +1
    Nice to see someone with actual experience in the above topic helping out the OP (this obviously is not being directed at ALL of the above posts....but you know who u are :) )
  16. Dantreige


    Oct 22, 2009
    Yep. No experience here. Newbie at twenty five years. Feel free to disregard. ;)
  17. wcriley


    Apr 5, 2010
    Western PA
    Doesn't this reinforce my point that it's unlikely the OP will get the same sound FOH as he'll get on stage if he goes post-EQ?

    Just one example of how the frequency response of different cabs enter the picture: If I'm forced to use a bass cab with a huge hole between the woofer and tweeter, and add those mids back in with my amp's EQ, it will sound HUGELY different through a properly balanced and EQ'd FOH system. Now the guy at the mixer has to figure out which sound I actually want: balanced, as through the stage cab, or hot in the mids as sent to the board.
  18. Stev187

    Stev187 Peavey MegaBass Club!

    Jan 11, 2011
    Toledo, OH
    Just to clarify: I am certain that players with TONS more experience than I have will disagree completely with my view. Again, I am playing at a fairly basic level in medium-sized bars in a party/cover band after MANY years of not playing out. To phrase it in a less controversial manner (and in such a way that more people could agree with):

    My personal opinion is that the best way to shape your tone in a live band setting is to make changes to the elements of your sound that exist before the output jack on your bass. In other words, your physical approach to the instrument--along with the instrument itself--make the greatest difference. For cover band dwellers like us, that means getting lots of different sounds from the same equipment. Personally, I find this liberating because it forces me to focus on the music as opposed to the gear. In my case, it almost always means that my go-to instrument is a Jazz Bass with everything turned to 100%. I try my best to make all the tone changes with technique/approach. For gigging cover band bassists, this is a very practical approach that accounts for the huge variation in material we're playing, as well as the wide diversity of rooms and settings where we play.

    And I also think that most people would agree that the subtle tone differences we're discussing are completely lost on most bar goers, even the ones who really dig your music. They only care about two things: a) can they hear you? b) did you play well? (i.e. play in a way that supports the groove of the band).

    Again, that's just my experience.

  19. It does reinforce your "Unlikely" comment....but my comment was directed at the "frequency" part ...is all
  20. wcriley


    Apr 5, 2010
    Western PA
    Sorry, Toolmybass, I misunderstood your meaning.

Share This Page