Concerned of what the soundman does to my tone!!

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by odie, Sep 28, 2003.

  1. odie

    odie Supporting Member

    I am kind of worried about what soundmen do to my tone etc. Im in a cover band that does a wide variety of music. Example RHCP, Tool, Green Day, Rush etc. So my tones will change and vary. Using a pick for Tool, Greenday etc then finger for the other 80%. Distortion for NIN and Orgy etc.

    Well I worry about them changing my tone. It seems like most of the soundmen out there use a low , punchy tone but less defined tone setting thru the PA. But this doesnt coincide with what Im am trying to achieve for some of our songs.

    I wonder if I am battling with the soundman. Or if they are making me sound bad and one dimensional.

    I have listened to them run sound sound for other bands and it seems like they are always going for the same tones. I have tried talking with them but they are for the most part rude and set in their own ways. Sound checks usually consist of 20 minutes of mic and amp checks. I hit a few notes and they move on to another mic or instrument.

    What can I do to feel better or remedy this. Is it just the way things are??
  2. Mcrelly


    Jun 16, 2003
    Minnesota, USA
    I worry about the same thing sort-of. I get concerned when the PA volume interferes with my stage volume. see my thread on "balancing pa bass with onstage bass volumes".

    I was going to suggest you give them a DI of your tone settings and let theM do their job, but I see they are miking you cab, so they already have your sound pretty much. At this point DON'T WORRY ABOUT IT. Don't worry about things you can't change. You'll just keep upsetting yourself. set your tone onstage the way you like and RELAX!!

    Mixing can be harder than it looks, I've tried! Try being nice to them, make a friend if you keep going back to the same place. eventually they might value your sound as much as they think you value them!
  3. I hear you odie....

    Agreed 100% that when playing covers (or originals, actually...) if you have finger tone, pick tone, and overdriven tone to faithfully emulate covers or just because it's 'the sound you want', then it should be reflected in FOH as well. A friendly conversation with the sound man, explaining that your different tones are important to the song and to the band, as well as asking him what you can do to help achieve this, is the best way.

    In my band, I am the sound guy, and I run wireless so I get to hear what is projected by FOH and how the room sounds. I wish all bassists had the opportunity to hear 'out front' and all soundmen would do their best to give bandmembers a good product for the audience.
  4. I make a bit of money on the side by sound tech'ing for local bands, and I have the exact opposite problem to you, bassists and singers never come and talk to me about what tone they want. It seems like younger bands don't seem to understand how much better an instrument can sound with a few tweaks of the EQ.
    I tend to just cut the mids for metal, and boost the highs for RHCP style etc. I wish bassists would take a more active role than buying an expensive amp and hoping it'll do the work for them.
  5. Wastegate


    Sep 25, 2003
    Norcross, Ga
    Most soundmen don't understand bass and won't try to make it sound like an instrument. I went to a recent show where all the bass sounded like was a wall of lowend. It overpowered everything and had NO definition. He never adjusted the tone in order to bring out clarity or even brought it down in the mix to balance out the sound. Many of them just don't care, they thow up the faders and there you go. I think if those bands had heard what they sounded like they would've been very pissed. Considering it was 3 signed bands I'm surprised at least one of them didn't have their own soundman. It was Doubledrive, [Minus Driver] and one other band that I can't remember right now.

    You might want to look into getting your own soundman if you can afford it.
  6. rumblethump

    rumblethump Supporting Member

    Mar 25, 2000
    Pioneer CA. 95666
    Get a wireless. Then during sound checks you can walk out and check it for yourself. Its my experience that most soundpeople haven't got a clue. Most don't play an anything other than radio. They mike the drums to death and out front thats all you hear. It is good that you are concerned. Keep after them, but try to be diplomatic, the last thing you want to do is tick them off. :(
  7. Richard Lindsey

    Richard Lindsey

    Mar 25, 2000
    Metro NYC
    Word. This is the best thing you can do, if it's feasible (and if the person is competent, of course). You won't believe what a difference it can make if you can get the right person.
  8. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    I agree with both of your comments above....100%.

    These local sound company guys(the ones hired to do outdoor festivals/concerts) may understand bass & the kick drum...IMO, they just don't give enough of a s*** to make it 'right'.
  9. LiquidMidnight


    Dec 25, 2000
    Then fire them. You're paying their salary. If they are not listening to what kind of sound you want, and are being assholes on top of it, don't hire them. That will knock down their pretentious attitude a few notches.
  10. Mike Money

    Mike Money Banned

    Mar 18, 2003
    Bakersfield California
    Avatar Speakers Endorsing Hooligan

    You never came off as a person who be playing Green Day, tool, orgy, or rhcp...crazy.
  11. secretdonkey


    Oct 9, 2002
    Austin, TX
    Yeah, in a world where even really great players* often wind up getting buried in the mix at larger venues, it's an unfortunate reality for us... best solution I've found (at small to medium venues) is to have a pretty substantial rig and pump as much volume off stage as is compatible with other concerns...


    [edit: *who are commercially successful and who could presumably afford a great team of sound engineers...]
  12. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    there are factors that bass players fail to understand.

    1.) What you think is "your great sound" may be horrible withing the contex of a full mix. Bass, being a full range instrument, has the ability to mask other things going on, like vocals. It's important to 'listen from the other side of the bass' to get an idea of what works within the band.

    2.) Very often, what you hear coming out of the amp has very little to do with what will happen in the room. I've seen literally dozens of times the bass player insist on micing his amp, and having no EQ applied at the FOH board. That alone can be the cause of very poor sound - no definition, muddy lows, etc, etc.

    Find an engineer you can trust. Then trust them.
  13. Or you could just get yourself a rediculously huge rig with its own generator, so you can do away with having to PA your bass...
  14. there was an interview with Pete Trewavas of Marillion in Bassist magazine in which he said that their sound engineer insisted he roll off everything on his EQ below 100Hz, as it just confused things and ended up going into the vocal and drum mics.
    Trewavas said that as a result he felt like he was playing a rubber band or a second guitar, but if the advantage was a good sound out front then it was worth it.
  15. Petebass


    Dec 22, 2002
    QLD Australia
    Click here

    Further to what I said in the linked post, it's a good idea to take all this into account when planning your tone changes. You have to try and think in 2 different dimensions by not just asking "how will this sound through my amp", but also throwing in the technicalities and implications of the FOH.
  16. Scott D

    Scott D

    Apr 21, 2003
    Minneapolis, MN
    Yeah, i run sound with some other non-musicians... it really pisses me off. They never mess with the bass-never EQ it or anything. They'll just be like "Wow, the bass sounds muddy." they always keep it quiet as hell, too. it really annoys me. i concentrate on Drums and bass, and don't let them touch it. I can always get a sweet sound out of the bass (given they have decent equipment for DI's, Mic's, etc...) But i totally agree with the statement that most sound people (non-bassists) totally do not understand bass.
  17. odie

    odie Supporting Member

    I cant fire them!!!

    In the majority of the places around here(Rochester, MN, La Crosse, WI, Twin Cities area) the sound man is supplied by the club or the owner of the PA. We could hire someone to run sound but who can afford it!!! We usually get paid anywhere from $400-$700 for a gig. If we hired a soundman they would take around $150. Maybe we can look at some musician friends to help us out.
  18. odie

    odie Supporting Member


    We play newer rock stuff. RATM, Primus, throw in some older stuff such as Sublime and maybe a funk tune.

    What kind of a person do I "come off as"??
  19. Bass and PA-guys do not combine well at all, IMO.
    I went to the North Sea Jazz festival a while back, which is quite a Name in jazz festivals, and the sound was horrible.
    The thing I hate most about soundtechs is that they want to make everything sound 'big', and how do they do that? Roll off mids, and turn up the sub-bass and the hearing-damage highs, so you end up getting diarrhea from the 'thud'-end of the bass and headaches from the screamingly loud drum cymbals... how DUMB can you be??? I'm sorry, it just frustrates me, I don't understand. Even at a jazz festival they manage to screw up...
    The effect of this for the bass player is that it seemingly doesn't matter what you do with your EQ(s) because the sound guy doesn't let any thing over 100Hz reach the audience anyway!! Have they ever seen a bassamp's EQ? A good one goes from 30 Hz all the way up to 15 kHz! There's more to a bass guitar than the !@##%% sub-bass 'thud'!!
    The mids are where the punch, tone and definition lie.
    At some point the bass player for Incognito got a solo, and all you hear is a huge stinking pile of mud... Oh, come on!! You can't even turn op the mids on a solo???? Again: how DUMB is that?
    Geez, I really needed to vent that. It's so frustrating. It's probably because those PA guys do all those stupid dance-things (sorry people, that just ain't music) as well. That garbage hasn't any mids in it anyway. I notice the same thing in modern car-audio, probably for the same DJ-noise reason: no mids, no punch, no definition, no tone. All sub-bass and ear piercing highs... ugly.
    Stuff just ain't funky no more...

  20. pbd

    pbd Commercial User

    Jul 17, 2003
    Metro Detroit
    owner Procables N Sound
    I am a sound tech and then I learned bass. Learing an instrument helps a lot when trying to mix it. Ask the sound guys if they play an instrument then try to play off of that. If they don't (don't shame them) then try the approach of, "I play several different sounding tones throughout the set, can I setup a basic sound with you then when I turn to my new sound you'll know I intend it to sound that way." Have the sound person listen to your rig up close with you there next to them. Tell them you'd like to be as close to this sound as possible due to the need of that tone in a particular song. Be specific but not condescending (even when they undoubtedly are to you). Sometimes you have an inexperienced tech who will become defensive when pushed, work around it. I like certain sounds from the PA but when given specific directions I keep them as close as the system will allow because that is their sound.