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Alone vs. Full Band

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by Din Of Win, Apr 14, 2014.

  1. Hey all,

    It's a conundrum that, i'm sure, everyone has had... what sounds good playing at home doesn't sound good with a full band.

    I've been trying to incorporate more pedals into my band's songs, but whenever i practice at home... this is along to recordings of the band... it almost never translates to the same tone with the full band.

    Does anyone have any tips on how to get less of an imbalance between the two?

    More info:

    Music style is sort of dreampop, for lack of better term

    Pedals i'm trying to use: Bluebeard Fuzz, Vintage RAT, Boss CEB-2, Boss BF-2, Boss DD-3, and an Akai Headrush E2

    Specific Issues: The other bands i've played in were much heavier. There wasn't much nuance besides JUST BE LOUD ENOUGH TO BE HEARD. But, now there's WAY more intricacy needed. The dirt is tricky... specifically the tone. What sounds good at home, doesn't cut in the band. The modulation... what is clear at home is just not audible, or noticeable until it's so modulated that it looses the musicality i want. I guess a lot of it is perception. But it's been bumming me out enough that i haven't even tried to utilize the pedals in an environment that i could get feedback from.
  2. With music like that, there's a lot going on sonically, and you are just contributing to that wall of sound. You might think you can't be heard, but take your instrument away and you will notice it then! In a dense mix like that sometimes it's best to just stay down low out of the way of the guitars/fx/synths, especially if you've got two or more guitars plus vocals all drenched in reverb and delay.
  3. Best bet is to dial everything in with the band. Those are some pretty rad pedals.

    How many guitars are there? Are they cranking their lows? Are you scooping your tone?
    What kind of amp/bass setup do you have?

    That stuff factors in.
  4. Iheartreverb


    Oct 31, 2013
    I'm finding pretty much the same thing with my Post-Rock band.
    I'm liking effects that just don't fit into the mix. Such a massive difference between the tone I like solo and what HAVE to have with a band.
  5. MCS4

    MCS4 Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2012
    Fort Lauderdale, FL
    My advice is to find pedals that work with the band. If a pedal doesn't play nice in a live setting, trade/sell it and replace it with something that does. Unfortunately, no matter how good a pedal sounds at home, you never know how it will work at full volume with your specific bandmates until you try it. More than one of the pedals on my board "lost" a shoot-out with other pedals at home, but claimed the spot on the board by dominating in the live mix.

    Of course, if you can afford it, there's also nothing wrong with keeping spare pedals around that inspire you creatively, or that sound good on a recording, regardless of whether they gel with the band live.

    Edit: I saw your specific concerns regarding dirt and modulation, which are also the same types that I had most trouble fitting into the band mix. To me, these are all about EQ profiles. If you run dirt a lot, you can try changing your bass/amp EQ to find something that cuts with or without distortion going on. Otherwise you made need to look for dirt with the different EQ profile. For example, the Fuzzrocious Demon is not my favorite stand-lone dirt sound, but something about the frequency range just sits better in a band mix with others. For modulation, I find that something with a significant treble emphasis works better in a "rock" mix -- which is how the Iron Ether Polytope beat out multiple more old-school warm choruses that sounded great alone but got lost in the band mix.
  6. gregmon79

    gregmon79 I did it for the muff... Supporting Member

    Dec 20, 2012
    Chicago IL

    I agree with about all this. I have flipped/sold and bought so many pedals because of the reason the OP started the thread. It took me a long time to find out what worked for me and what didnt. I learned A LOT out of that process though. I have tried most of the pedals you named and while they sounded great in my bedroom as well, they didnt work for me in the mix. Especially the chorus and rat (although my rat was not a vintage one). Its a whole different ballgame when youre sitting in the mix with your band.
  7. godblender

    godblender Banned

    Mar 11, 2009
    I don't even bother with adjusting settings on my my effects when I'm by myself that are to be used within a band context. There's no point, as you have obviously discovered. That's also why I don't take the vast majority of effect demos/opinions seriously at all since a bedroom player noodling around for a few minutes at low volumes gives a gigging musician almost no basis whatsoever for what the effect will sound like in a loud, live environment.
  8. DagoMaino


    Feb 1, 2013
    One thing that I do is have my guitar players lay down "live" takes so that I can knob twiddle on my own time to find (at least get a close starting point) where I need to be in the mix and what effects are going to fit. Obviously that requires recording capabilities though.
  9. Mystic Michael

    Mystic Michael Hip No Ties

    Apr 1, 2004
    New York, NY
    As others have implied or suggested, a big part of the problem may lie with the band mix itself, and not necessarily with your effects per se. How good is your presence in the mix without the effects? If it's not terribly good either, then that might be a major clue that you simply don't have sufficient sonic space, and something has to change. It's a very, very common problem among non-professional bands; one that typically doesn't get resolved until someone with a more developed & experienced ear comes along to point out and resolve the problem - someone like a producer, for example.

    That said, you might consider configuring your gear so that anything in the effects loop will automatically receive only the upper portion of your signal's frequencies, i.e. say everything from around 2.5 kHz or 3 kHz and higher, for example. Splitting the signal in that manner allows your lows and most of your midrange to remain clean, while the upper midrange and highs are allowed to go wild. :meh:

  10. I may agree with being live, but disagree with recording within a loud rock context, even.

    As I've gotten older, I can almost hear a tone that is going to work with guitars before playing with them. It's vastly different than my earlier tones, and a bit more complex than "boost mids". Sometimes cutting one mid frequency while accentuating another will totally change your sound, and for the better. I have a friend who often goes "That's too bright, edgy" only for him to find out how well it works with guitar/drums.

    Of course, I'm purely talking about overdrive/grit, and other effects are probably even more complicated.:)
  11. JonnyAngle

    JonnyAngle Dropping Acid Pedal Etching .com Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 24, 2008
    Maple Grove, MN
    Sometimes I get the luxury to knob tweak with the band and I make notes and bring it home. Once I get home, I notice whatever sounds good with the band sounds terrible at home. ...Pretty much every single time. At home I use headphones, not an amp FWIW.
  12. Using headphones can make a huge difference.
  13. Thanks much, for the replies, all!

    First, to give more info:

    I'm usually playing a '77 Univox Hi-Flyer bass into an '84 GK400rb and a newer Acoustic 4x10.

    We have 2 guitars. One (Fender Jag into a Mesa 2x10 combo) uses a TON of pedals: DOD250, newer RAT, Whammy IV, POG2, Boss RE20 (space echo), Boss DD5... a few others, i cant remember which Chorus, Reverb, and tremolo he uses. There also may be a fuzz. Anyways, a LOT of Pedals. The other guitarist is the rhythm/singer guitarist (Fender Jazzmaster into a weird Crate 3x10 tweed amp) who uses a Melekko Chicklet, Boss RV-5, the Muff w/tone wicker, Ibby Tube Screamer, Boss Tremolo... i forget which delay he uses.

    The lead guitarist is usually pulled back (volume-wise) and just adds those ethereal layers. The rhythm guitarist tends to EQ a bit on the low side, which can mess with my tone ranges... but that's more his amp. He borrows a Fender Twin sometimes, and everything sounds way more cohesive.

    I tend to boost the lows and low mids a lot. The problem is that the dirt can get pretty buzz-saw-y and get rather high. From some playing, i roll back on the tone, and the lows come back... but when i have the same setup at home, it just sounds like mud. It's weird.

    Also, the practice spot isn't optimal for somethings. We practice in a circle with everyone blasting at each-other. I'm probably just not hearing myself because i'm hearing WAY TOO MUCH of everyone else ;)

    Anyways, there's a bunch of good advice here! I have toyed with the idea of signal splitting. I may have to look further into it. I do practice with headphones. Haha, my fiance and i live in a 1 bedroom apartment, so a headphone setup was one of the first purchases i made. :bassist:
  14. MCS4

    MCS4 Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2012
    Fort Lauderdale, FL
    It's really not. It's pretty much guaranteed that setting up for the best band-mix tone will not be the best for playing by yourself at home, and vice-versa.

    However, it does sound like part of the problem may be overall band EQ and setup -- particularly if it is significantly improved when one guitarist uses a different amp. Maybe one day you could suggest that all three of you play around with EQ and other settings to see if you can reach a more cohesive tone. My band does this all the time. Just don't blame any one person or say it is motivated by making the bass more audible... bring it up as a band-togetherness thing. Or use your "muddy at home but nice in band mix" settings, tell the band that you're trying something yourself that is geared toward making a better band sound, and see if you can convince them to try modifying their own settings to fit.
  15. FunkHead

    FunkHead Supporting Member

    Mar 10, 2007
    Phillipsburg, NJ
    IMO...to pull off what you are trying to do requires minimal input from the rest of the band. You need all the "Sonic" room possible and more. In other words, you need to be the band leader and to be able to choreograph(for lack of a better term) the entire thing.
  16. Rockin Mike

    Rockin Mike

    May 27, 2011
    Effects are most audible in the high mids and treble parts of the spectrum. If most of your stage volume is provided by lows, the high mids and treble probably don't have enough loudness to compete with the guitars.

    When using effects I think of my tone in two pieces. For the low end, I cut the very lowest frequencies and rely on 200 Hz and above to carry the bottom end. Those low mids are the frequencies the human ear "hears" as bass music. Lower than 100 Hz is mostly felt, not heard and I have never played a club where the natural resonance of the room didn't boost the sub lows anyway so you don't need to boost them at the amp. This leaves more room to boost the high mids (600Hz - 1000Hz range) to carry the effects without subs and lows blowing everybody else off the stage.

    Some effects (chorus, flange) are going to be drowned out by the guitar no matter what you do. They become audible when the guitar shuts up for a second between riffs, or during certain passages in the song. This is actually a good thing. You get to play the spaces and sound like two instruments in the same song. The ear likes variety.

    Just my opinion
  17. bassmusic17


    Jan 15, 2011
    Everyone has already given good suggestions. I mostly write stuff acoustically then transfer it over to electric. For me I like it because I don't get sidetracked by my pedals. Then when I get to my rig its a pleasant surprise how my pedals effect the mix and adjust accordingly from there and a lot of times change parts and the way I play vs acoustic.

    I kinda look at it like a term paper. My acoustic is a timeline for the song then the real deal is when i get to practice and plug in. Then its time for a good thesis lol.
  18. Which band are you in? Or which bands were you in, I'm in the same area as you and your band sounds incredibly similar to some people I know. As far as tone goes, with dream-pop and indie pop sort of stuff, fuzz is essential as is volume, at least in my opinion. The bass is usually going to be the only relatively "clean" instrument in the mix.
  19. Here's my band: http://ghosthotel.bandcamp.com/

    As you can tell, i've stayed super clean. The christmas song is more representative of how the guitars are normally effected.

    The effects aren't something i'm trying to shoehorn. They could just add a nice layer to some of our newer stuff.
  20. ZtuxBP14


    Mar 8, 2014
    Mid Michigan
    +1....couldn't have said it any better.