Why do bands need to play so LOUD !!

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by fearceol, Feb 17, 2009.

  1. fearceol


    Nov 14, 2006
    I'm in a blues band in which I really enjoy playing. However, I've recently given them an ultimatum ( for the sake of my hearing ) that if they dont lower the volume then they are in the market for a new bassist. After a recent practice session my ears were still sore after two days even though I was wearing custom made ear plugs. It did not seem to bother the others. IMO blues above most types of music does not need excess volume as it started out as an acoustic music. Anyway, wheather it does or not, I need my hearing.

    Just thought I'd get this off my chest and see if any of you have had a similiar experience. If so were you able to find a band with a more sane attidude to volume levels. I only want to leave the band as a last resort, but leave I will, if necessary.
  2. DWBass

    DWBass The Funkfather

    I agree. I can't stand loud onstage volume especially when there is PA support. Some folks just don't get it. That's what separates the pros (or would/could be pros) from the amateurs! I quit a band for this very reason!
  3. ameshokostreet


    Jul 10, 2008
    Hong Kong
    Tell me about it! I once went to see a band competition and you wouldn't believe how loud they blasted the amps. I was only there to support my cousin's band which was sadly the last. So me and my friend had to endure the **** till the first 9 bands finished. The songs they played were utter nonsense as well. It maybe a little disrespectful but you had to be there to understand how I felt about the stuff they played. I wouldn't understand how anybody would enjoy those kind of music. Every band just wanted to "rock" so badly they had to turn the volume to 11. My ears were crying after that and i couldn't hear anything properly for awhile. It was really a terrible experience.
  4. Hi.

    Basically two things determine the bands (stage) volume.

    #1. The drummer.
    #2. The guitar tone.

    #1 is the most common problem. Drummers don't usually have volume or gain knobs ;), but fortunately if they play an e-kit the volume is manageable. Unfortunately going the e-route is damn costly.

    #2 I for one love a thick, compressed, cranked up NON-master volume tube amp sound. That's the rock/blues tone for me. Unfortunately if not playing through a 5W midget amp, the pain treshold is met rather quickly.

    Like in drummers E-solution, a master volume, or god forbid modeling, isn't really the same with a guitar amp. The feel is gone as the player can't interact with the amp as is the case when taking a tube amp to its limits. If the guitarists are using SS amps, just tell them to screw it and turn down.

    Your only option IMHO is to have a chat with your band-mates and try to find ways to reduce the volume, but still keep the feel and drive.

    The drummer might not be comfortable with "rubber drums", but perhaps lighter sticks?
    The guitarists have it better, those tiny Chinese 5-15W combos and heads are super cheap.

  5. Oren Hudson

    Oren Hudson

    Dec 25, 2007
    Gastonia, NC
    Classic case where LESS IS MORE. Usually several factors involved. Egos are right up there. Everyone, and I'm guilty of this sometime too, thinks there's is the most important instrument and therefore should be the loudest. To heck with balance. While this is true with some instruments and is true with all instruments at certain times, trying to outloud the other instruments is detrimental to the whole band. Next would be just not understanding where you should be in the mix. Rhythm guitar players and keyboardist are sometimes the worst. I played with some of each that played louder than the drums, bass and lead guitar. Not generally where those should be. Of course, then everyone else starts turning up to compensate and the volume just keeps going up. :cool:
  6. fearceol


    Nov 14, 2006
    Thanks for the input guys. :)

    To be fair, this has not happened with this band for quite a while. That is since I last gave them the same ultimatum !! Maybe the ultimatum just needs to be reinforced. I'll see how it goes.

    DWBass : You are probably right about the pro/amateur thing, though I am far from being a pro, just an ordinary amatuer who wants to protect what's left of his hearing.

    It just baffles me how people cant understand that "loud does not mean good" and that you can rock and roll just as well at a lower volume. :confused:
  7. :eek:
    We have a ham-fisted drummer & a small practice space. I wear those Hear O's (something like that) that I got from Sam Ash. The sound levels are fine. For me, for it to hurt with plugs on means glass would be shattering! :D

    I use plugs + muffs to shoot large pistol calibers indoors and if your band practices in the 120-130 decibel range :eyebrow: you may want to consider going this route.
  8. emor


    May 16, 2004

    There's really no excuse for that.

    When I was playing regularly with a blues band, we would practice our individual parts at home and rehearsed in a basement in a residential neighborhood. The drummer played a minimal set, and the rest of us used small amps at low volume. No mics or P.A.--the singers sang "acoustically," without straining. The idea was to come prepared and simply work out arrangements, intros, endings, etc. No one was concerned with "getting their tone."

    I'm not currently playing with a band, but I play at a lot of blues jams that frequently dissolve into pissing contests (well, HE turned up so I had to turn up). One big problem is getting too many players on the stage at once.

    The best results occur when you have a sensitive drummer who understands groove and dynamics.

    I've tried plugs, but it's kind of like taking a bath with your socks on.;)
  9. I once played in a band that had a rehearsal space in the basement of the guitarist's house. It was a small space so the drummer had is Roland "Vdrums" set up. Even with the electronic drums the band played so loud. I went on a rant one night:

    Me: "We don't need to be this loud, the drums have a VOLUME CONTROL"

    Guitarist: "But if we lower the volume we wont have the same intensity. We need to be loud."

    Me: "Our goal should be to have the same energy and intensity at low volumes as well as high."

    Guitarist: " "

    Nothing changed after several different versions of this conversation and I left the band.

    I also played in a band that would show up to gigs in small bar venues with huge stacks and play at full volume. I used to joke how we covered lack of talent with volume, they didn't get or like the joke and asked me to leave the band.
  10. Joey3313


    Nov 28, 2003
    Your "custom made" earplugs must suck super hard then.
  11. Bob Lee (QSC)

    Bob Lee (QSC) In case you missed it, I work for QSC Audio!

    Jul 3, 2001
    Santa Ana, Calif.
    Former Technical Communications Developer, QSC Audio
    I know the phenomenon.

    IME, the less intelligent/less talented musicians are the ones who absolutely won't turn down. ;) I've learned that if the band's guitarist, drummer, etc., are dumber than a bag of hammers (and sometimes it takes a while to confirm such suspicions), then I should look for a different outlet for musical expression. :bag:
  12. fearceol


    Nov 14, 2006
    So it's nothing to do with the amps being at 3.00 o'clock in a 6x 4 m. room then ?

    That's good to know. :rollno:
  13. StyleOverShow

    StyleOverShow Still Playing After All These Years Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2008
    Part of the loud feature is the Gestalt of it all, the power of Rock and Roll (or blues). There are real limits as to how loud is too loud. Two examples from the distant past shaped my approach:

    1. There was an late 50's R&B band (The Rivertons) that played at my brother's high school when I was like 10 (1960). Their song was Papa OO Mau Mau - "the funniest sound I ever heard".. They were so loud that the sound was bouncing off the back wall and I could discern the slap back wave as they banged out the tune on stage and the distorted echo destroyed the audience pasting them to their seats. Too loud in my book and duly noted when I started playing later.

    2. In high school a local band made it to get some radio air play, big deal at the time (The Midniters). We all knew one another in East Los Angeles, the musicians, and these guys were out of our league so when they came back to the hood we showed up en masse to check them out. They started their set with a very controlled low volume so that they could all hear one another and then began to adjust upward. The effect was that they drew in the crowd, a 2,000 seat auditorium into their intimacy and as they volume grew so did the excitement and whoops of the crowd. I marveled at the effect then and it impressed on me the need to feel the room out before blasting.

  14. Are your plugs the type that have changeable noise filters? If so maybe you could change the filters. Just a thought.
  15. baalroo


    Mar 24, 2008
    Wichita, KS
    I'll be the person this time to say "it depends on the genre"

    To paint things black and white and say things like "volume separates the pros from the amateurs" doesn't really further an intelligent conversation on the matter.

    There are many genres (like Post-Rock or Doom for example) that I can't imagine going to a show and not getting absolutely pelted by the shear volume, but there are other genres (like blues or smooth jazz for example) where that would be wholly inappropriate and detract from the listening experience. A decibel meter can not determine a bands worth.
  16. nortonrider


    Nov 20, 2007
    Well... as the saying goes: "If you can't play good, play loud"!

    Seriously, if it sucks that bad for someone up on stage, just imagine the audience. Or worse - the Bar staff, the audience can walk out , the staff can't.

    I often wonder what the band is thinking when they look out and see people with pained looks on their faces, fingers in their ears, yelling at each other, moving to the other side of the venue, or just walking out pissed that you ruined their night out.

    Do they Really think that's a good thing?
  17. baalroo


    Mar 24, 2008
    Wichita, KS
    Yeah, that's certainly an example of playing too loudly. Most likely those bands are playing a genre in which the audience does not expect a very high volume. OTOH, I've seen many "pro" bands absolutely BLAST the stage volume at nearly unbelievable volumes in fairly small venues and everyone LOVED it.

    The Sword comes to mind immediately for me. I saw them in a small bar on a one off date between gigs with Metallica and I would swear they were playing nearly as loudly as they would have been playing in the arena the night before. The place was packed to the brim and there were about 50 people standing outside in the rain just to hear them because the bar wouldn't let anyone else inside. I have a hard time calling The Sword a bunch of "amateurs," but man did they play LOUD.
  18. fearceol


    Nov 14, 2006
    Thanks for the advice Michael.

    Yes, they are the ones with interchangable filters. The ones I use are 25's which are seemingly fairly strong (25 = the overall sound is reduced by 25 decibels ). Most people I know use 15's. If the volume situation does n't improve it wont be the filters I'll be changing... ;)
  19. fearceol


    Nov 14, 2006
    Excess decibels of rock will do the same amount of ear damage as excess decibels of blues.
  20. Cabazon


    Jan 20, 2009
    The guitarist I play with insists on turning up his volume throughout the song, even though we use an electric drumkit, and all have volume knobs, so it COULD be kept down, but everyone has to turn up to join him. I just bring my isolation headphones and do decently. I'm not sure how everyone else handles it, as we practice in a really tiny concrete room, which makes it so much worse.
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