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Can sound engineers thrash bass players/bands? Here we go...

Discussion in 'Live Sound [BG]' started by the Arsonaut, Aug 27, 2012.

  1. the Arsonaut

    the Arsonaut

    Aug 27, 2012

    I run sound @ a 300 cap room in Connecticut.
    it's fun, we get to play with knives...
    allow me to share with you, some observations (after 5 years)...

    -that SVT fridge is STILL too loud. Take it outside...yer house.

    -pay attention to where you are parking your cabs.
    Was that the stagesnake? Can your singer sing really loud now?

    -"Engineer" is not latin for "mind reader", i think it means "bad attitude".
    Either way, he can't mix you if you don't tell him what you want in your mix.

    -We control the Horizontal. We control the Vertical. You are the content, we are the context. Which translates as...

    -Live sound is Live production. That engineer determines what you sound like to your audience.
    Don't like his approach to the opening band, tell him how you like it.
    You can advance us a track or 3. The booking agent might have been the only person to listen to you.
    Or, bring your own trained monkey, I mean, FOH/Road Manager.

    -can't afford a manager, have a friend, whose ears you trust, listen in on your soundcheck, or 1st song.
    Introduce him to the engineer. Make your points, and let it go.

    -that said, do not turn it into a "hey everybody, how do we sound? hey soundguy,
    my girlfriend says we sound stupid, fix that!" Your girlfriend is standing next to your bass amp...

    -Road(or tour) managers are dicks. That's ok. It's their job to represent you.
    If you don't explain to him how to represent you; he's a dick to you, too. When a road manager has done their job,
    we can all sit back and laugh about it at the end of the night.

    -Unless your contract asks for loaders, we don't touch your gear. That's good & bad.
    Seems the only interns I get these days, could fit inside a 2x10.
    -Save yourself the hassle of:
    a line for my bass
    a line for my backing trax
    a line for my effects loop
    & my other loop....get a mixer, sum it, and give us a mono, or stereo send.

    -In Ears? love them. Give me the receiver, or put your receiver & stage mixer over there, out of the way.
    Thank you for telling me before we got to your soundcheck.

    -I prefer micing, for expediency. a 57 or 58 (I said 58, I blew yer mind) or a d112 (I prefer).
    I'll DI out of an amp if; you demand, or it's a good amp. I'll always use your sansamp.

    -don't like taking DI direct from the bass unless...you have no amp. It's so small, it counts as no amp
    (I've actually mic'd some practice combos...it's hilarious). You request it.
    I like to think that you brought that amp for more than decoration.

    -I know the capabilities of the room and the gear. You don't.

    -You hang outside with yer pals drinkin, while all of these other bands have played?
    Guess what, rock star, I'm deducting one scene point.

    -Oh, you know model XXXX speaker that I use? Did you know that I rewrapped its crossover,
    and internally fused the tweeters? Here, have some tinker toys.

    -Sounded good? I don't deserve praise, I did my job.

    -your amp caught on fire. I put it out, and offered you a backup.
    You'd better spell my name right on your album liners...

    -restringing your bass? Well, why don't you go ahead and leave your strings all over the stage, then...you've got tetanus?!
    from someone else leaving their strings onstage...stop walking around barefoot.

    -Clean up after yourselves.

    -What's with kids these days? I have a lost'n'found that dwarfs some music stores...In the past 60 days...
    (2) taylor guitars, Ampeg SVTcl, Fender 15" cab, Jazz bass, SRV strat, a pedalboard, enough cables/straps/powersupplies to fill
    2 milkcrates.
    Either everyone forgot what an Idiot Check is for, or we're drinking too much milk.

    -Need directions, locally? Ask. GoogleMaps has no clue where all the fat chicks are. We do.

    -Tubes. Need maybe 5minutes to "warm up" More like 3. If you want to backline for this purpose only,
    management will provide you with a blowtorch.

    -Move your gear. Get it onstage. Get it offstage.

    -Tune your bass. Before you get onstage. Check it while we soundcheck the drummer (silently).
    Make sure you are in tune with your band.

    -rough tour so far? yeah? got yerself some new strings? yeah? Break them in before you get onstage.

    -Need an area to laydown a bass or amp to service? Ask us. We may have a spot just for you. And tools.
    Don't be a clod, blocking a fire exit...sheesh.

    -I asked you to turn down because I care about your sound.

    -I know the difference between "turning down" and TURNING DOWN!! You're killing me with your precociousness.

    -I asked you to turn up because I have a plan.

    -Stow your gear and your deads where we tell you, not wherever. This ain't mom's basement.

    -We're still people here. If I see you treating staff, or another band (or patron) in a manner I would deem contemptible...
    only one of ME is going to be enjoying the evening...

    -here's a secret, every Pro I've met, from Mike Watt to Jerry Only, has been a gentleman. Even the younger fellas,
    from ManMan to Matchbook Romance...fine, respectable people. Put them onstage, and they'll tear it up.
    They care just as much about their sound, the end product, as the next band...but they also know that
    it's just a show... All of the problems will be over in about the same amount of time as a very special episode of Blossom.

    -Realistically, it should never devolve into Us vs Those rat bastards. Communication is key.
    You just did 2 nights in NYC; now you're in Connecticut. I get it.
    We just had a run of 17 shows straight. Now here you come.
    Here's a secret, this ain't hipster beard, this is "I haven't been home in 2 weeks"

    -Not every club operates like this. Some are actually better.
  2. hover


    Oct 4, 2008
    I wonder if I ever played your stage...I think it'd be a gas to work with you. Funny post man.
  3. Rip Topaz

    Rip Topaz

    Aug 12, 2005
    Willow Street, PA
    Beta tester for Positive Grid
    Should be required reading. Thanks for posting.
  4. timbros


    Jan 2, 2011
    Louisville, KY

    Take Care,
  5. georgestrings

    georgestrings Banned

    Nov 5, 2005

    I can see eye to eye with everything except for the above - I've never seen a soundman that actually knew what they were doing that didn't like to take a bass->DI signal,

    ...and IME, a D112 is one of the worst mics for bass... Also, I have gotten excellent results with an sm57 or 58 on a cab, but ONLY if blended properly with a good DI send...

    The rest sounded pretty realistic in the live music club scene...

    - georgestrings
  6. MNAirHead

    MNAirHead Supporting Member

    Hoping this is meant to be taken 1/2 seriously

    The tone is combative vs helpful - this supports the stereotype of "generic" knob twiddlers


    When I do production, there's always an advance introductory note laying out what they can expect from me
  7. corinpills


    Nov 19, 2000
    Boston, MA
    Oh, I don't know, I can see a lot of good will in this post- it's obvious that the poster has the right attitude about his job and is really just trying to make visiting bands sound good. I am sure we have all encountered soundmen who have crossed the Rubicon to the thousand yard stare and not giving a crap and this strikes me as the opposite of that.
  8. Dave W

    Dave W Supporting Member

    Mar 1, 2007
    White Plains
    What club are you talking about? Chances are, I've worked with you...
  9. If I ever go to Connecticut, I wanna play this guy's place!

  10. georgestrings

    georgestrings Banned

    Nov 5, 2005


    - georgestrings
  11. DeathFromBelow

    DeathFromBelow Never Forget. Banned

    Dec 23, 2010
    Horten, Norway
    So, where are these fat chicks of which you speak?
  12. Big B.

    Big B.

    Dec 31, 2007
    Austin, TX
    Ha! I had a mouthful of food when I read that fat chick line and it nearly put me in an early grave. :D
  13. bassfran


    Mar 1, 2012
    Endorsing artist: Lakland basses
    Please continue training a steady stream of those interns because our world needs many more sound engineers like you, Sir. :cool:
  14. MarcMurder

    MarcMurder #IIAmerica

    Mar 9, 2010
    El Paso, Texas
    thanks for starting my morning well!!
  15. My venue has two rooms. A 175 seat and an 850 seat. My only issue is with the band having. Mixer on stage. Now I don't want to blend wet and dry signals for a band that I havent rehearsed with,but I do want to have control/a seperate line for backing tracks.
  16. Timmah


    May 19, 2011
    OP, you work sound at Toad's?
  17. Dave W

    Dave W Supporting Member

    Mar 1, 2007
    White Plains
    I'd think Toad's is bigger than 300.
  18. MonkeyBass


    Mar 22, 2009
    Denver, CO
    Great list.

    I'm the sound engineer for a 600 capacity room in Colorado and I have some things to add.

    1) When we say to be at the venue for a soundcheck an hour before the doors open. Be there an hour before the doors open. Otherwise you have absolutely no right to bitch about your monitor mix when you've strolled in 5 minutes before show time. Have some respect for, not only the venue and the engineer, but also your audience and yourself.

    2) Don't walk off with my power strips/microphones/XLR cables...etc. That's a dick move. And if I lend you a cable because you forgot yours, give it back to me. We remember this stuff, and we talk to our booking guys. It blows me away when some band that stole my gear wants to book a show again. You've burned that bridge.

    3) Don't smoke weed anywhere near the venue or in the venue. If the cops find you, and they often do, it threatens the liquor license of the venue. Clubs have been shut down because a pot-head can't read the clearly written signs that say "don't smoke pot in our dressing room". If you've gotta be a dope-head, go to your car.

    One more thing. Sound guys have a reputation for being grouchy. Personally, I try to approach every band that walks in the door with respect and dignity. It's my job to make your show awesome. But as those amateur, dickish moves in the list Arsonaut and myself made start to get checkmarks put next to them, the more grouchy and disrespectful I become to you. Turn about is fair play.

    The most, seasoned, famous, pro artists are the easiest to work with. They show up on time, they know what the want, they respect me and my gear, and they don't bitch about the monitor mix every other song.

    I cringe when I see a 20-something guitarist walk in with a shiny new Marshall half stack. Or the bass player walks in with a refrigerator SVT. Young bands crank their amps. It's COMPLETELY unnecessary. And the worst part is then that kid's mom comes up to me and says "it's too loud!!" So I show her the fader marked "bass" and point out that it's completely down. "Tell him to turn it down then." It's my job to mix you, I can't do that if you fill the room on your own. This isn't Madison Square Garden. And even then...
  19. +1000
  20. the Arsonaut

    the Arsonaut

    Aug 27, 2012
    Maybe the original poster was reaching out to you with a thousand mile glare that only comes with countless late nights where the drive home involves the radio-off because all the joy d'vivre has been sucked out at last by an endless parade of narrowsighted, backstabbing TMs and agents; squeezing every cent out of hardworking people-while fleecing their equally inane and shallow performers who's only reason for being on god's green earth is to pretend that music ever meant something to them beyond an excuse to fluff their hair/shave their chest to the beat.
    To have been dragged down to the level of the criminally wayward; the broken relationships, estrangement, addiction-to take one last swing at empathy; but their story of woe is lost on you as your crippling tinnitus kicks in with a swash of panoramic noise, the way you imagine the howling wind on the plains of gehenna, lying someplace south of dante's own inferno.
    Yeah, that, or I'm just a might bit peckish.

    -As for equipment choices: I've got a backlog of several hundred contracts that state "channel XX, bass: akg d112 or equivalent" It handles SPLs, with a brighter, and less contoured shape than a beta 52. In fact, a lot of fellas act like they're not getting the proper treatment w/ "only" a 57. So many blank stares at the 58, I had to throw an EV windscreen on it.
    So, yes, that's a sm58 w/ a black EV windscreen on it.

    -300 cap is a smaller room. We run it hot from the stage. I build my soundscape off of drums'n'bass.
    My rationale has always been "you brought the speakers. You like the speakers. Let's hear the speakers. DI...redundancy, at this level.
    That mic falls over, intern better be on it, or under it.

    -I think sub mixes from a band-from the stage are swell...if they've premixed all 7 channels before giving me a mono mix. Ask them, where do they want their trax, etc in the mix..."is this under the guitars, is it on par with the vox?"
    I just wish they'd tell me there were bass drops in their trax BEFORE we popped the subs.
    Take a lesson from the old keyboardists and their summing mixers.

    -Was aiming more at bass players, being the more responsible band members, on par. But yeah, vocalist wants to Daltrey or spike our mics...that's apaddlin'.

    -Punctuality. The difference between Old School & Clown College.
    Colorado, you are right. The green room is for decompressing from the road, setting up for the show. If the policy is "no smoking"...don't. If it's a teen center/artspace...don't drink. Keep your crippling habit on the DL.

    -Management might roll their eyes when their FOH guy runs on'n'on about a band of deviants. But they WILL use it as a sticking point on the next contract. "you guys broke two mics, and stole fizzy lifting drinks, your $1000 is now $750 next tour"
    Unless...heheh, the FOH is on Management. Now you can kiss your ass goodbye. You think I can walk into any venue in my state for free, and they're NOT going to listen when I tell them about you?
    No, CT is not a big state...but we are damned convenient when you hit the NorthEast. I've cut one band in all this time. And, I've cut a band from our club for what they did to gabe over at the El'n'Gee...I was debating on inviting them over for a blanket party in the basement.

    -Big gear...yeah, an SVT fulltilt is too much for this room (ditto: 120w guitar stack), but it sure is fun, right? Yeah...now turn the **** down.
    Talk to them as they're loading in. Or loading onstage. "hey guy, this room's kinda tight...so, if I ask you to turn down, it's ok...I'm a professional" There should be a middleground between your tone/your ability to reference yourself onstage/our ability to pull this show off.
    That should be the lesson these kids are getting.
    With that, I'd say it's the guys rolling in with the cool old stock..."man, this b120 cranks" "my sunn 18s rip at 115db" that mean to do the most damage.

    -YOU may not agree with MY equipment choices. Shut up, and open your own club.
    I got your tech rider, crossed off what we won't be needing, we signed it. Show went. Sounded alright. End of story.
    That said...
    That's me. When I'm training someone, I give them the rundown on how I want it. With the open caveat that another Co. may do things differently.
    Don't argue.
    Learn. I'm showing you the ropes. They're going to give you a paycheck.
    When I've got a production coming in, I insist that the interns are on hand. I'll explain to the TM/FOH that these kids are going to be learning from them...if they get in the way, throw them under the stage.
    See how I work back from unity? I almost exclusively roll back my EQ...this guy, ganks the gain, dumps his faders, and accentuates key freq. And it sounds damn good.

    We don't need me-clones. We need people who are thinking about the box...from outside the box.

    And, this arrogant/combative/sardonic wit comes from a member of the brotherhood of those who have spent too much time on the road, we can sleep on a staircase during-and through-soundcheck.

    ps. Timmah, you might remember a boy named grimm...

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