In Big Clubs...

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by father of fires, Aug 10, 2009.

  1. father of fires

    father of fires Commercial User

    Nov 29, 2006
    Chief of Medicine at Damnation Audio
    This is a question for people with large club sound reinforcement experience.

    How much of the bass tone is the amp and how much is the p.a.? I know sound engineers have their preference of d.i.'s and preamps but, do they try to replicate the bassists tone?

    What sparked this question was that, I just went to see Clutch and they ruled as always but, they were way loud and the bass had no definition. Dan was using a Lakland Bob Glaub with a single Darkstar pup. I was on the extreme right of the stage so I couldn't see his rig but he usually has an ampeg svt/810 set-up.

    I would imagine this rig would rule?

    Maybe it did and I was just in a bad spot in the club but, it got me thinking.

    Why spend so much time defining your sound if the sound guy is just gonna do what he wants.

    I've never played a big club but, I've had problems with this at little clubs. Being forced to share someone's cab or being told how to set up my rig.

    I know they are trying to make their life easy but, I put a lot of time and effort into my rig and I want to sound like me.

    I'm just afraid that if I ever get to play larger venues I will have even less say in my sound.

    I think that's why everyone uses Ampeg. So they don't have to fight with sound guys.

    Am I way off.

    Maybe I'm just over-thinking. I do that a lot.
  2. WAY too many variables to get a truthful answer here.

    For larger venues.. DI is normally the method to get the sound.. where in the chain dictates a starting point for the sound crew.

    Who knows.. maybe the band didn't sound check.. the main guy was off.. something was broken.. the club owner says "it's just clutch.. who cares"

    Most stage rigs end up being oversized monitors that muddy up FOH sound.


    I'd go the otherway.. folks always percieve a specific bassist to play a specific string, specific bass.. specific amp and try to capture their sound (without having a huge room.. walls away from stage.. 5 sound guys .. and a million dollar sound system.

    I'd start by going to the middle front of the house (mid room) what you hear on stage or near it is sometimes a HUGE vortex of sound.

    They mix for the audience - not a few folks up front.


    For you to truely have a universal sample of what was going on.. everyone would be renting headphones and going wireless.
  3. father of fires

    father of fires Commercial User

    Nov 29, 2006
    Chief of Medicine at Damnation Audio
    "Most stage rigs end up being oversized monitors that muddy up FOH sound."

    So what you hear is the engineers idea of good bass tone. Does the artist have any input?

  4. Any input.. really depends.. some sound guys don't care.. some bands don't care... some come to an agreement.. some avoid the discussion.. some really don't care.

    I've done some large stadiums where the act said "lay back.. have a bud.. have a great time - you're living a daydream.. don't sweat the stuff".. I've also been with larger acts who sound check at 10 a.m. in the morning going through ever nuance of the night's gig.. they obsessed over details.. sounded fantastic.. looked nervous and disconnected.

    Remember it's a totally different setup everynight.. ON bigger stages I havent' had a clue what the audience hears... I've hired folks to play my monster rig in a huge room - then had them turn off... turn on.. going direct.. miked.. then combos of everything... long story short it changed my life... realized that if everyone turned off stage volume it wouldn't muddy and wash the FOH.

    Artist input really depends on the relationship of expectations.

    I"m picky on sound - also understand once the person arrives the band is in the bumper sticker and Tshirt selling biz more than the sounding like the recording biz... if I was to throw fits, I'd not be called back.
  5. bertbassplayer

    bertbassplayer Supporting Member

    Jul 7, 2000
    Carlsbad, NM
    Usually no. Most of the places I've played I have 0 control or input on what the sound guy does which is bad because you never know how good or bad it might be. I've actually had a sound guy ask me if I minded him doing something, in which I replied "yes I do mind" and he preceded to do it anyway.

    From what I've seen there's two methods, either taking the DI from your amp or just bypassing your amp and taking a straight DI from your bass. Rarely have I had a soundguy actually mic my rig.
  6. father of fires

    father of fires Commercial User

    Nov 29, 2006
    Chief of Medicine at Damnation Audio
    It all makes sense.

    I guess I have it in my head that my rig defines me and my sound but, the sound guy just wants to make the band sound good.

  7. I can understand this. To help you understand..

    Move your rig toward a wall.. then move it out 10 feet.. move it in a room with hardwood floors.. then one with carpet.. then move it to a big empty wood box (stage).. then yank it outside.... pull it back into a concrete walled boomy room.. .. put your head right in front of it.. then jump on top of the amp... run around the back.. then get a 50 foot cord and run back.... then set it up in 2 minutes and have a manager yelling that rock bands should buy watches.

    Then have your best sound guy quit and scramble to find anyone.

    Overall I've yet to have anyone prove or demonstrate that the stage amps help audience sound (in larger venues)

    Next time you go to a Casino - notice they commonly are now starting to ban amplifiers.. chances are you can't tell until you start looking for one.

    I love my amp(s) - when someone else is carrying them... and the sitations are correct... I'm blessed to have custom designed cabinets etc.. overall there's a band of reality they work for.

    I spent months on this topic - basically came up with the end point that every variable on stage greatly changes FOH when you're moving room to room.

    Your tone.. finger technique.. action... strings.. on bass settings are the overall easiest to control for FOH sound.. everything that happens after is another link waiting to break.

    Trying to help


    PS - timely as I'm having this discussion with a gui**** who brings a Super Reverb 4x10 into a brick domed room then insists that "his tone" starts at 8 (true quote) .. he could care less if gramma's ears are bleeding and hip has shattered... sometimes there are other considerations.
  8. RickenBoogie


    Jul 22, 2007
    Dallas, TX
    Aside from the DI box in my gig bag, I also carry an SM57 and a short mic stand. It helps to be prepared, and alot of bar sound guys have no problem if you would rather use your mic than his DI. I assume by big clubs, you mean bars with maybe 500 or so patrons? I think it would be fairly easy to talk the soundman into using your mic'd up amp.
  9. Also note..

    For a band like Clutch.. they're playing larger club venues..

    Commonly they will not have their own Sound engineers..

    The club they played around here roadies and crew aren't even on the same floor as the sound guy - he's up out and hidden from the way.. guessing he never really talks to the band.
  10. Johnny Crab

    Johnny Crab HELIX user & BOSE Abuser

    Feb 11, 2004
    Sound guy will control what the audience hears UNLESS you're running over him with two 18's and sixteen 10's(been there, done that, manager could hear my stage rig two blocks away). A GOOD sound guy will listen to the band's tunes and do everything in his power to duplicate what he has heard them produce.

    Currently for big places, my setup is:
    Line 6 BassPODXTLive-->SansAmp--->DBX166XL---> one output to stage amp, one output to PA
    Haven't had a complaint and do make it a point to tell the sound guy which tune(s) will/may have a hot patch coming his way. IF there is a soundcheck, I run through the patches so he can hear what I want(wireless helps you to be at his location for this as a band member cycles your presets).
  11. Eric Moesle

    Eric Moesle Supporting Member

    Sep 21, 2001
    Columbus OH
    1. Your stage amp in a large venue will sound thin where the crowd is, so don't even bother. Big mains with subs are designed to throw into a large venue, your stage rig is not.

    2. Hire a good sound engineer and work with him to get the sound you prefer out front. Can't stress this enough. People will fuss over their stage tone and then just give up. HIRE A REGULAR to take with you. Its just as important as your drummer. Even a great band with great gear will sound like crap out front with a bad engineer.

    3. If you're too lazy or cheap to hire your own full-time engineer, then you get the sound you deserve out front.
  12. Fred Hammon

    Fred Hammon

    May 13, 2005
    A couple of years back I went to see Wilco at the Wiltern Theater in Los Angeles. John Stirratt was playing a Dark Starred Lakland Glaub and I wanted to hear it in a concert setting. I was disappointed.
    The sound people had so much sub-bass added to the mix I could feel it more than I could hear it.
    I believe this is due to the dumbing-down ( of our youth culture caused by cheap commercialism and electronic music - techno-pop, some forms of hip-hop etc.
    I'm sure most people under the age of 25 (musicians excluded) thought it was perfectly natural and would expect no less.

    No sub-bass here. Somebody should write a caption for Jerry's expression like: "Can you hear me OK?"


  13. IvanMike

    IvanMike TTRPG enthusiast, Happy, Joyous, & Free. Supporting Member

    Nov 10, 2002
    Middletown CT, USA
    big venue your amp is a stage monitor. the pa is everything. Hopefully you have a good soundman (who are worth their weight in francium).
  14. Passinwind

    Passinwind I know nothing. Commercial User

    Dec 3, 2003
    Columbia River Gorge, WA.
    Owner/Designer &Toaster Tech Passinwind Electronics
    + 100000000000
  15. billfitzmaurice

    billfitzmaurice Commercial User

    Sep 15, 2004
    New Hampshire
    Owner, Bill Fitzmaurice Loudspeaker Design
    +100. And don't assume that having your own guy in the FOH makes the situation any better. Even in the top ranks of pro-touring IMO perhaps 10% of FOH engineers know what bass is supposed to sound like, and how to get it there. Most of them are either recording engineer/producers and/or bassplayers themselves. IMO most bassplayers would fire their FOH engineers if they could hear how badly they're mixed, but they don't hear it, they hear their stage rigs.
  16. TrevorOfDoom

    TrevorOfDoom Supporting Member

    Jun 17, 2007
    Austin, TX
    as an addendum to what other have said, when you get to a venue, take the time to talk to the soundguy. at the very least, learn his name and thank him. offer to buy him a beer. chit chat with him. this increases the chances that he'll actually care how you sound as a band.
  17. speedkills


    Jan 10, 2008
    I have almost no experience in BIG places...but

    When I toured Europe with a local band we played small to medium places and I never saw anything through a DI. Every amp and drum was mic'd, or not at all in the smallest places. Most often they let me mix for the band I was with and the other bands had one of their guys do it for them.
    Sound checks in Europe seemed generally very long and very detailed, and each band, opener through headliner got one, and the boards were marked with everyone's settings beforehand. Shows there were often live on the radio so there were usually two soundchecks, one for the house and one for the radio crew.
    Strangely enough I expected DIs for the radio show recordings, but even they were happy with mics...

    Here at home, in small to medium places, usually only the headliner soundchecks and I still don't often see a DI, usually mics, and the soundguys don't want any input.
    I have signaled and screamed my butt off trying to get more or less of something in the mix, but ususally get nothing and like it.

    Just sayin'.
  18. father of fires

    father of fires Commercial User

    Nov 29, 2006
    Chief of Medicine at Damnation Audio
    I always chat up the sound engineers and thank them for thier work. Someone once told me I could tip them but, I'm not so sure if I should walk up and just hand them some cash. Would they think I'm wierd?

    Is there a standard amount?

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