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Playing a big outdoor festival

Discussion in 'Amps, Mics & Pickups [DB]' started by godoze, Jul 21, 2004.


  1. godoze

    godoze

    Oct 21, 2002
    I am playing solo at a fairly big music festival next month -Musikfest in Bethlehem, Pa and since I've never played in such an atmosphere I need to figure out amplification.

    it's a huge stage and the crowd runs into the thousands. I'm being told I should go direct.

    Are there any potential issues regarding feedback, monitors, or anything else I should prepare for ?


    DONZ
     
  2. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Solo, solo? Big you on the stage and nobody else? No drummer to blame?

    By "direct" that sounds like they want to take the sound from the pickup, instead of micing the instrument? Well, you know me, I'm agin it. It's an acoustic instrument. Unless you're using a lot in the way of sound processing, effects etc., why not mic the acoustic instrument? They don't take the singer and put their voice through a little amp on stage and take a direct feed of that, right?

    I would only have enough coming through the monitor so that it circumvented the illusion that the sound of my bass was coming from somewhere 15 to 20 feet in front of me and to my left, instead of the big box of wood I was holding. If you do end up micing, watch out moving around if you are using a mic fixed to the bass somehow, you don't want to set up a feedback loop with the monitor. As Ray says in another thread, I'd stay away from micing the F hole. I get the best response when the mic is in between the bridge feet and kind of angled towards the G string side.

    Remember to breath. Have fun.
     
  3. mchildree

    mchildree Supporting Member

    Sep 4, 2000
    AL/GA
    I provide these insights as a guy who's played and worked stage crew at a bunch of big outdoor festivals of all types:

    Be prepared for anything. Having a PA and monitor setup that is "acoustic friendly" is a wonderful thing, but really rare at the festivals I've experienced. Usually they hire big sound companies that are used to doing rock/pop gigs and they won't know anything but "set monitors on stun". You also are likely to get little soundcheck, if any.

    You might ask the band preceeding you (if it's multi-act) how accomodating the monitor guy is, and make your decision based on that. Miking is wonderful, but have a DI ready in case it doesn't appear that you'll get any cooperation from the sound guy. In their defense, these multi-day, multi-act outdoor events are absolute hell on them and they're under pressure to make things happen in a timely manner...so go easy on 'em and you'll get more effort in return.
     
  4. Monte

    Monte

    Jan 9, 2001
    New Albany, MS
    Screw going direct. I have a policy that I take all electronics off my bass when playing at outdoor festivals and bring a good mic. Since doing that, good sound experiences have far outweighed the bad.

    The "bassic" problem is that when outdoor fests rent this million watt sound systems, they come with soundmen who last worked on Guns N Roses European tour. :rollno: When given a direct signal, these types tend to crank it until it sounds like a big slab, with all the bass frequencies up, and all nuances of sound gone. With a microphone, they generally have enough intelligence to not screw it up too badly.

    As far as mic placement, setting it slightly off axis yields good results for me. While pointed directly at the F hole will be boomy and undesirable, just by leaving the mic where it is and twisting the face where it points more at a 45 degree angle to the strings it can improve signifigantly. Experiment, and you'll find something you like.

    I use as little monitor as I need. I would doubt I would need any on a solo performance.

    Monte
     
  5. godoze

    godoze

    Oct 21, 2002
    yeah, the no-soundcheck part is a bit scary. Yeah, by direct i mean all they told me was that I would "go direct.". I suppose i'll be at the mercy of the soundpeople.


    The first notes oughta be a blast !
     
  6. Don - this is one thing where i can stick my neck out and be confident Monte and me are right - if the soundman says you're goin' to go direct he's looking to plug a bass mounted pickup into a DI (direct injection) box which will have a lead going 'direct' into the mixing desk. All these boxes have another output so you can plug into your own amp, but in doing so you will not be able to affect or alter any of the EQ settings. As you will probably know most amps have a direct out. Whether a soundman is picky enough to trust the quality of your own equipment I can't say. Whatever, this is what he's expecting and in your position I'd be on the 'phone saying what pickup or mic equipment you're gonna use. Monte's on the money about soundmen and theri understanding of bass. I've used DB at rock gigs and played jazz with a rock soundman - both yuk.
     
  7. godoze

    godoze

    Oct 21, 2002
    So i should take my sansamp my pickup and the AMT mic which has been recommended ?
     
  8. AMJBASS

    AMJBASS Supporting Member

    Jan 8, 2002
    Ontario, Canada
    Why don't you just take the AMT. You are playing solo, so you shouldn't have to worry about bleed. This way you know you will get a great tone. As said above, if you go direct with a pickup, odds are pretty darn good they are going to mess up your tone and make the experience much less enjoyable.
     
  9. mchildree

    mchildree Supporting Member

    Sep 4, 2000
    AL/GA
    if you're playing solo, just have them take you out of the monitors completely....you'll probably hear yourself just fine from the mains and avoid the feedback demon.
     
  10. godoze

    godoze

    Oct 21, 2002
    i'll probably be content just hearing the natural sound from the bass in other words ?
     
  11. mchildree

    mchildree Supporting Member

    Sep 4, 2000
    AL/GA
    Many times, I am. Guess it would depend on the amount of ambient noise and your personal preference.
     
  12. godoze

    godoze

    Oct 21, 2002
    Well, I just found out that "direct" means going through and svt head and an 8 x 10 cabinet and then into the board...
     
  13. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Just...say...NO
     
  14. Well, if that's what the sound guy defines as "direct", then it's time to fire him…

    - Wil
     
  15. mflaherty

    mflaherty Supporting Member

    Oct 9, 2001
    "third stone from the sun" would sound great with that rig ;)
     
  16. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    San Francisco, CA
    Donzy, maybe you should make your debut with one of your Ergos... :bassist:
     
  17. godoze

    godoze

    Oct 21, 2002
    I was thinking I should take my fretless and do a Hendrix thang ! Star Spangled Banner and what not ?!
     
  18. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    San Francisco, CA
    Make sure you bring your bow along, BG or Ergo... and all your distortion FX, the crowds will dig it.

    [​IMG]

    Maaaaan, just think of all the CHIX!!!!!! :D

    -------
    Now back to your regularly scheduled DB Forum....
     
  19. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    "Going direct" means he expects to take a signal from your bass and take it direct to the P.A.; the onstage amp is there for your monitoring. IMO, the WORST part of this arrangement is that your sound is completely at his mercy. As others pointed out, chances are his idea of a "good" bass sound are pretty far out of sync with yours ("ours", in all likelihood, being brothers in bass-itude.)

    I say the best way of avoiding all that is to make sure the ONLY way of getting a signal from your bass is via a microphone -- nothing else, nada. Use your AMT, bring a mike, or use one of their mikes, but leave your pickup and direct box AT HOME (or in your gig bag.)

    The sound guy is trying to do his best and probably knows a fair bit about what he's doing. The last time I had this situation (just about a month ago) I saw a guy I've known for decades sitting behind the board. Thought I was in good hands. At soundcheck he took my pickup signal, brought it through the mains, and he smiled and said "that sounds wonderful!". I was credulous enough to believe him. I had just recently started recording all my shows and, when I played back this show, I had about the worst bass sound you could imagine. If I was trying to get across a dead generic boomey slab sound it would have been OK. I was, however, trying to get across a rich double bass sound. My take away from that? NEVER AGAIN. Only microphones. At the very least it's the sound of my bass he's starting with.
     
  20. godoze

    godoze

    Oct 21, 2002
    well, there will be no soundcheck.... How does one practice diplomacy in this situation ? Tell them I will only use the Mic ?