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Can my PA handle no amps on stage?

Discussion in 'Live Sound [BG]' started by jonas_24112, Jul 17, 2012.


  1. jonas_24112

    jonas_24112

    Jul 11, 2011
    We are a top 40 variety cover band. 4-piece consisting of 2 guitars, bass, and drums. 3 of us have very strong vocals and we are always trying to take advantage of vocal harmonies wherever we can. We typically play in venues with capacities not over 250-300 people (think small bars).

    Our FOH consists of:
    2- Mackie Thump TH15-A- 300W/woofer and 100W/horn.
    2- EV Force Sub Cabs- loaded with dual 15's- (I'm pushing
    about 725W per side through a QSC GX5).

    BOH consists of-
    2- 15" Phonic 2-way Monitors @ 150W each
    1- 8" Crate 2- way Monitor @ 150 W
    2- Halfstacks for the guitarists
    1- Markbass 121P (run DI to board)
    1- Kickdrum Mic to board
    3- Vocal Mics to board

    Only vocals, kick drum, and bass go through the FOH PA right now. Only vocals go through the stage monitors. We do not mic the half stacks.

    My contention is that our stage volume is too high because of the half stacks. My LG plays way too loud and many other musicians have told him so, but he doesn't get it. I'm not ready to give up fighting him yet for the sake of better stage volume and overall sound.

    We have the means to upgrade our stage monitors, but not go to IEM's at this point.

    So the questions are if we go direct on everything:

    1. Can the FOH handle adding the two guitars into the mix? (assuming I can get both guitarists to go direct, LOL)

    2. If we upgrade to Mackie Thump TH12-A's for stage monitors, will they be able to handle a full monitor mix including vocals, guitars, a little bass and kick? (good thing is I can run different mixes to each monitor for each singer/player)
     
  2. Rip Topaz

    Rip Topaz

    Aug 12, 2005
    Willow Street, PA
    Beta tester for Positive Grid
    Short answer, no. Your guitarists will be miserable because of the missing stage volume.

    Once you get them on board about the volume, sure it'll work. Might not be enough for big clubs but in smaller bars you should do fine.

    I'd push to go IEM though. Running direct, it's the only way you'll make everyone happy. Consider a wired system if you don't wanna go all in, with a separate mixer and a headphone amp (don't forget the limiters).
     
  3. Stumbo

    Stumbo Wherever you go, there you are. Commercial User

    Feb 11, 2008
    the Cali Intergalctic Mind Space
    Song Surgeon slow downer software- full 4 hour demo
    If the guitar rigs are already too loud, why put them in the mix?

    Seems to me that you need to get their agreement ahead of time that their volume is ruining the mix and even if they agree to that premise, getting them to agree to using smaller amps is another battle. Even 30 watt 2x12 guitar amps, especially two of them, can still create problems FOH.

    I suggest a high quality FOH recording from a gig and playing it back to the band.

    If the guitars are too loud and the guitarists refuse to acknowledge the problem, then you'll have figure something else out or just move on because you're playing with some people who have LGD (lead guitarist disease).

    FYI: best sound for subs come from stacking them in the center of the stage (or on the dance floor) or possibly just using one. See Sub stage placement w plots/graphs: worst to best

    By having your subs not placed properly, the guitar players may be turning up to hear themselves or due to bass freqs. cancellation, the guitar rigs are heard as "out of balance".
     
  4. jaywa

    jaywa

    May 5, 2008
    Iowa City, IA
    I have become convinced that guitar half stacks are of the devil.

    Played a gig recently where everyone in the band (including one of the two guitarists) went direct... except the other guitarist who had a half stack. First set, the sound is dialed in great, everything in balance. Then the guitarist with the half-stack started turning up... and up... and by the middle of the 2nd set, pulled entirely out of the FOH mix his rig was still louder than the entire rest of the band and vocals coming out of the P.A. That #%#@*(&#@$ half-stack wrecked the entire mix.

    Ridiculous. No excuse for anything bigger than a 30w guitar combo on stage EVER these days if you're running any sort of decent P.A. at all.

    To your original question... yeah your P.A. should be able to handle everything. Especially if low end is rolled off the guitar(s) and given to the kick drum and bass as it should be.
     
  5. Medford Bassman

    Medford Bassman Supporting Member

    Aug 8, 2007
    Medford, Wisconsin
    I have a guitarist in the band got rid of his overly loud stage amp that was ruining the FOH sound. Went IEM and uses a pedal board straight to the mixer. Stage noise is minimal and FOH is a cinch to mix
     
  6. From personal experience in exactly the same scenario I can tell ya:

    1) Yes, your FOH system will handle the whole band;
    2) Spikes kill speakers, compression is your friend;
    3) Lower stage volume will lend to a much cleaner FOH mix;
    4) For the git-dudes, try one 30w 1x12 combo each, on chair/tables, shooting
    in sideways from the side of the stage. Each dude then has his "hotspot."
    5) Consider a plexi drum shield if necessary, as the git/bass dudes only need enough
    stage volume to mix with the acoustic drums. Maybe consider good e-drums as well.

    Good luck, it will work with the right gear, and your (remaining) hearing is worth keeping.
     
  7. mwbassace

    mwbassace

    Jul 26, 2010
    N.W. Ohio
    I play the same size places and have almost the same PA as you described and have the same issue as you do with my guitarist. What we started doing was miking him and giving him his own monitor mix. He was getting plenty of volume but since it was coming from both in front of him as well as behind it did help with FOH volume. Now he's using a 2-12 combo amp instead of his halfstack and volume is much better. And my guitarist is a dyed-in-the-wool "I gotta be cranked to get that tube tone" guy.
     
  8. 4Mal

    4Mal Supporting Member

    Jun 2, 2002
    Columbia River Gorge
    Half stacks belong on concert stages... Really large concert stages. My guitars use 22 Watt Fender Deluxe Reverbs or my 22 watt Rivera 1x12 or 15 watt Princeton Reverb in a 1x12 deluxe chassis. Or similar amps from Carr or DR Z. They can still get too loud but with a little training And a few dirt pedals, they all get happy at a close to reasonable volume. That they all sing helps a lot... 1 of them even does the PA for that band. I feel like I'm getting a night off when I play with him...
     
  9. 4Mal

    4Mal Supporting Member

    Jun 2, 2002
    Columbia River Gorge
    BTW- I still use a stage rig most nights. just a smaller one. Mostly a GK MB200 and 2 1x10 cabs. Or a 100 watt Music Man Tube head from the dark ages and 2 15's
     
  10. Floyd Eye

    Floyd Eye Banned

    Feb 21, 2010
    St. Louis
    The issue is with the guitarist. I have one and he uses a full stack and I use a full bass stack. We are on the same page as far as stage volume and we have no issues.
     
  11. claytitan

    claytitan

    Mar 12, 2008
    Tennessee
    Exactly. My two guitarist used to use half stacks. It sounded like crap. Depending on where you stood in the room the guitar would be ok or way too loud and high pitched. One night they both had their amps on the same side and I noticed there were more people congregating on the other side of the room (my side). I have wireless so I wander out. Sure enough the mix was bad on that side with the guitars dominating the mix.

    I pointed it out to them and they finally agreed Now they both have much smaller combo amps.

    Can you use a half stack and a 100 watt amp and get a good mix? Yes, but it is more difficult due to the sweet spot for tone and the beaming. Usually the guys that insist on these big guitar amps refuse to turn down and they EQ the amp to sound good to them where they are standing (with the amps volume hitting them in the back of the knees).
     
  12. mellowinman

    mellowinman Free Man

    Oct 19, 2011
    Minneapolis
    My guitarist uses a half stack. He keeps it manageable, and I make sure he is in its sweet spot as much as possible. Raise that thing up. Turn it if you have to. It's hard to go ampless, because he needs certain characteristics between the guitar and the amp. But make the guitarist work with you! I've had gigs where I've actually told him, "turn it up a bit." That's what comes of communication, and mutual respect.

    But yes, your PA can handle it. I like to use a combo amp as my bass monitor, though. It's really just for me. Most of what you hear is my DI box coming through the PA.
     
  13. Floyd Eye

    Floyd Eye Banned

    Feb 21, 2010
    St. Louis
    More often than not I have to urge my guitarist to turn it up too. As long as everyone is on the same page as far as stage volume goes, whatever you got will work.
     
  14. 4Mal

    4Mal Supporting Member

    Jun 2, 2002
    Columbia River Gorge
    If you also play guitar, you know that the only good distortion is power tube distortion... And on small stages, power tube tube distortion from a 50 watt guitar amp is painful...
     
  15. lowfreq33

    lowfreq33

    Jan 27, 2010
    Nashville
    Endorsing Artist: Genz Benz Amplification
    If you're already running kick and bass through it it'll be fine. Adding the guitars will add maybe 50 watts to your power requirements. In fact you may end up using LESS power since you're no longer competing with two screaming half stacks for the mix.

    My question is, how are you running the subs? I prefer my subs on an aux send so that only kick, bass, and maybe toms are hitting the subs. Guitars through subs is a recipe for mud.
     
  16. jaywa

    jaywa

    May 5, 2008
    Iowa City, IA
    Good point. No need to waste the subs on guitars (or keys or anything else). Especially if wattage is limited.
     
  17. jonas_24112

    jonas_24112

    Jul 11, 2011
    OP here-

    Full mix goes to an EQ, then to a DBX active crossover.

    The EQ is mostly for feedback situations, which there have been none. So for EQ, I may roll off the extreme lows (30Hz) and extreme highs, but nothing in between. I don't have any type of SMAART system, so no eq'ing the room here.

    I usually cross over at around 200-210 Hz. High's to the active Mackie mains and lows to the subs. While I realize this is an unusually high crossover point, it seems to be a sweet spot for our system. The Mackie mains get a little too "boomy" and don't seem to reproduce those frequencies well without clipping too often and/or muddying up the vocals.
     
  18. MNAirHead

    MNAirHead Supporting Member

    if he's "my tone comes only from my amp" silliness.. then no...

    If he'll go IEM (and only blow out his own ears) then yes.
     
  19. derrico1

    derrico1 Supporting Member

    Apr 12, 2005
    Charlottesville, VA
    If the only good distortion from a 50 watt amp is also painful, I'd expect that guitarists playing small stages would quickly learn to use smaller amps. But I'd be wrong. ;)
     
  20. Mokebass

    Mokebass

    Sep 19, 2011
    So you want everything through the PA.

    I say you got 2 choices:

    1. Acoustic guitars and jazz drum kit.
    2. Get a peavey 4 channel powered mixer, some cheap mics and couple of FOH speakers and let the guitarists pick there amps (within reason)
     

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