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Suggestions for playing Electric Bass in a cathedral style Church

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by MAJOR METAL, Jun 6, 2005.


    MAJOR METAL The Beagle Father Supporting Member

    I have a very importent Church function and Holy Mass i will be playing at on this Fathersday and last week we had our first practice playing in the upper church which is a cathedral style building and i was almost horofied as to how bad the bass got warped in the Church.We will be playing on the floor near the main alter as opposed to the choir loft so i am running my ampeg through the line out to the house system and using the amp as a monitor.Is their anything i can do to improve the deffinition and clarity of the bass?.We are doing a very classy refined acoustic set and i thought i would play my hollow body violin bass with flats http://www.talkbass.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=18189 but it just sounded like mud so i did some eqing on my sadowsky and it sounded a littel better trying to cut through with more trebble but i was hoping to keep in more the acoustic spirit for this one.Any feedback or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
  2. wulf


    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    Cathedrals are normally masterpieces of acoustic design, allowing a single unamplified person to be heard down their length and creating a beautifully rich sound with pipe organs and choirs. Unfortunately, that makes them a rather inimical to "contemporary music groups".

    I've not played in a cathedral myself but have performed in buildings with some similar characteristics and talked with others who have. Ideas for making a positive contribution to the sound include:

    - perhaps a more midrangy sound than you'd normally use, certainly rolling off the frequencies that are creating the mud

    - simplify what you're playing and leave more space; perhaps more muted, staccato notes than long sustained lines

    - set your volume so that you are behind the lead instruments; 'bass in your face' is unlikely to work!

    Hope that helps.

  3. DanGouge


    May 25, 2000
    Oh man, I played in a cathedral-type structure once. The reverb in a place like that is unreal. We'd play in the soundcheck and then stop, and there would be a good half-second of reverberations. I'm not talking about slapback echo either, this was a roaring drone. The good thing though is that once they fill up, the people in there actually do a good job deadening some of that. You definitely want a very clean, crisp tone in a place like that.

    MAJOR METAL The Beagle Father Supporting Member

    I might ask my Friend if i could borrow his SWR workingman 15 to use for this to get more midrange and highend as opposed to my Ampeg.

    MAJOR METAL The Beagle Father Supporting Member

    Thanks Wulf we practice again in the Church today so i will keep in mind these points. :)
  6. wulf


    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    Let us know how it sounds!


    MAJOR METAL The Beagle Father Supporting Member

    The sound is disasterous, the delay is big time in the back of the church.We have 2 vocalist, 2 Guitarist acoustic for this project, 1 violinist, 1 violist, me on electic bass and a drummer who thinks he is playing in maddison square garden.Were back on it this evening we hope to find some middle ground.
  8. wulf


    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    Your sound or the overall sound? I'd suggest building it up bit by bit. Get one of the guitarists to start playing a song and the rest of you put your instruments down and go and listen to how it sounds. Play with EQ, volume (keep it low) and amp placement a bit. Next add in a vocalist. Evaluate how it sounds. Etc...

    At each stage, you're listening hard and from a variety of places (a good sound in the nave may not be ideal on stage and vice versa). Whoever rejoins the group on stage last has most power as they've been able to listen to every one else (and suggest changes) - of course, with that comes the responsibility to not mess it up when they join in.

    Once you've got it sorted, make a note of the settings - write it down so that you can recreate it at the event.


    MAJOR METAL The Beagle Father Supporting Member

    Thanks Wulf, that seems like the most logical thing to do taking it piece by piece.The whole drum expirence is adding more confusion and distortion.I wonder if i would do better playing an upright bass in this situation?, i might have to look around for one.
  10. jive1

    jive1 Commercial User

    Jan 16, 2003
    Owner/Retailer: Jive Sound
    I happen to play every Saturday in a cathedral setting. But, each building is unique. I keep my stage volume relatively low, and I let the soundman do the rest of the work.
  11. wulf


    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    Do you play upright bass? If not, I think trying to get one for this gig is a losing bet unless you've got a lot of money, great learning skills and plenty of time! I'm sure it would work great in that setting but you'd have to get the instrument, learn it well and probably amplify it anyway!

    From what you're saying, it sounds like it's the drums that are causing the problem. How about getting your drummer to play on a stripped down kit? With the 'Teeth, we've been playing various open mic events (including one TONIGHT! :ninja: ) - we'll normally do three or four songs and there's no time to set up a full kit, not to mention the need to keep the volume relatively low (the audiences want to have a pleasant social evening and listen to the music, not lose themselves in the beat). Steve (and drummers in other bands we've shared a stage with) just uses a snare (with a variety of hotrods, brushes and sticks), bongos and other percussion instruments and it works very well.

    Maybe a similar approach could work for your event?

  12. I don't know a lot about a lot, but I play for mass each Sunday in an early twentieth century large gothic style church.

    The suggestions above are pretty good-- midrange boosted sound, low bass is really hard to control. I try to have good space between notes, and a crisp attack, with variety in the note durations-- dit dit dah, not dum dum dum ( if that conveys anything) Keep it simple-- I can feel the rhythmic togetherness of the ensemble become less assured when I step out of a clear line to some kind of triplet riff or unrelated fill.

    I use a pretty old school setup to get more of a clear attack with quick decay-- jazz bass (though it's a 5), rotosound flatwounds, strip of foam under the strings near the bridge.

    Good luck with it!
  13. kjones


    Dec 4, 2004
    I've played in the cathedral here in Baltimore, and I definitely sympathize. Make sure your Sadowsky has the bass all the way down on your instrument's pre. I would not be taking a line out of the head, even that often colors the sound. I would use a DI (like a Radial box) into the board. You're on the right track with keeping the bulk of your sound in the mid-range. The other posters are 100% correct about the drums. Snare and cymbal with brushes, anything to keep it stripped down. Keep your stage volume (altar volume) low, because that sound is being channeled everywhere by the acoustics.
  14. Be sure to pray together before as well as after-- it helps people to be their better selves in a situation with lots of tension and egos.
  15. Jeb


    Jul 22, 2001
    Great advice. I've taken note of this one.
  16. NJL


    Apr 12, 2002
    San Antonio
    everytime i play in a big church, i cut some lows and play very soft...

    MAJOR METAL The Beagle Father Supporting Member

    I agree, I start with a prayer every time we play a Mass.

    MAJOR METAL The Beagle Father Supporting Member

    I was giving some thought as to playing my old school Violin Bass that is strung with Hofner flats http://www.talkbass.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=18189.

    MAJOR METAL The Beagle Father Supporting Member

    Thanks for all the feedback guys :) . I was talking to the Choir Master and he suggested that if everything goes through the house PA that this would cut down on the delay.Were going with a very acoustic kind of tone so i dont think the Sadowsky will be my main bass for this performance. If the SWR Workingman 15 has a line out i think i will use that with my Epiphone Jack Casady, with an SWR it is has such a mid range acoustic beauty to it. I will use My Violin Bass to cover the deeper simpler tunes. I understand about keeping the lines simple to cut down any delay or echoing but i think their is still room tomaintain some groove over the chords.
  20. ryco


    Apr 24, 2005
    Hi. IME flats have the thud factor in that they are not real brillant. I agree withthe guy that said cut bavk on your lows and go with a little more mid. Also you may want to try smaller speakers - they tend to carry mids a little better whereas I think a 15 could contribute to the boomy factor. Have fun!!

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