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What am I missing?

Discussion in 'Live Sound [BG]' started by Jon Moody, May 10, 2010.

  1. Jon Moody

    Jon Moody Commercial User

    Sep 9, 2007
    Kalamazoo, MI
    Manager of Digital Brand Development and Product Development at GHS Strings
    I'm currently playing in a theatre pit; yesterday was load in. It's a 16 person group with two keyboards and me as the only amplified instruments. One keyboard amp is side-washed; my amp is facing me, about 4 feet away on an angle. The second keyboard amp is also diagonal. The pit area itself is about 8' deep and runs the length of the stage. The back wall is cement that about 6' up, curves out.

    I'm using my GK MB-150S amp (1x12, 100w or so). When I loaded in yesterday, the sound guy refused to run a DI, citing that the bass carries really well in the theatre. I was surprised they didn't just run it and have the option of not needing it, but didn't say anything. Three songs into it, the sound guy says that the bass needs to be turned down. I politely ask if it's me or one of the keyboard players. After the keyboardist in question plays a couple notes, the sound guy says it's him. This keeps happening over the course of rehearsal, to the point where I intentionally don't play a song to prove that it isn't me.

    We're planning on sidewashing the other two amps, but wanted to know if I'm missing something here that we can try to do to help the sound guy get a good mix. I'm still not convinced that this sound guy knows what he's doing anyway; given the mic volumes yesterday and amount of feedback they were getting on things, I'm not so sure it's entirely us. But, I'm willing to give it a shot and see if we can control ourselves a little more. Any help or ideas to try would be appreciated.
  2. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol Supporting Member

    Unless the PA is really crappy, it would really be better to DI everybody and keep amps at stage volume only.
  3. ric stave

    ric stave

    May 6, 2006
    Buffalo, NY
    I've done many theatre shows (pit or backstage) with either my GK MB-150E (always DI'd), or just a DI. It's usually been the guitarist who has the hardest time keeping levels within reason - it's a whole different world trying to get a distorted guitar sound for a rock show but keep it balanced level-wise with everything else. The bass sometimes seems like it's too quiet, but recordings I've heard back have usually sounded good, so I let the powers that be be the judge of that.

    But I agree, it would be easier to have them DI everything and then just use the amps for pit volume.

    I have to say, though - years ago I played a full orchestra + choir version of Jesus Christ Superstar in a large local theatre, we were on stage (behind the curtain), and my bass (electric) was only reinforced by a Traynor Bloc 40 - the acoustics of the theatre made it happen.
  4. JackANSI


    Sep 12, 2006
    Cut off the keyboardists left hand and you'll be all good. Not the sound guys fault that the keyboardist(s) can't keep themselves in check..

    Sounds like a great gig though, you can just sit back and pretend to play and get paid...
  5. DeluxeRed


    Jun 2, 2009
    Sounds to me like everything is coming up mud and the sound guy can tell what's what. Having the sound drift out of the pit is making things worse, but it is being caused by people stepping on each others sonic toes. As mentioned, the keyboard parts need to be adjusted to account for the separate bass, and the eq on the key's and guitar amps need a low-end shelf to cut out their lower freqs.

    Or totally change your sound to a real punchy mid/high end, and act more as a rhythmic or melodic instrument, if the keys are hogging the foundation freqs.

    Get as many ears as you can out front to listen for you.

    Break a leg!
  6. Jon Moody

    Jon Moody Commercial User

    Sep 9, 2007
    Kalamazoo, MI
    Manager of Digital Brand Development and Product Development at GHS Strings
    Thanks for the feedback, guys. I talked to the Music Director and other keyboardists, and we're going to try and sidewash all the amps, but also demand that I have a DI, which should allow me to turn my amp down more. Hopefully that'll fix it.
  7. IvanMike

    IvanMike Player Characters fear me... Supporting Member

    Nov 10, 2002
    Middletown CT, USA
    honestly the keys should have their amps turned down and all three of you should be running direct. additionally, i might suggest a bass cut on the keyboard amps. All of your amps should only be loud enough for the other members in the pit to hear you.

    of course, there could be time alignment issues if the three of you are running into a PA some distance behind the pit, so that may be the issue for the soundman. I can't see why he wouldn't have you run through some numbers pre performance and tweak the volume and tone levels then. That way you can write them down and stick to them for the remaining shows.
  8. Broadbent


    Mar 28, 2007
    DI'ing is a good soundman's solution. That way he has total control of the mix, instead of constantly telling people to play with their levels.
  9. Jon Moody

    Jon Moody Commercial User

    Sep 9, 2007
    Kalamazoo, MI
    Manager of Digital Brand Development and Product Development at GHS Strings
    Well, we finally got the situation figured out. The second keyboardist was not very familiar with his amp, and as such had a gigantic, boomy sound. I gave him a quick "this is the difference between your channel volume and master volume, how the eq works, etc.." talk and that fixed his problems.

    They finally agreed to DI me. That fixed my problem, and allowed me to turn down.

    We ended up moving the whole pit around too, because the trumpet and trombone were bleeding into the clarinet mics; why the soundman put the trumpet RIGHT BEHIND the clarinet so his bell was pointing at the same mic, I'll never understand. But, that's fixed too, so now we can all play quietly, hear ourselves and everyone else.
  10. I agree drop out the left hand on the keys no need if you are in the pit, just going to fight each other the entire time! Going DI with it everything and controlling it from the board is the best solution as mentioned as well. RTS
  11. Sidewash? :confused:
  12. Jon Moody

    Jon Moody Commercial User

    Sep 9, 2007
    Kalamazoo, MI
    Manager of Digital Brand Development and Product Development at GHS Strings
    Turning your amp 90 degrees so the speakers are facing left/right instead of front (towards the audience) or back (facing the curved cement wall). It allows the soundguy a little more control, because the bulk of the amp sound isn't going out into the house.
  13. rockstarbassist

    rockstarbassist Banned

    Apr 30, 2002
    The Woodlands, TX
    Endorsing Artist: HCAF
    I always make my gui****s do this whenever possible!

    Me? Not so much... ;)

  14. hmm ok, never heard that term before..
  15. Pit sound is really tricky because you're playing in a concrete bunker. It's usually really resonant at some low frequency so anyone - keys, strings, trombone, etc. who happens to hit that hot note makes it ring like blowing across the the top of a coke bottle. If there's no padding on the walls it's hard to hear yourself because all the sound just bounces around in there like crazy. When I've run sound for pit shows I try to let the amplified instrument players just use their amps for their own monitoring and I either mic he amp or tke a DI signal for the house mix & stage monitors.

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