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Drums in the Monitors

Discussion in 'Live Sound [BG]' started by Big Benner, Aug 27, 2017.

  1. Hey All,

    We played a gig last week at a fairly big club with great PA and great monitor set up (powered 12" + Horn) and lots of them on separate channels.

    During Sound check, the sound man started with the drums, got good sounds and then asked what the drummer what he wanted in the Monitors = he said: "lots of kick, snare, a little bass, some guitars and a smidge of vocals". By the time he was done his drum stage volume was super, super loud & boomy.

    We then went to bass & I asked for a smidge of vocals in my monitor. Next Guitars, Keys & Vocals and everyone started to add & add and next thing you know we've got this screaming stage volume monitor mix!!

    I made the complaint and said why don't we pull things out of the monitors and just have vocals and everyone especially the drummer really didn't like the idea and wanted to really "Rock Out" as we don't get to play this club vary often with the monitors to do it.

    I've never had my MarkBass 2x10" combo that loud and because it was just an added stage monitor (DI Out Pre EQ) I started pulling out the bass and bumping up the mids so that I could hear the Pitch of my bass let alone the tone or timing after I put in my ear plugs. I know the two singers were having a hard time because they kept plugging their one ear to hear themselves better and after asking a few times to be turned up we started to get feed back on the vocal monitors.

    So, after that long story, the question: "What do your drummers ask for in the monitors"?

    When it's a big stage (20ft wide x 10ft deep for example), are there any drums in any of the monitors?

    Thanks all,


    Attached Files:

  2. smeet

    smeet Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 27, 2006
    Woodland Hills, CA
    That sounds horrible, sorry you had to endure it. Our drummer (and the rest of the band too actually) wants enough vocals that he can hear where he is in the song, and so he can sing his harmonies in tune. Depending on stage setup, he may also want enough bass so we can lock in. Other than that, we usually put as little as possible in the monitors. On a big stage, if you can't hear the attack of the drums, some high passed kick and snare might be good to outline the rhythm. A bit of guitar to hear the harmony. But in general, we try to play like we're in the practice room, as close to "acoustic" as possible.

    If your drummer can't "rock out" without all that boom... it sounds like a lack of experience, or maybe just musical immaturity.
    pigpen1 likes this.
  3. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

    with full PA/monitor rig available: i often ask for some kik in my monitor. the horns on the other end of the stage might (in a blue moon) ask for some bass in their monitor(s). vocalists/horns in every monitor (to one extent or the other). that's typical, IME.

    IMO: your drummer wanted 15 minutes of glory at the expense of the band delivering. the FOH or the monitor man could have (should have!) stopped the nonsense. you were right, they were in 'awe' of themselves.
  4. filmtex


    May 29, 2011
    Most of the drummers I work with like- in this order- vocals, bass, a little kick. Sometimes guitar, if its a big stage; but mostly get that from the back of the (open back) amps. And I usually put my bass rig back by the drummers , generally splitting the difference between us, but you knew that! I rarely put any drums in my monitor and just position myself so I can hear the snare.
    shoot-r and kap'n kro like this.
  5. That's one of the things I hate about big outdoor stages with my current band.

    Drummer gets too much kick in his monitor, soundman doesn't take any of the sub-harmonic content out, I have to turn up the bass louder than I want, keyboardist starts saying he can't hear over the bass...................


    I like some kick on stage but when there are big subs out front pumping out the bass drum, cut the sub frequencies out on the stage mix!
    1Drop and shoot-r like this.
  6. RustyAxe


    Jul 8, 2008
    Vocals. If the drummer can't hear himself on stage, then he's deaf, and ought to take up macrame or anything other than the drums.
    Ben B and delta7fred like this.
  7. Grumry


    Jul 6, 2016
    Less is more. Some don't get it.
    DirtDog likes this.
  8. If the drummer can't hear his own kit over the rest of you....
    SoCal80s likes this.
  9. xroads


    Nov 6, 2012
    Our drummer usually wants some kickdrum in his monitor, and vocals and guitars (the guitars play direct into the board, there are no guitar amps on stage).
    The kick in his monitor has never ever bothered us, as it is not loud at all.

    My opinion: you should have a serious talk with your drummer....
  10. I missed this.

    The other possibility is the band is way too loud, or a combination of both partial deafness and a deafening band.
  11. I truly believe that it's not the rest of the band that's too loud mainly because of the gear that we're using on stage - guitar, guitar & keys all have 1x12" solid state amps and I'm using my single MarkBass 2x10" combo (without the 2x10" extension cab).

    I've been thinking about this for a couple of days and I think what I'll suggest next time is that we only use vocals in the monitors for the first Sound Check song - then suggest the drummer ask for more of whatever.

    That way I can get the rest of the band to hear what we're sounding like with low stage volume - once the drummer asks to add stuff and the vocals start having a hard time hearing themselves they might be more on my side to get back to the vocals only way of doing it.

    Thanks for all the replies peeps,

  12. Xandrell


    Aug 23, 2014
    Exactly, I'm a drummer and never have any drums in the my monitor. The others can have drums in their's but I'll never understand a drummer needing his own drums in his own monitor. You can feel the drums for crying out loud.
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2017
    SoCal80s likes this.
  13. JohnMCA72


    Feb 4, 2009
    Just because you can put a lot of everything into a lot of different monitor mixes, doesn't necessarily mean you should. It can be very tempting to try to use as much of the resources available as you possibly can. You've seen what can happen, though.

    I always try to set up a monitor mix with just vocals & unamplified non-drum instruments at a basic level, then start tweaking after the band has played a song or 2 & they've had a chance to find out what they might need more or less of. What might seem like a good idea in isolation (ie. just 1 drum, etc.) doesn't always work out so well when the other instruments & vocals are brought in. Starting out small (i.e. a small mix) & adding things as needed makes it fairly easy to keep things under control. Starting out large (i.e. everything but the kitchen sink in the mix) can mean you're starting out with a big mess to try to sort out.
    craigie and Tim Skaggs like this.
  14. skwee


    Apr 2, 2010
    They get vocals, keys, and guitars in their monitors. My amp is already next to, and aimed toward them. They have to sit behind a plexiglass shield.

    And that's all they get. 20x10 isn't big enough to get themselves in a monitor.
  15. Ben B

    Ben B

    Jul 13, 2006
    San Diego, CA
    This. In all my years of playing, I've never had an issue hearing a drummer. And I've never heard a bandmate--not even once--ask the drummer to bring up his volume because they couldn't hear the drums. Unless the drummer uses electronic drums or the guitarist is pointing a Marshall stack directly at his head, there's no way a drummer needs to hear drums in the monitors. The rest of the band generally doesn't need drums in the monitors either--the only exception might be a national touring act on a big stage like Kiss where the drummer is on top of a 10 foot platform.

    I've also never needed electric guitar nor bass in the monitors. I only need vocal, keyboard, and acoustic instruments in the wedges.
    DirtDog likes this.
  16. drummer5359

    drummer5359 Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 10, 2011
    Pittsburgh PA USA
    Behind my drum set I ask for vocals, a little guitar and some synth in my moitor. I can hear the drums and bass fine on stage, I don't need any more.
  17. kittywithabanjo

    kittywithabanjo Supporting Member

    Nov 26, 2014
    Coquitlam. BC
    Vocals and guitar in usually right up close to home. Since our Drummer sings he has now gone in ears and I picked up a p16_m to work with my X32 producer so he can mix his own.
  18. derrico1

    derrico1 Supporting Member

    Apr 12, 2005
    Charlottesville, VA
    Unless you're on big stages, if your drummer always wants more of the drum kit in the monitor, think about getting him on IEMs. That way, he can get the mix that makes him comfortable without throwing the stage volume out of balance and putting even more drum spill into the vocal mics.

    Worked with a drummer some years ago who played with a moderate touch but wanted cranked drums in his monitor because he was wearing serious earplugs to protect his hearing (!). Swapped the earplugs out for IEMs and gave him his own split, and we were all much happier.
    s0c9 likes this.
  19. s0c9

    s0c9 Supporting Member

    Jan 9, 2014
    1964 Audio artist, Fractal Audio Beta Tester
    Most drummers I've played with over the past 5 years (including a few former "pros") are on IEM'S.
    Unless you play 4 times a year there's really no reason to NOT be IEM with the price of digital gear these days.
    The improvement is noticeable, so are stage volumes.
  20. Tim Skaggs

    Tim Skaggs

    Sep 28, 2002
    If a drummer can't hear the drums he or she is beating on, there's a problem. I like a little kick drum in my monitor, but not a lot. It sounds like to me your drummer doesn't like the acoustic tone of his / her own drums and wants the mic'd tone.

    Another thing; monitors are primarily for vocals for the very reason that, most of the time, everything else on stage is either already amplified on stage or acoustically loud. Anything not amplified on stage or not acoustically loud can join a monitor mix, but drums should be way down the list....

    A good sound person should guide a band with that knowledge in mind.
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2017

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