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Stage positioning/ set up

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by mcbassdude, Oct 7, 2005.

  1. I've always set up my rig next to the drums. I also like to stand next to the drummer (high hat side preferbly). It allows me to connect with the drummer better visually and sonically.
    Anyway a band I've been working with for the past year has suddenly asked me to set up on the outer edge of the stage so the two guitar player/singers can meet up in the middle and work off of each other. Apparently by being next to the drums I'm hindering their access to the center of the stage (we work mostly smaller clubs/bar venues with smaller stages) in the past I have just stepped back so one of them can go across, but it seems this has become a problem.

    Well, I made a bit of a stink about moving my rig away from the drums and being seperated from the drums. I have stated that they call it rhythm SECTION for a reason. I've been doing this for over 25 years and I have never had anyone ask me to do it otherwise. Whenever I've done a gig with a supplied backline the bass rig is set up next to the drums. They got rather upset and felt I was being a bit of an inflexable prick about this. I said it was quite important to have the drums and bass together. I feel quite strong about this. I've suggested that we move the rhythm section to one end of the stage so they can have an entire half of the stage to themselves.

    Am I being unreasonable about this or are they out of touch with how a rhythm section should be positioned?
  2. I don't think you need to be near the drums. I guess you could argue that you will hear them better, but a drum kit should carry just fine on the stage. You could always mike the kick and snare into the monitors if you had to.
  3. If both you and the drums are in the monitors, its ok to move away. Otherwise you are entirely correct in my opinion. There are a number of points as to why. You need to hear the drums clearly. The drummer needs to hear you clearly just as much. If he's got screaming guitar in his ear instead of you...

    The other point is to be tight, you have to play simultaneously. Einstein proved that simultaneous is meaningless if you are not in the same location. Simultaneous must include the same place, the same time, and the same relative velocity. ;)

    The farther you are apart, the more delay there is between when he played it and when you heard it and vice versa. Its a subtle version of the difference betwen a phone conversation and an email conversation.

    Being wireless, I can wander all around the club. BUt way before I get beyond the range of the wireless transmission, I have to lock the time in my head, play ahead of the music so that I stay in sync. There is a noticable fraction of a second delay from the back of the club. If I play with what I hear, I'm behind. Very unnerving.

    Besides, from what I can see, I'm further back than the front of the drums. If anything is keeping the guitar players apart, it is the drum kit in the middle, or the lead singer in the middle. I'm far enough back I'm not an obstacle. I would tell them to pound sand.

    I insist on not only being next to the drummer, but also on the high hat side. The groove depends on me hearing the backbeat as well as the bass drum.

  4. SteveC

    SteveC Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Nov 12, 2004
    North Dakota
    I used to be very particular about setting up like you do - right next the drums, hat side. I think it does help you "lock in" with the drummer - especially in a jazz/big band setting.

    That said, I haven't set up like that for the last 6 months or more. I've gotten used to it and am fine being where ever on stage. I still like to have "access" to the drummer - like being able to walk over and/or stand by him. For sure I want/need line-of-sight with him.

    Our quartet has gone to a "Yellowjackets" kind of set up. The bass is in back, sax out front, keys on one side, drums on the other. The drums and keys face in.




    We do a similar set up for the pop/rock syuff as well. I kind of like being in back. I'm not an "active" player or performer so it's good to hide me in the back.
  5. Fo' Shizzle

    Fo' Shizzle

    Aug 28, 2003
    Hello Mac,

    This is just another case of git players having no concept regarding our instrument. I've had this come up before.

    The last time we went to a staggered stage set up. It worked well and looked different and cool.

    - ..git... ....git... ...drums.... ....bass.....

    ....vox.... ......vox.....

    ...... vox........


    I hope that helps....

  6. Ray-man

    Ray-man Guest

    Sep 10, 2005
    The only thing that sux about being on the drummer's hi-hat side is when you turn to face him. Right-handers need to step back from the mic stand so as not to smack it with the neck or head of the bass. This applies to singing bassists only.

    Otherwise, it's the only place to be as far as I'm concerned.
  7. I spoke with a trombone player friend of mine and he said it would be like splitting up a horn section. I must say I have to agree. There is a certain simpatico of being a "section".
  8. mrpackerguy

    mrpackerguy Supporting Member

    Jul 3, 2004
    Madison, Wisconsin
    My drummer and I have always preferred to at a minimum have my rig near him, say within 5-7 feet. I do a lot of background vocals and co-fronting stuff with the lead singer on the same plane as the lead singer. So, I'm out front. But I'm always positioned so that the drummer and I are within a glance of each other. That's extremely important IMO so we are cuing off each other for riffs, breaks and "bandisms" we've developed over the last 26 years of playing together. I've seen a lot of local live bands over the years and nothing is worse than a bass player and drummer who aren't in sync. I'll go so far as to say it's the 2 most important aspects of a live band situation.
  9. Mike N

    Mike N Missing the old TB Supporting Member

    Jan 28, 2001
    Spencerport, New York
    I prefer to be on the ride cymbal side of the drummer, however I usually wind up being next to the siner up front, since I sing backups.

    Our stage looks like this........


  10. DaveDeVille

    DaveDeVille ... you talkin' to me ?? Supporting Member

    my current band has been setting up like this for over twelve years ...

    ...............harmonica / vocals ...............

    ...bass ............ drums ................guitar..

    it really dosen't matter to me where i set up .
    i've played plenty of gigs where bass is out front , or off to drummers
    right , once i even played behind a curtain so the vocalist was spotlighted ....
    no big deal .
  11. I prefer NOT to be on the crash side of things, I'll leave that to my guitarist/singer/sax player :) That being said, I've always kind of set up the same place. It was like that when we still had a rhythm guitar player, and we would flank the singer/guitarist/sax player and put the drummer behind him. Nowadays, the drummer is in the centre, a little more in the back.


    Somehow it feels more natural to turn to the right to face the other players. It also fits the guitar: turning without hitting the mic.
  12. Tingly


    Jul 16, 2005
    Yonkers, NY
    You are right, but you said you work "smaller clubs/bar venues with smaller stages," so it won't matter. I mean, if the stage was 50 feet wide, even then you could probably get by, as long as you were positioned where you could watch the drummer more carefully. The speed of light is a heluva lot faster than sound.

    Anyway, don't make a big deal about it. Tell them you thought about it and fine, you'll move. Joke with them that they better put on a great show, now, with their center stage antics!

    But here's the real reason to compromise. You earn capital as a flexible team player. When an issue comes up that is really important to you, you cash in big time, and, if necessary, remind them of this incident and THEIR NEED TO BE FLEXIBLE TEAM PLAYERS!!!
  13. I'd rather earn capital by promising to be flexible for the next thing they request. I dont like not being by the drummer at all...

  14. wyliee


    Jul 6, 2003
    South Hill, WA
    I'm in complete agreement with you. I've been battling that at my church for years and it is a losing battle. Most of the time, we seem like a bunch of people playing on stage as opposed to a band. My attempts to improve communication (eye sight) and listening on stage have fell on deaf ears. They're more concerned with the look on stage.

    However, at other area churches, there is an expectation that I be on the highhat side of the drummer. Then again, their leadership has much more experience in an ensemble environment.

    I want to be on the highhat side of the drummer (presuming right handed drummer) so I can see his hands, feet and keep eye contact. They can also see both of my hands and we can hear each other.
  15. Aj*


    Jun 14, 2005
    West Yorkshire, UK
    ***Bass***************Lead Guitar**

    This is how we work at the moment but we're currently debating the merits of a rythm guitarist since we fired our last frontman who played guitar and vocals (but his guitar playing was uninspired even by rythm guitar standards). When we have a bass or guitar solo we'll kinda step forward, sometimes even walk over to each other and groove in the middle at the front, for this the singer just moves back. Works fine for me, our drummer is so crazy he can be heard at stage volumes from wherever we are without monitors, I like to be nearer him though, I also like to be near our guitarist since we work off each other. Our stage positioning is still a work in progress lol.