Issues with stage volume

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by crucislancer, May 15, 2021.

  1. crucislancer

    crucislancer Supporting Member

    Dec 25, 2009
    Coeur d'Alene, ID
    Last night my band played a new venue, and while the gig was good for the most part, there was some volume issues that came up during the last set. The volume on both guitars came up quite a bit at that point, so loud that I had to say something about it to both guitarists. One of them brought his level down, but the other just laughed when I mentioned it. This morning, the lead guitarist had this to say on our shared band group:

    "Hey guys. Good show last night. Definitely better sound than last Friday. I know there's work to do on guitar mix, but please make an effort to be kind. Positive input is welcomed, but constant griping about volume, FX or any other aspect of our sound is not going to fly with me.

    Let's continue to do the best we can, given the resources and time that we all have. Each new room brings with it a new learning curve. So please give this some time. At least more time than a 10-minute soundcheck provides.

    I won't be coming out early to move cabinets or re-wire stuff. The Saturday crowd will just have to hear what the Friday crowd heard. And, the packed stage will just have to be a packed stage again. Next time we play there, we'll know some different things to try.

    One last thought to ponder.........rock and roll is not lounge music. If anyone can't deal with volume, go play music at a nursing home."

    As far as I know, I was the only one "griping" about the volume, and it was only that last set. Not sure how to deal with this. My first instinct is to call him up and discuss, but this kind of message pisses me off, so a discussion might turn into a shouting match. I guess I'll take the day to calm down, and just deal with his volume issues as best I can with my mouth shut.
  2. The problem is that volume is not about the band. It's about the crowd. If the band is playing metal or punk or something that is expected to be painfully loud, that's one thing. Rock can be loud enough without being uncomfortable for audiences. But if it's too loud, it can be a turn off.

    Example: I once played in a Country Band. The guitarist not only setup and ran the PA, he brought waaaaaay too much amp to the shows. Like having to put plexiglass in front of it. Our more-than-what-should-have-been-enough amps couldn't compete with his plexiglassed amp, especially since it bounced the sound right back at the drummer who raised his volume in response. The stage volume/monitors were raised as a result and it all sounded like hell.

    In general, country music folks like to dance. But the overall volume was so loud that it pinned the crowd to the walls, with no one venturing on to the dance floor as it was too painful. Had a similar thing happen in a Bues-Rock trio where the guitarist ran off 2/3 of the crowd with volume as he oved playing loud.

    Nowadays, I set the bass volume to the first song/sound-check level, with my on-board volume knob dimed, and the band knows it. If they can't hear the bass, they have become too loud. Seems to work in general. Unless you just have 'one of those' guitarists who insist on personal preference over the good of the band/show. Fixing volume is easy.
  3. ladybug

    ladybug Supporting Member

    Apr 14, 2007
    What type of music do you play in that band?
    MattZilla likes this.
  4. crucislancer

    crucislancer Supporting Member

    Dec 25, 2009
    Coeur d'Alene, ID
    Rock covers from 70's to early 00's, with a little pop thrown in. I don't think there were any complaints from the crowd, it was just that last set and the stage volume was insane for that set. It's possible that the lead guitarist turned down the guitars in the PA and had them turn the amps up on stage to compensate, but I don't know if that's the case.
  5. IME even too much stage volume with the FOH at reasonable levels can cause issues with being ale to hear yourselves, potentially leading to less than ideal performances.
  6. crucislancer

    crucislancer Supporting Member

    Dec 25, 2009
    Coeur d'Alene, ID
    Agreed, which was my issue for the most part. I could barely hear the drummer's kick, and he was mic'd and coming through the monitors, not to mention I was standing right next to the drums.
    Mr_Moo likes this.
  7. ladybug

    ladybug Supporting Member

    Apr 14, 2007
    That seems excessively loud. Our sound guy just told me he has been mixing the band for the last couple years to the guitarists stage really cripples the ability to dial in a complete sound picture.
  8. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    As someone who has been gigging over 30 years, here are my thoughts on volume:

    1. You will never lose a gig for not playing loud enough. Lots of bands lose gigs for playing too loudly. Ask the venue owners.

    2. Once volume is set at soundcheck, why is anyone turning and wasting the soundcheck?

    3. You are playing for the audience, not your ego.

    4. I will not put up with a band that plays too loudly.

    You have to decide whether it's worth bringing up the issue and risk getting canned. I would.
  9. crucislancer

    crucislancer Supporting Member

    Dec 25, 2009
    Coeur d'Alene, ID
    Yup. It's an issue that comes up every few gigs. I'm the only one that really says anything about issues, either with sound or performance. So, I'm the band a-hole because I want to be professional and hold everyone else in the band to that standard, because we get paid to do it. We can still have fun and be professional.

    I've been around the block about as long as you, and when these things happen I do my best to be professional about it. But when I see messages like that on the band group forum, basically telling me to deal with it, I get a little pissed about it.

    I'll say something for sure, but perhaps at a later date.
    Last edited: May 15, 2021
  10. MattZilla


    Jun 26, 2013
    “Hey, friend, rock n roll is about the kick drum as much as it is about anything else. If you’re drowning out the kick with an instrument that’s supposed to cut out below 300hz, you’re screwing it up.”
    Mr_Moo, Omega Monkey, Mk90 and 6 others like this.
  11. ladybug

    ladybug Supporting Member

    Apr 14, 2007
    So here is a suggestion.... A lot of times people sound check with relaxed quiet tunes. The drummer isn't "feeling it" yet and so the sound gets checked at that volume. Now you go on break ...have beer or whatever... By the third set everyone's adrenaline is pumping and the volume comes up from the drums. This makes the guitarists feel like they can't be heard. I am by no means saying it is the right move to turn up stage volume once you sound check...maybe better to sound check with the most loud song you have and tell everyone to dig in like it's the last tune of the night. This could solve your problem and also give the venue a real idea of the bands volume.
  12. crucislancer

    crucislancer Supporting Member

    Dec 25, 2009
    Coeur d'Alene, ID
    Absolutely, and that's a suggestion that I would be happy to put forward. The tune that was picked for soundcheck last night was "Fall in Love Again" by Sammy Hagar, rock for sure but not our heaviest song by any means.
    juggahnaught and ladybug like this.
  13. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

    candidly. ;)
    sounds passive-aggressive to me (kinda like his memo), but i don't know your band culture...sometimes subtlety can get lost.

    sounds reasonable. you should give that a go! good luck! :thumbsup:

    you don't have to shout to say what you want to say:
    e.g., "you were too loud on the third set of the gig."

    i like to avoid shouting matches --- one way to do that is to state your position (POV, experience) in very certain terms and then stop talking. theoretically: you have nothing else to say. if he responds with 'excuses' or flakey points-of-view you can call him out/debate, or: restate your experience: "you were too loud on the third set." he'll only need to hear that a few times. at some point in the dialog/silence, he'll become aware of your message, both the content and the process. you don't really have to say anything else! good luck! :thumbsup:

    also, FWIW: asking "can you turn down?" is not the same as the statement "you're too loud!"
  14. Talking about it with him really is the only thing to do if you want to resolve the issue. Waiting for some change of attitude is not likely or productive. It either bothers you or it doesn't. It seems to bother you a bit. Since that's the case just get it resolved. You can't control what another person is going to do but you can control what you do and what you will accept from a bandmate. Honestly though, the volume issue ought to be agreed upon by everyone. Give and take maybe but in the end agreed upon.

    Good luck.
    eadg98005, abarson, Engle and 3 others like this.
  15. DirtDog


    Jun 7, 2002
    The Deep North
    Put both a recording device out front and an SPL meter on the stage. That’ll show if your performance is suffering from not being able to hear each (vox and backing vox especially) and the SPL meter will provide an objective measure of “too loud”. Decide on an acceptable level and manage accordingly.

    In terms of the off handed ness of the guitars players response....I guess he’s “too rock and roll” to care about his bandmates’ hearing. His own hearing might, in fact, be shot.
    Last edited: May 15, 2021
  16. crucislancer

    crucislancer Supporting Member

    Dec 25, 2009
    Coeur d'Alene, ID
    I guess it bothers me because the stage volume was perfect during the first 3 sets, then near the end of the third set and into the fourth set it was super loud.

    I do intend on saying something about this, but I just need to ride out tonight's gig and come back to the issue later. I don't think I'm being passive/aggressive in this case, just picking a different venue for this discussion.
    dkelley, Loring and JRA like this.
  17. DirtDog


    Jun 7, 2002
    The Deep North
    How many drinks did the guitar player have by the third set?
  18. crucislancer

    crucislancer Supporting Member

    Dec 25, 2009
    Coeur d'Alene, ID
    Good question. I don't think he had much to drink last night, I think he took a shot during the 4th set, but other than that I couldn't say. The other guitarist was drinking quite a bit, and I think he went out to his car to smoke weed a couple times.
    ladybug likes this.
  19. micguy


    May 17, 2011
    There is a very high correlation between bands with volume wars on stage and sounding like crap to an audience.

    If you want to sound good, you need to give the sound person a fighting chance - play at a reasonable and balanced level, and let the PA take it up to what fits the venue.

    I haven't played a gig with guitar amps on stage in several years, and I hear positive comments about sound a lot more now. Coincidence?

    One of the things that may have messed up your last set was...a combination of alcohol and ear fatigue. Your hearing is adversely affected by alcohol, add in ear fatigue, and just plain bad decisions caused by alcohol, and things can get out of hand quickly.
  20. Lesfunk

    Lesfunk Bootlegger guitars : S.I.T. Strings Supporting Member

    Apr 5, 2007
    Florida USA
    You said the magic word
    “Two guitars”
    Unless one of them is an acoustic, it’s a recipe for disaster
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