How come Bass amps usually go on the left of the stage?

Shild

Member
Just wondering how it came to be that usually a bass player and his amp are on the left of the stage (or right if you're on the stage)? Is it because the floor tom helps act as a sound barrier between the amp and snare to help keep the amp from rattling the snare?
 

Pocket-full-of-gold

Platinum Member
I'm not sure there's any "usual" correlation to be honest. I've actually had more bass players stand to my left (or right of stage as the audience is looking at it) than the other way round. It would take a hell of a lot more than a humble floor tom to stop bass frequencies causing the snare to buzz. But I'd suggest that more often than not, it comes down to where the lead guitarist wants to stand......once the prima donna is set, everyone else falls in around him.

EDIT: I'm just doing a mental calculation of many of my favourite bands. I reckon you might be on to something, with more bands leaning towards a stage set up as you suggest than I first thought. I'm still putting it down to the lead guitarist staking his claim first though. :)
 
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Aeolian

Platinum Member
Actually it's more common for the bass player to be to the drummers left. The reason being (although not often realized) that most songs ride on the hi-hat the majority of the time and the turns the drummer to his left. Pointing him at the bass player which he can see over the hi-hats. Keeping eye contact and focusing on the bass player helps with the foundation of the music. I had this explained to me by a GIT instructor with lots of touring experience. I find it easier to lock in on a bass player on my left than one who's hiding behind cymbals and whatever amount of drums are on that side of the kit.

Classic rock trios went both ways. Cream had Bruce to the right, Hendrix had Chandler or Cox to the left. A lot of rock folks just copied their favorites set up and it migrated from there. Also note that a lot of groups would put bass amplifiers on either side of the drummer regardless of where the player stood. Giving rise to the Texas Headphones.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Assuming a right handed bass player, I like seeing them to my left too, right next to me, so when I need to, I can see their picking hand. That's basically where their rhythm is. I don't prefer them on my right.
 

evilg99

Platinum Member
I think this goes way back to old jazz combos and swing band days - the bass player would want to be close to the hihat - the 2 and 4 'chick' pulse. Easier to hear that and to 'lock in' with the drummer. That's usually a right handed drummer...alas, bass player = stage left. Unlike rock music where the ONE is pounded into our heads on every bar, in jazz, the quarter note pulse/and/or the 2 and 4 feel is more important. The hihat was kinda the timekeeper back then (even though 'the time is in the room')
That is an over-simplified explanation of jazz rhythms - but generally...bass player is where the hihat is.
 

NerfLad

Silver Member
Come to think of it, nearly all the bands/gigs I've been on, the bass player has stood to my right. Interesting observation... I don't really care which side they're on, but one thing I personally like having is the bass and rhythm guitar cabinets on the same side of the stage. I've noticed in my band that when we overlook that little detail, we don't sound as tight (not by much of course, but it's noticeable to me). Something about the rhythm section components blending together at the source, I guess. And maybe because our lead player's tone is very bass heavy...
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
In most of my bands, the bass is to my left. Never thought much about it either way though, I hear the bass equally well regardless where they're at in relation to me.

Bermuda.
 

keep it simple

Platinum Member
Just wondering how it came to be that usually a bass player and his amp are on the left of the stage (or right if you're on the stage)? Is it because the floor tom helps act as a sound barrier between the amp and snare to help keep the amp from rattling the snare?
As bass frequencies (or at least, the low ones) are omnidirectional, the placement of your floor tom as a shield for the snare is useless.

My current bass player likes to be to my left, so that he picks up on the quarter note pulse. Visually, he's usually too far in front of me for me to see what he's doing.
 

AxisDrummer

Senior Member
I'm guessing we're definitely not the norm. Our bass player (also our lead singer on 85% of songs), stands in the middle. His bass cabs are split, one on my left and one on my right. Lead guitarist and his amp are to my left (hi-hat side) and rhythm guitarist (lead singer on the other 15%) is to my right.

It works out OK, but I get a LOT of sympathetic snare buzz from his left cab.

EDIT: On small stages width-wise but still deep, his cabinets are still split but literally behind my kit. It's brutally and it rattles all my internal organs. I can't even hear my own kick.
 

keep it simple

Platinum Member
EDIT: On small stages width-wise but still deep, his cabinets are still split but literally behind my kit. It's brutally and it rattles all my internal organs. I can't even hear my own kick.
DI the selfish bastard & force him to monitor through a wedge! Jeez :(
 

x_25

Member
My band is a bit backwords, since most of our songs were written before we had a bass player. The guitarist stands off to the left of me (right handed) so we can watch each other. The bassist was in marching bands for a long time so he can lock in just by listening.

Then again, I always say we are really just a rythem section trying to pass off as a band since none of us can play lead....

That said, when I set up the PA myself, I have a 15" horn loaded yamaha PA cab I like to set up as the drum monitor. I pipe the others and then a little bit of kick into it and it works nice.
 

BacteriumFendYoke

Platinum Member
I don't even think about where the bass player is. Sometimes to me right, sometimes to my left. The guitarist on the other hand is almost always slightly to the left, straight ahead. Perhaps I'm unusual in that I tend to follow guitar or vocals more than bass. I find it much easier to follow a vocalist than anything else and I've played in a lot of situations where the bass is either absent or drowned by an ensemble.

One band I used to play with, all I could effectively hear was tenor saxophones and sometimes a bit of bass and that's what I followed. I've done a lot of gigs without a monitoring setup, so I consider it a bit of a luxury but when I do have monitors, it's all about the guitar and vocals.
 

Winston_Wolf

Platinum Member
I've played with a few bass players that all preferred to be on the hi hat side, for the reason evilg99 mentioned; they like clearly hearing the 2 & 4 of the hi hat to help lock in.
 
T

The Old Hyde

Guest
I never really thought about it but in bands Ive played in the bass is to the left. not by discussion, just there. I find it easy to look left when playing, i dont know why, thats where the bass players stand.
 

Anduin

Pioneer Member
Bass player on the hi hat side is definitely my preference. As others have said, that gives the best visibility and audibility for both bassist and drummer.
 

groove1

Silver Member
When given a choice, the bass players I play with prefer being next to the hi-hat. There is a
local club with a grand piano that forces the bass to be on the right....and that works too,
cuz' there's a grand piano!
 

ineedaclutch

Platinum Member
With a right handed drummer and bassist it makes eye contact easier with them to my right. They can look down the neck of their bass and see me at the same time.
 
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