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Cutting through

Discussion in 'Live Sound [BG]' started by Unspoken511, Jan 22, 2013.

  1. Unspoken511


    Jan 22, 2012
    Under 3 Guitars, a Drummer, and three singers, I can't seem to cut through. I can here myself, but I always keep in touch with two or three kids in the audience and text then during a performance how I sound, and almost Everytime they can't here me. I understand how if I play the same part as the guitars, it adds depth, but when I have my own line going, how can I cut through and lay it down? We all eq our own gear, and my guitarists are really picky on that kind of stuff, so I'll have to stick to ideas of what I should do with my bass and amp alone.

    I use a shector stiletto 5 string, with treble bass and pick up blend, and a fender rumble with treble, bass, high and low mids, and a horn.

  2. 4StringTheorist

    4StringTheorist Supporting Member

    First step: If you're doing any EQing, quit it and see what happens. Put everything back to no boost, no cut. Especially if you've been boosting your bass eq. See what happens. If you perceive yourself as a lot quieter now, leave the EQ alone and turn the volume up to see what you think.

    Second step: under 3 guitars, if you want to get heard rather than felt, you'll have to fight for some midrange. Try boosting the mids on your bass some. You'll likely hate your bass tone solo. Don't worry about that. Focus on what it sounds like in the group setting.

    A "I can get my notes heard amid thick guitars" bass tone is often really gnarly sounding all alone, but sounds great in the mix.
  3. bassnat


    Jan 31, 2011
    +That is very true.
  4. SunnBass

    SunnBass All these blankets saved my life.

    Aug 31, 2010
    Columbia, Mo
    +1 for boosting mids.
  5. All_¥our_Bass


    Dec 26, 2004

    Lower mids = fat/thickness, but more audible (and much less muddy) than turning up the bass knob

    Middle of Mids = Fills out the sound, makes it seem louder, can get grainy/grindy if too high

    Upper mids = accentuates attack, esp. if one uses a pick, can be honky/nasally if turned too high-but in a band situation you might want a tone that would sound honky on it's own since you have have to compete with everyone else.

    The way I do it is I initially crank the mids then slowly dial them back with my left hand while plucking a string with the other until it's just below the 'bad' threshold.
  6. Floyd Eye

    Floyd Eye Banned

    Feb 21, 2010
    St. Louis
    Boost low mids, turn down/off the bass knob on your guitar players rig's.
  7. grouse789

    grouse789 Supporting Member

    Jun 13, 2004
    Westchester NY
    I agree with above poster. If your guitar player have their bass boosted it kills yours.
    Once again, what sounds good in someone bedroom rarely sounds good in a band format. All instruments have their own particular frequ ranges. A place for everything and everything in its place.
  8. RS66LB


    Dec 29, 2012
  9. Tuned


    Dec 6, 2007
    Then start looking for another band because you're about to be fired.

    If you can hear yourself fine then the rest is the PA's job. If the PA is only enough for vocals then turning up just leaves the kick drum behind and it'll still sound weak, plus the guitars will turn up even more so now nobody can hear the bass AND the vocals.
  10. Kmonk


    Oct 18, 2012
    South Shore, Massachusetts
    Endorsing Artist: Fender, Spector, Ampeg, Curt Mangan Strings, Nordstrand Pickups, Korg Keyboards
    One mistake that bassists make is to set their EQ when nobody else is playing. Once the band starts, some of your sound will get lost in the mix. Try boosting the mids and highs a little and see how it sounds with the band.
  11. You need either a very long cable or a wireless. Get out out front and hear it for yourself. Otherwise you're just guessing.
  12. Floyd Eye

    Floyd Eye Banned

    Feb 21, 2010
    St. Louis

    Hardly. And not being fully aware of the OP's situation, I would assume that like most of the rest of us he is in a local band with some other musicians. I doubt very seriously that he has a permanent sound engineer taking care of these details. Obviously his guitarists don't. His guitar players should be more concerned with how they sound out front than to themselves and it sounds to me like they have no clue how to properly EQ their rigs.
  13. 4StringTheorist

    4StringTheorist Supporting Member

    +1 to everyone mentioning that the guitarists are involved here.

    One way to help with the band's sound balance is to make a live recording of a jam session or gig. Nothing fancy, just a recorder a nice distance from the band to catch what it sounds like.

    Listening to that can get everyone on board. If the guitarists are drowning the band, hearing what the band actually sounds like 20+ft away can get the drummer and singers on board to address the mix as a group.
  14. kweej


    Nov 30, 2012
    I had the same problem. I got a wireless so I could sound check myself out in the crowd once in a while. And I also got an EQ pedal. The extra EQ control really helps me to get exactly where I want to be.
  15. kevteop


    Feb 12, 2008
    York, UK
    So what you're saying is that you cannot ask your guitarists to change any aspect of their sounds?

    If that's the situation in your band then the people who'll get heard are the people who are loudest. Solution: Just turn up louder than the guitarists and if they ask you to turn down tell them it's 'Your sound'. See if they get the message.

    Your gig sounds like a total nightmare by the way.
  16. Adam Harzuf

    Adam Harzuf

    Nov 16, 2004
    Your goal is to cut through midrange, not to cloud the singers, and to have a nice "talk" with the bass drum.
    Graphic equalizer is your friend:
    ~70Hz - subs
    ~125-160Hz - punchy-warm (and that leaves room for the ~90Hz bass drum punch). Check your D string - generally speaking, it should not have too much bass frequencies. Work with sub frequencies to affect E string. So we can, in a way, look at these two bands as string's bass frequencies content tuners.
    ~480Hz - This is the overall forwardness of the sound, and can be boosted for playing harmonics. It controlls the level of higher strings to a high degree. can be cut down in order to raise the instrument level in the mix and gain the lows we need for the song. Cutting also partially have the audiable effect of compression, so you will have to work the compressor less.
    You can approach tuning it by "which string balance do I need?" and work around it (in a simplified manner) with higher frequency bands. This area controls clarity very much, but since it's also brings the sound to the front (and collide with vocals), it's sometimes better to cut it and gain clarity from higher frequencies:
    ~800Hz - raises clarity and pushes the sound forward less then the 480Hz area. Bridge jazz pup sound.
    ~1000Hz - raises clarity less then 800Hz (so more boost is needed).
    and what's above starts to get clanky, and its use varies greatly with style and tone you wish for, but is not as essential as all the above for the purpose of properly mixing yourself with others.

    Compressor is your second friend. A dedicated one, with all parameters (not just the one knob cr@p) will allow your sustain to be heard and felt more constantly, so when the other players are in (relative, momentary) silence you will always thunder, drawing more attention. It will also allow having greater punch, which might be usefull as well (it's case specific).
    If you wish, I can give a detailed explanation how I set it up (as a sound engineer).
  17. jhuss88


    Oct 17, 2012
    St. Louis, MO
    Let's hear it Harzuf! This is all stuff I've been wondering as well. Is there a good eq pedal that does the job when eqing bass around the areas you mentioned?
  18. pedroims


    Dec 19, 2007
    Are these kids experienced bass players or do they have some experience mixing bands? Chances are that they do not know how a bass should sound in the mix, heck , maybe they dont even know what a bass is :D...If you have PA support then you should trust the sound guy, if your sound is comming from your amp then you may want to boost some mids.
  19. Adam Harzuf

    Adam Harzuf

    Nov 16, 2004
    My rig is a Roland GR-55, it's got a fully parametric EQ inside.
    I'm supper anal about the Q as well, and will design an onboard circuit with more accurate behaviour for live sound for my bass.
    However, the generic pedals should work fine, although I'm not experienced with them. the 60-120-400-500-800-4.5-10 seven-band Boss is close enough to these frequencies.

    ok, compressors. Use the followong method if you need more sustain (playing long notes).
    1.Set ratio = inf and crush the signal considerably and non musically with the threshold as you play normaly on the lowest string. the lowest string triggers the compressor most because of the energy it contains. I like fret 7-12, it's fullest sounding.
    now set the Attack time and you're listening now only for punch length. Your sound is crap now, I know, it's just an extreme check.

    2.As you play softly, raise the threshold until you get almost no compression.

    3.As you play normally again, set the ratio until you get about 7dB of compression. If you bass and strings sustains well you might need less. You can think of this dB rating as "how many dB will be added to my sustain by the end of a long note". Sort off. Overdoing it kills the sound, be careful and use you ears. If it's slightly over-compressed, try it with the band anyway, it might not be noticable as an artifact in the general mix, but you will gain the desired sustain.

    4.Play somewhere on the E string, one sustaining note every 2 seconds. Now set the release time so you hear a nice, constant sustain.

    You're good to go now, playing with the others will tell you how to fine tune.
    I guess nobody is anal as I am, but I also have a filtered compression procedure that results in evenly compressed strings, possible only on digital desks (or complex setup for a normal bassis), so I'll spare you the details :-D

    If your playing needs some leveling, lesser gain reduction should be used, perhaps shorter attack time, higher threshold. Hard to predict, but once you master the controls you start to have a feeling for this.

    If chaining a compressor and graphic equalizer pedals, I advice to have the compressor first on the chain for a start. Otherwise, EQ changes will affect how it reacts.. Although this might be desirable for a more advanced user who knows what he's doing and his rig.
  20. FunkHead

    FunkHead Supporting Member

    Mar 10, 2007
    Phillipsburg, NJ
    Easiest way for me is to plug the RIC into My LH1000. Jammed on Sunday with 2 loud guitarists and I never need to turn higher than 2. EQ on the Hartke Bass=8 MId=5 T=9. Everyone was happy. Both Pickups on and volume was Neck full & Bridge 8/10.