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Is it impossible to play a gig without sound check?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by swell9, Nov 3, 2012.

  1. swell9


    Sep 8, 2010
    Hello all,

    A few days ago, myself and a couple of friends played together when we were auditioning for a local organization.

    Our performance was terrible. Guitar tone was too distorted that you couldn't make out the individual notes, bass was either too thumby or too trembly and drums were too loud. This combination has even led to bigger mistakes such as playing off rhythm every now and then.

    It sounded like it was our first time picking up our instruments even though we have been jamming together for a few years.

    Did any one ever face such circumstances? I am starting to think it is really not possible to play using someone else's equipement without spending at least 30 min sound checking with a few warmup songs.
  2. I completely agree. 30 minutes is a long time, but if you can't run through one or two songs, or at the very least a verse/chorus, you are tempting fate.

    It seems to me, almost every time one of my bands has played without the benefit of a soundcheck, we got an unpleasant surprise. The most recent incident I remember is when another guitarist and I had our wireless set to the same frequency by accident.
  3. SBsoundguy


    Sep 2, 2011
    Los Angeles
    If a soundman has ample time for a sound check but chooses not to he's a hack. However, if the band is late then that's on them.
  4. fourstringdrums

    fourstringdrums Decidedly Indecisive Supporting Member

    Oct 20, 2002
    You weren't using your own equipment? That I can understand if you're not sure of the tone that you're going to get. But I think it IS possible without a soundcheck as long as you have a band with members that are in control of their own individual volumes and tone. But that only goes so far. You can have a good gig, but it's a gamble.
  5. SBsoundguy


    Sep 2, 2011
    Los Angeles
    What sounds great in a practice room could sound like complete crap in many other places. The room plays a big role.
  6. Duckwater


    May 10, 2010
    USA, Washington
    I play in a bar multiple times a week where my entire band can't hear a thing, we just have to trust our memory.
  7. Richland123


    Apr 17, 2009
    I have done shows with no soundcheck and we don't like to do that. A few weeks ago, we were on a multiple band and multiple P.A. show and had no time to do a soundcheck, We just ran with it and tweaked it as we went. Interestingly, nobody but us seemed to care and they loved the band. Our normal soundchecks are usually a total of 5 minutes when we mix ourselves and we know how we should sound with our system. When there is a soundman, it is much longer.
  8. derrico1

    derrico1 Supporting Member

    Apr 12, 2005
    Charlottesville, VA
    While not ideal, even on unfamiliar (but decent) gear, it should be possible to get workable tones and set reasonable volume in under a minute.

    The drummer should recognize he's too loud, and he should adjust. If he can't listen and he can't vary his volume, that's not a problem sound check will fix.

    Getting ideal guitar tones on unfamiliar gear is hard, but getting to a reasonable clean tone, setting *roughly* the right amount of distortion, and getting volume in the ballpark should be quick. Bass is more or less the same story: you should be able to get a pretty good ballpark tone even on unfamiliar gear in about a minute.
  9. This happens to us from time to time. We play 3 services a week in church, all year round. Even with that much stability (same band members, same gear, same board, blah blah blah) it's still rolling the dice. It's never a good feeling. We're using floor monitors for us, so there's lots of variability that can be hard to account for or modify quickly (vs Aviom, for example).
  10. CS


    Dec 11, 1999
    There's not enough information to make a comment. Were you borrowing backline? Soundman who never heard you before? Just your band? Multiple bands?
  11. f.c.geil


    May 12, 2011
    It is "possible" to gig without a sound check. Unless, of course, you want to sound good. In that case, a sound check is not just salutary, but mandatory.
  12. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    No. It's not impossible to play a gig without a soundcheck. The more you play, the more you will wind up doing it. The more you wind up doing it, the better you'll get at it. Experience, open ears, open mind, and a good attitude are really helpful. Sometimes there's just nothing you can do, and the good attitude becomes all that matters. Congratulations, you've now got one of those gigs under your belt. The next will be easier. :)
  13. klokker


    Jan 7, 2009
    Steele City, NE
    You have to have a pretty good sense of what you're doing to get the sound thing right.

    I work with an organization that puts bands together. And inevitably when you get people without much experience putting sound together it sounds exactly like you describe.

    Cleaning it up takes experience and maturity on the part of band members.
  14. tmdazed


    Sep 29, 2012
    yes it is possible , we did it last night, turned out really well , quick mic check , I tuned board to the room and away we went , surprisingly no tweaks needed ( course we just ran vox through the PA, stage sound for the rest ) and the mix was really good
  15. it depends on the level of professionalism of the band mates (and yourself of course)..
    i know for experience you should always put LESS distortion on the guitar than you would usually do. not knowing this ruined a gig once... especially if you do jazz/funk kind of thing
    imo a drummer should always carry rutes with him just in case
    also its good to always take a preamp with you when you play on unknown gear.. might even use it pre DI if the soudn guy wont mind
  16. livinitup0


    Dec 22, 2011
    I don't even remember the last time I did a sound check.
  17. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
  18. bggeezer

    bggeezer Guest

    May 25, 2001
    Sound check on the first number. Not ideal but possible. If you're support using the main band's back line then you rarely get time for a proper sound check. If your the main band then a proper sound check is very important. I always insist on sound checking both basses and the gui**** checks both guitars (we play about half in E, half in C# tuning). Both of us stand forward of the p.a. whilst checking too.
  19. Fiset

    Fiset I do a good impression of myself Supporting Member

    Jan 13, 2007
    New York
    In my cover band, we're responsible for our own sound and we never have a sound check. But we've been doing this for a few years so we all know what our levels should be for most of the venues we play. Still, during the first song, I'll walk out and check the mix and tell the guitarists and singer to come up or down as needed.

    For my original bands, sound checks depend on the venue and our placement in the order of bands playing that night. If we're headlining, we always get a full sound check. If not, we'll get a quick line check and then hope the sound guy mixes the FOH sound well.

    Joe had it right in his post above....the more you do this, the more comfortable you'll be. You'll learn to trust your playing even when you can't hear yourself or hear your bandmates on stage. Its a scary thing the first time you're on stage and you realize that you can't hear the rhythm guitar or the vocals or some other instrument that you may have previously used for certain cues. Just roll with it the best you can and it will get easier in the future. But don't think you're going to get 30 minute sound checks as a matter of course. While we'd all love to have that sort of time to dial in the perfect mix, its just not gonna happen in most places unless you're headlining.
  20. DethByDoom


    Sep 23, 2012