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volume

Discussion in 'Amps, Mics & Pickups [DB]' started by SottoVoce, Mar 20, 2001.


  1. SottoVoce

    SottoVoce

    Sep 16, 2000
    Canada
    In general, is it better to play with more force and turn the volume down on the amp, or play less and turn volume up?
     
  2. You shouldn't have to rely on your amp for your sound, but you don't want to have to play so hard there's no room for a crescendo.
     
  3. Bob Gollihur

    Bob Gollihur GollihurMusic.com

    Mar 22, 2000
    New Joisey Shore
    Big Cheese Emeritus: Gollihur Music
    I play as if I'm not amplified, and let the pickup and amp do their work to add any volume the gig required, with the goal of sounding as natural as possible.
     
  4. Does Jeff Berlin play the doublebass? I've never heard a doublebassist suggest that. In fact, most will suggest that the best way to improve your tone is to play gigs without an amp as much as possible. The only time I use an amp is when I'm playing with other amplified/miked instruments. When I do, I play the same as when there is no amp, and set the amp to much
    the level of everything else being amped.

    The doublebass is supposed to have a big, broad tone. Develop that. Once you have that tone, you'll know how much to rely on an amp.

    Let me brag a little; I'm working in a pit orchestra this week. The ensemble is comprised of trumpet, two trombones, sax, clarinet, flute, piano, drums, and my bass. I'm playing this gig w/o amplification and carry the auditorium with no problem.
     
  5. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    I'll second the opinions stated by FUQHORN and CRACKHOUSE, but with one exception - the comment about playing with far less amp. That works for Ed because he's got an amp setup that he's happy with (Walter Woods, etc), and his Realist hasn't exploded yet (and keep your fingers crossed that it doesn't). But there are some situations in which Sotto Voce's question takes on a different meaning. Suppose you are getting a good warm tone from your bass, your strings are a reasonable height, etc, and you're playing in a really loud room with lots of noise of one sort or another....in these situations, you actually need more amp, or at least more speakers. I landed a great house gig recently and have been trying to find a sound in the room, and there are times when, between the drummer and the crowd, my amp reaches a point where the sound goes to hell and starts to sound like Eddie Gomez sticking his finger in a light socket...this doesn't mean that you're doing anything wrong, it just means that your amp is out of headroom. I agree completely with anyone who says that when you amplify, you're just trying to get your acoustic sound louder - but on almost every amp I've ever seen has a point on the master volume knob where, once you turn it past that point, it DOES get louder, but the louder it gets, the crappier it sounds.

    I've been experimenting with extension speakers and even a small slave amp, and if I use either one of these, I get my natural sound, and more of it, with the volume on the amp set lower (i.e. - below the "SONIC SUCK ZONE" setting). This weekend, I'm gonna try using both (which I normally wouldn't do, but on this gig you can leave gear), and turn the amp(s) down even further and see what happens.
     
  6. rablack

    rablack

    Mar 9, 2000
    Houston, Texas
    Years ago in my pre-DB days I went to a guitar store clinic where Mr. Berlin was playing, holding forth on various topics and hawking his Peavey Jeff Berlin model bass. During a Q&A I asked him if he played the DB. His quite petulant response was that he was essentially forced to play the DB at Berklee and dropped it as soon as he could thereafter. As I recall he used the term "stupid" in his little diatribe. Evidently he was still pissed about it. He was very adamantly an electric bass player. Mr. Berlin has little to offer us on equipment or technique issues down here in DB-land.
     
  7. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member Administrator

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    on it.
     
  8. Bob Gollihur

    Bob Gollihur GollihurMusic.com

    Mar 22, 2000
    New Joisey Shore
    Big Cheese Emeritus: Gollihur Music
    There are some rooms that are just horrible. I used to play a "ballroom" in Almonesson NJ -- a place built in the 20's around a large lake. A very large room with the stage built into one of the long side walls, curved top. I suppose it was built for the big band era, and acoustically it was a trap. You couldn't get sound to come out of that hole in the wall to save your life-- and I guess that was its design function, to keep 18 pieces down to a dull roar. We always sounded so disjointed there, never together, and our equipment strained to make an impact in a banquet party type gig; we couldn't get over the noise of conversation in the room.

    I did mostly electric gigs there, and we found the only way to make any impact was to literally put our amps and selves on the edge of the stage.

    Chris is right on target with headroom. I don't have any probs with URB gigs since mine typically are tame, but electric and electric upright needs More Power (insert appropriate grunts). I went to the ultimate (at least as far as I am concerned, for a standalone rig) -- Kern IP-777 preamp, RNC compressor, QSC power amp, and a pair of VL-210 Euphonic Audio cabinets. No, I'm not happy to carry all that stuff, but 10 speakers and 2400w driven by an all-tube preamp is something to behold. Tone Heaven, all the headroom in the world. I have a lot of volume available, but I obviously don't use it all.

    My point is that IMHO it is well worth overbuying a bit to have the power to respond to the signal from your pickup or mic, to fully reproduce the sound without squashing or malforming it. I play out because I really enjoy playing, and when I don't sound my best, I don't play my best, and I don't enjoy myself. And I get really ugly and hard to get along with <g>. To me, it's worth a little pain and fifteen extra minutes to haul and set up more gear in exchange for 4 sets of tone bliss. A small price to pay.

    The other side is what insufficient volume does to your play on URB. How many of you in such a situation find yourself altering your style of play to try to get more volume or clarity, even unconsciously?? -- and your technique goes to hell. And you, too, become an unhappy camper.

    Sorry for the digital diarrhea - my fingers just couldn't help themselves.
     
  9. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Man, you weren't kidding....not only are riflebutt and FACEFOOD not around anymore, their posts were shown the door as well. Now that's what I call service! It looks like Big John's electric herdin' stick is running on new batteries. I gotta warn you though JT, stick around down here in castle DB long enough and you might catch the deadly "dark side bug", in which case you'll be s**t out of luck 'cause I don't think anybody makes an acoustic herdin' stick (Upright herdin' stick? Double herdin' stick?)....

    Bob,
    I've noticed that preamps also seem to have a headroom limit after which tone goes to hell. If you know how to explain this phenomenon, or if you have any recommended settings, I'm all ears.
     
  10. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member Administrator

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    isn't that what them french bows are for? :D
     
  11. Bob Gollihur

    Bob Gollihur GollihurMusic.com

    Mar 22, 2000
    New Joisey Shore
    Big Cheese Emeritus: Gollihur Music
    It of course depends on the preamp itself. Ears are probably the best guide, and perhaps the only guide when the preamp has no indicators. In the interest of tone, it's best to use a median setting; I guess in terms of controls, I like to let the preamp and power section share the load, to produce the output necessary. It's really hard to gauge or say without knowing the equipment -- but in the end, I repeat "trust your ears". There is that line you cross on the bottom, when you don't have enough preamp gain and the necessary increase in amp gain results in noise, and perhaps a sort of weak sound (minimal dynamic range) and then that threshold where the preamp begins to saturate and limit and/or distort your tone.

    Don't quite know how else to put it. Hope that makes some sense.
     
  12. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY

    Well,...actually I heard you can only herd DB'ers with those.
     
  13. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Bob,
    Sorry, I missed your post somehow last night. I was afraid you were gonna say that...I asked because I go on for a long time with one preamp setting, then one day I'll get fussy and tweak it some more and often find that I could have been getting a better sound all that time. I played an out of town concert in a small hall with a quartet this week and had a blast using the K&K stuff...I took plenty of amplification gear, and when I started playing I was using primarily the mic, which sounded so much like the bass that I had to keep checking to make sure that the amp was on...the other guys wanted more definition, though, so I had to blend in the pickup. The options when you have more amplification headroom open up a whole new can of worms when it comes to control settings. Man, just when I thought I had that part down, too...
     
  14. dhosek

    dhosek

    May 25, 2000
    Los Angeles, CA
    I couldn't herd the DBers... the drums were too loud.

    -dh
     
  15. rablack

    rablack

    Mar 9, 2000
    Houston, Texas
    Actually as SHERLOCK FITZGERALD said you can only herd DB'ers with a French bow. To herd BG'ers you need the added power and authority of a German bow.
     
  16. Bob, I think this is a great example of why solid technique is important. Solid technique will enable you to get as much sound out of the bass as possible, and if the technique is strong, it won't go to hell. I've deliberately put myself in situations w/o amplification where any sane bassist wouldn't. My technique got me through, audible with drums, a miked piano, and horns
    playing into a mic. The sound carried the room. What my suprise some cats is the part of my body that got tired the fast and was actually sore afterward was my *left shoulder*! The only difference in my playing was I don't think I played anything shorter than a quarter note. I was very happy playing quarter and half notes. My solos that night consisted of very few notes, but were good, no bullsh*t.
     
  17. Man, you cats must have some loud DB's. I've been playing upright in swing and jazz gigs for 11 years now, and I dont think I could have played without amp at any one of those gigs. Well I could, but sure as hell no-one would hear me!
     
  18. AlexFeldman

    AlexFeldman

    Jun 18, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    My personal rules for DB amplification: (YMMV)

    Make sure your bass is set up properly and that it projects well when you are playing it.

    Use your amp to maintain your volume on stage so that you and the other people playing can hear you. Keep it low and only turn it up if people complain (or you can't hear yourself at all).

    If people out in the crowd can't hear, feed a DI off your amp to the PA. If there's no PA, point your speaker at the audience. You may have to elevate it. It'll sound muddy if all the sound coming out of the speaker is bouncing off the back of your bass.

    If they still can't hear and the room is large and boomy, turn the bass eq on your amp down and turn the master volume up. It may sound clinky to you, but it probably sounds fine to someone sitting out in the room.