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Any hints for playing in a gymnasium?

Discussion in 'Live Sound [BG]' started by ccyork, Apr 10, 2009.

  1. ccyork


    Jan 26, 2004
    Next weekend we have a gig in a gymnasium. We are a three-piece combo (guitar, bass, drums) and we play mostly oldies and classic rock.

    I will be bringing my Markbass CMD121P combo and playing my Fender Deluxe Active Jazz. The guitar player will probably be using his Fender Ultimate Chorus amp. As for the drummer I'm not sure yet whether he will be playing real drums or his electronic kit.

    Anyhow I know this is going to be a boomy situation with lousy acoustics.

    How can we make the best of it and what tips do you have for getting the bass to sit well in the mix?
  2. chasplaybass


    Oct 26, 2006
    Well you definitely won't need reverb. :eek:
    Biggest annoyance for me has been the snare drum. Every time it was struck the sound bounced back so it had this wierd delayed effect. Bass was boomy.

    Control your volume levels or get a pro that knows how to setup delay levels.

    Don't expect high fidelity by any means. Drummer should defintely use electronic kit to control levels better.

    my two cents
  3. RustyAxe


    Jul 8, 2008
    Good advice ... maybe worth a little more than two cents ... ;)
  4. dangnewt

    dangnewt Veteran Dispenser

    Jun 6, 2003
    MetroWest Boston
    +1 on the electronic kit. At my college reunion, there was a party in the big gym and the band sounded pretty good - drummer has the biggest electronic drum kit I had ever seen, now I know why.
  5. ccyork


    Jan 26, 2004
    That's not an option, we're running our own sound. But what are these "delay levels" of which you speak?

  6. b_carville


    Jun 26, 2008
    Play with a pick if you can.

    It really seems to help in those high ceiling gyms.

    Use less lowend then you normally do.A compresser can help a bit too.

    Are you going through the PA or just using your amp?
  7. dbassman59


    Dec 19, 2008
    Vancouver, BC
    I just played a gymnasium last weekend. My bass amp is similar to yours. I have a Genz Benz Shuttle 6.0 12T and a USA Fender Deluxe Jazz ... and ... we play classic rock.

    First I DI'd to our PA system.

    Second I really rolled off the bottom end big time and boosted the high mids. This reduced the "boominess". We were on the gymnasium stage (it was in an old school ... we were playing a fund raiser organized by the parents.) I also go wireless with my bass so I walk around stage. My bass sound on stage was great for me and I did not over power my bandmates.

    The BEST thing we did was rent a snake and had a friend run our sound from down in front to the side.

    The snake cost less than $20.00 to rent.

    My tip is to DI out to your PA. Cut the bass on your amp and boost your high mids and if possible get someone you can trust to run your sound. If you can't find someone to run your sound. Get out in front as much as you can ... make sure the vocals are louder than the instruments. It was the SOUND MAN who made the biggest difference though

    We received a lot of POSITIVE feedback from the organizers on our sound and got a line on some more gigs ... always a good sign ...

    Good Luck and have fun!!!
  8. marty-mcfly-pinheads-audition.jpg

    Hold it fellas... i'm afraid you're just too darn loud... next please...
  9. After playing in a college pep band for a few semesters, I'm starting to get the hang of playing in gymnasiums. I found most of the boom to be below 100 hz, but the room also kills your highs so boost them if you want. Also, try turning your amp at a 45 degree angle to the wall so that the sound waves bounce around the room without interfering each other.
  10. dbassman59


    Dec 19, 2008
    Vancouver, BC
    It looks like you got a lot of good advise on setting up your amp ... Reduce the bass raise the high mids ...

    Do you have a wireless setup for your bass? If so .. walk out into the audience and check the sound ...

    If not ...is there going to be someone in the audience you can trust to give you an honest assessment? If so get their opinion and adjust your PA on stage as required ... The best thing you can do is make sure the vocals can be heard ...

    Plus make sure you DI out to your PA ...

    Hope this helps ...
  11. JTE

    JTE Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2008
    Central Illinois, USA
    Don't expect to get "your sound", especially on stage (or whatever passes for stage). CUT THE FREAKIN' lows and overall volume. Not just you, but everyone in the band. Echo and boominess are the enemies here.

    "Delay levels" probably are ways to use a delay to get the sound coming out of one set of speakers to arrive at a listener at the same time as sounds coming out of other speakers. Great idea if you have a huge pro PA. In the real world of bar bands, it's probably going to cause more havoc than it'll cure.

  12. dbassman59


    Dec 19, 2008
    Vancouver, BC
    What are delay levels .... and how do you adjust them?
  13. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    Kill the lows.

    See if the drummer can play rock with brushes. I know one who can. If not, those sticks that are a bundle of tiny little sticks.
  14. Brad Hanback

    Brad Hanback Supporting Member

    Dec 16, 2007
    North Alabama
    I second those bundled sticks...I think they are called blasticks.

  15. ccyork


    Jan 26, 2004
    Thanks for the input everyone. To summarize so far what I take away:

    Low volume
    Decrease low frequencies
    Increase midrange frequencies
    No reverb
    Use electronic drums
    Point amp at an angle to walls
    Use a pick
    Use a compressor
    Use a DI into the PA
    Give lots of attention to vocals
    Dress like Marty McFly

    Am I missing anything?
  16. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol

    Limiting reverberation is a must.
    If possible, get a ceiling or sort. It will tremendously improve things.
    The simplest way is an army tent of sort above the stage. I did it, it works.
    Even a suspended drape will help.
  17. dbassman59


    Dec 19, 2008
    Vancouver, BC
    Get Eddie Van Halen in your band and your'e good to go!!!!
  18. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Sorry to burst anyone's bubble, but there are really only two right answers here, and that's...

    1. Reduce lows as necessary
    2. Lay off the reverb

    There's nothing you can do about the gymnasium short of covering it in mattress padding. So you just go up and do what you would normally do, except don't add reverb on the guitar and be prepared to roll off some bass. And since you're using that Markbass combo, I seriously doubt that'll be a problem. You could probably run it normally and be just fine. That thing is small, but it can fill a high school gym with a strong bass signal that isn't muddy.

    You guys go up and get a good mix within yourselves onstage where you're loud enough to be heard but not try to drown each other out, and go do what you normally do and have fun and forget about the horrible acoustics, and you'll be fine.
  19. surprised no one has said this.. get your amp off the ground. stage OR gym floor with a stage ON it, you dont want to turn the entire room into a cab.

    well.. you might.. but i sure wouldnt. i foresee a gym floor being giant and hollow.. which is bad news for us bassists.
  20. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Well, I'd agree with getting your cab off the floor, but for different reasons. You're not going to make any difference in the floor coupling unless your amps are a good couple feet up in the air. But when you tilt it back and aim it more to your ears, you can hear what the cab really sounds like to the crowd instead of all the highs and mids blowing right past your ears, and it makes it much easier to mix yourselves onstage and prevents you from ripping people's faces off with treble. Good thing to do for both bass and guitar.

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