Learning to play at all dynamic levels = more opportunities

rhumbagirl

Senior Member
Wow. rhumba!
Yes we need help to explain this to our band mates
I wear ear plugs. Usually. But I got some SE215 IEMs recently and tried them with two overhead mics and a kick mic, and then with just close miced toms, kick and snare. For some reason I went with the overheads for my gig mix and I think I may have over-exposed my ears to unnecessary db. The sound attenuation of IEMs doesn't really work to level advertised IMHO. I haven't tried custom moulds which I would expect provide real sound attenuation. 30 db is necessary if playing with stage volume of 110 db. (recall that every 10 db increase is a doubling of the volume on your ears)
 

GetAgrippa

Platinum Member
For some reason some people equate volume with quality- when actually it often just drowns out mistakes. It gets lost in the noise- and sounds like a band I met on Bandmix. I’m just not into that now. I like when the band leader asks for more volume or can you make it more lively with kick or snare.
 

BruceW

Senior Member
Very timely post for me. Like many weekend bands, we can struggle with volume. We have a gig coming up next week at a new place in town, a restaurant that is having bands play. And we'll need to keep the volume down.

We really want to make a good impression, and be able to play this venue regularly. (We don't have a lot of local "regular" gigs, often having to travel quite a bit. So another local gig would be nice!) I've seen other bands playing there and using a cajon...I'm hoping to not have to go that route. Gonna use my smaller kit, switch to rods and/or very light sticks, and do my best to keep the energy up and the volume down. Bass player will go direct, no amp. Same with keys. Guitar player says he has to use his amp, lololol...he's also the only one that needs a wedge, won't use in-ears. So we shall see. ;)

I fully admit that I need to be better at that. Here's hoping that I make progress this weekend! The good news is that the quiet gig is on Friday....the Saturday night gig is one that I can cut loose one, heh heh.
 

rhumbagirl

Senior Member
Guitar player says he has to use his amp, lololol...he's also the only one that needs a wedge, won't use in-ears. So we shall see. ;)
I just read up on load boxes today. The guitarist disconnects the cabinet from the amp head and installs in it's place the load box, with the other end going to a IEM monitor (eg Behringer X32). He gets to hear his amped guitar sound but the FOH controls the venue volume/mix. That might be your solution. That is, if you can get him to wear IEMs.
 

alparrott

Platinum Member
My band sucks at this. Granted we're only a couple of months into it. Just a 3-piece blues/rock band. I'm trying to narrow down where the volume and muddiness is coming from. The bass player is using a pre-amp IR module that may be the culprit. Just too boomy and swamps out everyone else on stage and in the venue. If I can't hear myself play, then I play less than what I'm capable of. I worry after a while if it will permanently affect my playing.

I've asked him to turn down or solve the issue and everyone's having a heart attack like I'm being unreasonable. He says he doesn't want to play the same venue again. How do we get enough gigs if half of them are in similar venues?
I get it - playing loud is ROCK, and it feels GOOD, and nobody ever played quiet in an arena. Guess what, champ. You're in a pizzeria and thirty people are there, and they're there for the food.

I usually play with in-ears at most moderate-to-high volume gigs. I hate using open wedges anymore. But for these very low volume gigs I generally don't even need a monitor. We have one of those Bose sound systems behind me that we use for a vocal monitor/processor, and guitar and bass amps are four feet to my left and right. The Bose feeds out to another small mixer that leads to two unpowered mains for the house. It's all we need.

Guitar player: Spend some time with your gear and figure out how to get the correct tone at all volume levels, and learn how to dial in your settings quickly and how to control distortion and effects at lower volumes. And try setting your amp on a stand so you can actually hear yourself clearly. They're all of thirty dollars; you spend three times that on a single effects pedal.

Bass player: Bass carries in some respects, gets lost in others. Look at your rig. You probably don't need that 4x12 cab at the pizzeria, a good 12" or 15" combo will do you fine; can you get a good articulate tone with enough low end out of it? And can you manage to balance between getting the underpinning and shaking the plates off the table every time you hit an open E string?

Singers: For heaven's sake, you don't need to swing for the fences here. Dial down your delivery to about 50-60% and save your voice. Make sure you can hear yourself without turning up the mains pointed at the customers.

Drummers: If you haven't learned fine control with your 5Bs yet, go invest in some smaller sticks (Vic Firth AJ1s, AJ5s, SD5 Echo). Some of these sticks will actually break if you play too hard, which is a nice safety feature. Muffle sparingly (enough to get some ringiness out without losing tone). Play a fairly flat-sounding snare tuned lower. Pick the warmest-sounding cymbals you own and play with tips, not shanks or shoulders. If you can't control yourself with sticks, use brushes, rods or Blasticks for the moment (and get to practicing).

Everyone: Make sure amps, speakers and monitors are set up so everyone can hear themselves clearly without turning up. And then once you get a good acceptable sound level: DON'T TURN UP. (Guitar players: looking at you.)
 
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BruceW

Senior Member
I just read up on load boxes today. The guitarist disconnects the cabinet from the amp head and installs in it's place the load box, with the other end going to a IEM monitor (eg Behringer X32). He gets to hear his amped guitar sound but the FOH controls the venue volume/mix. That might be your solution. That is, if you can get him to wear IEMs.
Sadly...he won't go the in-ear route. Yet. He was the one pushing to get our singer and bass player to go to in-ears, oddly enough. With him being the only one using a wedge now, that has cut down on stage volume, and certainly eliminated feedback issues. And its been a major help with the bass player (whose hearing is the worst of all of ours)

To his credit, he has tried various box/gear combinations to try and go direct with the guitar, to skip the amp, and he hasn't found anything close enough for him. He is very aware of the volume challenge, especially for venues like this. He's not trying to be difficult from a prima dona point of view. He expects a certain sound from his guitar...and I guess I can understand that. I do try to remind him of that when he remarks about "all those cymbals... ;)
 

rhumbagirl

Senior Member
For some reason some people equate volume with quality- when actually it often just drowns out mistakes.
This is what I'm hoping isn't the root cause of our bassist's volume issue. If it is, then I suppose there's no real workaround outside of getting a new bassist, which would likely break up the band. The IEM route only solves my mix issues, but doesn't solve the stage volume issue. And in small venues the stage volume bleeds out into venue volume.

EDIT: Change "small volumes" to "small venues".
 

PorkPieGuy

Platinum Member
I’ve said this a few times before, but I’ve gotten a lot of gigs due to my ability to play quieter than just about anyone else in town. Also, what many people confuse with volume has a lot to do with pitch. I use big drums not bc they are loud, but so I can tune them low. If my band mates (who don’t use in-ears) can’t hear what’s going on because of me, then I need to fix it. I’ve also learned about the joy that comes from playing big, thin cymbals that don’t take a wallop to get them to open up. They have changed my playing for the better.

Also, playing in church for over 20 years with no drum shield has helped me tremendously.
 

Push pull stroke

Platinum Member
I’ve said this a few times before, but I’ve gotten a lot of gigs due to my ability to play quieter than just about anyone else in town. Also, what many people confuse with volume has a lot to do with pitch. I use big drums not bc they are loud, but so I can tune them low. If my band mates (who don’t use in-ears) can’t hear what’s going on because of me, then I need to fix it. I’ve also learned about the joy that comes from playing big, thin cymbals that don’t take a wallop to get them to open up. They have changed my playing for the better.

Also, playing in church for over 20 years with no drum shield has helped me tremendously.

There’s a looooot of truth in all of this
 

spleeeeen

Platinum Member
I’ve said this a few times before, but I’ve gotten a lot of gigs due to my ability to play quieter than just about anyone else in town.
Same here and on some occasions when someone had subbed for me, I’ve later heard complaints about the lack of dynamic control.

And I haven’t always been good at it. One of the ways I developed it was practicing when my wife and/or daughter were watching television in the room next to my practice space. I leveraged their need to hear what they were watching as an accountability element for developing volume control of the instrument.
 

Rock Salad

Junior Member
So, last night I just let the guys blast away by themselves. They kept saying, "I can't hear you." I just shrugged, and watched them struggle to keep their own time.
It actually worked out not too badly. Them having to focus on their own time made for a tighter performance than when I lead them by the hand.
I'm going to try continue this approach, wish me luck
 

alparrott

Platinum Member
So, last night I just let the guys blast away by themselves. They kept saying, "I can't hear you." I just shrugged, and watched them struggle to keep their own time.
It actually worked out not too badly. Them having to focus on their own time made for a tighter performance than when I lead them by the hand.
I'm going to try continue this approach, wish me luck
It's interesting how the other folks on stage with timing or volume issues fare when you stop playing the game with them.
 

mikyok

Platinum Member
Can't argue with any of this! Being able to play at any dynamic (usually very quiet) is a wallet filling talent.

My guys are the same, play the dynamics of the room and everyone is happy.
 
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