Sell your good gear! You'll sound like crap in the PA anyway...

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by junglebike, Oct 18, 2003.

  1. junglebike


    Feb 14, 2003
    San Diego, CA
    I've been slowly reducing the "high-end" quotient of my rig because it just doesn't matter...

    Some sound guy getting paid $50 for the gig will connect your bass with a $20-$125 DI box into a PA system designed for impressing drunk people with loud "bass" thumping techno music.

    e.g. Played at a place (Nieman's in Carlsbad, CA) -- should be a good spot, they've had some good bands play, etc. Sound check: I hit my A-string, and *everything* on the stage shakes, booms, feeding back uncontrollably... Sound guy says it's my "stage volume" that's just too high. I turn my rig *OFF* entirely and it continues. He still blames me -- I'm playing a P-bass with flats through a DI into his PA, and he says "your bass is just really mid-rangey -- there's nothing I can do."

    I say, "man, this is the single most common bass in the universe! How can you not be able to handle a P-bass???"... anyway, I play the gig with my rig off, because I can't hear it anyway for the massive booming. This is a 1000W 2x12 epifani rig!!! I give up... maybe I need some in-ears or something...

    Anyway, it sort of flashed into my head at this point that people endlessly debate 10's vs. 12's or a rosewood vs. maple fingerboard on your bass... Best spend the money on a good set of musician's earplugs, and the time on learning your tunes and training your ear so well you can play the right notes without hardly being able to hear them.
  2. NeedMoreBass

    NeedMoreBass unregistered

    Feb 14, 2003
    I feel your pain!!:bawl:
  3. jobu3

    jobu3 ¿Huevos?! Supporting Member

    Feb 17, 2002
    Mountain Top, PA
    don't give in... see about getting your own sound guy at that venue if at all possible. if not don't play there. if you absolutely have to, look into mic'ing your cab rather than running a DI. if he still screws up your tone, see if you can EQ to the pa's needs and still hear yourself. i don't know what else to say really... good luck! ;)
  4. jokerjkny


    Jan 19, 2002
    NY / NJ / PHL
    oh come come now, JB,

    one bad gig shouldnt throw your hopes of great tone out the window. we all have those days. :(

    some sound guys just dont know how to handle a good bass tone, nor do they even get "bass". hopefully, you wont have to play there again. :meh:

    but if you do, send him or any other sound guy, something they'll never forget. really impress them with a quality DI signal. been using my Demeter Tube DI, and every soundman has come back to me, asking *** it is i'm running out to him. ;)
  5. drjudd


    Mar 5, 2002

    Wow, I'm going to have to go out there and buy one of those di's. You are right, equipment makes the difference. I am one of those guys who owns the whole FOH and most of the backline and I have worked with another soundman who has toured with AeroSmith, Boston, Willie Nelson and others. I have hung with him on all the local gigs he does and have learned alot about how to make things sound good. At least here, the days of the 1000w rig is gone. But I do not recommend the use of a di exclusively. I prefer to mike the bass cabinet with a shure 57 and have it 90 degrees to the speaker and pointed right into the cone about 4 inches away from the grill. Alot of times I mix bassist who need to get all the wattage out of their rig, this is when the fader on the board under 'bass' is @ zero. There is no point running it through the p.a.. I try to speak with the bass player before the first song and tell him to give me a sound check at exactly the volume he will be playing, I set the gain and dial in the tone once they get started.
    As far as having things feedback and boom, I am inclined to fault the soundman on that gig, every once and a while you get a guy who just doesn't know what the heck he's doing, don't give up. I use the di's on the keyboards and guitars and use cabinet emulator and just run enough through the p.a. to top off the sound.
    I am in a unique position as I do sound but can't do it for my own gigs. I've been unhappy too. OK, enough of my ramblings.
  6. nonsqtr

    nonsqtr The emperor has no clothes!

    Aug 29, 2003
    Burbank CA USA
    Yeah, the soundman is really important. He's like an extra member of the band. If he doesn't do the right thing at the right time, it can make the whole band sound bad.

    One thing I've learned over the years, is don't even mess with a clueless soundman. In my classic rock cover band, which plays medium sized clubs around LA, we've often encountered sound people who try to take over and run the show.

    Those people get fired "on the spot". If the sound guy ever smells like he doesn't know what he's doing, then he's out the door immediately. On several occasions we've even had to go to the club owner and say "it's either him or us".

    I would never trust a soundman I don't know. There's just too many bozos out there. On any gig that "matters", we'll bring our own sound guy. He's very expensive, but he's very good.

    On any gig that "doesn't matter", we'll run the sound ourselves. If they won't let us do that, then we don't play. It's that simple.
  7. Lonnybass


    Jul 19, 2000
    San Diego
    Endorsing Artist: Pedulla Basses
    The sound engineer should be your best friend. Every time you arrive at a new venue, find the sound guy, talk to him, and let him know that you're looking forward to working with him for the night.

    My band is lucky enough to have our own engineer. We pay him equal share, consider him our "sixth man" and will be adding his biographical information to our homepage within the next few days. What a stud!

  8. Lonnybass your post had a lot of good points but some venues will not allow any other sound man to run their euipment, except the guy they hire!

    Talk with this soundman and see if he is willing to work with you and your tone. Even if you have to make it look like you are the idiot, at least your sound won't suffer from his lack of knowledge!

    I completely understand your frustration. I travel on the road 250 days a year and you wouldn't believe some of the venues I've had to deal with in my career.

  9. vanselus


    Sep 20, 2000
    Boulder, CO
    Yeah, except for those braindead fools who absolutely will not, under any circumstance let you hook up your own direct box. It MUST be the beloved rapco!

    I even had one guy (when I was trying to convince him my DI would give him a better signal) said he'd never heard of Avalon. :rolleyes:
  10. cb56


    Jul 2, 2000
    I quit worrying about what the bass sounds like out of the PA long ago. Yes there are several soundmen/women that we use that do a wonderful job but I don't even go out front to check it out. Matter of fact I don't use a wireless anymore just a 20 foot cable. It's just not worth the headache. If it sounds good on stage it should sound good out front. If it doesn't, NOT MY PROBLEM.:cool:
  11. junglebike


    Feb 14, 2003
    San Diego, CA
    That's exactly what I'm talking about.

    Thanks everyone for all the encouragement and ideas. I really tried to talk with this soundman, he just didn't have a clue. This was the first time we played in this joint, so we didn't feel comfortable telling him to screw off, particularly 'cause the booking agent handles tons of good spots.

    Seems to me that after a certain point, you've just got to relinquish control and let the venue have crappy sound. Many of the problems in this room were inherant (too live, no absorbtion, etc.) What really pissed me off was that the acoustics and eq were *so* bad that they made it impossible to even get a good stage mix!

    Usually my mentality is that it's my responsibility to get a good stage mix, and it's on the soundguy to translate that to a good audience mix.

    I'm seriously thinking about using some powered PA speakers (1 for small, 2 for big) and my sansamp for my rig. Maybe some JBL Eon's or something. Light, portable, and sound similar to what the house is getting. I'm thinking of my rig as my own personal monitor system, not for driving the house. If I want to do that, I'd have to get more cabs, and I don't want to deal with the weight...

  12. Agreed. Since I've been playing out more lately, I've talked to the soundguys we play for and figured out what the guys want from me as a bassplayer. Low stage volume, flat eq, and effects levels balanced correctly.

    I just run my PLX1602/SVP-Pro/810E at very low volume on stage. We use in-ear monitors also. I have no problem hearing what I'm playing, and feel very comfortable doing so. I can pickup on the other guys easier, etc. I don't worry about inflicting my will upon the soundman, who should be your friend :)

    With volumes low, vocals get clear, guitar sounds good, drums come through well w/ the ear plugs in.
  13. Sufenta

    Sufenta Trudging The Happy Road of Destiny Supporting Member

    Mar 14, 2002
    The Signpost Up Ahead.
    One of the hardest things is to believe in your music and keep focused when your stage sound sounds nothing like you've ever heard before. We played up in LA last week and I thought the keys and vocals were WAY too loud, and my bass was quiet. It was very distracting as I found myself backing away from the mic and trying to signal the keyboardist to turn down. After the show, listeners said the keys and vocals were too quiet, and my bass was HUGE in the mix.
    Maybe the key is in-ear-monitors so you hear exactly what the house hears. Does anyone here use this technique?
  14. Sufenta

    Sufenta Trudging The Happy Road of Destiny Supporting Member

    Mar 14, 2002
    The Signpost Up Ahead.
    Looks like Tufnuts slipped that post in right before mine:)


    Aug 13, 2003
    Sulphur LA
    DO NOT GIVE IN! I always say; If God himself was playing bass, most soundguys would be atheists! Here's the one I love; When I walk up to a soundguy and ask, why can't I hear the bass, he'll say, "it's because the stage volume is too loud". If that was true why can't I still not hear it?!?! God love a duck, but some of those guys need to be punished. I feel your pain as well!:( Oh yeah, I bring my own DI Box in case they do have the cheesy ones.
  16. The 0x

    The 0x

    Aug 24, 2003
    Timonium, MD
    That's exactly what JazzAd does. Runs a SansAmp into 2 behringer powered cabs.
  17. dirk


    Apr 6, 2000
    Memphis, TN
    I've had some good experience with soundguys and some not so good. I've even had a sound guy who based the whole mix around the stage volume of my rig (Ampeg b-1 as preamp, QSC RMX 850, and Ampeg 810). Because he loved the mojo that the Ampeg had. In fact, everyone loved the mojo that the Ampeg had. I still own, just don't use it anymore, b/c I'm in the dorms at school 5 hours from my hometown, and I have nowhere to put it. Soundguys vary, but the only thing you can know for sure is if your rig kicks ass, so you can at least have that to be thankful for.

  18. Chad Michael

    Chad Michael Suspended Supporting Member

    Sep 19, 2001
    Pacific Northwest USA
    1) In most instances where the band is PA supported, the stage amps / drums / vocal monitors, etc are for the BAND ONLY. The PA is for the audience. Again, the PA is for the audience. This is what a PA is designed and used for, and it is working fine in this capacity for thousands of bands all over the world, then, now, and forever.

    2) Your bass sound, from the PA, in the middle of the room, will never

    NEVER EVER sound like what you hear on stage, 4 to 8 feet from your beloved expensive bass rig. The laws of acoustics, and the environment of the room you are in, simply will not allow it.

    3) Not all sound techs run sh****ty bass sound through the PA. The reason that alot of bass players run sound for their band is because bass guitar is the most difficult instrument to project into the room well.

  19. junglebike


    Feb 14, 2003
    San Diego, CA
    Exactly. So your rig is for your own benefit only (unless you're playing a tiny place, which will probably have a crappy PA for the rest of the band).

    Given this unalterable fact of the universe, I've decided that the #1 priority cost-wise should be the bass itself, not the rig -- the rig is nothing but your own personal monitor. I shoud PM JazzAd about his rig... those behringer PA cabs are heavy, if I'm not mistaken. <checks> 66lbs according to the spec sheet -- guess that's not too bad...
  20. There's another option which you've neglected. Don't go through the PA at all. That sounds like heresy in this tech crazy day and age, but it works. Speaking as a professional soundman, I'll tell you that most soundpeople, even on the national touring level, don't have a CLUE about bass and what to do with it in a PA. You've got these insane kw+ rigs. Why do you need additional PA support? I've played outdoor festivals with my only bass sound being my SVT and 8x10 and received nothing but complements and NO complaints.

    Brass tacks: most "soundguys" couldn't mix a cake. They're usually friends of the clubowner or the clubowner himself/herself, someone in another band's buddy, or worst of all, some self-proclaimed know-it-all who has snowed the venue into thinking they know what they're doing with a lot of tech-BS talk. Would you trust a guitar player you've never met or even heard to walk onstage and play lead for you? Then why allow a total stranger to have near total control of what your band sounds like? Suppose he/she doesn't like you/your hair/your genre/the guitar player's banging his ex-girlfriend.. etc. I'll bet you're going to get a stellar mix, LOL.

    When my band rehearsed, I used the exact same setup as when we played out. We only used monitors for the vocals and we knew the songs well enough that not having instrument monitors wasn't a problem. We were also one of the loudest, best sounding bands because we didn't have a bunch of phase cancellation from monitors fighting the house PA messing up our timing, and we played off each other, not some stranger's monitor mix.

    One of the worst bands I ever had to mix was actually a very talented group of kids but they expected a studio quality monitor mix or they couldn't play. Even with halfway decent equipment, any engineer worth his salt will tell you that you're going to have bad days/venues/ audiences, none of which is under control of the engineer. Needless to say, they sucked live, whined incessantly, and blamed their poor performance on the sound. After I got tired of their crap and packed up my gear and left, they played for a month before they called it quits.

    Get off this technology fixation and play the damn bass. If you don't like what a soundman will do to your sound, supply your own and let him concentrate on progamming the vocal delay patch and seeing how far out the kick drum can move the subs all night; that's all most are going to do anyway.
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