The bassists dilemma in live sound..

Discussion in 'Live Sound [BG]' started by 1Drop, Jan 3, 2015.

  1. 1Drop


    Jul 31, 2009
    It can be so frustrating. I understand the concept behind keeping stage volume low enough that the soundman doesn't hear your amp. Yea he gets a better mix overall and the end product is better. Whats frustrating is that I'll do my best to have my amp as low as possible on stage. The rest of the band does the same and our stage sound is usually just about perfect. Until the engineer brings us up in FOH. Then we all have to turn up because FOH is so loud we can no longer hear ourselves. Why isn't it a two way street? Is it just because we are small beans playing small venues and we can't get away from FOH stacks? Bigger stages seem to be more difficult for me as far as monitoring goes. I can't tell you how many times I've looked over at drummy at soundcheck and been like, "wow it sounds really good up here!" then FOH comes on and its total mud on stage... frustrating!! I guess i'm just ranting unless there is a solution then I'd love to hear about it. IEM's? never tried em, always thought the bassist would be the last person to want to use those things, but maybe I'm missing something?
  2. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Inactive

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    IEMs are amazing once you get used to them. The downside is that bass players in particular have to spend some dough on buds to get a good bass tone through them. That's been my experience anyway. Also, try getting your rig off the ground and closer to ear level. Or try tilting your rig back. Or try putting some bass in your monitor wedge.

    All four of those solutions have worked for me in the past. But putting a bass rig on the ground and blowing your ankles out never seems to work out for me. I have heard all about the "science" of bass frequencies being more omni-directional But that has never been my experience. If my rig is up by my ears, I hear it 10 times better than if the same rig is on the ground. I have actually been known to take the bottom cab of my stack just for the purpose of getting the top off the ground and closer to my head. Even if I have zero need for it volume wise, it helps me to hear myself.

    Honestly, if the sound companies you are working with are worth a crap, and have wedges worth a crap, the easiest solution is bass in the wedge. It's pointed at your head and adding to the overall volume your rig is producing. Win win.

    P.S. If you are one of those bassists who insists on not singing,get the sound guy to bring you out a wedge anyway. They aren't just for vocals.
  3. FunkHead

    FunkHead Supporting Member

    Mar 10, 2007
    I have only one suggestion which works for me. I turn my Bass Cabs sideways toward my drummer. Then I stand back by the drum kit. I can still hear everyone else and My drummer can hear me without having to crank it up too much. Too much low frequency eq'd for the guitars will also contribute to the "Mud". In fact I believe most of your problem could be solved with EQ. I believe the wedges are really mostly for vocals so too much of anything else in them is probably causing more Mud.
    Hoodywah and Rickybass4001 like this.
  4. ggunn


    Aug 30, 2006
    Austin, TX
    Low frequencies are more omnidirectional than are higher frequencies, but the definition in your sound where you can tell what note you are playing resides in higher frequencies than the fundamental and are hence more directional.
    Silas Stingy and HolmeBass like this.
  5. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Inactive

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA

    This is also something that tends to work well. Turning your rig "cross stage" will allow you (in some cases) to turn it up a little without killing the sound guy.
    Also, OP, if your FOH mix is that loud you should be able to do just about whatever you want without messing the sound guy up.
    Remyd likes this.
  6. Hoodywah likes this.
  7. i was just about to say that 2F...if the FOH is that loud, then turn up to bring the feeling long as its now mic'd you won't screw the FOH guy up...
  8. When presented with a big stage and 15" wedges, If I'm not able to use my IEMs, I'll happily stick my bass through the wedges, and leave the cab for others to hear if they want.
  9. wmhill

    wmhill Inactive

    Aug 20, 2012
    upstate NY
    MTD basses endorsed artist Bartolini pickups emerging artist TECAMP bass players gear endorsed
    seems that the issue is with the sound guys performance , but that subject is on the taboo list of things which can't speak of on TB.......
    20db pad, Hoodywah and maestrovert like this.
  10. rolandm

    rolandm In search of the lowest note.

    Aug 8, 2010
    Peoria, IL
    I use SE215s, as they are bass-frequency biased by design. Never had an issue, playing ampless on stage. I've played big stages amped (festivals, etc.,) and can say if you're not running guitars and bass and drums through the monitors where it's possible, you're really missing out.

    In small rooms, you also have to deal with FOH bouncing back AT you, which is why FOH cab angles are very important. Done wrong, it turns things into mud, because the returning signal is usually out of phase with the originating signal. Same with corner monitoring vs. straight stage monitoring. Played a gig recently where the wedge monitors were turned into the corner stage. It was a giant swirl of mud onstage, reflections coming off three separate surfaces, and the monitor guy's solution was to turn all of it up. I pushed my monitor off to the side after about 2 songs and just monitored via FOH as best I could. The one bar I played where we had in-house support had an acoustically treated and deadened back wall and the onstage sound was brilliant.

    This is why I prefer soundmen who are actually musicians and who have been there. They know what's going on from a very personal level, and most want to fix it.
  11. Smooth_bass88

    Smooth_bass88 vaxx!

    Oct 31, 2006
    Western Hemisphere
    I also use the SE215s...sometimes I'll just put my bass in there and NOTHING ELSE. But on some gigs where IEMs are not practical, I just wear earplugs and deal with it.
    rolandm likes this.
  12. I do the same as NYCbassist. I angle my rig to where the drummer and the guitar players to hear. On bigger venues, I run a separate amp on the other side of the stage. I have dealt with guitar players running too much bottom on their EQ. Fortunately for me, my guitar players can get their SRV sound and we can still talk on stage nearly in normal conversation levels. Only need a presence of bass in the wedges.

    I also done festivals where the back line bass rig was smoked or a POS and I used my little Eden Preamp/DI and get a fantastic stage mix through the monitors and mains.
  13. Bufalo

    Bufalo Funk in the Trunk Supporting Member

    Jan 6, 2005
    Harrisburg, PA
    I'm only going to reinforce what others have already said: if the main house system is so loud that it's overpowering everything you're hearing on stage, then the problem is in the booth, not with you.

    Does this happen often everywhere or just constantly at one venue you play?
    HolmeBass likes this.
  14. ggunn


    Aug 30, 2006
    Austin, TX
    FWIW, it doesn't necessarily mean that there is a problem with the FOH operator. If there are large loud full range FOH speakers onstage with you they will radiate low frequencies in all directions and the mix onstage will suffer.

    In a perfect world musicians and audience alike would have balanced mudfree mixes, but in the real world often the musicians have to just make the best of what they get.
    D.A.R.K. likes this.
  15. derrico1

    derrico1 Supporting Member

    Apr 12, 2005
    Charlottesville, VA
    When the FOH throws a lot of spill back onto the stage, IME cranking my stage rig adds to the problems in a few ways:

    • Cranking the backline amps makes it that much harder to get the vocal monitors over the combined FOH spill and stage volume. The feedback limit for vocal wedges sets the ceiling for stage volume.
    • If I'm singing, having my amp absolutely roaring makes it harder to hear pitch, to focus on my vocal parts, to hear cues, and to blend.
    • Adding cranked bass cabs on to the FOH spill (especially from the subs) makes it even likelier that the floor tom mic or kick mic will start feeding back. If you haven't experienced this, it's like having a phantom keyboard player randomly holding down a loud low note a moment after any bass-heavy passage that you or the drummer play.
    • Cranking the bass amp will emphasize on-stage acoustic problems with standing waves, reflections, boundary effects, and zones of multiple-source interference.
    If IEMs aren't available, better to raise my cabinet up to my ears in those situations than to crank the volume. There's already too much SPL slopping around on stage. Dumping extra-loud bass amp spill all over the stage addresses my instrument-monitoring problem, but at the cost of increasing monitoring problems for the rest of the musicians.
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2015
    eadg98005 and HolmeBass like this.
  16. Man I hate it when the floor tom or kick mic feeds back like that! Yuck. If the sound engr doesn't have experience or smarts then it's the bass that's going to get pulled out of the mix because " it's feeding back". SMH.

    I think this is an FOH engr problem. In a small club, you simpley cannot attain studio-like separation, where you will render the band in a pristine mix. Trying to do so is bogus. The name of the game is sound reinforcement, where you let the band play and fill the room, and you use the FOH system to *reinforce* that sound, account for good and bad frequencies in the room, make sure the vocals and drums stay in the mix. It's kind of a dying art from what I see.
  17. ThePoloHobo


    Aug 18, 2013
    Tulsa, OK
    One time the sound guy wouldn't give me a DI line after I brought a mic for my SVT. So I cranked it to 6 or so for sweet sweet power tube distortion since nothing was going to be in the subs. Hate that guy... The floor tom was more boomy than the kick!
  18. I can't stand IEM's, too many years of hearing the mix through wedges in my face lol
  19. haha you could stop using amps!! my band does that we run everything through our rack mount x32 and have our own IEMs too!! no more wars for stage volume... IEMs are expensive tho and totally worth it
    guy n. cognito and s0c9 like this.
  20. s0c9

    s0c9 Supporting Member

    Jan 9, 2014
    1964 Audio artist, Fractal Audio Beta Tester
    Yes, IEM's will help but not necessarily solve your problem.. depending on the size of the house system.
    The venue I played last Fri/Sat night has THREE dual-18" subs on each side of the stage.. so SIX (6) dual 18" subs pounding out bass!
    You can see them on stage-left in the pic below. 2 with the wood-trim surround and the 3rd to the right, just left of the stair rail. Yes, there are stairs behind that last sub.
    If you look above the 1st 2 subs on the right, you can see the amp rack that powers the house PA!!!


    There was so-o-o much bass in FOH for 3 of our 5 sets that it overwhelmed the bass in my IEM mix.
    I made sure that I heard vox, kick/snare and gee-tars, but it was pointless turning up the bass and completely unnecessary!

    I use custom 1964 Qi's (quad drivers) for buds, and run them at a relatively low volume so I have PLENTY of bass available in my ears.

    But this venue just cranks it out..
    In the last 2 sets, FOH backed off as folks started leaving (that was at midnight-30, we play 'til 2) so I could hear the bass in my IEM's and adjusted accordingly. It's amazing how loud the house sound is when I take those IEM's out and realize how much I'm saving my hearing.
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2015