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Way too loud...need some help

Discussion in 'Live Sound [BG]' started by mello_bedwetter, Aug 17, 2012.

  1. I need some help setting up the "stage" to help control the volume. We're a group of 6 guys aging from 50-60 and we play mainly classic rock: Bad Company, CSNY, Clapton, Marshall Tucker, Skynyrd, etc.. We have 3 guitars, a bass, drummer and a lead singer. We really never intended on playing out but we have done 7 or 8 "gigs" now. Right now the PA consists of a Yamaha 512 EMX powered mixer and we run 2 15" mains and 2 12" monitors. For the lack of equipment we are just running vocals through the PA. The lead singer and 2 of the guitar players will sing occasionally and also do background vocals. The lead vocalist is in front of the drummer and the drummer beats the drums like there's no tomorrow making it very difficult for the lead singer to hear himself through the monitors. Because of the drummer everyone else has to increase the volume on their amps to compensate for the drummer. I was thinking of cutting his drum sticks in half to control him...it's ridiculous. Because of the volume issues the "mains" and "monitors" are way to loud also and the vocals end up being way too loud for the "crowd". I know we need to control the volume and cut it down because it's terrible. My question is: when you are using the PA for only vocals what is the best way to start out(sound check)to get the vocals at the right volume besides putting the drummer in another room? Should I have the vocalists sing through their mics without instruments and go out front and check their volume then adjust the stage volume(individual amps)going out and try to keep the volume at that level, forcing the drummer to calm his butt down? The place we're playing at tomorrow night hold about 150 people, probably the limit for using the PA for vocals only.
    I'm open to all suggestions. I hope I worded this right. With the PA we have now running only vocals through it, where should I start to get a decent volume level? I guess BALANCED is the word I'm looking for. Thanks for your help.
  2. nortonrider


    Nov 20, 2007
    after 7 or 8 "too loud" gigs, nobody has said anything to the drummer?
    why exactly is that?
  3. Winfred


    Oct 21, 2011
    No offense intended, just friendly advice here.

    Tell the drummer to turn down.

    Tell the loudest guitar player to turn down.

    After that fails, get a new drummer.
  4. Oh he's been told but he laughs it off. I think he wants to be out front to show off or something. The volume level is embarrassing. That's why I'd like suggestions on setting the volume to get a balance. I'm thinking of setting the volume of the vocals and then keeping everyone's hands off of it for the night, forcing the drummer to adjust.
  5. ThirstyMonkey


    Jun 27, 2011
    First, you need to get everyone to understand how loud they really are. This is difficult the older we get because our hearing gets worse the older we get. Add to that the hearing damaging effects of our hobby, and many musicians over a certain really cannot accurately gauge the volume. I recommend a spl meter. Something like this will work: http://www.amazon.com/American-Recorder-Technologies-SPL-8810-Pressure/dp/B000I4ZVHU. I know it's really helped my group keep volume in check. It also helps us deal with volume issues with the venue owners.
    RobBrochu likes this.
  7. ...and a semi-deaf guy from the 618 suggests the following (in no particular order):

    *Dead-ringers and/or foam padding for acoustic drums;
    *Electronic Drums (tell drummer it's so you can turn him up:);
    *Plexi-shield for existing setup;
    *In-ear monitors and/or hotspots to get the monitor vox at ear level.

    In odd situations in the past, I've killed all the FOH sound and just used vocal monitors. If you're THAT loud, it will bounce around enough to cover the whole room anyway. If all else fails, STL has a pretty big musician community, so finding another drummer shouldn't be too hard.
  8. He has some electric drums but won't use them. I guess it's all about "show". I wish I would have came up with some plexi-glass this week.
  9. FrenchBassQC

    FrenchBassQC Supporting Member

    Jul 13, 2011
    Gatineau QC CA
    quote: And we're "old", it's not like we're kids playing too loud.

    That's too funny, I'm in my late 50's and I think you guys are too cool...

    But that doesn't solve a thing, if you have already talked about the volume issue and nothing has changed, it might be time to either get the country music project on the rails or give an ultimatum to the rascals in the band...:)
  10. I'll see what happens tomorrow night. If they don't cooperate they will be short a guitar player and bass player...oh yea, and a PA. :)
  11. nortonrider


    Nov 20, 2007
    Tell them that!
  12. Will do.
  13. nortonrider


    Nov 20, 2007
    good luck!
    let us know how it works out.
  14. I'll probably be back play Hank JR. and some Haggard...lol. Actually I'm ready for some country. The other 2 guys I have lined up played for quite sometime using the PA for vocals only and had no problems as for as volume/balance.
  15. Is the drummer good? Have you considered stepping up and matching him?

    I mix sound for plenty of bands that cover that sort of stuff. In my experience the really, really good one's that keep a room full of a few hundred people dancing all night do not have especially quiet drummers.
  16. He's about average. He's good until he tries to put extra beats in and screws everything up. I've been around a few drummers and I know you don't have to beat the heck out of them, as loud as you can. There is a limit. At one point he wanted to be mic'ed too. I asked him if he was drunk.
    I may just take my stack and turn directly at him.
  17. Dantreige


    Oct 22, 2009
    For your situation I don't have high hopes. Usually I'd just give the drummer a good monitor and crank it in his ear, but you are using a vocal only p.a. That is not going to work. He is also refusing to use the equipment that would solve this, his electronic drums. That would be an easy fix for the volume as well.

    The only other option I can think of is to use a drum riser to get him up and over your heads. This will help keep the cymbal smashing and crashing at a more manageable level for the rest of you on the ground. With five guys trying to compete for stage space, this may not work for your situation either.

    I think it needs to be an ultimatum. Use the electric kit, or get replaced. Tell him you are getting complaints about the volume and it need to stop or there will be no more gigs.

    Good luck!
  18. FerK

    FerK Supporting Member

    Dec 11, 2011
    How about in-ear monitors for the rest of the band ?
  19. SunnBass

    SunnBass All these blankets saved my life.

    Aug 31, 2010
    Columbia, Mo
    This is hilarious.
  20. derrico1

    derrico1 Supporting Member

    Apr 12, 2005
    Charlottesville, VA
    When you're going vocals-only PA w/ backline blending that's the way to do it. ("Here's how loud the vocals need to be to set the volume for the venue. Now, everybody play just under the vocals.")

    If your drummer has decided that he doesn't care what the band sounds like, you don't have any great options.

    Things you can try:
    • lighter sticks
    • letting him mic his drums into a small mixer that only drives his (ridiculously cranked) headphones/in-ears
    • putting him in one corner of the stage, opposite from lead vocalist (or opposite singer with the greatest problem hearing himself over the drums)
    • putting vocalists on in-ears
    None of these solves the root problem of the drummer not playing for the band; so even if you fix the problem of stage volume, you'll be left with a soloist on drums who doesn't listen--or care. ("So my tricky fill completely pooched the next downbeat? Big deal! Did you hear my tricky fill?!!")

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