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Tone: Looking at the BIG Picture...

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by bannedwit, Apr 13, 2006.

  1. bannedwit


    May 9, 2005
    Buffalo, NY
    Hey, I am not one to start threads but I think this topic is pretty important.

    Before bands are signed, before they get techs or before they get $$$ pro studio time, they have to fend for themselves as far as tone goes and "how" each instrument should sound AS A BAND...

    I am almost positive that more often than not bands overlook this important topic.
    Whatever they dialed in to sound good by themselves in the confides of their own home is what they take to practices and even record with. This can result in a cluster ___ you know what

    And what is usually the fix when things are getting lost in the mix? TURN IT UP! BUY A MORE POWERFUL HEAD! etc...

    FELLOW TB'ers, post what you have experienced for your bands genre and what you all have done to have EVERYONE get their tone so they dont compete with each other and how you came about getting your band to sound good as a whole.
    Or even post about what ticks you off and what you would like to fix.
    Even the sound/studio guys who know the theory of the frequencies and all that good stuff, post about what you recommend and any help for us.
  2. Matt Call

    Matt Call Supporting Member

    Aug 1, 2004
    Minneapolis, MN
    I'm always the one that ends up making "sacrifices" in my band. Mainly because I practice my instrument the most by myself. It's true - what sounds good solo, doesn't necessarily sound good in a mix. Well. That was before I came to a few realizations.

    I've found that (for me) the solution is minimal EQ'ing. I used to scoop the mids like crazy, and have lately started leaving everything relatively flat - making sure not to go to any extremes.

    Basically, I've found that the mids seem to be what makes me cut through the best. I think I have Roger Sadowsky to thank for that. With all of my other basses, I'd cut the mids almost completely. No can do with my MV-5. I like that. I like the fact that I don't really have to touch the preamp to make it sound like heaven on earth.

    Now, I simply plug and play; and I get the best tone I think I've ever had.
  3. Fretless5verfan


    Jan 17, 2002
    I'm lucky in the fact that everyone might show up with a good solo sound that sounds like poo in the band setting, but in spite of that we play for a while, listen to it, then make chages, then play, then listen, then change, until we all get tones that make the band sound the way we want it too. It's important to have bandmates that are understanding and fired-up to cooperate:D
  4. MJ5150

    MJ5150 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Apr 12, 2001
    Olympia, WA
    Just talk to the other guys in the band to make sure no one is a "freq hog". It's not complicated.

  5. Wesley R

    Wesley R Gold Supporting Member

    My last band mastered (somehow) sounding louder than they actually were. Make sense, Kinda?
    I have been in bands that I would just stop playing to see if any one noticed and or cared. It is amazing how some people can get so wrapped up in themselves that they are clueless (or 404 as the data guys next to my cube would say) as to what the rest of the band is doing.

    Best of Luck,
    Wesley R.
  6. ddnidd1

    ddnidd1 Supporting Member

    Almost invariably, guitarists who don't know what they're doing usually have too much bass on their guitars which just muddies the mix to the point where everything sounds like crap.
  7. Fretless5verfan


    Jan 17, 2002
    Amen to that:rollno:
  8. unity bass

    unity bass

    Dec 15, 2003
    Modesto, Ca.
    Big +1

    same goes for volume hogs.
    Communication and compromise was our solution.

    Luckily I'm with the right bunch of guys.

  9. I play in metal/hardcore/hard rock bands. The guitarists could always use a little less gain and a little more mids. Most of the bassists in bands I play with have an Ampeg or SWR with the low mids scooped out and too much bass. It sounds like low-rumbly sounds that the rest of the band tries to play over, and occasionaly sounds appropriate.. I EQ in the cleanest sound I can without cutting mids or boosting lows and my sound is usually intelligible out front.
  10. bannedwit


    May 9, 2005
    Buffalo, NY
    It definately sucks with frequency hogs like someone mentioned.

    For some reason I used to get stuck in bands who would need me to drill my ideas in their head before they would even consider taking my advice. THey all had their egos and forget me saying anything if I was a replacement or joined the band after they started.

    That was a huge reason why I left the most recent band of mine. They all had the band ego...

    here was my prediciment
    DRUMMER: into industrial stuff with drum machines. Used a kick drum, 3 (yeah that is right three!) floor toms and 3 other toms. Everything on his kit was tuned lower than the next. On our recording, he totally took over any low end I may have had going for me. PLUS, he could never play anything with the "less is more" approach. Always had to be the center of attention in EVERY song.
    GUITAR: Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier set up the way he set it up when he got it. More low, scooped mids and some highs. Used his amp distortion. One more person to take away lows.
    BASS: Before I gave it some thought, I had my stuff set to the SWR's suggestion settings for a cross between their rock and studio bass settings. I had some issues hearing myself even though the house shook. Why? Because the note frequencies were clashing with everything else.
    Once we recorded and I saw how much my tone blended with those drums, I was a little dissapointed. Once everything was mastered I was out of the mix! It turned out to be one of those things where if you did remove my bass track then you would definately hear less bassy guitar and a little more hollow sounding. I had to have the studio guy crank up the bass just to get it to be heard in some areas.
    After the recording, did some thought and brought up the whole "sounding good as a band" thing and said we should EQ everything and tune the drums to achieve the most impact for our songs. They basically shrugged their shoulders and kept doing what they do.

    A lot of people probably bought more expensive and more powerful gear to "TURN IT UP MORE!" and out do the frequency hogs just by being louder when they probably could have taken some time to go over their stuff and EQ everything properly. This way:
    1.) you play quieter while all being able to be heard
    2.) no need for new gear to compete with others so save cash
    3.) less volume = better ears
    4.) being able to hear everything helps to accentuate notes and maybe help one to solo or get more ideas out of the song instead of trying to pick out notes in a wall of noise...
  11. Ive found as a band we sound horrible, i look for certain things in tone, and our drummer has started doing the same, looking into very specific things (he just got a 10" x 4" snare, and it hurts its that snappy and right for the sound of the band)

    However, our guitarist is one of the few, he is of the position of an amp is an amp, that there isnt enough of a difference between tube and SS, and, he has a 100watt marshall combo (MGDFX100 IIRC), and it really doesnt sound that nice, but he isnt willing to part more money over into a newer amplifier (fair enough its his choice and all), i personally just find it annoying because it really drags down the overall sound of our band :(
  12. cosmicevan

    cosmicevan ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    Feb 1, 2003
    New York
    ideally, you should be looking for players who compliment what you are looking for out of a band. that should include individual sound. there are tons of guitarists (and bassists) who have styles and sound similar to certain pros...especially with fx manufacturers making more usable presets in their gear.

    if you are stuck with who you play with for now...maybe have a rehearsal where you focus on getting the right band sound? a good practice doesn't necessarily need to be running song x until it is perfect. my band has some of our most productive rehearsals without even playing a note, just talking and hanging out.
  13. ric1312

    ric1312 Inactive

    Apr 16, 2006
    chicago, IL.
    I had a guitar player years back, with a half and, "effects can make everything sound better, " syndrome.

    He would sit with his half in his room about two feet away from his ear and get what he thought was a killer sound. He'd come to practice crank up, and it would sound like an amplified electric razor, or it would woof like a bass.

    But, it always sounded like crap.

    At one show he had three pedal boards, he looked like he was tap dancing, each patch sounded like a razor.

    even when we sat him down and had him adjust it to our liking with it loud and us across the room, he'd still revert back, thinking he could improve it. He had this idea in his head he could find the ultimate unique guitar tone that would just blow everyone away.

    It's just a guitar, make it sound like one, it's not going to blow anyone away all by it'self.

    Anyway, what started his problem was not adjusting at playing levels standing back from it, and not at practice to see where it sits best in the frequencies of the band.

    Ack, I still have nightmares.

    What he should have done is got a high gain, small tube amp and just miced it.

    Thank god I play bass and don't have to worry as much about this crap.
  14. takeout

    takeout Supporting Member

    Dec 27, 2002
    Kansas City area
    One guitarist plays most of the intricate parts, and hence needs a thicker tone than if he was just bashing chords all night long. The other is the opposite, and so needs a thinner tone. They both get it, so I don't have to do too much surgery at my amp. I leave it relatively flat, with the occasional low-mid boost or cut depending on the room, and I always get compliments.
  15. ric1312

    ric1312 Inactive

    Apr 16, 2006
    chicago, IL.
    A lot of people probably bought more expensive and more powerful gear to "TURN IT UP MORE!" and out do the frequency hogs just by being louder when they probably could have taken some time to go over their stuff and EQ everything properly. This way:
    1.) you play quieter while all being able to be heard
    2.) no need for new gear to compete with others so save cash
    3.) less volume = better ears
    4.) being able to hear everything helps to accentuate notes and maybe help one to solo or get more ideas out of the song instead of trying to pick out notes in a wall of noise...[/QUOTE]

    This actually works very well to make a band very tight, and pick out mistakes. One summer we played in our condo, as we have neighbors we had to pad the drums heavily and play low. This equals what you descibed, you hear every little part every little mistake, we got tight fast. But, don't expect most bands to want to do this as it takes a lot of raw energy fun out of it, and leaves no room for volume covering up little mistakes. And lets face it most bands aren't top notch players and rely heavily on noise/blare for that in your face effect.
  16. bannedwit


    May 9, 2005
    Buffalo, NY
    god bless

    ANYONE KNOW OF "HOW" A DRUMMER SHOULD TUNE? I know drum pieces have different pitches, should they compliment anything related to the bands tuning or what? I think I saw an article of some drummer go over what they tune their drums too.
  17. The 0x

    The 0x

    Aug 24, 2003
    Timonium, MD
    This is why I like playing in a 3-piece band. We are all EQed to sound good, yet nothing is overbearing (although the bass is more prominent than in other bands). However, as soon as we add a second guitarist, it get's thrown completely out of whack, and sounds horrible. So we're staying a 3-piece.
  18. Smallmouth_Bass


    Dec 29, 2005
    Some drummers tune their toms to specific pitches, like a triad, while others just tune it to the drum itself. Each drum has a natural frequency that it resonates best to, so I think that is ideal.

    I too, tend to opt for a relatively flat sound. And yes, mids are the frequency that I might bump up to cut through more. The smiley curve can be dangerous and just get lost in the mix.

    In my situation, it's generally one of the guitars that often competes for my sonic space. Just too much bass which often makes it hard to hear so it just gets turned up louder and becomes muddier. You really do have to work together as a band to get a good sound.
  19. Smallmouth_Bass


    Dec 29, 2005
    Another problem is how you practice. I tend to practice with recordings through a headphone setup and I tend to have my bass loud in the mix, so that's what I get used to. Once you take that into a band situation, it's not always the best mix and if everyone else is doing the same, then each person is trying have themselves in the front.
  20. Groundloop


    Jun 21, 2005
    I envy you Sir!

    One of the guitarists in my 5 piece (2 guitars, keys, bass and drums) jam band has, as ric1312 described it, the "effects make everything sound better" syndrome. Ironically, the best he ever sounded (to me anyway) was when he was trying to trouble shoot a problem and (HORRORS!!!) plugged his Ric 360 straight into his AC30. Rich chimey heaven. To complcate things, he has some hearing loss (seriously). I've managed to carve out some sonic space by keeping my EQ flat except for a moderate boost in the 400-600 Hz range, and thru judicious use of a compressor I've been able to turn down and still be heard.

    Over the last couple of rehearsals both guitarists and the keys player have commented that they couldn't hear, either themselves or someone else. I guess it's time for a meeting about who "owns" what as far as frequencies and tones/timbres.

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