EQ problem? Amp/cab sim? volume?

Discussion in 'Live Sound [BG]' started by LowDownHawkeye, Jun 16, 2019.

  1. Problem overview: BL says he can't hear the bass when everyone is playing. Sound guy and I can't seem to find an acceptable solution.

    Sorry for the long post, but here's the relevant details followed by my opinions and my question:
    * Church band, playing on large, carpeted, raised stage facing a gym with chairs and side curtains.
    * Everyone has their own Aviom so can get their own individual mix through their own monitor.
    * Usually a Carvin PB5 (sometimes JB5). My PB5 has PJ pickups. I tend to play 98% P pickup on most songs, and roll off treble a small amount.
    * I play through a Line 6 POD HD500 to sound board.
    * Noise gate, volume pedal, sometimes chorus, GK800 with 4x10 cab sim. Used to use a compressor but couldn't find a clean tone with it, so usually disabled.
    * Drive at 7%, bass at about 32%, low mids at 75%, high mids about 75%, highs about 40%.
    * I use IEMs. Everyone else uses wedge monitors except one of our drummers. I've made it clear that I have had tinnitus since I've been young, and I'm not willing to lose more of my hearing by playing with a wedge.
    * We have decent FOH support, including subs. Don't know model, drivers, or wattage but could find out.
    * BL sings and plays guitar. When playing electric, prefers to play through a tube 2x12 combo by Fender or Peavey, miked.
    * BL knows stage volume is a problem, but likes to play *loud.* My opinion/understanding as to why: to get the tone (timbre for you pedants), and because he likes to feel the air moving/vibrations.
    * BL is completely unwilling to use IEMs himself. He sometimes talks about putting his amp in the back room, and using electronic drums to control stage volume. Not sure I really believe he's willing to put his amp in the back room, but I think he's more than willing to "blame" the drums for the stage volume (since I sometimes play drums with this group too).
    * Other bass player will only play through an Ampeg BA210 that (IMO) ends up sounding like mud on stage.
    * Our best sound guy (of 3) likes the approach I'm using (no amp on stage, IEMs) but not sure the other two are as knowledgeable/capable.

    When the BL has his guitar amp cranked, and we're playing parts with guitar (maybe 2), drums, bass, and keys plus singers, he's complaining about not being able to hear the bass. I thought we had this problem licked a few weeks ago, when our best sound guy and I convinced the BL that we need the subs on so that he can *feel* (not necessarily hear) the low frequency vibrations. But it raised its ugly head again this week, even with the subs on. BL had his amp cranked even louder than usual (IMO). This morning he tried to solve the problem by "stealing" a wedge monitor from the rhythm guitar station (who wasn't there today), configuring that Aviom only to play the bass signal, and pointing it at him. Even then, I'm pretty sure he wasn't happy with it.

    My take is that he is 1) listening with his eyes because I'm using the Line 6 pedal and I know he's got a problem with digital pedals (though I gather he's also wanted me to try some simpler digital bass pedal that the church owns), and 2) not happy with the particular amp sim (GK800) that I have been using, and 3) a little bit deaf from having played for 25+ years in classic rock/heavy metal bands, and 4) a little bit deaf from liking to play *loud.*

    I'm sending a strong signal to the sound board, with mids emphasized as described above. It has highs rolled off to try to control any fret clank, because I feel like I'm having to play so *hard* to please the BL that I end up clanking frets rather than relying on the pedal/FOH do the amplification. I know I could provide an even stronger signal to the board: disable amp/cab sim and get a tone that's less warm, or just increase volume in a couple of ways, but I figure the sound guy should adjust the trim at the board to get the same effect. I also assume that the solution is *not* to add more volume by adding more bass in monitors, but to do a better job emphasizing/de-emphasizing frequencies that will help him "hear" the bass. I also don't think that using the church's bass pedal (not sure make/model) is any different from using the bass amp/cab sims in the HD500.

    OK, anyone have any reasonable, actionable suggestions about what I can change to make myself more "visible" in the mix? Again, this is a person who is *not* willing to use IEMs, will only listen to the one sound guy (not me), and likes to play loud to get his tone.
  2. Stumbo

    Stumbo Guest

    Feb 11, 2008
    As a test play a song(@soundcheck) without the BL. I mean, he's there and everything, just not playing. Get everything mixed so he can hear you just right.

    Then add him in and let him hear how he's screwing up the stage volume.

    After that, refer him to the sound people.

    Also, the sound people should put a HPF in his signal chain and high pass him around 120-150hz. Seems to me his bass tone is stepping on yours.

    Are there recordings that demonstrate how he screws up the FOH mix?

    Or maybe get him one of those butt kicker deals that would allow him to feel the bass w/o adding volume.

    Or get someone in authority to tell him to turn down or put his amp in a sound box since the PA handles everything.
    LowDownHawkeye likes this.
  3. Stumbo

    Stumbo Guest

    Feb 11, 2008
    Put his amp in a sound box so he can turn it up to 11 and not pollute the stage volume.

    Hasn't he heard of an attenuator or sound brake or whatever they are called?
    LowDownHawkeye likes this.
  4. The idea of “in the back room” is similar to “in a sound box.” But that goes back to the “gotta feel it” argument that I interpret as having to feel the vibrations, which he wouldn’t get if he’s got his amp in a sound box, the back room, or using IEMs.

    Thanks @Stumbo for the suggestions. Will have to enlist the good sound guy to help again. I forgot to mention in my original treatise that BL just got a new telecaster and I think that contributed to the over-the-top volume this week.
  5. Wasnex


    Dec 25, 2011
    This is not your problem to fix. IMHO Music for church service should not be played at rave levels.
    It seems to me you have your priorities straight and the BL is on a power trip trying to live out his rock fantasies. I think you see this.

    What do the church elders think about this? IMHO the solution is to get another BL as he is the obvious problem. If the BL continues as just a guitarist, the new BL will need to tell him to turn down to a reasonable volume.

    You shouldn't over play to the point of fretting out notes. The only way to satisfy the BL is more volume and that is most likely not an appropriate solution. If the problem is the monitors are not capable of producing low enough frequencies. Put the bass amp next to the guitar player and have the audio techs patch it into the system. But as you have noted, this will degrade the quality of the sound out in the worship hall...so it might satisfy the BL but it's not a good solution.

    IMHO if the problem cannot be resolved satisfactorily, consider letting the church elders know you are thinking about leaving the band and being candid with them.
    LowDownHawkeye and Geri O like this.
  6. Geri O

    Geri O Endorsing Artist, Mike Lull Guitars and Basses Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 6, 2013
    Florence, MS
    With a lot of church band experience (and my church's band and production crew do it right, thankfully), @Wasnex nailed it for you. I'll never question a leader's faith or intentions in a church band, but the priorities will give you clues about where things are and are going. You'll have to make a decision accordingly.
    Wasnex and LowDownHawkeye like this.
  7. Thanks for the response. We tried pointing a bass amp at him. I split the signal chain within the HD500 so that the amp/cab sim part was sent via XLR to FOH, and 1/4” out to an Ampeg BA210 aimed at him. (This was before we established that the subs need to be on, even in rehearsal, if he’s going to feel the bass frequencies.) All it did was make things muddy and raise stage volume.

    As far as going to the elders: I should have been more clear in the OP that the guy is my friend. I also know I’m far more replaceable than he is, and that our church’s leadership (elders, pastor, or music director) wouldn’t get involved in this situation even if I did try to make some sort of complaint.

    Yes, I’m frustrated by the situation but I’m trying to figure out if there’s something I can do that I haven’t thought of that will let us “have our cake and eat it too.” Something that would help me cut through the mix more without increasing stage volume. Maybe using my PJ5 (or favoring the J pickup on the PB5 instead of the P pickup)?
  8. Geri O

    Geri O Endorsing Artist, Mike Lull Guitars and Basses Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 6, 2013
    Florence, MS
    With all due respect....:D

    The more you write about the situation, the less of an amicable outcome I foresee. With bass, cutting through the mix more seldom comes without a considerable level increase. And if pointing an amplifier at him didn't work, you are on thin ice. You can keep playing in that situation and tell your friend that it's time for him to come up with a solution. Perhaps he will learn to deal with what he's hearing. You can get into a pro/con debate with him about using in-ear monitors, but that always starts a battle around here that I absolutely will have no part of. I use them. The end.

    Everyone needs to learn the fine art of playing with the hand we are dealt, not the hand we wish we had.

    And I'm sensing, perhaps wrongly, that you are getting maybe a little frustrated because you aren't getting the answer you were hoping for. This is where I wish you blessings and the best of luck and bid you adieu. I hope you and your friend get it worked out.
    Wasnex likes this.
  9. Stumbo

    Stumbo Guest

    Feb 11, 2008
    Seems like he's not really being a "friend" to you. He's putting his unreasonable demands above your friendship. I mean, you pointed a fricken bass rig at him and he's still can't "hear" you?

    Guitar players and DJs that play too loud, IME, are partially deaf and adjust their amps accordingly. Yeah...they need to "feel" the sound because they can't hear it.:(

    Re: elders? Why wouldn't the MD get involved? Does it sound good FOH? As far as a complaint, let them know you're quitting and why. Maybe they don't need a bass player!

    Oh, is your keyboard player also playing bass lines? That's another problem that maybe interfering with your stage volume.
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2019
    dralionux, LowDownHawkeye and Wasnex like this.
  10. pcake

    pcake Supporting Member

    Sep 20, 2011
    Los Angeleez
    why not get him an amp stand that points his amp up toward his ears more? then he may not want to turn up as loud.
    LowDownHawkeye likes this.
  11. Wasnex


    Dec 25, 2011
    I am still of the opinion that you are doing exactly what you should be and the BL is 100% the source of the problem. The problem has nothing to do with you and if the BL is harassing you about it, he is not your friend. IMHO it is up to the BL and the audio techs to work out a solution, and the solution should not involve you playing so hard that you get an inappropriate tone. If they proposed this, it's just plain ignorant.

    Since you mentioned the speaker sim, you could ditch that so the sound is brighter and see if it helps any. I personally play with a very bright sound on stage so I can hear myself better, but suspect that is not the problem here. You could also try fresh round wound strings.

    I am normally a fairly diplomatic person, but I would not tolerate significant ongoing harassment about this issue. It appears that you have gone out of your way to try and develop a solution, when it should not be your responsibility. If I were in this situation and things got out of hand, I would draw a line and tell the BL that he needs to fix his own problem, and make it clear that further harassment is not going to be tolerated. If the harassment continued, I would give notice that I would be stepping down. All of this should be done in a firm but diplomatic way.

    I would not hesitate to discuss matters with the Musical Director or Church Elders. They have a right to know what's going on under their roof. Maybe they won't do anything this time, but if the BD continues to act like a megalomaniac, they probably will eventually. If not, they have no business running a church.
    dralionux, LowDownHawkeye and pcake like this.
  12. He’s got his combo angled up at his head. It leans back on a stand or even further back on a makeshift stand consisting of an old, currently non-functional Fender amp head. Wedge monitor angled up at the other side.
    Wasnex likes this.
  13. I’m making this sound like a hot mess. I guess maybe it is. Our music director is over music as a whole at the church, but the BL is over music at the contemporary service, has his own budget, etc, so it is almost like there’s two music directors.

    Re: Keys-our regular keys player who was awesome at this style music developed some health problems well over a year ago. The person who has been playing with us since is classically trained, with no rock or pop background, and she definitely plays with a heavy left hand. But in this case, the complaint came during our Sunday morning rehearsal and keys wasn’t there yet.

    Just to round it out, drummer from Sunday is a very heavy hitter.
  14. Stumbo

    Stumbo Guest

    Feb 11, 2008
    Without discussing religion, how does the faith of the church support having this type person being a "band leader"?
    dralionux and LowDownHawkeye like this.
  15. @Wasnex, thanks for the suggestion to turn off the cab sim. I have played using that chain before (no amp or can) and remember it to be brighter. I can use EQ on the bass to emphasize mids, or maybe the pedal still works for that. Do you recommend just disabling the cab sim or both the amp sim and cab sim?
  16. Stumbo

    Stumbo Guest

    Feb 11, 2008
    So you have a very loud drummer and guitar player? Sounds like most of the band management threads on TB.

    A full drummer's shield and turning down the guitar amp or putting the amp in a sound box are the only real solutions that I've seen that work.
    LowDownHawkeye likes this.
  17. Agreed. Reading about these situations over the past 5 or 6 years has helped me be (hopefully) a more thoughtful drummer when I'm playing drums with this group, and (hopefully) a more thoughtful bass player.
    Stumbo likes this.
  18. Stumbo

    Stumbo Guest

    Feb 11, 2008
    Yeah...but being more thoughtful hasn't solved the BL's problem. Hey, that's the solution. Have him work with the sound engineer and leave you out of it.

    Just let him know that he's harshing your Sunday morning devotions and lay off.
    LowDownHawkeye likes this.
  19. Wasnex


    Dec 25, 2011
    It's a matter of experimenting and seeing what works. Ultimately the BL may be pleased with the sound, but you may hate what you hear through your IEMs. There may be a technical work around if it comes to that.

    I would suggest discussing the problem and listening to recordings with the BL, so you can figure out exactly what he expects to hear. The cab and amp SIMs may have nothing to do with the problem. Many people just prefer to hear overly hyped bass, and I think that is what is going on here. If this is the problems, the only solution is overly hyped bass...good for the BL but it will degrade the worship service
    LowDownHawkeye likes this.
  20. basso_profundo


    Mar 12, 2012
    Denver, CO
    I agree with Wasnex - it doesn't matter what your EQ going into the board is, this isn't your problem. The whole point of a personal mixer is that everyone gets to tailor their own mix. I'm not a sound engineer, but maybe he should get a mixer with more fine grain control over each channel's EQ?
    LowDownHawkeye likes this.