Stage in the basement

Discussion in 'Live Sound [BG]' started by vgbassman, May 5, 2019.

  1. vgbassman

    vgbassman Supporting Member

    Jan 16, 2016
    Hi Guys, I could use some advice...

    I have a basement which is 28x23 feet and ceiling is 8', and I want to create a coffee shop like "venue"/experience...
    I play as a hobbyist in a "Dad band" and my kids are learning and playing music as well. So instead of having a rehearsal room or a recording studio, I want to create a performance venue so the kids and dads can rehearse playing live.. if you know what I mean. At the same time, we would like to invite/entertain friends and family to watch or invite other bands to play/perform...
    So, I want to build a stage and have appropriate sound and light without going overboard.
    I do want it to be "live" - I want to use an acoustic drum set, use amps and monitors (No IEMs). I would use a digital mixer like a Soundcraft UI 12 in order to keep the non stage area wire free.
    Footprint - I have a drum set (single bass), 2x12 bass cab; 2x10 guitar cab, 2 more guitar amps (smaller); keyboard
    So, this brings me to all my questions...

    • Is this even a reasonable idea?
    • What is the minimum stage size/area required for a 5 member band (including keys). I wanna have 3 vocal mics if possible.
    • Rectangular or a semicircular stage?
    • Stage height? I was thinking 1 foot...
    • Acoustics - DIY possible or get a pro to help? Where to find a "pro"?
    • Drum shield - is it necessary?
    • Lighting... options? reasonable possibilities (as in small investment that can give big results)?
    • Would speakers make a big difference? I am thinking of going with 2 self powered speakers like EV or JBL... or is it worth spending extra on QSC? Should I go with 12s instead?
    • Things to avoid...
    • Other things that I may not even have thought of...?
    Thank you so much.

    deepestend and LowActionHero like this.
  2. s0c9

    s0c9 Supporting Member

    Jan 9, 2014
    1964 Audio artist, Fractal Audio Beta Tester
    The average acoustic drum kit would be pretty darn loud in a room that size.
    Here's a vid taken in a [roughly] 30x30 room with full 6000w PA.
    It was about as loud as it could go before massive feedback!
  3. vgbassman

    vgbassman Supporting Member

    Jan 16, 2016
    I am worried about that... but I could consider the "quiet heads and cymbals" set... although they don't sound too good... so it is a concern after all... :nailbiting:
    I can't see the video though... not sure what is wrong...

  4. s0c9

    s0c9 Supporting Member

    Jan 9, 2014
    1964 Audio artist, Fractal Audio Beta Tester
    That gig wasn't done by choice. It was an available room on which to put the festival headliner after being rained out that day! We have to move everything at short notice.
    The drummer was NOT playing loud, it was the drum kit.. and that was just one quieter song.
    If you look early in the vid, on the right, you'll see the wind/rain moving the plastic side walls.. It's was a covered patio at a local restaurant.
    The "back wall" was about 4 feet behind where the video was being shot.
    It was REALLY LOUD in that room.
    Ugly FOH gig.. I was mixing that song. :(
  5. vgbassman

    vgbassman Supporting Member

    Jan 16, 2016
    the video won't load...
  6. Stumbo

    Stumbo Guest

    Feb 11, 2008
    Definitely a drum shield. We did it the low buck way with a coulple sheets of sound board.

    Is your basement finished at all?

    What's your max budget?
    Rabidhamster and dralionux like this.
  7. s0c9

    s0c9 Supporting Member

    Jan 9, 2014
    1964 Audio artist, Fractal Audio Beta Tester
    it's a FB video.. not one I took.. Loads fine for me
  8. vgbassman

    vgbassman Supporting Member

    Jan 16, 2016
    Basement is semi finished... ceiling is unfinished...
    Budget depends... I am OK with spending a couple of grand if worth it...
  9. vgbassman

    vgbassman Supporting Member

    Jan 16, 2016
    I was able to watch it... I hear what you are saying... Ouch
  10. Stumbo

    Stumbo Guest

    Feb 11, 2008
    Since the ceiling is not finished, basically you have a home improvement project.
    IME, permits, Insulating, dry walling, painting, wiring,and installing lights, unless you can do the work yourself, will take more budget than you have.

    Building a stage is another job to make it secure. Do you have enough outlets and amps in your electrical panel?

    Seems like way more than you want to do.
    pcake, And I and vgbassman like this.
  11. Remyd


    Apr 2, 2014
    St. Louis, MO
    Sub'd - I have a buddy that is doing this to his garage a little at a time
  12. Super cool idea! Acoustic kit - unless you have a drummer that can deal - is really difficult on that space. Electronic kit for sure. I’d love to convert my basement - wife has other plans :D
  13. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Supporting Member

    I suggest that this isn't totally impractical, but the approach in this area should be low volume, low power, and NOT try to reproduce the volume or acoustics of a normal live venue. You could easily be so loud that hearing damage would result, and the house would be unlivable when anyone is playing. This could also turn into an ongoing noise complaint from neighbors. As an example of the approach I'm thinking of, a 20W amp for bass would be plenty.
  14. kjp360


    Feb 11, 2014
    If you need electrical upgrades, some fixtures and want to do it right with some good insulation plus all of the wallboard and some form of room treatment you could easily hit a few of grand and a lot of your time. IMHO with only 8' ceilings I would not even consider a raised stage but to each their own. I'm only 6' and a bit and I bang crap off of 7' ceilings all the time. There are other ways to define a stage area and raise cabs. Best of luck however you decide to do it as it is very fun and great for the chops to have a space set up all the time ready to go!
  15. Goatrope


    Nov 18, 2011
    Sarasota Florida
    I agree with this advice. I would add, don’t over think it. Just be sure to have enough good power available. Lay out your gear right now to define your minimum space requirements. Play it a few times “as is” before you go committing a bunch of space by remodeling. Keep it tight. Most coffee shop venues wouldn’t give you much actual stage space at all.

    It’s going to be a blast. Enjoy it!
    Pilgrim and vgbassman like this.
  16. Phud


    Jul 2, 2017
    I don't want to be a party pooper but... I'm not in New Jersey, But you may want to check with your local ordinances For zoning,

    Local and state Fire codes:


    Occupancy rating?

    Sprinklers or some other acceptable and accessible fire suppressant must be available.

    Emergency exits to outside.

    Any flammable materials ?. Any gas fired furnaces or water heaters ?

    If the pink foam insulation is used, some of it is only fire rated for an outside barrier atmosphere. It is not acceptable inside . (And it is a lousy sound barrier,)

    National electrical codes. (NEC Grounding regulations, Need a good ground on all receptacles or someone can get lit up, especially with concrete surroundings:woot: (Floor/Walls). and you could get a lot of electrical noise with your equipment.
    Electrical will also need to be inspected and certified by a licensed electrical service.

    Is food or drink being served ? licenses and health certificates involved.

    Health certificates: food and restrooms.

    Is Money exchanged for admissions ? Venders Licenses.


    Zoning for a venue.
    Parking ordinances.

    Above all, protect your own a$$ : Insurance on the dwelling and equipment. at least liability.

    As I said you may want to look into all of this. A friend and I ran into all this a few years back. It wasn't worth the cost and fines associated with doing it. At least in my area.

    We already had a lot of work done in his basement THEN we decided we were gonna do the right thing and check on it since you always have the 'hang arounds' and neighbors that think everything is their business.

    We opened a big can of worms. The city clerk handed us a big stack of city ordinance books. But, in order to get this info, we had to tell the clerk where this was going to be.

    She rolled out a city zoning map and just gave us the big stink eye and asked us how many people there will be. Now all this pompous lady:rage: (being nice here) had to do was tell us NO...but.. the next day a city engineer and a code officer as well as a building inspector and policeman showed up. We were almost fined for just thinking about it.

    All this, for just wanting a decent jam place with some friends.

    Sorry for the long winded post.

    Good Luck:hyper:
    Last edited: May 6, 2019
  17. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    As for size, it's simple. Set up the band with plenty of room to play. Use masking tape on the floor to mark whatever "big enough" is.

    Acoustics will be terribly important. Maybe a popcorn ceiling? Some sort of carpet for sure. If you just leave it a solid-surfaces cube in there, it'll get muddy for sure. Sound will just bounce around in there for days.

    Drummers will have to be ridiculously mature.
    Last edited: May 6, 2019
  18. Medicine Man

    Medicine Man

    Apr 10, 2015
    My advice: skip building a stage and spend the money on bass bins and acoustic panels (Try Acoustimas). Or if you're handy and want to save some bucks build a bunch out of rock wool and wooden frames. Also, until they make wireless electricity, there's gonna be some wires on stage. Don't waste a ton of money trying to be wireless in a small space, imho. Sound treatment makes such a huge difference.
  19. oldcatfish


    Jan 8, 2011
    Several of my friends have attempted this in the past. The only one that worked well was one that used a large detached garage (more like a barn), electronic drums and everything going direct, with small amps as monitors. It actually is pretty nice. All of the other "venues" sounded terrible....a loud muddy mess.

    If you convert an acoustic kit to an electronic one to keep some of the feel, and use very small amps and a small PA system with adequate sound proofing in the room, you could do it in a basement though....but I think that you would be looking at a lot more than a couple of grand in $ for what you're looking for.
    SoCal80s likes this.
  20. Ostie


    Aug 1, 2018
    Mid MI
    If its drywall and concrete floor, it will be very live. I added carpeting and i thought it would deaden my finished basement. It did, but not as much as i thought. The walls and ceiling are still very reflective. So I wouldn't worry about your basement being live. Id worry more about baffling.

    I also wouldn't worry about a raised stage. If your ceiling is 8’ and you have a 1’ stage, that ceiling is going to be low at 7’.
    five7 and bfields like this.
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