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"Constructive Criticism" -- yes or no?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Papazita, Apr 24, 2009.

  1. Papazita


    Jun 27, 2008
    I just got back from seeing my guitar-playing older brother's band for the first time. They finally played on a night I had off!

    He's played guitar for about 20 years, drums for maybe 6, and started playing bass about 2 years ago. Really good guitar player -minored in music theory in college; his freshman year he auditioned into the 1st chair of the jazz guitar ensemble & held on to it for the next 4 years!- decent drummer, and ...ok... bass player.
    He switched to bass after realizing there was an over abundance of local guitar players, and few bass players. I step in and show him a few things when he asks (those BIG strings confuse him sometimes! :p ), but mostly leave him to do his own thing.

    First break, he comes over & asks what i think.
    "Good job," I say.
    "You finally play on my night off! Sounds good. Glad i could make it."

    Now...that was being polite.

    This isn't a "professional" band, by any means; just a few buddies jamming after work & playing the odd gig now and then; no one expects them to be perfect. A few clams here and there, and a drummer who can't keep time, but big deal. It's all in fun anyway, right?

    There were sound issues, though, that would have made it so much more enjoyable.
    First, you're in a tiny bar...there's really no need to mic the drums. If you do, mic the whole kit, not just the kick and hi hat. BOOM TSS BOOM TSS BOOM TSS BOOM TSS!
    If I wanted to listen to Daft Punk....

    Re-eq the vocals. There was more bass coming from the vocal mics than from THE BASS! Between the bassy vocals and the howitzer kick drum...if it weren't for the occasional string noise, i never would have known there was a bass player!

    And mute the PA when you take a break. That shrieking feedback that you seem to be oblivious to is not enjoyable to the rest of us.

    So what do you guys think? Should I have said anything? He did ask what I thought.
    Or is it better to keep quiet and let it go?
  2. Howlin' Hanson

    Howlin' Hanson Lighter cabs, please. Supporting Member

    Sep 3, 2007
    Austin TX
    Let it go. He's your older brother. Let someone else tell him. Sounds like they need a sound check person.
  3. Stumbo

    Stumbo Wherever you go, there you are. Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 11, 2008
    the Cali Intergalctic Mind Space
    Song Surgeon slow downer software- full 4 hour demo
    If they didn't have a sound guy, I would have asked if I could help out with the it. If you're doing right by the group, why not ask?

    "Mind if I help out with the P.A?" is giving your brother options. I would have gone even further, after adjusting the P.A., if the other amps and such needed tweaking I would have let him know so he could let the other guys know.

    I mean, since you already play, why wouldn't they want you to help out.?

    If they do have a sound guy, I would have let your brother know that some things could be improved.

    I've even gone up to bands that didn't have a sound guy and let them know that I could/would help out with the sound if they wanted me to. Some do, some don't. Their choice.
  4. Papazita


    Jun 27, 2008
    No sound guy, just them.

    He rarely asks for anyone's opinion, least of all mine; which is why I was a bit taken aback when he asked. Much the same way he felt, I'm sure, when he saw me walk in!

    Kinda funny; there he is, grooving away with the straight 8ths-played with the index finger, and then he notices "little brother." The bass-playing little brother. Eyes bugged out & he stiffens. I swear you could see that cold chill run down his spine!
    Aww...did I make him nervous? I enjoyed that! :p :D
  5. Deacon_Blues


    Feb 11, 2007
    Oh, you noticed my favorite pet peeve. ;) As a lead singer since 13 years, I've come to realize that it's totally unnecessary to boost any bass in the vocals. TOTALLY unnecessary. Boosting bass on the vocals is equivalent to turning up a suck knob. End of story.

    A few weeks back, my younger brother, who is 18 (I'm 30), played rock covers in a local bar in a duo setting. They had boosted the bass in the mics, and you could not hear any words in the vocals, despite the treble was boosted too (Warning: Mid scoop!). You only heard there was vocals present, no words. No clarity. I went to speak with them in the pause, and re-eq'd the vocal channels "slightly". At first, they weren't really happy about me messing up their sound settings, but I just said "trust me".. :) After the second set, they said "What exactly did you do? The vocals sounded much clearer now". And they certainly did. It could still have been better though, but it was a low-budget PA so you couldn't expect too much...

    The proximity effect in most microphones already create a bass boost when singing very close to the mic, as you normally do to prevent turning up too much. Still it's very common to boost the bass on the mic channel. I did that for 7 years too, believing it made me sound better. :rolleyes:

    Constructive criticism is mostly positive, at least if it turns things to the better and is not just because of a matter of taste. In your shoes, I would have commented on the sound issue with the vocals. It would have made the concert more enjoyable for everyone present.
  6. MIJ-VI

    MIJ-VI Banned Supporting Member

    Jan 12, 2009
    Hi Papazita.

    Recording a band's performance via a simple stereo mic is a good way for the group's members to hear for themselves that which needs improvement.

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