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Do boutique bass racks irritate sound engineers?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Lonnybass, Nov 7, 2005.

  1. Lonnybass

    Lonnybass Supporting Member

    Jul 19, 2000
    San Diego
    Endorsing Artist: Pedulla Basses

    I've noticed lately that some of the sound guys around town here in Chicago scowl or approach my rig with a bit of a chip on their shoulder. I run an Alembic F-1X, an Aphex parametric EQ, compressor, BBE and Stewart 2.1 along with a tuner and Furman. In other words, not your simple SWR head - even when I tell them my DI signal is pre-everything, they still insist on suggesting that whatever problem they are having at the board is because "it's probably your compressor" or "must be a problem with your EQ." Unfortunately, I think I'm being instantly judged as an overprocessed gear snob who couldn't possibly need to bring all that stuff out to play, much less know how to use any of it.

    Has anyone encountered this before? I don't know if it's an intimidation factor at work (fear of gear!) or what, but if anyone has run into this, I'd love to hear about it.

  2. Funkengrooven

    Funkengrooven Turn it down? You gotta be nuts!!

    I get that whenever I roll in with my SWR 550x and two cabinets....nevermind the Digitech S-100 in my rack.
  3. soundmen just like to complain :p
    flameworker likes this.
  4. IvanMike

    IvanMike Player Characters fear me... Supporting Member

    Nov 10, 2002
    Middletown CT, USA
    occasionally. At my height i used a rack with an alembic f1-x, alembic SF-2, dbx compressor, all plugged into a furman strip.

    i always sent a pre eq/effects loop to the house board. As long as i explained this in detail to the soundman then i usually encountered few problems. However, no matter what amp i used, i quickly learned to defer to the soundman if he insisted on using his own di, wanted to mic the amp, or what have you. I've done a fair amount of sound myself, and the really irritating bass players are the ones who insist on sending you a post eq/post effects signal. These are generally the same cats who adjust their level, eq, and compressor/effects setting all night long, which is a nightmare for a soundman.

    When i do run into a guy who starts to complain about my amp i immediately ask him if he wants to use his own direct box, and that whatever makes him comfortable is fine. Tick off or argue with a soundman, and about 80% will turn up the suck knob on your tone all night.
    Hoochie Coochie Man likes this.
  5. Happy MurphDay

    Happy MurphDay

    Mar 9, 2004
    IMO, the sound guy is just as important as a member of the band, if he turns up the suck knob, then everybody in the audience will hear the "suck" version of you

    keep that man as happy as you can even if it means that your not using your rig at the optimal scenerio
    flameworker likes this.
  6. jokerjkny


    Jan 19, 2002
    NY / NJ / PHL

    as long as i use their crappy DI, it keeps them happy. :)
  7. Lonnybass

    Lonnybass Supporting Member

    Jul 19, 2000
    San Diego
    Endorsing Artist: Pedulla Basses
    I am definitely of the feeling to keep the soundman happy - I even wrote an article on this very subject for Basslessons.com (here's a link to it: http://www.basssessions.com/dec04/allmix.html )

    I always send a pre-everything DI signal to them out of the F-1X and rarely fidget with any of the controls - and I always explain that the components are just for onstage monitoring purposes. Unfortunately, it seems like an instantaneous "what is all this stuff???" factor when the power switch turns on and all the lights blink!

  8. Since I'm currently having a soundman battle of my own, I will say that it's never a good idea to just give in and defer to one because you're afraid that they'll screw your sound in the house.

    I gave in on this gig, and the guy is making me sound lousy in the house, so the giving in really was a bad thing. I'm going to change things back to the way I want them to be onstage, and if the soundman gets on my case, so be it.

    You have to take responsibility for how your equipment sounds, and take as much responsibility for the way it sounds in the house as possible. If it means you have to get assertive with the sound engineer to make that happen, then you get assertive with them (in a polite, firm, professional way.)

    Sometimes you have to give in, but don't do it without giving it a good shot. And be sure and let the soundman know how you feel about things, if you do have to give in.
  9. getz76


    Apr 3, 2005
    Hoboken, NJ
    Agreed. Much like b*tching at a waitress before your food comes out; bad idea.
  10. I do both sides of the fence: FOH and bass player.

    When the PA provides more bass support than does the bassist, big rigs are not only useless, but also a problem.

    With full PA support, big stage rigs are useless because most FOH engineers will use the DI of their choice and mic your bass directly. That way he can create a good bass mix for the AUDIENCE (read: folks paying the bill) and not for the bassist's ego. The lesser alternative is micing the bass cab which is problematic because this creates another source of mic bleed, and does not capture the tweeter or mid-bass drivers in the bass cab. Multi-micing a bass cab purely for the bassists' ego ain't gonna happen.

    With full PA support, big stage rigs are problematic because the (kids) that play them refuse to turn down. As a FOH guy, I don't bother micing or DI'ing a kid who shows up with a 6x10 or greater. Experience tells me they will NEVER turn down, and will flood the stage with bass wash. Their out-of-phase low end conflicts with the PA bass production and it sounds bad. These bassists are their own Suck Button.

    The place for big rigs is where full PA support is not present. It is up to the bassist to bring enough speakers, wattage, compression, EQ, that would otherwise be provided by a good PA.
    Hoochie Coochie Man likes this.
  11. Mcrelly


    Jun 16, 2003
    Minnesota, USA
    I've only worked with three soundguys that were irritated with what I did. I haven't worked with more than the three!

    As far as I understand here are things they like and hate...

    Like - pre everything

    Like - their DI, less fiddling for them, less chance of needing to adjust, less chances of "noise", its something they trust.

    Like - players who DON'T keep turning themselves up and up and up!! especially their guitar if they are pre-everything.

    Hate - too loud onstage volume, because they can't control room sound if you dominate stage volume, then others crank up and shoot their job all to pieces.

    hate - constant complaints " I can't hear..." "he's too..." "this monitor is...."

    Generally dislike - Onstage amps, maybe this just goes for churches (that all I've played) again comes back to controlling the room sound/volume.

    What I've leaned to put up with.... Not clearly hearing everybody! I usually play just loud enough for me onstage, let the sound guy take care of me in the room. I DON'T play so I can hear myself ABOVE everyone, WHY SHOULD I?? I'm not deaf. I tend to mix the stage sound in my head and balance me into the sound so its even. usually this is too low for most of the band, but I'm really only conserned with myself and the drummer if I know he needs to hear me to get the song tempo etc....

    if you play too loud onstage they may just completely take you out of house sound and let your thin midrangy "bass" twang away from just your cabs.

    Or worst case you or your band may not be welcomed to play again.

    The soundguy ( at least the one I play with regularly) likes me because I "try" to listen to him and follow as much as I can stand. sometimes I tweak a little more than I should, but for the most part I'm considerate of his job as well as mine.

    My job is to PLAY the music, HIS job is to help you be heard, work with him! or you'll sound crappy to the audience.
  12. Off topic, but sorta on topic.....

    What's a good (tube) wattage and cab size for full PA support? I'm not looking for clean headroom....I'm big into vintage style overdriven bass.

    Considering most guitarists around here can't crank their 30w-50w amps as wide as they'd like, I'm thinking 100w-200w tube, and either a 2x10 or 4x10.....you know, just enough to monitor myself and provide a mic feed for the soundman.

  13. Rodent

    Rodent A Killer Pickup Lineā„¢ Commercial User

    Dec 20, 2004
    Upper Left Corner (Seattle)
    Player-Builder-Founder: Honey Badger Pickups & Regenerate Guitar Works
    What I've read so far in this thread leads me to ask the question -

    If you are sending a pre-processed signal to the FOH mix via a DI direct from your bass, and this is what the sound engineer is using for the live house mix - what's the use of having a bunch of effects in your rack and in the signal chain of your on-stage amp? (I am not asking for a flame war on this, but instead am looking for solid info ... please, no flaming!) I mean if I am the only one hearing all my effects, why spend the money on them when nobody else will hear them and how they are incorporated into the context of my playing?

    All the best,

    rugrat likes this.
  14. Doug Parent

    Doug Parent

    May 31, 2004
    San Diego, Ca.
    Dealer Nordstrand Pickups.
    Bravo. My additional thoughts are as such:
    1. Anyone is capable of selecting a WRONG TARGET in a difficult situation. Having his OWN confusions or areas where he's not competent, a soundman (or anyone) can sometimes choose other areas as the obvious "source" of his own difficulty. Its the sign of a rational man who finds the REAL reasons WHy things go wrong in the midst of a confusion.

    2. By being a stable terminal and holding your position, and helping the soundman find the REAL reason for some problem, you may help him with some ongoing situation he has had that he never cracked. Imagine the good that would do for him and many musicans after you!

    "Giving in" can just be viewed as being "reasonable" and end up not improving the scene at all. But it dosent also give one license to offend or be abusive in one demeanor either.

    (a person in anger usually selects the wrong target-YOU!)

    Peaceful but persistent rational calm communication usually acts as a universal solvent in most difficult situations.

  15. Hawkeye

    Hawkeye Canuck Amateur

    This is a good question.
    I would guess then that they all have to be Pre-pre (before the preamp's input) so that the "unaffected" pre-EQ/pre-FX DI send can still pick up your FX.
  16. Mickey Shane

    Mickey Shane what goes here?

    Feb 23, 2003
    Denton, Texas
    Sound guys get a post-pre out from my amp. There are tubes in my pre-amp, and that is how I want my bass to sound in the subs. I don't use effects, and I listen to them when they tell me how loud to play on stage.

    I also record two tracks of the whole live show. One is a mic fairly close to where the desk is sitting. The other is a line out of the desk for the mains signal. That way I can listen to the soundman's mix the next day. It's fun! You tell him that you want a recording of the show. Then you set a mic up close to where he's sitting. All of a sudden he realizes that all of the musicians in the band are going to listen to CDs of his mix.

    We've had some really good live mixes lately.
    rugrat likes this.

  17. Haha....I'll have to try that one sometime.
  18. prockenklang


    May 22, 2003
    I send three DI's to the FOH.One straight DI,and two for my effects in stereo!

  19. same here, i also do FOH and play bass. I do DI big bass rigs, but only to make the bassist feel good; the fader stays all the way down in 80% of these situations. And the reason is the same as with you: phase issues. I bet a lot of soundmen do this.
  20. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    I've seen what soundment have to deal with sometimes: vocalists or guitarists (typically) who walk around with wireless units and say "Give me a little bump at 2kHz. Ok, now a little 80Hz. Wait, that's too much". Etc.

    So, it's likely some soundmen do assume that a musician with a knobby rig is going to be a control freak obsessed with getting "his tone". Fortunately most of the soundmen I've worked with have been great, and I'm always willing to work with them (as is everyone here, I'm sure). If they provide DI, I'll always use it. That gives them the most peace of mind.

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