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From The Bar To the Venue...

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by roadkillrage, Sep 2, 2008.

  1. roadkillrage


    Dec 30, 2006
    my band has comfortably playing local clubs/bars and never had any issues with sounds or anything, but when we made a jaunt up north to an actual "venue" set up, with multiple sound guys and "105-109 SPL:eyebrow:," my bass tone seemed to be a big point of contention for the main sound guy. he was very vague about everything.

    he sent an extremely long message to us the next day and it included this:
    "your Bass Sound is over processed and doesn’t carry the bottom in your music."

    granted i like the tone a little hot and i was pushing the treble hard, but for ****'s sake it's an ampeg 810 with a svt-350 head and when it rumbles really loud the natural distortion for me is wonderful. anywhere else we play it usually crushes face, stage volume usually a little over half up. he had us put the stage volume at like 2 or 3 and it just didn't sound the same and in my inexperience i'm not sure how to compensate.

    btw. i searched for this so if i missed something feel free to link me!
  2. RickenBoogie


    Jul 22, 2007
    Dallas, TX
    I'm not sure I have a real answer, but at a venue with pro sound, the soundguy is god, and you might be better off going along with him.
  3. Tim1


    Sep 9, 2005
    New Zealand
    Try not to take it personally, and be grateful/impressed that the sound guy actually went to the trouble of sending you the advice. In its own way it is a backhanded compliment - he is going above and beyond the call of duty and sounds very professional.
  4. heath_r_91


    Jun 3, 2006
    Topeka Area, Kansas
    I believe thats the difference between being a weekend hobbyist and being a musician, knowing when to cooperate.

    A lot of bar sound guys aren't exactly... shall we say... they aren't cream of the crop.

    If you are dealing with a guy at a large venue, chances are he knows a little about what he's saying. Also, high stage volumes = bad.

    If you want distortion-type sounds, try out a lot of pedals, it wont be the same but it will be closer.

    Maybe try to talk with him more to come to a compromise, but I don't blame him for wanting you to be quieter, and I think most here would agree with that.
  5. alembicguy

    alembicguy I operate the worlds largest heavey equipment Supporting Member

    Jan 28, 2007
    Next time set your amp up as a side fill and let him take a pre DI line off your amp That way you keep your tone and he can EQ your bass DI all he wants.When you get into bigger venues with full production you will have to be as flexible as the gig requires.Ive seen FOH guys make sure bands dont get hired back to certain venues because of them being to much work to mix or whatever but the FOH guys sometimes carry alot of weight with who comes back thru the door to perform and who doesnt.
  6. 77PBass

    77PBass Banned

    Dec 5, 2007
    "the soundguy is god"??

    Is the converse of that "the artist is a p.o.s."?

    Without knowing the size of the stage/venue/pa...I do know an svt 350/8x10 rig can generate spl.... however, being the artist, you should be able to "get your sound" onstage with minimal interference from foh.

    I have watched sound guys pummel my drummer for playing a vintage ludwig drum set without a pillow in the bass drum...he gets a very lively Elvin Jones type sound...I don't get it. Who is working for who?

    Now if we are talking about stage volumes that overwhelm the foh pa...that's a different story...but judging from a statement "the soundguy is god", then we will all be going direct through Sanamp and using in ear monitoring....how much fun is that?
  7. 62bass


    Apr 3, 2005
    You probably were playing too loud on stage. That really completely ruins the sound through the P.A. All that sound leaks into the vocal mics first off, and there's no way to get rid of it. So there goes your vocals. The bass leakes into mics too and can cause a rumble in the room that shouldn't be there. Sometimes the bass is so loud there's no point in the sound guy even putting you in the PA so your bass sound where the audience hears it is just a big indistinct roar, completely unlike what you might be hearing on stage.

    Then you add a bunch of effects and things really go downhill.

    I've heard a lot of bar bands play large gigs with a real sound man and a good PA. Most of them sound terrible for the above reasons.

    When I was young I thought it didn't sound good unless the bass was fat and juicy and flapping my pant legs. That may be okay in a small room with no PA support needed for the band. It doesn't work in a big room with everything going through the PA. I also used to think I couldn't play at a lower volume. It just took experience to change my habits.

    That's why I laugh when I see the young guys just starting out buying a 1000 watt amp and a rack full of effects and a huge stack of speakers. It's very rarely needed. And their bass gods they see playing live in large concerts may have a rig like that on stage but the sound out front is coming from a direct box from the bass and through the PA and the on stage volume is kept low enough to give the sound guy a chance.
  8. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Guess who started the "soundguy is god" rumors? That's right...soundguys. But when you play a venue with 4 bands on the bill and there's a house soundman, then he IS god and he has the ear of the owner, and his word carries a lot of weight most of the time. However, I have wanted special things from a house soundman that most bassists don't do, and I usually don't have a problem because I treat them like the pros they are (or claim to be). And when I run across a soundman who knows more than I do, I listen. Doesn't mean I'm going to give them signal up to 20K when I only want them to have up to 5K, but if the room has special needs, you have to talk to the soundman and take them into consideration and not just do your thing because it's your thing. Sounds like you had a special needs room and you went and did your thing regardless. Talk to that soundman. He might actually know something about the room that you don't know, and he might actually help you achieve your goal better than you can do on your own. Not all of them are tards. Remember, it's a cooperation, not a competition.
  9. Jim Carr

    Jim Carr Dr. Jim Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 21, 2006
    Denton, TX or Kailua, HI
    fEARful Kool-Aid dispensing liberal academic card-carrying union member Musicians Local 72-147

    Jimmy has tons of experience here. I, too have had to deal with my share of sound guys who are pros, but sometimes rather brusque. I have listened and learned.

    Stage volume is a major issue in most of my regular gigs. In one have had to play either with unmonitored upright or use a small amp as a stage monitor when playing electric.

    The small amp for the electric was provided by an unnamed sponsor (Behri...) , and I had no choice but to use it. My Jazz was dubbed by the sound engineer as too noisy (even with Lindy Frailin split-coils), and my Lakland was ridiculed.

    I have also heard all manner of sneering about any DI/Preamp that is not a Countryman 85 or Radial JDI.

    All that said, I learned a lot. I basically went with what the engineer wanted every step of the way. After over a year, when I got my Sadowsky P/J, he repeatedly pee'd his very ample pants over the tone I was getting from that instrument, sent DI and monitored with the small trashy amp.

    I finally realized that if the sound I want only depends on me and my instrument, my chances for getting it heard were much higher. That is now my approach. All IMHO. :bassist: :bassist: :bassist:
  10. RickenBoogie


    Jul 22, 2007
    Dallas, TX
    I don't think I implied that, at all. Merely stating things as they are in the real world.( Who's) taking (what):meh: personally here?
  11. 77PBass

    77PBass Banned

    Dec 5, 2007
    Huh? The point I am making is that as an artist, you need to hear yourself properly, in context with your band. It is the soundman's job to capture the sound as faithfully as possible.

    Too many times sound guy's impose their idea of what a bass drum or bass should sound like. They also add too much reverb or echo, trying to be an extra member or producer of the band.

    If the real issue hear is stage volume...then that is a different story. I reently played a gig where the soundguy commented "..I can tell this is going to be loud." after spying my rig. I asked him why he was prjudging my/our volume level before we played a note. He said "..because I know what a SVT sounds like!" to which I said "good, cause that is a V4B, 100 watts played at 10:00". After the show he came up to me and apologized and said we were very easy to mix because we had a great, controlled stage volume and sound.

    Stage volume is a function of the type of music, the other players and their volumes, the drummer, the size and position on the stage. More often than not, smaller is better.
  12. amper


    Dec 4, 2002
    Stage volume is a funny thing, because we all grow up playing crappy little rooms, and when we get to the bigger venues, we're so used to hearing it a certain way, that it's difficult to adjust.

    You were probably too loud, and your tone probably wasn't appropriate for full PA support in a larger venue. Learn from the soundguy. What sounds good onstage, or in a small club, or when you're playing alone, isn't necessarily the best thing for the FOH PA system.

    A good rule of thumb is that you shouldn't be playing any louder than you need to play to keep up with a hard hitting drummer on an unmiked acoustic drum kit. Happily, this is generally at about the right volume for most circumstances where PA support is required, and is plenty of volume to fill a small club (and may even be too loud for this!) If you're playing louder than this, you're certainly causing permanent hearing damage, and while the sheer pressure waves you're generating may be impressive from a certain standpoint, it's not that much fun to be out in the house getting your ears sandblasted. What's the point of going to enjoy a live concert if you have to wear earplugs? And for the band, if you have to wear earplugs, you're Too Damned Loud.

    Of course, the nice thing about larger shows/venues, where you're on a proper stage, is that the stage volume is usually *less* than it is out front. At smaller clubs that actually have a PA system, you end up with a little Napoleon of a soundguy, who's so obsessed with his gear that he can't understand that *everything* is too loud.

    If you read some technical riders, you will see that a general standard out there is 110 dB in the house, and this is for very large touring acts in big venues. This isn't incredibly loud, especially when the audience shows up and the noise floor goes up to 90+ dB, but is still enough to provide an appropriate level of sonic impact. The very fact that you were told the levels were to be kept to 105-109 dB is a pretty good indicator that the soundguys there actually know a thing or two.

    As for myself, I've stood through My Bloody Valentine concerts at 120+ dB, possibly 130+ dB (totally unscientific measurement), and I can tell you it's no fun at all. At one show, I could feel my internal organs about to fail in a spectacular fashion. It was dramatic, sure, but utterly unnecessary, and had I been wiser at that age, I would have left.

    An SVT-350 through an 8x10 produces way too much volume to be of any use to anyone. Trust me, I know. You ought to hear my Trace Elliot V-Type rig. I generally run 12:00 on the Gain and 11:00 on the Volume, and through my 4x12, it's Loud As Balls. And generally, I have to cut the Bass EQ in order not to overwhelm everything. Anything louder than that is simply unusable, even in a very loud rock band, especially in a small room. When I was using my SWR Power 750, I couldn't turn it up past 9:00.

    Perhaps you should try a different perspective on your sound. An SVT-350 is, if I remember correctly, a solid-state head. Its "natural distortion" probably sounds terrible, if you're clipping the power stage. If your distortion is coming from the preamp only (as I certainly hope), then you're going to get it no matter how loud you set the master volume. I have an Ampeg VH-140C guitar combo, which has one of the best solid-state preamp distortions I've ever heard, so I wouldn't be surprised if preamp distortion from an SVT-350 sounds pretty good. But then I wouldn't be surprised if it sounds like crap, as well. That might be why the soundguy sent you that note. Distortion on bass generally kills the bottom end. I dislike it intensely.
  13. RickenBoogie


    Jul 22, 2007
    Dallas, TX
    I'll just +1 what amper just said, perfectly.
  14. quickervicar

    quickervicar Supporting Member

    Jul 21, 2006
    Lancaster, PA
    This thread is reason alone why I question the need for HUGE power for our rigs. About 95% of my gigs I've never needed over 300 watts. This is why I'd love to find me a nice 200W tube head. Anyone?
  15. SteveC

    SteveC Moderator Staff Member

    Nov 12, 2004
    North Dakota
    I am using a 175 watt, 1x10" combo for all my gigs. I have yet to need more for stand alone or as a monitor with PA support. Almost every band I hear has a ridiculous stage volume. I don't understand why people don't get it.
  16. topcat2069


    Dec 2, 2007
    Palm Springs
    I wonder how this guy would've handled Entwhistle ??:bassist:
  17. Chef

    Chef Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    May 23, 2004
    Columbia MO
    Staff Reviewer; Bass Gear Magazine
    I don't see where the OP said he was using a lot of pedal or anything but his bass>svt>cab.
    Too loud, maybe, and you gotta let the soundguy tell you that so you don't work against what he's doing out front: remember, your rig is there as a stage monitor, not to fill the room. Big venues typically even send bass via sidefill to the drummer, so you don't need to cover anything but your own little piece of ground.
    The part I don't get is where he said it sounded over processed...unless you left a lot of your signal chain out, that doesn't make sense to me.

    However, it was nice that he cared enough about you and your band to send you a personal note on how you might improve...did you follow up with him on any concrete suggestions he had on how to do better?
  18. He has the perspective of your sound from the room, if he says it doesn't support tour music, he may be right, often, espicially with an 8x10, the sound close to the amp is really not the same, you feel vibration and interpret them as ''bass'', then 20 feet away the vibration is gone and all is left is the true tone of the amp, if you listen to your rig up close and cut the lows or boos the treble to compensate for that effect, the sound projected by your amp will be really thinner than than what you hear just besides it.
  19. sevenorchids

    sevenorchids Supporting Member

    I think that a lot of musicians think that the sound person is working for them. That couldn't be further from the truth, unless you are paying them. They work for the venue, as an equal member of the team, just like the band/performer. Difference is, they usually work that venue regularly and become a part of the "team" at the venue. Therefore, they see many bands come and go. You play there once in a while, they are there every night. Treat them poorly and my guess is that you won't be back...unless you can draw hundreds of people a night.

    As for the concept of musicians being "artists", I'm not sure that I can agree completely. In my opinion, especially at a live concert, you are an entertainer booked solely to sell drinks and make the club or venue money. If you do that well, you'll be back. If you don't, well, you probably won't. Unless you find a great club that just wants to book "artists", but those don't stay in business very long...

    As for the OP, if the sound person sent you a message AFTER the gig, consider that a good thing. It sounds like he was trying to help, more than anything.
  20. coxeymcqueen


    Oct 31, 2007
    The loudest gig I have ever been to was The Darkness at Manchester Apollo (before I knew better, btw). It was ridiculous. Trying to chat with my friend in the car on the way home went like this

    "What did you think of the gig?"
    "What did you say?"
    "Sorry I can't hear you - my ears are ringing"

    My ears were ringing for 2 or 3 days. Probably did more damage to my hearing at that one gig than all the others (played at and seen) combined.

    Back to the OP - I try to take on board advice from sound engineers at bigger gigs. They probably EQ more bass in a couple of months than you'll do in a lifetime's worth of gigging. Sometimes they come across a bit arsey but that's usually because they're arsey with everyone!

    It might be worth you trying to beg, borrow or steal a wireless transmitter and then you can walk in to the crowd and hear for yourself what your FOH sound is like.

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