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Had to leave my last bar band. I'm done. It's about volume.

Discussion in 'Bass Humor & Gig Stories [BG]' started by Robroy, Aug 14, 2017.

  1. Robroy


    Jun 21, 2006
    Central Kentucky
    I've done this before, but I've finally had it. Sometimes it takes swearing I'll never do a thing again, violating that promise, and making it again, this time for good.

    The last band was supposed to be a very good local band. The guitar player is an amazing musician and the drummer is also very skilled. And it was a three piece so I thought the three of us could really make something solid.

    The thing that ruined it was the drummer. At the very first gig he was pretty much ALWAYS excruciatingly loud. I had a large wedge monitor in front of me and that guy was so loud that I could not hear much of anything coming out of the monitor. And at the next gig I tried in-ear monitors, with the nice foam seal and he was still too loud. I also noticed that we were pushing the PA beyond its limits to compete with the drummer, and it was a big pa with two 18" subs that just sounded like loud distortion to me.

    But that was not the only reason. The bars were just depressing. People getting too drunk. Girls getting too skanky...there was no redeeming reason to do it. Nobody would have appreciated it if we were technically amazing.

    What really drove it home was that I ended up filling in as bassist for the band at my daughter's wedding last month and got a taste of how it should be. It was just for an hour and she and the groom had actually met when they were members of the band. it was a six piece, it was loud, but not excruciatingly so, and was very hi-fi and everyone had a great time. It wasn't a drunken brawl and we didn't have to blast anybody out.

    That experience cinched it.

    I'll only do "show" bands from here on in. By "show" I mean weddings, corporate, outdoor festivals, car shows, etc. The occasional bar gig is doable, if it's the right bar, but the whole bar thing finally ran its course for me, for the second time. And now I can qualify and quantify why it's a really bad deal.

    It means I probably won't be playing much for a while...
    rjmsteel, Munjibunga, Giffro and 34 others like this.
  2. NicJimBass

    NicJimBass Flossin'? I thought your name was Munson!

    Nov 22, 2004
    Lancaster, OH
    64 Audio · DR Strings · Source Audio · Hipshot
    Sounds like you very much need to switch from wedge monitors to in-ear monitors. Takes some getting used to , but once you do, your ears will thank you eternally.
    Kitsapbass and HypersoulRocks like this.
  3. Robroy


    Jun 21, 2006
    Central Kentucky
    I did switch. Didn't help. The drums were simply too loud, even with after-market ear buds and the memory foam inserts.

    I was in a band a couple of years ago that was auditioning drummers. We passed on the most skilled drummer because of his playing volume. I've noticed that some drummers only have one setting: Loud as possible. My ears just can't take it. And when you have to push a PA like we were doing just to try to get above the drummer, it's time to shop for a drummer.

    Or try to play more stadiums.
  4. Can't say I fault you for it. If you can't hear, you won't be able to play very well.
    better to save yourself from irreparable hearing damage
    Sub300Hertz, Giffro, murphy and 8 others like this.
  5. Robroy


    Jun 21, 2006
    Central Kentucky
    One thing I said to him was that it is more important to hear my grandchildrens' voices than be in a bar band. I'm really just done with bands that seem to require a loud stage volume.
  6. BassCliff


    May 17, 2012
    So. Cal.

    I hear ya! I have paid my dues and have worked my way out of late night dive bars five nights a week. They were great at the time, don't get me wrong. But I'm not a pup any more. I'll still play a fun dive bar once in a while just so I can keep my "honky tonk" cred. ;)

    I hope you find what you're looking for soon. Break a leg!

    Thank you for your indulgence,

  7. Robroy


    Jun 21, 2006
    Central Kentucky
    That sums up where I am. I didn't start playing until I was 44, but I crammed a lot into these 20 years.
  8. RoadRanger

    RoadRanger Supporting Member

    Feb 18, 2004
    NE CT
    You have to be doing something wrong - I've jammed with metalheads with two 100w non-master gui**** amps and an insane drummer - and had no problem with just $20 musician's earplugs. And I've been wearing earplugs since about 1980.
  9. OldBassman

    OldBassman Gold Supporting Member

    I think that in part it's simply the nature of the animal. Bar bands create a party mood that promotes the consumption of mass quantities of alcohol. It's gonna be loud and it ain't for everybody. I usually use one earplug on my drummer side. His rim shots are like getting stabbed in the ear with a pencil. I can hear my monitor with the other. Works well.
    Giffro, Rocker47, murphy and 6 others like this.
  10. jwilson67


    Jun 2, 2015
    San Dimas, CA
    Drunks and girls getting skanky?? What's wrong with that? LOL

    No, seriously, maybe I'm just weird but I actually like playing restaurants and bars. I guess I'm just a rock & roller at heart so I like the kind of wild, raucous nature of gigs at these places. My "bar" band has only played one wedding and the bride and groom told us we were the best wedding band they've ever heard. I told them it's because we're not a wedding band....;)
  11. bolophonic


    Dec 10, 2009
    Durham, NC
    I love playing live shows, but I quit drinking almost 20 years ago. So I make sure to do short sets and leave before everyone starts getting sloppy.

    On the volume tip, I have been using generic foam plugs for 30 years and according to my audiologist, my hearing is "exquisite."
  12. obimark


    Sep 1, 2011
    Same here. Loud drummers and guitars can play with someone else. Whats the point of p laying in a band where you cant even hear yourself?
    Giffro and Anders Barfod like this.
  13. Oh man, I love those places! I'll take that gig!
  14. jwilson67


    Jun 2, 2015
    San Dimas, CA
    Back to the volume issue though. I guess you just have to find the right group of guys. My drummer plays through a nice compact Tama kit (I think the bass drum is only an 18 or 20") and that thing sounds fantastic yet still projects like a beast! All of us feed into the PA and keep the stage volume down. We use in-ear monitors too. I have no hearing issues at all.
    Stumbo and Johnny Crab like this.
  15. Johnny Crab

    Johnny Crab ACME,QSC,Fame/Hondo/Greco/HELIX user & BOSE Abuser Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 11, 2004
    South Texas
    @Robroy : put him in a plexi-box drummer's prison?

    Guy next to me has shot ears and hurt my right ear with his need for 120 dB+ later in the gig. If wifey is snoring now I just put my head on my pillow with the right ear facing up and it's -20dB or there-abouts. Sucks.
    At work one is REQUIRED to put in -33dB(NRR) earplugs in any area clocking 85 dB or above.

    Spent $1400 on an IEM rig for myself and my hearing(automatic -22 to -25 dB). The band is fun, keeps me in shape for 61, and is very busy for folks with full-time careers(engineering for JC). FOH folks have been very good at a regular place we do sending me FOH left/right/my vocal/my bass and the 3-space IEM rack does have a single space mixer, brick wall limiter, stereo transmitter plus a mic cable & mic for plan B(if FOH is clueless >> room mic, pre-fader line outs for my bass and vocal). Plan C involves a splitter box for myself(vocal)and a feed from mains FOH but that has not been required yet.

    I've not tried the -35dB electronic "headphones" aka ear muffs that work great for hearing protection during hunting. Normal hearing until about 85-90 dB and then they cut things down to a safe level. May have to pack 'em to a gig one night.
  16. jwilson67


    Jun 2, 2015
    San Dimas, CA
    You nailed it on the head. I would go a little crazy if I played nothing but weddings and corporate events. I have played my fair share of those and they were the highest paying yet most unsatisfying gigs I've ever played. They were definitely a "job".
    Giffro, Admiral Akbar and Lvjoebass like this.
  17. Ross W. Lovell

    Ross W. Lovell

    Oct 31, 2015

    Sort of the reason we started to pass on "$Dollar White Lightnin' Night".
    BK bassist and bolophonic like this.
  18. hrodbert696

    hrodbert696 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    I hear ya. A year ago I was trying to get a new cover band off the ground, when an old band (that had fired me, actually) asked me to come and sub. I've had my issues with that old band, but there's no denying they're a great pair of musicians and very tight. That sub gig pretty much clinched it for me, that the cover band just wasn't cutting it.
  19. jwilson67


    Jun 2, 2015
    San Dimas, CA
    I spent many of my younger years playing in 4 piece jazz combos for events, weddings, etc. reading charts and playing with different musicians every gig and also playing in the pit for local college musicals. It was fun and the pay was pretty good but I knew that wasn't what I wanted to do eventually.

    Sounds weird but it's just me. LOL
  20. Spectre1966

    Spectre1966 Striving For Mediocrity Supporting Member

    Jul 4, 2014
    Wallingford, CT
    I left a band years ago before we ever played a gig together due to volume.
    Every practice in our cement basement practice space (tomb) the guitar player would rachet up his Marshall stack so loud and hit his distortion pedal so hard (for every friggin song) that the sound bounced all around the room and made my head want to explode..and the 3 other people in the band didn't seem to care. After 3 practices where I asked him repeatedly to take it down a few notches, I politely bowed out and moved on. I suppose I could have worn ear plugs, but I figured if it was that painful for me, it would be the same for everyone who would come to see us play.....
    Giffro, SOUTH PAW, Joedog and 4 others like this.

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