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Learning to Be KIND and Work WITH Your Sound Guy

Discussion in 'Live Sound [BG]' started by OPBASSMAN1994, Oct 7, 2010.

  1. OPBASSMAN1994


    Jul 30, 2010
    There have been several threads where sound guys have been bashed into the ground. Granted, I have issues with them sometimes too, but I think there needs to be a pro-sound dude thread! We need to learn how to cooperate with sound guys to make their truly hard job much easier. Think about it, they have to mix the sound, then adjust it to where you, the guitarist, the drummer, whoever else is in the band, the audience, and himself are ALL satisfied with the mix! They have to put up with all the complaints from the band needing more volume in their monitors, get more presence onstage, etc. At the end of the day, it's a wonder that there are even sound guys left in the world. To me, the key is striving WITH them to solve problems. Think with a bit of creativity. Try to work out the problem. And before all that, a very wise bassist once advised to go up at the beginning of a gig, before you even work with him, and introduce yourself, shake his hand, tell him about the band, the way you guys like the mix, what effects you guys use, etc.
  2. FunkMetalBass


    Aug 5, 2005
    Phoenix, Arizona 85029
    Endorsing Artist: J.C. Basses
    I agree.

    The key to a good sound is manageable stage volume. This is something every band should work on.

    In practices my band would grab our longest cables or wireless systems, set up in a stage setup, and adjust our volumes to get an even blend and remaining fairly quiet. We'd then go back into stage position, play a song, and see if we had problems hearing each other, and re-adjust amp volume/EQ to compensate.

    It's an art, but it's fairly easy to pull off and doesn't take more than an hour to get a good idea of how you should be set up on stage.
  3. I would never want to be a sound guy. It's always a good idea to be nice to them, as they can make or break the sound of your band. I always offer to buy him a drink!
  4. georgestrings

    georgestrings Inactive

    Nov 5, 2005
    Although I agree with the sentiment that cooperation is always the best approach, I disagree with the notion that running sound is all that difficult... Besides being a bassist in a couple of working bands, I also own my own PA and run sound for other bands when I'm not gigging... Granted, there will occasionally be problems here and there - but IME, *most* problems with sound result from either crappy equipment or crappy "musicians"... Since I have good, well maintained equipment in my PA, and don't run sound for hack bands, it hasn't been all that difficult... Also, I make better money when I run sound than when I play - but since I really enjoy rocking a live crowd, it isn't all about the money *with me* - but really - cry me a river about how "hard" that particular job is...

    Guys that act like running live sound is brain surgery either have crappy gear, don't know what they're doing - or work with crappy bands...

    *To me*, the worst part of providing sound and lights for other bands is the load-in, load-out, setup and teardown - the actual "running of sound" isn't bad at all...

    Now, I STILL am the spirit of cooperation as a gigging bassist, but also know EXACTLY what it takes to be on the other side of the board... I also approach every sound gig with the attitude that I'll be as accomodating as I'd like to experience if I were playing, instead of running sound...

    - georgestrings
  5. Axtman

    Axtman Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2008
    Seattle, WA
    I am always nice to sound people. Currently we are working with a guy and gal and a new sound system. I would buy them a drink but the church would not approve. :D

    It has been frustrating since our system is brand spanking new. But I am patient.

    At first they wanted me to go direct from my bass into the PA. I tried it but found the sound less than desirable. So I convinced them to go direct off my amp. Much better.

    My theory of sound systems is that they are "sound reinforcement" systems. You should set the stage level to a comfortable level/tone as if your only audience was the fellow band members. Then have the sound system "boost" your level for the rest of the audience or congregation to hear.
  6. JoshB

    JoshB A great man is always willing to be little. -RWE

    No offense intended, but that's usually what amateur sound guys say. I don't know you from Adam, so I'm not sure what rig you work on, or what experience you have, I'm just stating what I've heard along the way.

    I can totally agree with the first part, and will conditionally agree with the second part.

    As a professional engineer, when I walk into a room, I don't just open up the amp racks, throw the desk and speakers up and go. It involves actually shooting the room a bit and adjusting the EQ and crossovers for that room all while being aware of potential phase issues and trouble frequencies in the room then taking into account the size and style of the band, and mixing accordingly. All while trying to make everyone happy with their monitor mix which can be either the easiest or hardest part of my night depending on how the band is. Any of this can be made easier or harder depending on what I'm mixing on. My rig...sweet. In-house rig that has had beer spilled all over it night after night? It's going to be a rough night.

    Usually mixing in a bar also means that 3 sets in no matter how well I mix, Drunky McDrunkerson is going to come and slobber on my shoulder while spitting in my ear while trying to "whisper" to me about how he wants the lead electric (or whatever) turned up (which is what I generally have a dummy channel set up for) as well as dealing with any other issues that come up along the way. Oh, that's on top of actually mixing, since I'm not a "set it and forget it" style engineer. If you take this approach, it's not "hard" in a physical sense while mixing, but trying to make a band sound their absolute best in any situation IS going to be a good amount of work, especially if you're not their normal guy. Adjusting your effects, comps, EQ, etc. both during sound check as well as on the fly during the gig to bring out whatever instrument needs it at that point takes time and a good knowledge of your equipment and theory. Again, not "hard" in the typical sense, but again, takes time and energy to get right. Some guys make it look extremely easy.

    Kudos. You are in the minority and for that I wholeheartedly thank you as both a gigging bassist and as an engineer. Too many people call themselves a sound guy and have the attitude of a 12 year old. Keep on helping bands sound their best.
  7. GregShadoan


    Sep 1, 2008
    I am SOO glad those days are over. It's worth doing to learn though.
  8. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    dude, i do all that and keep my volume extremely reasonable and i STILL have sound guys giving me stick about how i do things occasionally. however, it's always a good idea to be nice just because it's the right thing to do. but i really don't like to be told how i'm going to do things by soundmen, and that's when i resent it.
  9. plangentmusic

    plangentmusic Inactive

    Jun 30, 2010
    A good sound man is invaluable. Problem is, too many of them (in the NY area at least) are just guys who want to run sound.

    There's no need not to be nice to people anyway. But being nice doesn't make people suddenly get better.
  10. Lowest End

    Lowest End

    Mar 20, 2010
    Part of being good at gigging is figuring out what you need in your monitor mix. "A little bit of everything" means you're going to get garbage, as it's not physically possible for that all to sound good through a monitor (i.e. minimally EQ'd or compressed and not at all crossed over).

    Which instruments do you need to hear through that monitor and which can you hear just off stage volume? Personally, for most bands I want kick drum first and foremost. If we're on a big stage and I'm worried about not hearing the snare, that too, but usually I can hear it just fine without the monitor. Then I want rhythm guitar and lead vocals. I'm usually ok without lead guitar, but if there's room we can add that in. I can usually hear me through my own amp.

    So for most cases - I'm getting kick, rhythm and vocals. Being minimalist like this will ensure that it sounds good without turning into a big mush of noise. Remember, you're usually dealing with a 15" speaker and horn, so think of how good everything would sound going through one of your practice space PA speakers. Pretty crappy, right?
  11. M0ses


    Sep 11, 2009
    Los Angeles
    The band I'm auditioning for soon doesn't even use amps for PRACTICE.

    I'm so happy ^^
  12. DavidE


    Feb 7, 2010
    I've worked with three great sound guys over the last 10 years. The one I'm working with most these days is a great guy, REALLY cares, and brings along a fun crew. Things aren't always perfect, but I know our guys are all doing their best to make us sound our best.
  13. FunkMetalBass


    Aug 5, 2005
    Phoenix, Arizona 85029
    Endorsing Artist: J.C. Basses
    This is why I love clubs that can set different monitor mixes on each side of the stage. Since drums are usually center, we get the kick and vocals through all, but on the side with the guitarists, they like to have the bass come through, and I like to have the guitars on my monitor. Doesn't always happen, but damn it's sweet when it does.
  14. rockstarbassist

    rockstarbassist Inactive

    Apr 30, 2002
    The Woodlands, TX
    Endorsing Artist: HCAF
    TOnight will be my first show with my new Heil PR40 in tow.

    We'll see how "kind" and "friendly" the soundguy is to me about it... :cop:

    I will roll in with my rig, set up, place the mic clip on my cabinet, set up my mic, and ask for the XLR to plug in. If he gives me crap, then it's a him problem and not me and should be a long evening. :)
  15. fokof

    fokof One day ,I'll be in the future

    Mar 16, 2007
    When I saw the title of that thread , I wondered how long it took to get a "mike vs DI " comment , not bad , 14 !!!!!
    I really thought we would have one in the first five or so.
  16. fokof

    fokof One day ,I'll be in the future

    Mar 16, 2007
    Same here.
    I know exactly what the job is , so I am very kind to the whole crew (not just FOH/Monitor guys) , the lightning crew too can make your show better !

    As a bass player , I would NEVER EVER tell a soundman how to do his job , I've learned to Sh** the Fu** up the hard way.
    Because if I don't bring my own soundman , it means it's the guy paying the band who is paying them also, so if there is someone to blame or to start a bashing thread on , it's him for not having hired a competent professional.

    OTOH , if the context ask for me to give an advice , I will , but always if it's needed , or else you look like the guy who knows how to mix just because you have Protool LE !
  17. Running sound is all about CONTEXT. Running sound for a single band who sets up early in a good sounding hall with well maintained nice gear and no one plays ridiculously loud? EASY! Running sound for 5 bands where there is 15 minutes for the set changes in a bad room for the best new band evah named "my tube amp goes to 47" is playing and the drummer has anger issues and the bassist want's to run his SVT in the sweet spot (meaning LOUD), and the gear is jacked, and then everyone in every band has some special request? That, my friends, is a PITA!

  18. rockstarbassist

    rockstarbassist Inactive

    Apr 30, 2002
    The Woodlands, TX
    Endorsing Artist: HCAF
    It's not a mic vs. DI comment actually-

    More like "Let's see if the soundguy throws a whiny hissy fit about seeing a mic near a bass cabinet" comment ;) I'm surprised most of them are comfortable with an SM57 being mic'd on a 412 even on the same side of the stage... ;)
  19. A little while after I started mixing sound at my church, the lead guitarist started walking down from the stage during practice and working with me to get the sound to be where it needed to. I made huge strides in my mixing because of that.

    When the band works with me, I always mix better than if they just get on stage and hope for the best.
  20. rockstarbassist

    rockstarbassist Inactive

    Apr 30, 2002
    The Woodlands, TX
    Endorsing Artist: HCAF
    Show last night awesome.

    And now for the FOH part... ;)

    Rolled up with the Boogie+Berg rig, and we were kinda rushing as there was still a crowd there and we wanted to keep them in the club so I just asked the sound guy to leave me the XLR for the bass and I'd be golden.
    So he ended up hooking everyone else up before I could get the rig together and the pedalboard up and powered, etc. and saw my mic clip, and I said yeah I'm just gonna mic it if that's cool. It's a really nice Heil, and sounds great.
    He says ummmmm, we usually don't like to mic bass cabs b/c of the feedback with the subs. And I'm like ok... well the DI on the back of the 400+ doesn't sound that awesome and my drummer is borrowing my DI for his in ears, so what do you wanna do? He runs over to the other side of the stage while I'm setting up my board finally and ends up plugging into the DI on the back of the Boogie as well as running a separate line to my mic.
    I think "Cool", as we know these guys and I'm glad they're being accommodating considering mgmt there loves us and wants to keep us happy.
    So we soundcheck, all sounds great to me. I can hear the crunch from the mic in my monitors so I know it's on. That DI doesn't sound ANYthing like that, from past experiences with it I know this...

    Anyway, show rocks, all sounds awesome, and I asked him about it while we were tearing down and he was setting up for the last act. I said did it work, no feedback, etc., and he goes oh yeah worked great. All I did was just notch the EQ to where you were getting the lows from the DI, and getting the mids and high end from the mic and we were golden.
    So I said ok, haha for clarification, I can do this next time and from here on out? Because we'll be back in 2 weeks!
    He said oh yeah is fine man, whatever works.

    So, 1 for 1 in my Heil journey so far. I could def tell the difference too in my mix. Most DI's on tube transformers are kinda meh, so glad we were able to work it out.

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