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"Provided backline" stories

Discussion in 'Bass Humor & Gig Stories [BG]' started by allegro, Oct 30, 2013.

  1. cirrusb2002


    Nov 1, 2009
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    Peavey Cirrus#47, BAM & Versarray, G&L basses, Genz Benz amps
    Played Canada Day in my town of residence(southern Alberta, at the time)a number of years ago. I had a killer bass cab that I had designed(all the local sound guys loved to use it, they could anything they wanted out of it) that was used by everyone. Drums - local wannabe said he had a "great kit" & showed up with an out of tune low-line POS kit. Our drummer, an old road dog, sat & tuned this garbage for close to an hour to get it to a tolerable point for the festival's events. Organizers learned, at least from this one!
  2. So my jazz/funk band arrived to a place which hosted a band festival, and promised us a bass amp and a PA. The band before us was already on, and the bass amp sounded fine. I thought thats what the backline was, so we proceeded to go outside to hand out flyers to promote our show (that doesn't work in NYC as we learned). When we came back, I was horrified to watch the bass amp packed away, and the only thing left was an amp not much bigger than a 10" TV, and when cranked, barely cut through the audience talking. I spoke to the "sound guy", who told me to plug into the PA instead, mixer resembling a learning toy from Kids R Us. The show started - the monitors must have been like 25W at most and were really weak, so I kept turning up more and more, playing as loud as I can, barely hearing myself with the rest of the band drowning me out. The PA speakers were almost distorting - still not loud enough. And we're a jazz band... Then the sound guy gets really drunk and decides to sing with us, so we play a blues. Somewhere in the middle I realize I have no sound. I walk over to the PA, and its on - so I might have killed the monitors. I calmly walk over to the pianist, and ask him to play the bassline. Meanwhile Im just standing like a fool. When the song ended, we packed up SWIFTLY.
  3. Speaker size per se doesn't affect tone. This has been debunked tons of times here on TB.

  4. Frohman


    Nov 24, 2009
    Recently, I was heading into the studio with one of my bands recording our first two singles. Since my amp was in the shop, I was relying on borrowing some equipment from their stock, which was listed on the website. However, I got a text from my guitarist the day before the session, and was told that they only had guitaramps, and no bass amps we could borrow. I was furious, it was 11PM and I hade to spend the entire night looking for a replacement.

    After using an hour of studiotime, just driving to pick it up during rush traffic, I arrive at the studio only to have the engineer tell me "Hey, sorry about this - I guess I didn't communicate well enough. However, I found this thing in the back of the shed. I don't know if it even works" And then he rolled up a '78 Fender Studiobass and a matching 410 cab. I've never sounded better, it was excactly the tone I had been looking for all these years. Punchy, and growly, yet beautifully defined and ultra tight.

    He didn't want to sell it to me, though. And they're practically impossible to find and probably costs more than a decent used car. :(
  5. Ender_rpm


    Apr 18, 2004
    St. Louis MO
    Yes, but....

    While I agree that speaker diameter does not determine sound, I will also submit that in the majority of cases, certain diameter speakers have been engineered to produce a certain response, be it a thumpy 15 or a tight fast 10. So when you walk in and see older or more mass produced cabs, saying "15s thump, 10s punch" is a pretty fair assessment. Very few places have what TB would consider "modern" cabs as backline.
  6. BryanM


    Dec 15, 2007
    Seattle, WA
    I've actually had pretty good luck with provided backline. I always have my Carvin BR610 in the car for gigs, just in case, but I've had probably well over a dozen shows where backline was provided and it was either an SVT/810 or a GK700/1001 and matching cabinets.
  7. AltGrendel

    AltGrendel Squire Jag SS fan.

    May 21, 2009
    Mid-Atlantic USA.
    Working as a roadie, I set up a SWR and 8/10 at a local jazz concert. Fired it up and it sounded fine. First band went on for sound check, nothing. Checked all the cable, checked power, still nothing. Wound up having to swap out the SWR for a Genz Benz combo guitar amp with the speakers disconnected that one of the other roadies had brought from home . So we had a guitar amp driving the fridge. It sounded fine and didn't explode, but the the owner was very nervous, understandably.

    Turned out the SWR was brand new and had a cold solder joint. At least, that's what we were told.
  8. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    My current band is going to play a venue downtown that my previous band played in 2012. At that time they provided a backline amp so I didn't bring mine. I came in and saw it was a Carvin BR515 combo. The amp apparently belonged to the reggae band that followed us, and the graphic EQ on the amp was set in a perfect linear diagonal, with the bass at max and treble at minimum. Fortunately, I spotted the graphic EQ defeat switch and turned it off. I managed to get a decent tone using the EQ knobs in spite of it being a 15 and a Carvin. I was OK with the situation because parking is a nightmare around there and load-in would be from at least a block or two away.

    OK, so we're playing there at the end of January, and now they say, "Make sure to bring your own amps." It's cool. I might even bring my Prodigy to that one.
  9. A buddy of mine plays bass and owns a very serious club PA, and I play bass and have run sound professionally for 25 years. We've been working together for many years.
    When he's on the bill, we let the other bands use his SVT Pro-3 and Ampeg 410 LVH(?). If it's one of my shows, they get to play though my stack of biamped vintage Peavey gear.

    My rig sounds clearer and more balanced across the spectrum while his is more "vintage" in tone, but every bassist we've provided backline to has expressed gratitude that they got to play through a decent provided amp for a change.

    This is sad.
    Used to be, bass backline was an SVT/810, or maybe a V4B head instead.
    Or an Acoustic head with similar big cab.
    Fender Bassman or Peavey Bass head + that super-loud 2x15 cab they used to make, minimum.

    Don't trust anyone. Bring your own stuff no matter what you're told.
    "Have to bring it inside the building so it won't get stolen out of my pickup truck anyway, might as well use it."

    One tip is to install 4" minimum casters so it rolls super smoothly and is easy to get into position quickly.
    I can roll my stuff over curbs and down rough pavement quick and easy. It's Peavey.
  10. drummer5359

    drummer5359 Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 10, 2011
    Pittsburgh PA USA
    We showed up at a "community day" gig few years ago. It was an outdoor gig which ended up being on the bed of a truck. We were told that backline would be provided...

    I was skeptical and talked the rest of the band into packing our gear just in case.

    The drums were 20 year old CB 700s with Camber and Pro tone cymbals. The bass "rig" was a 30 watt old Crate with a single ten. The guitar amps were also small old Crate products. Nothing was miced up, the amp was a 1970's tuck and roll custom with column speakers. Apparently a local church supplied the "back line" from their youth music program.

    We laughed out loud. (It was rude, but we couldn't help ourselves.) We moved their gear and started setting up my USA Gretsch kit, the bassist's G-K rig and the guitarist's Fender tube amps. (As well as our own PA...)

    One of the organizers approached us and asked if we were too good to play on their gear. I replied, "um, yes. Yes we are." She stomped off. At the end of the gig it turned out that she had our pay and dragged her feet paying us as she thought that we were rude.

    The following year I fielded the call to see if we were available to play there again.

    "Um, no."

    In all my years I've never seen worse. (Not even close.)

    I've used a lot of good backline gear over the years as well. It can be a crap shoot.
  11. punkjazzben


    Jun 26, 2008
    Played at HoB in Hollywood last year. Contacted them beforehand to check the setup. All good, backline provided. All the other venues in LA we were playing provided a backline, so I didn't need to rent an amp at a gazillion dollars a day from SIR. We get there and they've shoved us into the Parish Room at the last minute, which is basically worse than any country pub I've ever played in Australia. At least country pubs can give you drinks all night, not two single drink vouchers for a four-piece. Anyway, I had to use a WTDI through their PA, nothing but two 12s on stands and a tiny wedge for the singer.
  12. fishtx

    fishtx Supporting Member

    Mar 30, 2007
    Dallas, TX
    Endorsing Artist: Genzler Amplification/Spector Basses/Mojo Hand FX
    We did a week long tour a few years back in Croatia...5 shows in 7 days...not a big deal, but they asked us to provide our backline requirements. I gave them a few options, and they came back and said "of your options, we can provide you with an Ampeg SVT and 8x10 cab"...I said OK sure that will work. I get there, and what I got was a ba115...Oh well, I had to make it work (The Guitar Players got Marshall half stacks)..

    Attached Files:

  13. fishtx

    fishtx Supporting Member

    Mar 30, 2007
    Dallas, TX
    Endorsing Artist: Genzler Amplification/Spector Basses/Mojo Hand FX
    I also showed up at a private party gig once that was supposed to be back lined. The company said I would have a GK RB700 and 4x10 cab...here is what they had for me when I arrived:

    Attached Files:

  14. thefunkgorilla


    Mar 26, 2013
    Last night at an outdoor tent gig I was told a pro bass rig would be provided, the keyboard player was also a bassist and had a great rig. I showed up and found the bass rig was a no name 100 watt 3 channel PA head going into a Hartke 410 cab with one of the 10's literally shredded and torn open, and there was no PA support. I played the gig. The U retro on my Dingwall 5 saved my butt, I was able to crank my low mids, roll back the bass and at least be heard and get a fairly round sound with a bit of nice grit from the shredded 10. Happy new Year!
  15. Skarekrough


    Aug 7, 2006
    Largely this.

    I know of two gigs I've played that never happened because we were told that a PA was going to be there. When we get through the door the venue tells us we can use the entrance around back to bring in our PA.

    If there is any greater argument for eliminating the disconnect of someone like a booking agent such events are it.
  16. fishtx

    fishtx Supporting Member

    Mar 30, 2007
    Dallas, TX
    Endorsing Artist: Genzler Amplification/Spector Basses/Mojo Hand FX
    Great in theory...but sometimes it's just impractical. For instance, say you are flying to a gig and can only bring a Bass, and whatever you can squeeze into the gig bag or flight case...I do always try to bring a decent DI with me (just in case)...
  17. Lownote38


    Aug 8, 2013
    Nashville, TN
    The movement of the speaker cone, and response of the voice coil are definitely going to have an effect on how defined your sound is. I went from using 2 15" speakers as a teenager to 4x10" cabs and all of the sudden the sound tightened up. If you have a big magnet and smaller speaker cone, the reaction time is faster with the speaker. With that in mind and a smaller speaker size, it takes less time for the speaker to return to its original position after you play a note. Therefore, I can play fast, and the 4x10" cabinet will reproduce what I'm doing more accurately without sacrificing low end. It's not a frequency response thing. It's having an accurate response. The frequency response doesn't concern me. In fact, I turn the tweeter all the way off on my Eden cab. I mean I am playing bass.
  18. Fender05


    Oct 20, 2008
    My first and last experience with provided backlines went like this:

    My old band signs up for a gig. We're told the backline is provided, just bring guitars, cymbals and pedals. Everything else is taken care of. I immediately am skeptical, but being young and dumb, i decide to mostly go with it. I called the day of the event to make sure that they had a full backline, and was told it's all there, not to worry. So we show up to the show, and THERES NO BACKLINE. No bass amp. No drumset. No guitar amps. NOTHING. I was pissed as all hell, but being a firm believer in "the show must go on" we begged other bands to let us use their gear. Thankfully everyone was cool with it, and we barely got through the set.

    That was about 5-6 years ago. Since then, I ALWAYS bring my own gear to every show, regardless.

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