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How to deal with loud musicians who do not listen

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by Dan Waineo, Mar 23, 2019.

  1. Dan Waineo

    Dan Waineo

    Jun 14, 2015
    So I went to a jam session. This is my fourth time and my worst experience there. There were two tenors, guitar, keyboards, drums. The drums was probably the quietest instrument there. Both amps were pointed at me, the guitar player likes to play roots with his thumb. It was just relentless and I couldn't hear myself at all.

    I was playing noamp. It worked OK for the first three times. I'd prefer to keep on working without an amp. I feel I play loud enough with most groups.

    I complained once. I said I couldn't hear myself, and asked that the guitar and keyboard not comp at the same time. This was ignored.

    The musicians are just not listening. If they were trying to hear the bass, they would naturally get quieter. Frustrating. I could try to rearrange the room. Last time the guitars and horns were on the other side of the room. The keyboard amp is permanently on my side.

    Any suggestions (besides an amp)?
  2. vanselus

    vanselus Supporting Member

    Sep 20, 2000
    Boulder, CO
    Stay away. Life’s too short to play with earless “musicians”.
  3. Seanto


    Dec 29, 2005
    Hate to say it, but you likely just need to bring the amp or play with different people. I bring an amp to every gig just in case i need it. Sometimes i don't need it or can keep it very low, but more often than not i do need it in some capacity. At a jam session, an amp should really be there since you are not likely to always have mature, experienced players.
    mtto, Martin Beer, Winoman and 3 others like this.
  4. Lobster11

    Lobster11 Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2006
    Williamsburg, VA
    If it's any consolation, pop over to the BG side and read through some of the dozens (hundreds?) of threads complaining about this. You might think that us BG guys don't have this problem because we're always amped and can just turn up, but you'd be wrong; itt's way worse. Drummers pounding on drums as if they hate them, guitarists who insist they have to crank their volume to "get my sound," and bassists turning up only to cause the drummer to even pound harder and the guitarists to turn up to 11. Also lots of stories about bassists just turning off their volume completely during a song, and being told that "You sounded great!" afterwards.
    rknea, G Aichele, Winoman and 5 others like this.
  5. LaFaro01


    Aug 27, 2018
    can't be expressed better ..:)
  6. PauFerro


    Jun 8, 2008
    United States
    Turn your volume down. See if they notice. If they do, tell them to turn down. If they don't listen, or don't notice you are turned down, then I would find another gig.

    I used to have elaborate strategies for getting people to listen, but I am sick of changing human behavior when it's extensive like this. You not only have the volume problem, you have the guitarist doubling root notes, interefering with your role, and the inability of the guitar and keys to comp together properly.

    That's a lot of change all at once. I don't mind changing it if the people are ready to change. As they say in the change management literature, there is a 4 step process to changing things

    1. Appraise readiness for change.
    2. If not ready, unfreeze attitudes until readiness occurs.
    3. Make the change
    4. Refreeze the change.

    These guys, in ignoring you have indicated they are not ready to change (you have appraised readiness, and they are not ready). This means you need to go through an unfreezing process to change their minds. I have threatened to quit, have brought in experts they respect, been blunt and up front after they don't listen, and played recordings. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.

    If you can't get through the unfreezing phase, I would let them know why you are quitting, and let them know if they are ever in a position to fix the doubled bass notes, the comping problem, and the volume, to by all means, give you a call.

    See if that changes minds. If not, find a different gig...you may get a call one day -- after they grow up.
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2019
  7. lurk


    Dec 2, 2009
    An amp is pretty much a must these days. I'm old enough to have heard most of the great bassists who came up before amps and pickups and by the time I saw them they were all using amps. I never heard Milt Hinton or Sam Jones or Mingus or Ray Brown or Red Mitchell (I could go on and on) live, even on duo gigs, when they weren't using an amp. That said, those guys at the session should have better listening skills. I always have my volume just loud enough to hear myself and when asked to turn up do so in small increments.
    vanselus, MDrost1 and Mushroo like this.
  8. dhergert

    dhergert Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 17, 2018
    Blue Zone, California
    I've also been in this situation all too often. If everyone else (except the drummer) is amped and you are not amped, you don't stand a chance. I'd suggest either find another jam or give up and bring your own amp.

    And yes, the problem with bringing your own amp is that often it is the beginning of "Amp Wars": everyone raises their volume until everyone is pegged and no one is happy. Don't forget your hearing protection.
  9. Been there, done that. Put down the bass and walked off stage.
  10. nbsipics

    nbsipics It's the Bass that makes them Dance Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 8, 2016
    Really. I don’t think Scottie had to fire too many drummers...
  11. Dan Waineo

    Dan Waineo

    Jun 14, 2015
    Thanks everybody. This is just a jam in the basement at someone's house. I can understand being amped at a gig. I play at my church most Sundays, and I always have an amp there. I could bring an amp, but amp wars will just make the music worse I think.

    I was thinking of just having people listen while I walked with the drummer and then have someone lightly add some comping on top. However, this sounds like work and will probably not be well received.

    I think I'll just give up on it. It's not fun and not constructive for me musically. The egos are too big, and I think it will be too hard to try to change this group. Too bad.
  12. Good plan. Not worth it.
  13. dhergert

    dhergert Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 17, 2018
    Blue Zone, California
    I'll just add to my previous post, I come from a primarily acoustic jamming and performing environment and I'm still not 100% comfortable with playing amped, so I'm very sympathetic about this...

    And within my local acoustic environments, I'm actually most well known for playing one of the loudest acoustic instruments (banjo) at tasteful volume, and of being a big promoter of people learning dynamic volume control of their instruments. So for me to promote playing a double bass with an amp -- in those jams and performing environments where people notoriously don't control their volume -- is a really big thing...

    But I do love playing the double bass, and I have told and wouldn't hesitate to continue to tell other players that if they don't play more quietly so I can hear myself play, I'll pull out my amp. I always bring it along, just in case I need it. For some groups, that works to get them playing more sensitively, for other groups it does not.
  14. turf3


    Sep 26, 2011
    I think you have two options, since you don't want to participate in mutual assured destruction by excessive volume.

    1) Never go back.
    2) Show up one more time and if the volume wars begin, pack up and leave, not omitting to make it clear why.

    Your pick.
    Dan Waineo and IamGroot like this.
  15. If guitarists or keys players start playing all over the bass range/parts (at gigs), I just stop playing and leave them to it. The keys player last night was doing this, so yep, I just left him to it.
    Ditch the jam.
    Dan Waineo, IamGroot and salcott like this.
  16. Axtman

    Axtman Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2008
    Seattle, Washington
    I would love to do this sometime when I knew the band would play too loud. Carry in a ridiculous about of gear. Stack a huge amount of speaker cabs up over your head and take up an enormous amount of floor space. Then when someone asks what the heck you are doing ask them, "Are you guys going to turn down .....or shall I turn up?"
    Dan Waineo likes this.
  17. Glad to find out I am mot the only one.
    Dan Waineo likes this.
  18. jsf729

    jsf729 Supporting Member

    Dec 12, 2014
    Central Maryland
    "First, we kill all the guitar players".....
    Dan Waineo and IamGroot like this.
  19. ERIC A

    ERIC A Supporting Member

    I have been there and on paying gigs. I decided to play so quietly that i was barely audible and sometimes just faked it. When they finally noticed i told them that i was playing as loudly as i could. If they needed to hear me they would have to turn down. It worked.
  20. jsf729

    jsf729 Supporting Member

    Dec 12, 2014
    Central Maryland
    Play on words from a famous playwright. No harm intended to our 6 string brethren. But seriously, I believe that a lot of guitar players who started playing in their teens started playing rock and in turn played LOUD for years which affected their hearing. I honestly don't think that they realize how loud they are in a jazz setting. They simply have the volume set to where they think that they are blending. Fortunately for me, I got hooked on jazz early on and missed the years of rock band volume.
    Groove Doctor and Dan Waineo like this.

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