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Stage Volume - Good story

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Frankjohnson, Nov 6, 2012.

  1. So - a little background
    I have a Blues Band - called Bad JuJu
    This is the 4th year on the go - we are guys with day jobs, so we don't gig as much as many, but more than some - maybe 50 X a year. We play mostly 100-150/Man shows in rooms that are pretty common - most of them fun, and have no visions of touring, CD's or fame. Just glad to have friends out, meet new people, and play some fun blues Rock - get some people dancing, and have some people listen, enjoy etc. So far - not too bad.

    We have had many guitar/singer guys go through the stiles, some just didn't fit, a couple it was just not good, and some are in and out to help cover when regulars are unable to make it. The original front/Tele guy (VERY Albert Collins like) took a promotion and moved away, rather than fold the band, I have worked people through it, so its more of a "brotherhood" kind of thing than just four guys (which would be my preference) which is just how it has turned out.

    This year - our goal was to achieve good room volume, starting with stage volume. Since we play many places with vocal only PA (maybe some kick) the first thing I offered to do was purchase a smaller cab. I figured it was a good investment so I bought a used Schroeder mini 12 here and honestly it has loudness potential I never expected, so I have to make a conscious effort to keep it dialed down. so far - that has been good for the most part. I have other cabs, and use either the Shuttle 6.0 or Portaflex500 in most cases.

    The Drummer uses bundles in a lot of our rooms and sticks when it is right. Old drummer BEAT the Living Hell out of his kit and no matter how hard we tried, he played his kit as loud as he could and beamed with happiness - no matter how much it hurt peoples ears. He doesn't live here anymore - hence new drummer.

    Guitar guy who "WAS" in the band up to a year ago, left to play with Loud Drummer, because he felt I was too controlling, constantly asking him to turn down - to which he would reply Eff-you. They don't live here no more, and aren't working much either. I can't figure that one out........

    So last Oct 29th was the first show with the new ensemble, and so far, for the most part it has been pretty good. Guitar guy one has a 18 watt crate palomino which works well, and number two has a 12 watt clapton deluxe. They are both very capable amps, and we mic them when needed, or to put in monitors.

    Most rooms, we use a 2x600 Peavey powered mixer and two JBL 12" monitors for tops, and two 12" monitors on the floor - and its good. In a couple of smaller rooms, we use one 12" top. In a couple of bigger ones, we use 15" JBL tops, and one sub (18" carvin). We use that for a lot of outside shows too.

    I think we are going to run with 12" Jbls and a Sub in a couple of rooms too, because they seem to work well together. When we use the sub, I also DI into the PA just to fatten it up a little.

    We are actually in a slow spot for now, which isn't bad, it is giving us a chance to tighten up some material, and add a little bit of new material. Besides, the rest is welcomed too. We are finding that better stage volume is letting us really put out much more dynamic performances, and no ringing at the end of the night.

    Just Curious....
    Has anyone else found that controlling your volume has improved your success - considering you are playing - and the music is good, and fits the venues?

    Edit - addition
    I guess the reason I posted this is.....this year, we are really working on improving the volume - starting with the stage and it feels great. The playing feels like it has improved, along with quality of sound. This was all due to a push from guitar guy no. 1 and I honestly can't thank him enough. It is hard to realize how loud you are sometimes, and without him on htis as the Sound Sheriff, I don't think we would be moving in this direction.
    its been a real eye opener.
  2. craig.p


    Sep 28, 2008
    New Hampshire
    I can't see that setup coming even close to what's required for those audience sizes. I even see it borderline for quiet rehearsals in anything larger than a small room.

    But if it's working for you, and you're getting invited back to those rooms, then something else must be at work: quiet audiences, extremely "live" acoustics, older crowds who no longer rock out, whatever.

    Or they ain't all half deaf like me.

    Got a big question mark over my head on this one..........
  3. We play most wednesdays at a blues jam with house PA support - it is absolutely a fuller sound, but honestly - it get WAY too loud a lot of the time.

    This setup lets us put the vocal and guitars in the forefront - without it being a pecker measuring contest for loudness. I have A QSC plx 1600 for my bass if I need to do that!

    most of these places are 100-200 seats max. We aren't playing any huge rooms - although we did a hall over the weekend for a Breast Cancer Benefit - room was 120' deep - 50 or so wide. One Sub - 2 1-15 JBLs - 2 1-12 monitors (could have used more). I used my Avatar sb1-12 on stage - it was easily loud enough, and with the Boom potential in the room - it was spot on. Still had plenty of clean headroom etc....

    That said - I have been in the same room to play other Benefits, and the hired a sound company - 2 2-18 Subs, 2 2-15 mains 6 1-15 monitors.....result - Ringing, booming, WAY too loud - a few of my friends who play were complaining about how absolutely painful the volume was.......they like loud too - to a degree.

    We are finding a trend to a lot of places embracing this effort.....
  4. BadB


    May 25, 2005
    AZ, USA
    Absolutely. I get called for sound man gigs on occasion, and the shows that have the most success are the ones where the guitar players show up with small kickback combo amps. Why on earth anyone would show up to a bar with a 100W 4x12 Marshall is beyond me. Big amps are for arenas, outdoors, and very large stages. I strive for the lightest stage volume that still sounds balanced (this usually means that the hard hitting drummer needs to use lighter sticks) for the band. Then I bring everyone into the PA. The FOH sounds so much cleaner, and I can provide an appropriate volume level. Too many bands think that it's all about them. The reality is that it's all about the audience, and if they are not pleased, they will clear out.
  5. nukes_da_bass

    nukes_da_bass Banned

    Feb 19, 2006
    west suburban boston
    I totally disagree regarding your big amp theory.

    I bring one of the biggest amps ever made to every gig no matter how small, the Mesa Boogie 400+.

    I use the VOLUME control to control the VOLUME. I it's too loud, I simply turn down.

    Read in the amps forum regarding headroom. I like an amp with lots of headroom to give me great tone and presence at any volume with minimal distortion.

    I do agree that a quieter band is a better sounding band. Some of the members of
    My band have been playing live for over 40 years as professionals.
    That PA sounds sufficient for the clubs you are playing- I still like a monster amp because if the small amp can't fill the room I'm in trouble!
  6. duff beer

    duff beer

    Dec 2, 2007
    I don't know why this confuses you...most bands don't need to mic the drums for crowds of 100 - 150 people. Our band has played to crowds that size and all we do is mic the vocals through a couple 12" monitors on stands and play through our amps.
  7. BadB


    May 25, 2005
    AZ, USA
    If the stage amps are filling the room, they undoubtedly should be of sufficient size and power, but this thread is about stage volume. Let's face it, filling a club from the stage is is going to be loud on the stage.

    Edit: I am not speaking from the standpoint of a vocal only PA, but rather a full PA with separated stage and FOH sound systems.
  8. DWBass

    DWBass The Funkfather

    I agree! I fight with my drummer all the time to quiet down. Even got him to buy Hot Rods but he still doesn't understand the concept of using them. Last show he showed me how frayed they were and I told him he's not supposed to beat the snot out of his drums with them. They are designed to allow one to play at low volume by just playing regular. By the end of the night, he was back to sticks and banging away. As for a small PA, some of you guys need to back off with the negative comments over smaller PA setups. Get over it ! It works. Especially in smaller settings. This last gig, we only used 2 12's for mains, a single sub (which we didn't need) and 2 powered monitors. Powered Behringer PMP6000 mixer. Was plenty. Coulda went with an even smaller setup. Gear is so much more efficient these days. You don't need to have all that power and componants anymore for bar gigs. Personally, I'm no longer looking to spend an hour packing up a lot of stuff up at the end of the night. In fact, I'm about to put together a nice small modular setup that can be up and running in 15-20 minutes.
  9. viper4000


    Aug 17, 2010
    We receive the best compliments when we turn down as compared to the last band. The regulars at places are the ones I get ques from. When one of our fans says it sounds good, then cool, they liked us yet again. But when a regular at a place says that we sounded the best so far this summer/year, then that says a lot to me. They're the ones that sees every cover band come through that place, they're the ones that know how the room sounds.
  10. modulusman

    modulusman Banned

    Jan 18, 2004
    So you're saying that your band doesn't get any gigs where you need a real PA.:D
  11. Hahaha -
    No not saying that at all......

    but in the cases where we do have a FOH system used, sound guy etc. We actually still strive to not play the entire room from the stage sound either.

    We have again found that using the same amps, mic'd and bass rig DI'd (I like my 4-10 for these) it works well - and we dont' miss the ringing in the ears.

    for small portable gigs, I like the "hearable setup" that isn't WAY over powering.

    I get to play with Some very good performers from time to time, and have found that a lot of them agree with this. I get to play with David Bromebrg quite a bit and honestly, I trust his judgment quite a bit. I believe I am doing this right.
  12. DWBass

    DWBass The Funkfather

    Very funny. We have a 'real' PA and use it quite often. Just some spots it's just overkill to bring all that equipment to play for 150-200 people. They can hear us just fine. Hell, the DJ plays louder than we do! It's just not necessary to be that loud. And by the way, we gig a minumum of once a week and often twice a week and occasionally 3 times a week at large bar/restaurant venues.

    What is a 'real' PA anyway? Does it always have to be top of the line? 4000 watts? Multi mains and sub arrays? 2-3 monitor mixes? C'mon dude, that is so old school thinking! If you don't mind moving, setting up and breaking down and storing all that stuff......that's on you! We've done block parties with our 'little' PA and could be heard several blocks away. Real talk!
  13. bassbully

    bassbully Endorsed by The PHALEX CORN BASS..mmm...corn!

    Sep 7, 2006
    Blimp City USA
    I have no issue with your setup and my band has a setup allot like it. We are a quieter band but rock out sometimes. We use a simple 2x600 head and some 15 mains. We add subs for outdoor shows and always have a few small monitors but that is it.

    Out guitar player and muti- string player go direct acousticly and use combo's for the electrics. I use a Markbass 300 watt rig and we never mic drum. We get allot of kudo's on our sound and play 65-150 seat venues all the time..never a complaint.

    FWIW the worse sounding bands and biggest problem bands I have been in and seen are ones with too much sound equipment and to many people who don't know how to run it..or think they do. When we play larger venues with PA and soundmen we have had more issues then when we set it and forget it. Keep it simple and it works.
  14. bassbully

    bassbully Endorsed by The PHALEX CORN BASS..mmm...corn!

    Sep 7, 2006
    Blimp City USA
    What is a real PA in your book?
  15. This......

    and no - it does not say......
    Using big systems makes you sound bad

    It merely points out that you can really work with less, and not only get the job done....AND sound good doing it.

    same thing round here.....
    Lots of Dick Measuring contests with PA equipment. I say - Have fun boys -
    In the meantime, I will keep on keepin on
  16. derrico1

    derrico1 Supporting Member

    Apr 12, 2005
    Charlottesville, VA
    There's something to this for bass amps, as long as your tone doesn't depend on pushing the power amp section of a tube head.

    OTOH, I'm with BadB regarding guitar amps--and especially all-tube guitar amps. It's a rare guitarist with the restraint and willingness to run a half stack at low volume in a small room. If they show up with a beast, chances are they'll be stubborn about needing to let it off the leash until the power amp tubes sing, even if that's way too loud for the stage and the room.

    You can always mic a small guitar amp at its sweet spot, and use FOH and stage monitors for volume. And while there are some tools for taming a too-loud guitar amp, IME they don't work as well (or typically sound as good) as a mic on a guitar amp that's the right size for the gig.
  17. Gab124

    Gab124 The path is greater than the destination Supporting Member

    Dec 30, 2006
    I am trying to get my band to see the light of not playing so loudly. Oddly, it is the singer that always wants to haul and setup two 18" subs and two dual 15" mains for every show even for very small venues (likely cause it is his). I don't get it at all. We do use electronic drums and now that technology has made them sound very close to real drums with a volume control we are still throwing that out through that huge system. But it does help with stage volume, he is also a hard hitter. I think we could easily get by with one small sub and two 15" mains and sound great. Always something to shoot for I guess.
  18. BadB


    May 25, 2005
    AZ, USA
    I have to reiterate: I hear what you're saying about your big amp. It is a rare thing for someone to use it appropriately, though. I use a full PA. Mains, subs, and four monitor mixes. In an ideal situation...reasonable drummer with the bass drum and low toms mic'd, monitors and combo amps at the front of the stage kicked back so everyone on stage can hear them, fill in any holes with the monitors. Then, I let the PA do it's job for the FOH. Not all situations are ideal, so I have to adapt. Most people won't point their amps at the drummer, but as long as they're not pointing them at their feet, the volume tends to come way down. The whole point is have much lower stage volume which helps the FOH tremendously, and makes it much more comfortable for the performer.
  19. bluewine

    bluewine Banned

    Sep 4, 2008

    I purchased a small GK 2 10 combo amp for use in small clubs.

    It didn't cut it, the tone was different from my full size GK rig. I didn't like it. I think the drivers are different.

    I now use the combo amp as a rehearsal amp.

    If my primary GK rig is to loud in a small club, I turn it down.

  20. bassbully

    bassbully Endorsed by The PHALEX CORN BASS..mmm...corn!

    Sep 7, 2006
    Blimp City USA
    Like I have said allot of this depends on your music and style. I have seen rock and classic rock bassists with Ampeg fridges in small clubs...crazy. PA and amps have come a long way and are more compact and powerful than ever.
    I have never been convinced that that I need more that I need more than 300w yet and have done big stages and outdoor events with it. Good PA support makes my rig a monitor so why carry more heavy gear than I need. I'm not trying to show off onstage that I have the biggest one anyhow.