Stage in the basement

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

  1. An interesting idea; do you have an outside entrance to your basement? Also, do you have rest room facilities in the basement? I would be concerned about allowing people I may not know free access to roam around my home unaccompanied. How about insurance coverage in case of injury to someone while in your space.

    With regard to the stage; a height of 6 inches is plenty as long as most audience members are seated. I think a major problem will be band volume. I have a small sound business and have setup and mixed in a variety of room sizes. With an acoustic drum set, amped instruments, and the power of the PA system you are considering, I think excessive volume will be a serious problem. I attended a recent concert in a room much bigger than your basement and had to leave during the first set because the volume was so high that remaining in the room was painful without ear plugs. It is very difficult to restrain a drummer, and that leads to the other instruments upping their volume and pretty soon you have a runaway train. I would consider going with acoustic instruments at first and some light percussion rather than a full drum set. Also, consider a good quality lower powered PA.

    I have a recording studio in my basement. I finished my 38x12 room with acoustic treatment in the ceiling, walls, and floor. Music from my studio can still be well heard on the first floor of my home with anything more than low or moderate volume.

    Good luck with your venture, and let us know how it progresses.

    Thump on,

  2. MynameisMe

    MynameisMe Be kind. Supporting Member

    Dec 31, 2018
    Jax, Florida
    Since it's a basement that means concrete is going to be a giant echo chamber. seems like you're over doing everything like you're playing a giant outdoor concert and you need to go smaller on everything. All the amps, everything.
    Unless you want to go deaf or are handing out ear plugs.
    Also the idea about acoustical panels is a good one up too.
  3. derrico1

    derrico1 Supporting Member

    Apr 12, 2005
    Charlottesville, VA
    This. I played dozens of pop-up rooms in the punk and indie years. The bands that were really serious about their group sound could usually dial in something passable, but it was always a fight against the changing bad acoustics of the room. The only pop-up venues I've ever played in that sounded good as acoustic spaces had high asymmetrical ceilings and large main rooms (one was a converted church, the other a converted barn's loft).

    Compared to edrums, an acoustic kit played by a talented drummer with great ears and great touch can really lift the sound of the band—even in a small space. But played by an average drummer, an acoustic kit can make getting even decent sound impossible. Which are you likelier to have?

    Neither edrums nor modeling would be my first choice in a no-compromises world. But in a small space like yours, I'd much rather have DI feeds and edrums feeding my mixer than old-school gear run haphazardly by the neighbors.
    PlatoFunFactory, vgbassman and s0c9 like this.
  4. Runnerman

    Runnerman Registered Bass Player Supporting Member

    Mar 14, 2011
    I would go with a simple 2x4 base and lay plywood sheeting over that and then some indoor/outdoor carpeting. Will give you about a 4 inch step up to the stage which would be about as high as I'd want to go with an 8" ceiling. A 1 foot stage would look awkward with such a small ceiling height.....just my opinion.

    You would not need full blown wedge monitors for such a small space....some hotspots on stands would be sufficient and be a smaller footprint. I agree with comments about edrums...they also will have a smaller footprint and you can avoid the drum shield which would be needed but possibly awkward looking in such a small space.

    You will need some sound absorbing wall treatment like baffles/bins. Lots of simple and asthetic designs you can copy easily available on line.

    Those are some initial thoughts....have fun with it.
    By the way, I'd love to see some pics of the space you are working with and even better, when you get rolling start a thread with progress pics of the project.
    vgbassman and TwentyHz like this.
  5. I play in a basement roughly the same size as the OP is talking about... and in NJ!

    The concrete block walls and the concrete floor is the biggest problem. The basement is loud and ugly sounding at all volumes... except for unplugged acoustic instruments. The acoustic drums are the biggest problem.

    My suggestion is build a "stage" at whatever size you like. Then look at the acoustics and start some mitigation there. Rugs, insulation, etc. I'd have some jams with friends and see what needs to be done.

    The other option is: An electronic drum kit. Combined with some low wattage guitar amps and a good bass DI you could great a great sound at a reasonable volume. The "reasonable" volume might even allow conversation over that cup of coffee while the kids are playing.

    Good luck. If you are local to Gloucester County, I'll book a gig with you when you are done.
  6. Dogbertday

    Dogbertday Commercial User

    Jul 10, 2007
    SE Wisconsin
    Blaine Music LLC
    I wouldnt build a stage. A drum riser maybe at the most, but make it portable so you can use it at gigs.
    I second the E-drums sentiment.

    My band sets up like we're "on stage" at rehearsal to get used to cues, etc. and it works out great. My advice would be to set up as best you can without spending money, host some friends to jam, and make a list of all the things you wish were better about it. Full range 112 or 115 PA tops and acoustiv treatment would top my list of priorities.

    Edit:: make the guitar and bass run through the PA via the behringer GDI21 type gear and run everytbing except the drums through the PA. Then put the PA behind the band.
  7. jthisdell


    Jun 12, 2014
    Roanoke, VA
    If you are going to build a stage make sure you build it solidly with plenty of joists underneath and a solid plywood floor and yes, 6" would be plenty. A cheaply build stage is OK for standing there playing acoustic guitar but not for having amps on, especially bass cabs. The space IMHO is not that small, in fact is plenty big for rehearsals but small enough that everyone will need to learn how to control their volume and dynamics. A good lesson to learn, and yes, even drums can do this properly. The best drummers I have played with had the lightest touch. And brushes are good if you are using acoustic guitars, etc. I think you could save on the speakers, I am in two bands that use the lower cost Yamaha DBR series, 12's for mains and 10's for monitors and they work well for both rehearsals and gigs. And yes, sound absorbing materials, rugs, drapes, etc would be a very good idea.
    Last edited: May 6, 2019
    vgbassman likes this.
  8. Erik herman

    Erik herman Gold Supporting Member

    Sounds like a whole lot of fun! Good luck! Don't worry about acoustics and all of that stuff. I would say fit the stage so it's easy to get up and down off of with equipment, somewhere around a normal step in height. That sweet spot in between a tripping hazard and a falling hazard! You can always turn your stuff down and if noise is a real issue an electronic drum set would work great. But I doubt that it would be an issue as s long as it's not before or after sound ordinance times
    vgbassman and TwentyHz like this.
  9. jnuts1


    Nov 13, 2007
    i am finishing my basement and I built a stage for the boys. it's only 6" tall and about 3'x6' and just for vocals. the rest of the band will be next to it. ceilings are too low for adults to stand on a stage
  10. eJake


    May 22, 2011
    New Orleans
    I think its a great idea! There are some valid concerns in previous posts but also some pretty outrageous stuff.

    If I understood correctly, this will not be a business. Just a hang spot. Spend your dollars wisely. Do not try to replicate a venue space (most basement venue spaces I have played have had bad sound). Instead really focus on the vision of what this space could mean to the community.

    If there are going to be young peoples bands there, it is going to be loud. Do research on how to seriously baffle loud drums in a basement and hand out free earplugs at those shows. Maybe some kids will think its lame but put out educational materials on what loud live music will do to your ears. Even if one kid reads it, its worth it.

    I love spaces like this and I highly encourage you to just go for it. It's not a venue, its something different where the walls between performer and audience are thinner and easier to break through. A safe place for people to hone their skills and practice their craft. A non bar environment, with no manager getting pissed because no ones buying drinks.

    Don't worry if the sound isn't perfect or if its not the prettiest place in the world. If the vibe is right you may be really doing something for your micro (or larger) community.
    bfields and thetragichero like this.
  11. micguy


    May 17, 2011
    I realize I'm probably way too old for this request, but just in case, I'd like to be adopted by you. It'd be really cool to have my friends over and practice in your basement.
  12. That is a fairly space, especially with the ceiling height. I can picture sound being a nightmare in there. A drum shield would definitely be recommended. As for lighting, you can check out Lights are inexpensive and decent quality for home/small band application.
  13. Highroler79


    Apr 24, 2013
    This I have a great practice space/studio that I built about 12x12 enough room for guitar bass, acc drums, singer who plays guitar and I have a double keys set up. Build your own sound panles and bass traps, sound treatment and proper Voltage regulators are vital to keep the sound consistent day in and day out. The stage could be just big enough for the drums and you could put a raised floor for the rest of the room? or even just carpet, really think about the IEM, or very low wattage amps, let the PA do the work and you will get great results. Even doing this on a budget will still be expensive but take your time, and think really hard about exactly how you want this all set up, ie you can hid all your wires inside of drywall, you will want everything set up and ready to go any time and it looking clean when you are not using the space, without 30 min of setup/tar down time.
    vgbassman likes this.
  14. interp


    Apr 14, 2005
    Garmisch, Germany
    I think this is a great idea. Don’t have any specific suggestions; I think you will figure it all out fine. But go for it!
    TwentyHz likes this.
  15. mattj1stc

    mattj1stc Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 13, 2009
    Dallas, TX USA
    My first thought was not to have a stage at all because the ceiling is only 8 feet, and a stage would be too high. Then again, I'm 6'6". If you're shorter, a stage would work if was only like 8-12 inches high, which isn't too much of a stage.
    vgbassman likes this.
  16. Lava

    Lava Supporting Member

    Jul 14, 2014
    El Paso, TX
    You'll need a bouncer to kick someone out a couple times a night, for the "authentic" gig feeling.
    vgbassman, yodedude2 and Stumbo like this.
  17. I think it's a fun idea. Treatments for sound should be your top priority, otherwise you'll a boomy, muddy mess. To answer your questions (numbered above):

    1. Yes, reasonable and fun
    2. I suggest 10'x10' as a bare minimum for a stage, but you might want to consider just a drum riser (maybe 5'x6') since your ceilings are low.
    3. Rectangular, in any other shape someone will be on the brink of falling off the stage
    4. 6"-8" because of your low ceiling. Easier to build too.
    5. DIY is possible but go all out, walls, ceiling, floor, doors, windows need sound treatment.
    6. Not essential, but will help keep volumes reasonable
    7. LED's hung from the ceiling, maybe 3. Very cheap these days.
    8. I don't think you need 12s in this size room. Better quality speakers always sound better if they are in your budget.
    9. This is a small space, so don't get things that are big and bulky or heavy to move if possible.
    10. Keep things modular so you can adjust for different size bands and different size audiences. Get a cool looking back drop for good videos/pictures. Don't forget to make it comfortable for the audience: comfortable chairs, a place to put your drink, a fridge, adjustable house lighting, etc. Post pictures as you go, I would love to follow this project.
  18. 9Thumbs


    Jul 3, 2013
    Near Boston
    I'd say keep it really simple. a chap 6 or 8 channel powered mixer (think Peavey) and a couple of 12 inch PA cabs on sticks. Set the PA behind you as you look out at "the crowd". You shouldn't need monitors of any kind(we have one for the drummer, so he can hear himself sing clearly.No. we don't have any feedback problems from the PA, ever, in fact this is a nice set up for small to medium bars (maybe 100 gigs experience).

    Our drummer(s) is/are adults who can play at reasonable volume. If yours aren't, lose them. You'll never have a successful bar or restaurant gig with a loud drummer. My gear is big, because I have to store it somewhere, but we play at volumes that allow audiences to converse without leaning across the table and screaming at the top of their lungs. A rug on the floor and a couple of side of the road sofas will eat a lot of sound. There is no ceiling, just insulation stuffed between the joists above, that helps too

    vgbassman and TwentyHz like this.
  19. yodedude2

    yodedude2 Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2005
    san antonio, texas
    i 3rd, 4th, and 5th the e-drums suggestions.
    PlatoFunFactory likes this.
  20. Super-doable.

    (A fantastic resource for the friends and neighbors. Hosting music is da bomb.
    Kudos for moving people past all the rules and letting the making of music be a normal part of life.)

    I'd build a 12x12 stage...made of 2' x 3' 'skids' that can be moved as needed. I'd build skids by framing 2x4s skinned with plywood (glue and screw), with indoor/outdoor carpet glued down. While it's not necessary, the psychological of a stage (even if < 4" high) as hallowed ground amps up the cool for performers, creates a boundary for others, and helps protect gear from silly clumsy stuff.

    I'd use a small PA w/ some built-in reverb for vocals only; - 2 speakers and 1 monitor. It's ok if it's 'too big' for the space; you'll use it when the party moves out to the back yard for special events.

    On stage, small amps and un-amped drums will be perfect for the space. .

    A few cheap led lights that respond to sound.

    A simple field recorder in the sweet-spot after trial-and-error, and everyone's got memories to keep. One of those kids may someday be a pro :).
    vgbassman likes this.
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