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Sound at gigs & hearing yourself?

Discussion in 'Bass Humor & Gig Stories [BG]' started by ambolina, May 10, 2004.


  1. ambolina

    ambolina Guest

    Apr 7, 2004
    San Diego, Ca
    I was curious about peoples' experience with being able to hear yourself/your band at gigs? I have my first show ever this Thursday and I'm excited, but this is the one thing making me nervous. Just afraid I won't be able to hear the guitarist and that I'll miss my some of my cues.

    There's nothing I can really do to prepare for that I guess, but I thought I'd see what your experiences have been. We're playing a bar, so it's not some place with a great sound system or anything. My band was saying (they've been musicians for a while) that what throws them off the most is when you can actually hear your vocals and they sound really loud since we have a hard time hearing them clear in practice.
     
  2. secretdonkey

    secretdonkey

    Oct 9, 2002
    Austin, TX
    Not to scare or discourage you, but if you're in a band just starting out, you've likely got a long road of unpredictable and often downright bad monitor mixes ahead of you. Don't worry -- as the saying goes, "that which does not kill you will make you stronger..." :D
     
  3. MattyN

    MattyN

    May 26, 2003
    Seattle, WA
    secret donkey has a point.

    all rooms and setups are different. the more you play out with the same cast of characters, the easier it will get for you to dial it in the way you like it.

    that said, if you're playing without monitors, the simplest way to address your concern is to put the bass and guitar amps near each other and play (more or less) directly in from of them.

    and if possible, do a soundcheck!
     
  4. Sundogue

    Sundogue

    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    I agree with everyone else and also, one other other point to add...

    Eye contact! If you can't hear each other, at least look for visual clues...i.e. - if the guitarist is doing an extended lead and you can't hear that one clue from his lead, have him give you a visual clue when he's going to come out of it...raise his neck or a nod, something that let's you see the change is coming up.

    And yeah, you're going to have years of bad monitor mixes...but visual clues and eye contact can help overcome bad stage sound, after you have the music down cold anyway.
     
  5. Waaaaait...you're afraid you won't be able to hear the guitarist? What universe are you gigging in? ;)
     
  6. We find it helps to set up at practice as if we were playing on a stage. Drums in the middle me stage left with amp behind me guitar stage right with Guitar amp to his right and in front and the PA amp (we only have one mic and a Roland PA for singer/guitarist) to the Guitarists left just off the corner of the drum set. Started this a few months after we first got together more for space then anything else but found it made it easier to adjust stuff when we moved practice locations. Since our first gig was only a few weeks ago and have only had two since only thing I can say about doing this is it made it more comfortable to set up and easier to set levels because we are used to what it sounds like.

    And yes hearing your own voice freaks me out too. Also does this to the Singer/guitarist but he whines about everything haha.

    One thing that I did find useful was to have somebody at practices who knows music just sit off in front of you every once in a while and "tune your sound" just to get the volume and tone right; it's near impossible to do this while your playing, or at least it is for me. We invite Musician friends over to join our practices some times and have then do this for a couple of songs. We tune to the volume of the drums usually; our drummer has a pretty light touch but can pick it up if the room needs it.

    Since I have only played in front of people a couple of times and not anywhere where any volume was required I can’t even imagine not being able to hear myself, although having people try and talk to you or take your picture while your playing is a new experience. My guitar player is weak in the leads department so unexpected changes are not a problem.
     
  7. Sundogue

    Sundogue

    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    Good one...but believe it or not, there are alot of very good guitarists out there who don't crank their amps and break off the knob.
     
  8. RicPlaya

    RicPlaya

    Apr 22, 2003
    Whitmoretucky MI
    Just make sure you point all cabs inward a bit towards the middle of the stage from both sides. If your on one side and guitarist is on the other you both should be pointing your cabs towards the middle a bit so everyone can hear each other. I don't care how it looks you want to make sure you all can hear your first show. The cabs should be in line where the drummer sits so he can hear too. I found this always works for us. As far as loud vocals messing you guys up that should be a good thing. Are you micing your guitar and bass cabs or DI in anyway?
     
  9. leanne

    leanne

    May 29, 2002
    Rochester, NY
    I only really play at one place, and it's always set up pretty much the same, but I don't have a problem hearing myself or anyone else. My problem is that my own volume freaks me out. It's so damn loud! All the speakers besides my own are in front of me, so mine sounds so ridiculously loud. I can feel it on my legs. So I turn down, but then people can't hear me well enough.

    I'm still getting used to the way everything sounds on stage at such loud volumes. But it does get easier every time. Also, it is forcing me to develop a much lighter touch, which helps.

    Good luck on Thursday. :)

    Leanne
     
  10. Many great pointers here! You wont remember everything at once, so have the mindset that you will learn a little something from each live show...and play out as much as possible! And when you make mistakes (oh..you will...hahaha) try and practice not making the "oh poop!" face. Not to encourage blatant sloppiness...but youd be suprised at how much you can actually fudge through if you just keep your cool no matter what. Be rehearsed, know your set backwards and forwards, and just stay alert and youll do fine!
    Oh yeah...and above ALL else...have FUN!
     
  11. Yeah avoid thinking about mistakes, get into the song and not what’s around you and definitely don’t make the “Oh poop” face. Honestly as far as I could tell I would have to blow 4-5 notes in a row for anybody to notice, a good bass drum hides so many faults hehe.
    I just learned my band is playing the third and second gig the next two months, for some sit down dinners, getting paid Hooray! Bad news is we will have to learn 20 or so new songs by July 26, OH POOP!!
     
  12. Yah, the venue definitely won't sound like your practice room usually does and that'll probably freak you out a bit for the first few gigs. You just have to forget about all that and play like you know that you can.

    One tip I have if you're playing somewhere with a half decent monitoring system, always talk to the monitor man until your mix is tweaked to your liking - for me this usually means I'll ask for the guitar on the far side of the drummer, vocals, and kick drum if needed. My bandmates are always complaining about not hearing things as well as they'd like on stage and I'm almost always fine because I actually talk to the monitor guy. He's there for you, so get to know him a bit and use him well.

    Oh yah, and turning down on stage can actually make you hear things more clearly if it's a small stage with subpar monitoring.
     
  13. MascisMan

    MascisMan

    Nov 21, 2003
    Dallas, Tx
    Yeah one thing I have noticed is that no matter what it sounds like on stage, it sounds completely different out in the audience. I would say 8 out of 10 gigs the sound on stage is horrible but then when I ask people how we sounded out in the crowd they say the mix was really good.

    So if you get up there and the mix sounds horrible dont get discouraged as it probably sounds completely different to the people listening.
     
  14. ambolina

    ambolina Guest

    Apr 7, 2004
    San Diego, Ca
    Hey everybody - thanks for all the advice and general encouragement! I know it's mostly just going to be one of those "just gotta get used to it" situations.

    As Spanky suggested, I already decided a week ago that I was going to make mistakes and I'm not going to fret about that (most likely, as Mike pointed out, unless they're horribly bad and not just missing my note by a fret, no one will notice). I just want to play my best and have fun and put on a good show. I know my favorite shows aren't the ones where people play the best, but where the band look like they're having a blast and that makes it entertaining for me. So I'm going to play a show I think I'd like to see. =) And try to ignore how loud my vocals sound. Ack!

    That said, yes, when I play places with monitors & sound guys, I'm going to make sure it's how I like it b/c I've heard too many of my friends complain after a show that they should have asked for more monitor and they just didn't.

    Another thing that will probably help is the other two members of my band have been playing these songs together, both live and in practice, for a while, so I'm pretty confident they can optimize our set up at our show.

    Again - thanks for the advice (and keep in coming if there's more - it's helping to keep me calm)!
     
  15. NOW's when it's appropriate to make the "Oh Poop" face! Hahaha!!!
    Let's see...July 26, roughly 2 songs a week. And NO missed practices...lol.
    Best of Luck!
     
  16. My mistake, thats June 26 the second one is July 24
     
  17. I've been playing for 6-7 years and one cool thing I learned last year was to set up so that my drummer was to my left hand side. 50% - 75% of the time I'm looking at the fretboard, so when I see my drummers hand go up for a cymbal crash or whatever, I'm there. Audience members have responded with "tight rythm section".

    I advise all bass players do it for 2 or 3 gigs and try it out.
     
  18. MattyN

    MattyN

    May 26, 2003
    Seattle, WA
    yeah. i do this too...

    good call.
     
  19. Sundogue

    Sundogue

    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    Well, I set up with my drummer on my right because I like to be on his high hat/snare side where I can see (in addition to hearing) what he's doing with the beat. Crashes don't matter that much to me...as long as were locked in with the beat, the rest comes easy enough.

    I seldom look at my fingerboard. Eye contact matters more to me.
     
  20. Mike Money

    Mike Money Banned

    Mar 18, 2003
    Bakersfield California
    Avatar Speakers Endorsing Hooligan
    Meh. Just turn every knob to its full capacity. Thats the punk thing to do...