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Managing Band Volume / bass rig maxed

Discussion in 'Live Sound [BG]' started by BaileyMan, Dec 2, 2017.


  1. BaileyMan

    BaileyMan Supporting Member

    Jan 8, 2012
    San Francisco
    TLDR version: Kinda large band, too loud, hard to get people to play softer, ideas for managing overall volume, adding stage monitors, other ideas?

    The Full Length Version:
    I'm using an Eden WT550 into an Epifani 3x10 @ 5.33 Ohms, 750W. The amp puts out 500W at 4 Ohms, so I'm running a tad under that.

    I've been experiencing that my bass rig isn't loud enough, and I'm having a hard time accepting/believing it. It sounds great, and should absolutely be plenty loud, but I've got to have it nearly dimed at some gigs, and depending on the drummer at some rehearsals.

    I know adding a second cab is the best way to get more volume, and the WT550 can run at 2 Ohms, but really? I need more? The places I'm playing aren't that big. We don't always have monitors, maybe that would help control everyone's volume?

    Last night we played a local brewery/taproom, lots of big open space, lots of hard surfaces, echoey. We had a 10 piece band for some part of it. Bass, drums, percussion, 2 guitars, keys, vox, 3 saxes. Everyone was fighting to hear themselves, let alone hear each other. It makes for a tough gig when most of the band hasn't played more than once or twice together, but we pulled it off.

    My question, how do y'all manage playing at a more reasonable volume in this type of situation? We tried getting everyone playing more quietly, but y'all know how that goes...it doesn't...

    We didn't have monitors and the only thing that was going through the PA was vox and 1 horn mic that was passed around for solos.
     
  2. RoadRanger

    RoadRanger Supporting Member

    Feb 18, 2004
    NE CT
    Wooden stakes driven through the heart work for gui****s ad drumi****s :D.

    My rehearsal space last night I use a cranked Ashdown CTM-30 to set the volume at a reasonable level. One guitarist has a 18 watt Fender amp that also serves to keep it down. The second guitarist has a 100w solid state Fender amp and needs a kick in the 'nads from time to time LOL. I still wear earplugs there even though I sit well away from the drummer - across the room (15 feet away ?) with my cab next to him.
     
  3. RoadRanger

    RoadRanger Supporting Member

    Feb 18, 2004
    NE CT
    Oh, and cut your lows and boost your mids to cut through. But bottom line is if that rig is struggling youse guys are WAY too loud. 100w tube amps for guitars are NEVER OK short of a stadium and even then stoopid and you'll all be deaf soon.
     
    salcott, dbsfgyd1, tattooSAM and 9 others like this.
  4. Stumbo

    Stumbo Wherever you go, there you are. Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 11, 2008
    the Cali Intergalctic Mind Space
    Song Surgeon slow downer software- full 4 hour demo
    Go wireless so you can go FOH and be
    "gig" director. Maybe appoint a band director.

    IME, (9 piece group) we practiced group dynamics during rehearsal so we knew how to control our volume, especially the drummer.

    Also, start with the vocals in sound check and adjust everyone from there, especially the drums/percussion.

    Monitirs/iem might help.

    With duplicate guitars, duplicate percussion, triplicate horns, keys playing 10 finger chores, who thought this was a good idea?

    Seems to me, dropping one guitar, two saxes and keeping control of keyboard chords would be one way to go.

    IMO, There's just too much sound.
     
    BaileyMan likes this.
  5. derrico1

    derrico1 Supporting Member

    Apr 12, 2005
    Charlottesville, VA
    Not loud enough for what? For you to hear yourself over the too-loud band? For bandmates on the too-loud stage to hear you? For the audience to hear the bass?

    If the bass is loud enough in the venue but you're struggling to hear yourself, try angling or raising the cab closer to your ears. Or think about a more-me box and in-ear monitors.
     
  6. RoadRanger

    RoadRanger Supporting Member

    Feb 18, 2004
    NE CT
    One of my bands has up to nine on stage. Two guitars (one plays harp sometimes) drums, keys, singer, bass, three horns. The guitarist next to me uses a 15 watt amp I got for him :cool: but even that can get a bit too loud. In smaller spaces the drummer brings his smallest kit and the keyboard player only one board. I usually don't bring an amp - I use a micstand mounted monitor.
     
  7. Steve

    Steve

    Aug 10, 2001
    so, here's my view from the last 40 or so years.

    You're ******. You have the ability to make things worse by getting louder. You have the ability to do no harm by not participating, and that is all the control over that issue you will ever have no matter how many tears you shed. You will not get them to turn down and address the most common mistake any live band makes: Too loud for the venue.
    I'm doing 5 gigs right now, 4 of those bands can hear and one of them will have the vocal buried by the end of the second set every time. I guess they just don't care even though they are the ones singing and they are the ones burying themselves...and they are the ones complaining that they can't hear the vocal...for the last 40 years they have been complaining they can't hear the vocal...SMH
     
  8. buldog5151bass

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

    Oct 22, 2003
    Connecticut
    It starts at rehearsal. If you can't talk to each other while the band is playing, you are too loud. If you can't hear yourself, start playing softer, then softer until your volume is at zero. After the song, ask if anyone noticed anything - odds are they won't. Tell them your volume was off.

    If there is a problem, people should be turning down to get a proper mix, not up.

    Remember, your gigs are not headlining at MSG. Likely the people in the crowd want to be able to talk to each other while you are playing, unless they are on the dance floor.
     
    SaxBass, Anders Barfod, Jay2U and 4 others like this.
  9. BaileyMan

    BaileyMan Supporting Member

    Jan 8, 2012
    San Francisco
    Definitely too loud for myself and bandmates to hear well. I had the cab placed behind myself, drums, and percussion maybe 5 or 6 feet with the hopes of being far enough away to give some of the sound waves room to develop. Not sure about the audience side of things. If I had a wireless system or someone In the sudience who could give me honest feedback, I could get a better take on that aspect.

    I do have my cabinet raised 18", and it helps some, but it's still not cutting it. I'd still like to find a way to bring everyone down. Maybe it's hard with a big group....
     
  10. buldog5151bass

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

    Oct 22, 2003
    Connecticut
    Size of the band should not matter. Everyone can control their volume.
     
  11. Luckydog

    Luckydog Supporting Member

    Dec 25, 1999
    Agree. I dont believe you will be able to get the others to quiet down. What I've done in similar situations, which thankfully are rare, is leave the FOH problems to someone else. For the stage issue, get a small cab placed near your head just loud enough for you to hear. Other band members may not notice or care that the bass is missing, and yeah, it saps your fun and causes stress, but you can use that time to work on fills and runs without worry about wrong notes or sloppy style. Sort of like a headphone practice at home. If the band volume doesnt improve, then begin deciding if you really want to stay there. Bottom line is, we are often the invisible men (and women) anyway in the band, so you making it an issue will not generate a change in any but the most responsible group of players. And if they truly are responsible, the situation wouldnt have gotten to that extreme level in the first place.
     
  12. derrico1

    derrico1 Supporting Member

    Apr 12, 2005
    Charlottesville, VA
    Yeah, if everyone else is too loud, that's the place to fix the problem. If the guitars and drums are the worst offenders, you can have the guitarists raise their cabs and point 'em at their ears (if they've been blowing their amps past their ankles, letting the guitarists hear their cabs will tend to make 'em turn down and dial back the treble they don't hear well now). The drummer you might need to put on headphones or IEMs, driven from his own mini-mixer, w/just the kit elements he can't hear now. (Sometimes, though, fixing the guitarists' volume will let the drummer play with a lighter touch.)

    Just as an aside, all things being equal it's a myth that low frequencies are less audible close to the source. (That's why you don't have to position headphones 16 feet from your ears to hear bass frequencies.) On some particularly loud and boomy stages (way too much spill on stage from the cranked FOH subs), for my stage cab I used a PA-style cab on a tripod. That way, I could keep the volume low to keep from making the stage even more swamped with low-end and if need be stand with my head right by the cabinet to hear what I was playing. IEMs work even better.
     
  13. BaileyMan

    BaileyMan Supporting Member

    Jan 8, 2012
    San Francisco
    That's how I feel. I wear musicians earplugs. Last night I had the solid discs in that are approximately 30 dB attenuation. Except for the keyboard player, no one else wore earplugs. I'm in the speech and hearing profession and know about the cumulative effects of noise exposure. Their hearing is their problem.

    Agreed! All that sound was not needed for that gig. Not that it couldn't be managed, but we'd need different circumstsnces, like proper sound support. I like the idea of a wireless system for that purpose...
     
    mikewalker and Stumbo like this.
  14. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

    believe it or not, i communicate (in my case --- in english) my experience/observation directly to any specific player (or all, if appropriate): "you're too loud...turn down."
    since my bandmates speak and understand the language = never fails. likewise: they tell me the same thing if i'm too loud.

    a straight line is the shortest distance between two points...still!
     
  15. BryanB

    BryanB Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    You need monitors with at least 5 individual monitor mixes for a 10 piece band like yours. That way everyone gets to hear what they need to hear, nothing more and nothing less. Imagine you are in a crowded room where everyone is talking at once. You can't understand the person right in front of you because there is so much direct and reflected interference that the speaker's words are hard to understand. You ask the speaker to talk louder so you can hear him or her over the din. The speaker next to him or her now starts to speak louder because your speaker just got louder. Pretty soon the entire room is in cacophony and you still cannot understand what your speaker is saying to you!! Now imagine your speaker's volume is louder for you but not anyone who is not listening. You can actually turn down the overall volume and still hear exactly what you need. The stress level is lowered, everyone relaxes and now you focus on listening and responding rather than filtering out the noise. More monitors at lower volumes with exactly what you need to hear without extraneous stuff will keep everyone's volume down while increasing the level of satisfaction and improving the performance.

    Better yet, skip the monitors and go right to IEMs with individual mixes. Problem solved.
     
  16. BaileyMan

    BaileyMan Supporting Member

    Jan 8, 2012
    San Francisco
    Yeah. Agreed. Simple, direct. Unfortunately when we tried that last night, it didn't really last...hence one of the challenges we face...
     
  17. BaileyMan

    BaileyMan Supporting Member

    Jan 8, 2012
    San Francisco
    Great analogy, makes total sense. I was kind of thinking along the lines of more monitors might be helpful. Sounds like it might be the way to go...
     
    EatS1stBassist likes this.
  18. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

    then you say it again: folks with only average intelligence will get the point after multiple iterations. if they don't = call it an 'experience'. if you play with these folks regularly you can pound out a resolution in a rehearsal...again, by communicating.

    it's your hearing: adding more equipment is not the answer (for what you describe). but communication actually works well.
     
    BaileyMan likes this.
  19. MDBass

    MDBass Supporting Member

    Nov 7, 2012
    Los Angeles, CA
    Endorsing Artist: Dingwall-Fender-Jule-Dunlop-Tech 21-Darkglass-Nordstrand
    Most of this is great advice, but the idea that the band is too loud if you can't have a conversation while playing is just silly.

    You don't need a PA or microphones at all if you're literally playing with the dB levels of a quiet car stereo ;)
     
  20. buldog5151bass

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

    Oct 22, 2003
    Connecticut
    You will lose gigs if you are too loud. You will not lose gigs if the owner tells you to turn up.
     

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