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first gig questions

Discussion in 'Live Sound [BG]' started by dlstyley, Oct 3, 2009.

  1. dlstyley


    Aug 30, 2009
    South Texas
    I'm pretty new to the board, and very new to gigging. We played our first real gig (technically our second, but the first where people paid money to get in) with an all original band I've been playing with for about 6 months.

    Our first gig was a small cd release party. We set ourselves up in a small room the day before, got our levels right, played our entire set through once as practice, and then had a great show. We thought we sounded good, and got lots of compliments from the crowd of about 80 people. These were all friends, so we have to take their feedback with a grain of salt, but I'm pretty sure it was "good".

    Our second gig was outdoors for about 200 ppl. We were standing on a narrow flatbed trailer that had wood planks for a floor. We tried to get a sound check early in the day, but we were the middle band so all we got was about 60 seconds of "sound check" before we hit the downbeat. At that instant, I realized everything just sounded like mud. I felt like a deer in headlights. We plowed through it. The sound guy came up behind the trailer and asked if I needed anything. I didn't even know where to start (plus I'm not very good and doing two things at once - like playing and talking) so I just smiled and plowed forward. When it was over, we were all in shock. People did cheer between songs (possibly just friends planted in the audience) and we got a good bit of positive feedback, but we sure felt like we muffed it.

    Anway, I'm looking for feedback on how to make sure this doesn't happen again (or maybe I just need to expect it will?) My rig is a 300W head with a 1x15 and 2x10, but I was DI to the board and no mic. We had monitors in front of us, but I'm not really sure if I had bass in the mix or if I was just hearing my cabinet... again - it just sounded like mud.

    I think where we went wrong was during sound check. I played just long enough for the sound guy to check my level and did not pay attention to what was coming through the monitor. I

    Interestingly, the next band was fairly big name - clearly a professional with lots of experience. After the first song he walked up to the mic and said "can YOU guys hear us, cause we sure can't." They sounded great, so that gave me a little more comfort...

    Do I just need to mentally prepare for this, or is there something else I can do?
  2. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Assuming that your stage volume wasn't ridiculous, you were probably fine. In your situation, the best thing to do is to set your stuff up as you normally do and hope for the best. Once you get a little more used to playing gigs and get a little more sophistication about yourselves on bigger stages, it will get easier.
  3. kalle74


    Aug 27, 2004
    Yes, with 60 second line-checks it´s always a gamble.

    But remember:

    Some stages sound horrible, no matter what you do. But your gig was outdoors, where you´ll have much less problems at the audience side (due to lack of sound bouncing off walls and such). With a (hopefully) capable FOH guy and a nice PA, you probably sounded good...
  4. dlstyley


    Aug 30, 2009
    South Texas
    I don't think the stage volume was too bad. At least not on my end with the drummer since his kit and my rig were both used by all three bands (not sure how the middle band ended up supplying the gear). I didn't touch a thing when I got on stage so I have to believe we were OK there. I'm not sure what was going on at the other end (keyboards, lead singer, and guitarist). I just looked over every once in while to make sure they were still playing...

    The other bands sounded fine, so I guess it's safe to assume we did too.

    The real challenge for me was that I'm used to using my ear to give the song some feel. In this case, I just felt like I had to switch to "autopilot" and hope for the best. It's hard to know if you are getting people moving and grooving and giving some dynamics when you feel like you are playing like a robot and blinded by stage lights.

    Should I even bother to try to get better monitoring or do you just "go with it" in these situations? Or do you just rely on your cabinet for monitoring yourself and ignore the monitor? That was the first time we've had monitors so I'm thinking that was a key issue that we need to understand better. The scary thing is that the rest of the band looks to me as the "techie". I have a good bit of experience in controlled situations (garages, studios, recording, etc) but this live thing is a whole new world.
  5. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    I listen to my cab. I hate to hear monitors with just bass in them. Sounds like a banjo. Other people like to hear themselves in the monitor. That's up to you, but most monitors do a crap job of reproducing bass so I never bother. The main thing is hearing your vocals out of the monitors. In situations like that it's always tough to get them perfect, but it's not out of line to request a little more as long as they're not on the verge of feedback. Just be polite about it and don't do it on the mic and most companies will work with you a little.
  6. bigdaddy1965


    Aug 27, 2007
    Memphis, Tn. USA
    Endorsing Artist: Hartke Bass Amps
    Congrats on what may be the first of many to come. First off, you were lucky you got 60 seconds of a sound check. HAHAHA Most don't get that. I like the auto pilot thing. Just breathe, smile and do your job. Feed off of the reaction of the crowd. You will find that it pretty much will sound like crap on stage , but, most of the time it sounds great out front. Keep on keeping on.
  7. bassman10096


    Jul 30, 2004
    Wiser words never spoken... First - Unfortunately, stage sound does not equal audience sound. You can't really hear what the audience does, and usually the stage gets the worst of tone, balance, etc. You can get a little gut check if you throw an ultra long cable in your bag and go as far out front as it will reach during your check (if this is practical). Lastly, don't let your worries about sound make you such a head case that it takes your enjoyment away. You are going to be unsure of your sound a lot and on a few occasions, things won't go well. You've got to roll with those punches. I play with a guitarist/vocalist who is so paranoid about "sounding bad" that it really hurts his performance. The rest of us have learned to let it all hang out, and he's begun to loosen up (which improves his vocals greatly - his guitar may be beyond reach LOL). Good luck and have fun. ;)
  8. D.E.C.


    Mar 20, 2006
    I agree that many stages sound like s**t. I've played many gigs that I thought were absolutely horrible, only to be told it's "the best we've ever sounded". I am also not a fan of my bass thru the monitors. Just stay true to the setup you are satisfied with. You are likely not gonna fix anything you perceive as a problem by totally reconfiguring your knobs. You'll get used to the stage sound. The main thing is to have fun. Crowds are more receptive to bands who actually enjoy performing. You can also use the crowd as a barometer...If they have contorted, mortified looks on their faces (or run for the exits), THEN you may have a problem with what's coming out of the PA...LOL!!
  9. Revvv


    Oct 31, 2007
    The last outdoor show I played was terrible. Well, for those on stage anyway. It was a festival with 8 bands playing all day. No one had a soundcheck. Things were tweaked as the first song was played.

    I couldn't hear my drummer at all, and I could barely hear the guitarist and vocalists. They could hear me though. For some reason the bass was resonating throughout the stage. I would have been happy to have had mud. We played a 45 min set in the worst conditions possible in terms of sound.

    We were supplied with a Yorkville PA and a soundguy that could care less about the stage. It didn't matter what we told the guy, he ignored us and did his thing. The sound guy we had is a musician himself, a bassist, and has played thousands of shows. Why he wouldn't listen is a mystery.

    Guess what? I listened to the video after the show and we were all in time, and the FOH rocked. It couldn't have sounded better. We were sure it sucked. I'm glad it didn't.
  10. dlstyley


    Aug 30, 2009
    South Texas
    After starting this thread, I did some reading through previous threads (yes... I should have done that first...sorry). It's somewhat surprising to me what a recurring theme this is. I'm certainly not qualified to create a "sticky", but maybe some veterans could share their experiences with common live sound problems and how to deal with them. I wish we could go back and try that exact setup again and figure it out. It would be quite a learning experience.

    After a lot of reading, discussion, and thought, here are my theories/thoughts on our really crappy on-stage sound:

    1) Keyboard was using a "heavy left hand" which was interfering with the bass space. That contributed to a confusing low frequency sonic space. To fix this, I'm going to ask her to take some of the bass our of her amp.

    2) I think we need a "sound check song" that will let us jam a bit before our first real number. I have serious issues with being able to talk and play at the same time, but if we had some simple jam to play to start, I think it would make things easier to give feedback to the sound guy. Does anyone else use this strategy?

    3) I learned that my Master volume on my amp operates independently from the DI. That's great news, because next time I can try turning down/up and see if that helps. At least it's something to try....
  11. fun read I must say (this thread)! takes me back about 10-11 years ago when we first started gigging... I remember all the same probs like it was yesterday, and I have to admit I'm smiling from ear to ear right now cause it's just cool to know that this "live music" thing continues on year after year, decade after decade, and generation after generation... some of the probs are fixable with experience, while others are not (and will continue to come up from time to time)...

    alright, on to topic: definitely have the sound guy take your signal right off of your guitar (thru DI). that way you can feel your way around the stage volume game without hurting the FOH (as long as you don't crank to 10 on stage of course).. but you can do some tweaking here and there with volume, EQ, and tones until you get a sound that you're comfortable with... It is hard to "jam" when you are worried about your bass sound, or lack there of... once you get more experience, you can get fancier with your FOH signal, but for now just give the FOH a nice basic bass signal that's not too hot and let him do the rest...

    and yes, have the keys player turn down the low end a little so you both aren't fighting frequencies all set long... that will help both of you hear better..

    all in all, the other folks are dead on! get your stage volume right (not too loud), make sure no one has any "sore thumb" frequencies that are resonating, and trust your FOH mix to do their job!!

    and keep at it dude! good times!!

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