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I can't hear the bass!

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by KingOfAmps, Feb 16, 2003.

  1. I live in a big music town and can't believe what's going on. Went to a show at a decent venue last nite to see seven bands (which is sorta unique) play rock or whatever. With the exception of one band all were gu*t*r(s), bass, drums, singer. As usual all the gu*t*rist had stacks. Tremoverbs, dual recs, tris, Marshalls, 4x12s, the usual. Three of the bands had two gu*t*rs; both with BIG POWER. Lots of mics and PA, etc. ALL of the bassers show up with combos!

    So out of seven bands there was no bass to be heard last nite.

    One poor fella kept asking for more bass in his monitor. The soundguy says (thru talkback), "I'm giving you all I can. Just turn your amp up, it's a rock concert." He reached down to what was a jumbo-sized Crate combo and I believe just ran out of "turn". Upon testing, it sounded like a distorted mess. Thankfully he backed it off but none of that mattered because it instantly disappeared amongst the gu*t*rs. This was basically the case with six of the bands. (One band simply had no bass player.)

    And what's the deal with also running all these stacks thru the PA full-force if the entire audience is within twenty-five feet of the stage???

    BTW, I checked out the PA speakers (EV) for bass. There was almost nil.

    Folks who just can't get enough of those geetars sure do have it made don't they? :(

    So as a casual audience member: If you want me to hear the words, turn down the geetar. If you want me to hear the bass, turn down the geetar. If you want to turn everything else up to compensate, that's cool too. But book yourself down at the arena next gig. :bassist:
  2. IvanMike

    IvanMike Player Characters fear me... Supporting Member

    Nov 10, 2002
    Middletown CT, USA
    ha ha ha
    very true
    1st of all it is a good rule of thumb to have at least 4 times the wattage as your guitar player
    most of the time i can fix the problem with eq
    bumping the mids can cut through like heck - sometimes the smiley-shaped eq tone that sounds so good when you practice alone doesnt cut it the gig
    i have taken to pairing a bagend 15 with a bagend 12 - the 12 doesnt have much low end but it has very aggressive mids which cut like a knife
    With a good soundman you can always hear the bass - even if the very lowest frequencies may not be reproduced entirely
    guitar through the pa is good to have some control over the tone and volume, but having worked sound many a time it is often quite a chore to get those six stringers to turn down
  3. Stinsok

    Stinsok Supporting Member

    Dec 16, 2002
    Central Alabama
    There is a point where a gu**arist gets a good tone, but anything after that is just overkill. Here is an example: I went to see Robin Trower at a pretty good sized club. The club had contracted plenty of PA, but Robin Trower played through 2 full stacks(on 10 I bet.) It was disappointing because he covered up the bass, drums and vocals. We wound up putting cigarette filters in our ears because he was so loud. Hey, I like it loud, but I want to hear everything! Unless you are in an arena, I do not see a need for a Marshall stack. Gu**rist should pay attention to how the band/song sounds instead dispensing as much volume as possible.
  4. Our band is blessed. Our guitarist likes to play the spaces and when he is ripping, it's tastfully and thru a 1/2 Marshall 50 stack. Our drummer, on the other hand,... well,...he's gettin betta, but I wish we could have more dynamics. It would give me more freedom. I just got a Mesa 400+ and a Powerhouse 1000 (4-10s+1-15) and I can BURY him if I want. I think i'm gaining some respect.
    But I know whatta you mean about the loud guitar thing. They are ego-maniacs with an inferiority complex!!... Hopefully more will mature.:bassist:
  5. I've strained my ears more than once at concerts to try a pick out just a hint of bass. Most PA systems are so omni-directional with bass frequencies that there is no way to deal with phase cancellation. Most sound guys just turn up the kick drum and let the bass guitar go. Another problem most bass players aren’t aware of is phase cancellation from their on stage amp. It is usually several feet behind the PA stacks but facing in the same direction. This creates a comb filter effect with some notes coming through but others getting canceled due to different arrival times. It is better to have your amp facing you from the front when the PA is carrying all the bass. All in all, playing bass guitar in an big concert situation is often like pissing on a forest fire.
  6. Posted at the club was a "musician wanted" ad for a bass player. It read:

    Bass player Wanted
    blah, blah, blah
    Influences, blah blah
    blah (NO Combo amps), blah

    How prophetic.

    I'd like to also add that I do like loud music. The best rock concert I've EVER seen was Black Sabbath from the fourth row. I'm talking about the real Sabbath; the old men. The bass made my face and hair move. :) And though it wasn't the loudest concert I've been to, it was loud enough to comfortably permeate the body. I just like things balanced out and clear.

    If I bought a CD and it sounded like what I sometimes hear live, I'd through it in the trash.
  7. That's why the Ampeg SVT was invented.
  8. That's so ridiculous. I've seen blues players fill a club with a 30 watt 1x12 combo. 100 watt stacks are overkill for 90% of the guys who own them. My guitarist was KILLING me with a 60 watt 5150 combo. I hate going to a club just to hear some guy peeling the skin from my face with his amp and losing all the high frequencies in my hearing from some idiot pounding the sh*t out of his cymbals. And the kicker is,these guys stand around and brag about how loud they are. Can't they be happy with the BAND sounding good?
    My Eden Traveler 400 and 410xlt and 210xlt used to even things out for me a little. Just bump the mids a little and I could shake the walls and cut through the g*itar with no problem.
  9. Ampeg guitar amps get stupid loud too.
  10. Tecx

    Tecx Radio Rock Leads To Sterility

    Jun 9, 2002
    Halifax, NS, Canada
    Their should be a guitar hate forum...

    Alex :p

    ps. Bassist's rule the stage here in s.j. most of our best bands are headed by bassist's...

  11. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    This is very true. But it's a better idea to have at least ten times the wattage of your guitar player.
  12. I agree with the power issue(10 times the power of guitar sounds good to me too),but does this mean you have to have more speaker area too?If your guitar player has a half stack,four twelves,does this mean you need to have two 4-10s or an 8-10 to keep up?What if he has a full stack,eight twelves?Do we need 2 410s and a couple of 15s?It only makes sense that we do.I read posts quite often that the new bass player asks if his 60 or 100 watt combo will keep up with his guitar players half stack.No.You need more power and more speaker area.
  13. I would say the culprit to blame here is the soundman.

    Any soundman that KNOWS what they are doing would have told the guitarists to TURN DOWN. The few good ones I know are prety adamant about having a reasonable stage volume for all instruments before running it through the PA.

    If it sounds like crap on stage, the FOH is not going to sound much better.
  14. rok51

    rok51 Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2002
    Crawfordville, FL
    Maybe, when they mature...
    Our guitarists use relatively small amps a 112 combo with 12 inch extension cab and a Super Reverb with 12 inch extension cab. We got a new PA and everybody goes through it. I now only bring my 410 cab and will likely downsize in the future. The net result has been that EVERYBODY can hear EVERYTHING. Stage volume is much lower and the trusted souls in the audience have informed us that the band sounds much better, soundwise. The vocals are clear and no instrument drowns out another. The subs project my bass and the kick without breaking a sweat. Took me a long time to get here (guilty of liking the looks of a big stack and feeling my pants flappin' in time to my notes), but the bleedback from the subs allows both myself and the drummer to hear our low frequency material easily, without the stage volume being loud.
    My 2cents.

  15. Mike


    Sep 7, 2000
    I agree with Bass Pounder. Tell the guitarists to turn down. Guitars, b/c they are a mid range instrument, cut thru with no effort and dominate everything. A seasoned soundman should tell them, "Hey. You are competing with the PA volume. Make an adjustment." One that isn't as conscientious, or very bright, might not realize what the problem is.

    I play in two three pieces. One is great b/c the guitarists is always conscious of his volume and makes an effort to adjust it appropriately for the benefit of all. The other, OTOH, very much has lead guitarist's syndrome. For whatever reason he thinks he is the center of the universe and everyone is interested in hearing nothing but him. Consequently, we all pay the price of having our eardrums subjected to screeching feedback, ear piercing highs and washed out overdrive. It's a good thing I wear earplugs. I need to quit that band. :)
  16. Hey Blues Bass,

    That does make sense. In my case, the band i used to play in had 2 half stacks and guy that used 2 combo amps, a 1x12 and a 2x12. I used my little SVT-410hlf with my qsc RMX850 and and SVP on half, and drowned them out in cafs and auditoriums, even at a few clubs. Problem is when you get to a place that doesn't like bass frequencies, you develop a probelm, and the weight of another SVT doesn't sound too bad just so you can hear yourself
  17. alexclaber

    alexclaber Commercial User

    Jun 19, 2001
    Brighton, UK
    Director - Barefaced Ltd
    In my last band I had the rare pleasure of being to overwhelm my guitarist - he had a Mesa/Boogie 1x10" (or maybe 1x8") 30W combo, and I had my 1000W into 2x Acme Low-B2 stack. However his amp weighed less than my pedalboard...

    My previous guitarist had a mid '70s Fender Twin which put 135W through the most efficient 2x12" speakers I have ever heard - he could drown me out with the Master volume on 3 - but he was a quiet guitarist, we constantly had to tell him to turn up!!!

    I think if I had to go up against heavy guitars again, I'd power two Eden 410XLTs with a 2000W power amp, that low-mid hump is just what you need to cut through.

  18. Allthough by my other response to this thread it looks like I'm advocating big bass stacks,I'm definitely from the other camp.I'm for lower stage volume and letting the PA/monitors do the real work.I know that much of the time we don't get PA suport for our instruments but it is nice when you can hear all the other instruments and the vocals clearly,it's much easier to get a good mix.Guitar players are the main problem most of the time but loud drummers also cause problems.When I judge a bass rig it's by whether it will give me enough volume over the drums first and then the guitars.I wear ear plugs when I play now because certain drum hits make my ears hurt.My drummer HAS to wear them because his ears have lost the ability to protect themselves from years of not wearing ear protection.We've both been playing for about 30 years and still like it.If you want to keep playing till you're old like us think about your volume now and try to talk sense into your bandmembers.Spend some money on a good sound system and soundman.It's much easier to hear the tone of your rig when you aren't pushing it to it's limit.Sorry for getting off the subject of the thread but your ears are important.My 20 cents.
  19. The worst is when you have two guitar players. One turns up and then the other one turns up. And so on, until everones ears start to bleed. This is usually more of a problem at rehersals than live. I think the drums should dictate the volume, and or the vocals. Some of those first Fender and Marshall amps were designed to be bass amps. So guitar players have no business using them anyway.
  20. CS


    Dec 11, 1999
    I also play guitar and I gig with a 15w combo. Two guitar playing mates were skeptical. However they have since gone from 50-60w 2x12 combos to lower powered options. One of them has bought a 20w 1x12 combo and the other a Twin. NB the Twin has a 25w option and he uses that most of the time.