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Full PAs and Small Bars

Discussion in 'Live Sound [BG]' started by bluewine, Dec 9, 2012.

  1. bluewine

    bluewine Banned

    Sep 4, 2008
    A friends rock band plays bars with only a small pa for vocals.

    They recently played a small bar and were asked several times by management to turn down.

    Then they were asked to stop playing and were told they would never be asked back.

    My rock band plays small bars too, but we use a full pa with subs, mains and stage monitors for all 4 of us. Toms and cymbals miced as well as all amps.

    We employ low stage volume, house volume is loud but managed, patrons can talk and hear each other.

    We feel we have more control over our sound and volume level using the full pa. We have not had any volume complaints from management at any of the small venues we play.

    Some will say it's overkill. Anyone else use full PA's in small clubs and bars?

  2. We use a full PA in the bars we play in and never had a problem. Most of these places are pretty small and tight, but we are just careful. That being said, we are a hard rock/Metal cover band so that means most people that come out to listen to us, want to rock out to loud music anyway.
  3. BBox Bass

    BBox Bass Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2011
    NW Pennsylvania
    I'm in 2 bands with an excellent guitarist/sound man. Both groups use full PA everywhere we play, though toms and cymbals only get run through the system in larger venues. Neither the guitarist nor I run huge rigs and we don't wage loudness wars on stage. He's great at keeping the volume levels reasonable.
  4. lowfreq33


    Jan 27, 2010
    Endorsing Artist: Genz Benz Amplification
    We use a full PA at all gigs, but we're pretty good at keeping stage volume down. Some places are just really picky about volume levels. In my last band there was one club owner who told us we were too loud while we were still unloading the trailer... My current band is playing there in February, I'm planning on building a small drum shield to act as a visual pacifier.
  5. Lee Bruton

    Lee Bruton Guest

    May 11, 2012
    I, also run a full PA at small venues, just cause you have the power doesn't mean you have to use it!
    A big rig make it sound so full even at lower volumes
  6. seanm

    seanm I'd kill for a Nobel Peace Prize! Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2004
    Ottawa, Canada
    That is why a full PA works for you. I can, and have, put the lead guitar into the PA. But until they come up with a PA that can turn down the on-stage amp, he never gets turned up.

    Most bands cannot control the stage volume, so a full PA makes no sense. Congrats on having a band that understands that!
  7. Lee Bruton

    Lee Bruton Guest

    May 11, 2012
    Really no need for guitar amps
    I use a GK MD 115E w/ MB112 cab
    All I need and more!
  8. bluewine

    bluewine Banned

    Sep 4, 2008
    Hi Lee,

    I'm not sure I understand your response.

    Does your band use a full pa for small bars and clubs?

  9. When we book we use volume control as an advantage --- so no ... Small venue = 1/2 pa
  10. modulusman

    modulusman Banned

    Jan 18, 2004
    You mean most crappy unprofessional bands can't control their volume. :D The days of needing a full stack are over but some bands are still stuck in a outdated mindset. I play my classic rock gigs with either of my Genz Benz combos DIed to the PA.
  11. BawanaRik


    Mar 6, 2012
    New Jersey
    How loud were they playing? Were they doing the "Stack" thing cranked to get "tone"?

  12. Phalex

    Phalex Semper Gumby Supporting Member

    Oct 3, 2006
    G.R. MI
    The owner of a bar around here is all uptight about volume. He continues to hire rock & roll bands, but he's real worried about things getting too loud.

    I've played that place with three different drummers and each one has said that the owner starts in on them about volume when they carry the first drum in. :rollno: I guess they set up the riser too loud or something?

    We hired a pro sound guy for a gig there once when our regular guy couldn't make it. This guy runs outdoor festivals and arenas and stuff.

    He showed up with his "Small System". The speaker stacks must have been 7' tall. It was huge! Jimmy the owner started in on him about how you can't use that huge PA in his bar because it will be too loud.

    The sound guy told him it was the smallest PA he had. And the owner was just freaking out. The sound guy took the time to explain that his PA came complete with a feature called a "Volume knob" and assured him that he knew how to use it.

    The gig went fine, but I really freakin hate that bar!
  13. Lee Bruton

    Lee Bruton Guest

    May 11, 2012
    Depends on the club, always try to use the subs though
  14. DWBass

    DWBass The Funkfather

    That's the issue many bands deal with. They think they HAVE to be loud! It's a very inexperienced attitude and I don't care how many years you've been playing, if they say you're to loud.....you are! Our band uses a full PA and I still have to get on my bandmates to control their stage volume.
  15. Rip Topaz

    Rip Topaz

    Aug 12, 2005
    Willow Street, PA
    Beta tester for Positive Grid
    I was in a band a few years back that played an outdoor show at a small bar (back room patio), and I was to run sound from the stage.

    My bandmates didn't grasp the concept of the volume knob, and while I was busy setting up the PA and micing everything so I could put it in the monitors if anyone needed it, the gui**** went behind me and disconnected the mics!! Never bothered to discuss it with me, just assumed I was micing things so we could get loud. Oh well, his loss.

    Of course, there were complaints from band members that they couldn't hear themselves (!!). I quit the band after the gig.
  16. Joedog


    Jan 28, 2010
    Pensacola FL
    The band that has the BEST sound (by far) that comes thru here on occassion uses 12" mains, no monitors, small amps, and you can here every note and word clearly. They also kick most bands ass. This is for an outside gig! The key is having a drummer who can play his butt off and keep the volume down. They won the International Blues Challenge in Memphis several years back.....not an easy feat, to say the least! When I was talking with the front man, I praised his sound/volume level...he smiled and said that was part of the reason they won the IBC. They tour (3-4 guys) with all equip, and luggage in a ford van. Their PA probably cost 1/4 of some of the local hack band PA's around here, and they sound 4X better. Granted a full PA can sound great in a small club, but MANY bands/soundmen have no concept of how to use one. If a small one can sound awesome.....I don't see the need!
  17. niki z

    niki z Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2011
    Nashville, TN
    Both bands I play in use full PA in small CLUBS. We watch stage volume and use a great sound man. If he says turn down we do it. A club owner bitching about volume loading in is absurd. Never had anyone complain about that at a venue designed for live music, a restaurant /bar with a tiny stage that's not designed for it...I can see running into those problems. If you want quiet book a jazz band.
  18. modulusman

    modulusman Banned

    Jan 18, 2004
    Define outside gig. When my band is playing outside it is usually for 100s of people and covering a big area. Any band that just showed up with a 12inch PA on sticks is either cheap,lazy or stupid.
  19. bluewine

    bluewine Banned

    Sep 4, 2008
    I have also heard very good blues bands play clubs with a minimal pa configuration and sound great. But I've also heard some with next to nothing and sound awful.

    I have also heard bands in small clubs with full pa sound great and some sound terible.

    It's relative to the band.

    My point is, a good band with a sound guy that knows what he's doing will imo have more control over their sound and volume with a full pa.

  20. JohnMCA72


    Feb 4, 2009
    That, & many inexperienced bands have inexperienced members, who can't seem to understand that there's an overall sonic environment that they need to fit into, not just themselves. They turn their own volume up to cover all the other sounds that they aren't interested in hearing.

    Also, excess volume has a way of covering a number of deficiencies. Inexperienced players cover up rather than fix the problems.

    The better, experienced players that I know all can play at reasonable volumes.