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I think we are going to have to turn down.

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Droog, Feb 16, 2005.

  1. Droog


    Aug 14, 2003
    This sucks, last night my band got in trouble at our practice space, too loud. We practice in a basement near a motel and finnally got a complaint last night. Now I am going to attempt to move our setup in a different part of the building, still in the basement but a good 30 feet from where we were. I think we should try to turn down too, but getting the other guys to do so I think will be a pain. What do you all suggest? We are a three piece playing pretty hard rock, not metal, but loud and rockus. I use a set of ear plugs with 25db filters and after 3 hours of playing my ears a just a bit fuzzy, I cringe at what it must be like to have no protection. So needless to say we are damn loud, but the excuse has been that we set levels to the drummer, also our PA is only supporting the vocals. I am kinda at an impass as to what to do, if the next setup does not work we gotta play elseware, and that will probobly cost money.

    For those of you in loud bands, how have you gotten away with it? I can already here my guitar player "If I turn down its gonna kill my tone...." and the drummer "If I play softer we are going to lose the intensity" and you know I can't really call BS on that either. Can we still rock if we are quite? :D

    Thanks all!
  2. jiant.


    Jul 3, 2004
    Fort Mill, SC
    Possibly look into some ghetto sound-proofing the room. You could go as basic as the egg crate things between matresses, or use matresses, or whatever other kind of foam you come across.
  3. There's no reason you can't play at a lower volume. If you are so loud your ears are still ringing even with plugs, you are too loud. You don't need to simulate arena levels during rehearsal!

    Tell the other guys that if you get another complaint, you are done at that space, and THEY will have to pay for any rented space. Set your amp to a lower volume and force the guitarist to play to it. If he gets louder, call him on it, and keep doing it, until he falls in line. The drummer should adjust as well.
  4. Droog


    Aug 14, 2003
    Thanks Invader, This is my first real band so its still a new game to me. Our volume has always worried me, I am going to inforce a lower volume next practice, we really have no choice. We are screwed if we lose this place. Its actually the basement of where I work and I am lucky to have a great boss. So unfortunately the sound proofing idea won't fly, especially being as real estate down there is at a premium. Thanks again guys, the vote of confidence is well needed.
  5. Many guitarists don't know about getting good tone from amps: they wind up buying a full Marshall stack for example. But when they turn the amp up to get that overdriven Marshall sound, it's simply waaay too loud. Instead they should have purchased a 30 watt combo, it's more than loud enough for gigs but it can be overdriven without splitting everybody's eardrums. The remedy: turn the amp down, and if necessary, get stomp boxes to get the tone he wants.

    As far as the drummer: good drummers can play soft as well as loud.

    You'll generally find that the entire band will sound better at lower volumes.
  6. msquared


    Sep 19, 2004
    Kansas City
    I second the advice of turning down. I would third it and fourth it if I could. Some things to consider:

    1) Your ears being fuzzy after three hours with -25db plugs in means you're getting hearing damage from the volume. I hope everyone is wearing plugs like this, especially the drummer. Remember, hearing damage is cumulative and subtle.

    2) Playing that loud keeps you from hearing each other as well. You can't lock in as well as you ordinarily would. This means you're not really making the most of those three hour blocks of time you're investing.

    3) Egg crate/mattresses/etc aren't going to have any percievable effect on the sound levels outside of your space. They will keep some (not much) of the reverb down inside your space, but that doesn't really matter at those volumes.

    4) Your drummer probably goes through sticks and heads fairly quickly, and I bet his/her cymbals aren't in great condition. I guess some people think this is cool.. when I'm drumming in a band, I merely find it expensive.

    5) I don't know what your rig looks like but high volumes always bring a danger of cranking your amp, which means a danger of clipping, which means blown speakers.

    Good luck convincing your bandmates to turn down and wear plugs.
  7. Joe P

    Joe P

    Jul 15, 2004
    Milwaukee, WI
    It's true. We finslly had to go with an electronic drumset recently. It's not a real good one, and certainly isn't as expressive as a real set, but our drummer just could not quiet down.

    It's not just a practice thing. Many bands are too loud for the bars they play too! I really do think that bands being too loud is one thing that holds back the whole live music scene - there are many clubs that don't have bands because of it!

    Our band has talked about this (we play some pretty small bars), and we want to get our volume way down while still keeping a full sound. We're now accomplishing this with electronic drums, and compression on every board channel!

  8. toad


    Jun 26, 2002
    My band used to drive me crazy with the volume. We had the drummer saying, "Sorry, but the drums don't have a volume knob," and the two guitarists volume dueling over the drums. It was stupid, and in the end, it makes for bad practices because you can't hear how anyone is playing.

    It starts with the drums. This drummer just didn't know how to play. I also play with a talented drummer in another band who can play to any room because he has control over his instrument and he's listening to everyone else. It made for better music and it was easier to rock.
  9. Joe P

    Joe P

    Jul 15, 2004
    Milwaukee, WI
    How about these prevailing theories about that ROCK drumming HAS to be hard - either because of the tone, or the groove. I've even heard something to this effect fairly dogmatically stated here on TB, I believe.

    I sure would like to be convinced that it's not true.

    Our band once played a private party; we set up in a regular living room. We brought the electric drums, and plugged bass and guitar right into the board with preamps. Every channel on the board is seperately compressed, plus the whole mix to the mains is compressed again - we were able to use tons of gain and gain reduction (compression). We were able to maintain a full-range, powerful, room-filling and head-filling sound WITHOUT excessive volume. Our minimum volume was really limited by the point where you could hear the vocals right from our mouths as loudly as it was coming out of the PA, and similarly when the tapping on the drum triggers was interfearing with the drum sounds from the PA. It was great - listeners still had to raise their voices to converse, but in anything but a sit-down-and-listen rock concert (I mean regular, public social situations where there's live music, like BARS), I don't think a band should force people to YELL to communicate, except right on the dance floor (that's another issue: being about how the WORST sound is usually on the dance floor, because either the mains have to be aimed way out into the room because of FEEDBACK caused by all the excessive volume; or the stage volume is SO LOUD that the mix is all off because of that).

    I really think that this sound pressure issue is something that needs to be addressed in smaller-venue live music. It's keeping many bars from running live music, and keeping some fans away. It can be downright opressive-feeling to spend even one hour in a club that's constantly pumped up to high sound pressure levels. When you literally can't communicate with anyone around you for whole sets at a time, you can't 'socialize' - the band comendeering your entire evening-out!

    Especially those of us in smaller bands should really address this!

  10. Sundogue


    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    I can't understand how a band can conduct a meaningful rehearsal at high volume.

    First of all, subtleties are lost and we all know that high volume can cover up a multitude of sins. Did you mess up on a phrasing? Who would know?

    I've played in some pretty loud bands in my day...but the high volume was cranking out through the PA, not onstage.

    As far as a drummer who is a can basher, most drummers who play too loud have not learned how to play properly. I play with a drummer who could can bash with the best of them...however anything he can play hard, he can also play soft, at any speed. No volume control? Yeah, it's his hands. :D
  11. I'll bet your drummer "plays from the shoulders" ? :D :D

    Unfortunately, some drummers seem to think that the ability to play at anything other than full volume is some sort of slight on their masculinity. Truth be known, these people are just one trick ponies who, as others have said, haven't learned to play properly. :scowl: :scowl:

    If you could at least get your drummer to agree to tune his kit properly it would be a help but if the problem truly is between his ears (as is often the case), I really don't know where you go from there.

    If you are using ear defenders which give you a 25 db reduction and you are STILL suffering a negative effect after a REHEARSAL, I think you owe it to your own health to make sure that something changes. :eek: :eek: :eek:

    I really do wish you the best of luck. I quit a band 3 years ago because the drummer was a total "animal" volume-wise. Ironically, it was a matter of pride with him. :confused: :confused:
  12. Sundogue


    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    I'm trying to picture him with drumsticks coming out of his shoulders. :eek:

    Actually he does some pretty amazing things with his wrist action that just floors me. The other night he did this thing that even made our guitar player stop and do a double take. He played this little riff that sounded like he had an echo or delay (of course he uses no effects).

    Our drummer has played some really wild, very fast stuff and he can do it playing real hard and also play it just as fast, but very quiet too.

    There goes the excuse of the drummer not being able to play quieter. Though, I guess some drummer's can't...but that's not something inherent in playing an instrument that doesn't use an amp with a volume pot.
  13. nonsqtr

    nonsqtr The emperor has no clothes!

    Aug 29, 2003
    Burbank CA USA
    One of my best solutions has been, "remove yourself from the public ear", while you're practicing. We have a little rehearsal space out in the woods, in the middle of the mountains near Wrightwood, where we go when we really need to get goinig fot a tour, or even a show. There's no one within a million miles out there, or let's say, within hearing distance. :D

    That can be a very difficult thing to accomplish if you're in the city though. Egg crates are good for that, and carpet, and that kind of thing. There's a company right down the street that makes a very profitable living selling that kind of stuff. "Sound-proofing". There's a lot to be said for that concept. You can turn up as loud as you want, and blow your ears out, without affecting the neighbors. :)
  14. toad


    Jun 26, 2002
    I would think you'd get all sorts of personal preferences on this. I do play in a rock band plays loud enough so you can't have a regular conversation over it, but that's the kind of show it is and what people expect.

    I do think, however, that there is a marked difference in the skills of the two drummers I was talking about. One can vary his volume and still play with feel; the other one just can't. And when we're talking about rehearsals, it's invaluable because as others have mentioned, you want to hear what is going on and where you need to work on parts (for some bands, maybe dynamics and subtleties don't matter). I've also noticed the difference in the two drummers is also the attitude towards musicality. The better one actively listens to what everyone else is doing, the other one hardly notices it seems. Just speaking from my preference, when the band is listening to each other and there is dynamics, that's when you rock.

    There's degrees to this, but if the original poster is damaging his ears during rehearsal even with plugs I would have to wonder what kind of drum tone they are even hearing that's worth salvaging.

    Man, I feel old.
  15. Sundogue


    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    I agree. Who is caring about tone if you are cranked that loud?

    I don't buy the argument that your tone suffers because of a lack of volume...especially coming from a drummer!

    In my experience, a drummer who can only play loud, does so because he/she can't play fast things lightly. When a fast part come up (or if the whole song is fast) there is a tendency for those with bad technique to play harder. And that goes for all musicians, not just drummers.

    To me it's just a lame excuse for not working on technique. I've been there and said the same things. And there are still times when a particularly fast part comes up where I dig in too hard to play it. The truth is, the harder you play the faster the muscle fatigue and the worse you'll play.

    You can always play faster if you play lighter (drummers take notice!). It's just a matter of technique...and that takes practice.
  16. Droog


    Aug 14, 2003
    I think i have the guys convinced to turn down. We shall see tonight. Playing in a new local, a hall way actually. I have a feeling our drummer may make an issue of it, I sure hope not though. As far as amps go, I am all for turning in down. I am going to to try and get creative with out monitoring tonight as well. Part of the problem for the guitar is that his cab is very directional and he has to bend down to really hear the tone, I guess I could say the same about my rig as well. Think I will pipe guitar and bass into the drummers and singers monitor and see if that helps. That way we can turn down and he should still be able to hear us in his wedge.

    I want to find some SPL stats and info, so I can roughly calculate how much SPL we are producing and what its doing to there ears, because no, they are not protected. I know its stupid, but it is amazing how people don't take that seriously. If my ears a little fuzzy after practice and i have 25 db filters I would think that we are easily exceeding 100 db spl in a tiny space. Not good my friends, not good.

    Thanks for all the posts. Keep'em coming I find it interesting, to here what experianced folks have to say.

    Oh, as far rigs go. I run a 400+ and a 410, its not cranked but I don't think anybody cranks them. Guitar is also a Mesa 100 watt head w/412. Drums, well some TAMA set. Pretty basic stuff really.
  17. Sundogue


    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    Have your guitar player either tilt his amp back or put it up on something so the sound is coming right at his ears. You can do the same, but since the soundwaves of bass frequencies take longer to develop, you should try standing further away from your cab to hear it better.

    That may be the whole issue. The drummer might be playing hard to compensate for the loud guitar. Get the guitar players cab where he can hear it, so he can turn down. Then the drummer shouldn't have to play so hard. Then you can hear yourself.

    That way you all win.
  18. Eric Moesle

    Eric Moesle Supporting Member

    Sep 21, 2001
    Columbus OH
    If you're rehearsing that loud, then you can't hear mistakes to fix, or any subtelties that might need your attention because the volume is masking the problem areas.

    If you insist on playing that loud, then you are just playing for fun, not rehearsing . . . IMO . . . :rollno:
  19. Droog


    Aug 14, 2003
    Agreed, Subtlety has gone out the window at times. Of course some of the tunes are not subtle, but I hear what you are saying.

    I think you are right Sundogue. This is definately on the to do list.

    Thanks again everybody.
  20. The only time the "need to be loud for the tone" argument works is if you've got a non master volume amp. I've got a 19w Gibson Falcon that's so-so from 1-5, but when you turn it up to 7 the magic happens. :smug: The beauty of all the cascading gain channels is that you can have a 100w amp, a 4x12 and have decent tone at bedroom levels.

    Sure, it's fun to make your pants legs flap around like a flag during a hurricane, but there's no practical reason to rehearse so loud you NEED earplugs. A 100w guitar amp with a 4x12 shouldn't need the master volume turned past 2.

    Good luck.
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