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Magnets, double rainbows, all that-- I can get from the wiki, but how does this work?

 

I'm talking to a pretty good guy whose been playing guitar forever. The guy is smart, nice, successful as a musician, in his late 50s, great chops. We're in a really nice club with no lack for anything PA related-- EAW mains, microwedges, m7cl-- they even have a nice DW house kit.

 

He's setting up a fender super or something that has to be 50+ W into 4x10" to play for less than 50 people, and I'm trying to gently get him over to the fact that the owners of the place will tell me its too loud no matter how loud it is, and that perhaps the amp he's setting might be a little loud for the room.

 

Pointing out that his amp has some nifty little arms, I inquire if he could maybe point his amp at his head instead of off the 2" stage at my (and everyone else's) head.

 

He says that he would prefer not to, because then it is too loud and it makes him play "timidly". He would instead, prefer to put some clear plexiglass he's brought in front of the amp.

 

Now here's my question: in what kind of world does it make sense to say that the amp is too loud when it is pointed at you, but it's just fine pointed at an audience 20' away?

 

The guy totally said it like it was a legitimate kind of concern, so maybe someone can help me understand why what he said isn't just stupid.

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OK I have a possible splanation. Maybe the guy is a tone monster and is stuck on overdriving both the front end and the back end stages of his guitar amp. Admittedly this yields some great tone if done properly (although I don't personaly want to be in the same room with it). There are many options that will get you 98% of that tone at a MUCH reduced volume. The logic is that 98% good tone & far more dynamic control makes for an overall much better show (but there are still purists).

 

I'm not saying I'm agreeing with him (if you MUST play that loud, put your amp in another room & mic it up).

 

my best guess.

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Let's see, I'm in my late 50's and love Fender amps with 10" speakers. The usual 'stage' choices are Super Reverbs (45watts/4x10) or Vibrolux Reverbs. (35watts/2x10).

 

Supers have more head room, more 'spank' and are, of course, a lot louder than Vibroluxes (bigger Power transformers, Output trannies, too). In fact, you can 'peel paint' with a Super on 5 in a club, plus the 4x10 sound is very beamy (I've seen a Super on 5, with a humbucker pickup guitar, clear out a 'real' biker bar in a set!). Vibroluxes sound great, but are probably not the best choice with a loud drummer in the bars that your friend grew up playing in (minimal PA; probably for voice only).

 

But I'm not answering your question. Your buddy is probably just used to how a Super R sounds blowing past his legs. He's probably done it that way for 30 plus years. If he tilts it with the legs (which I've done), it's too 'loud', so he won't play the same.

 

Still, he's using a plexiglass screen and that's not a good thing for you? Did you listen to it, do a sound check with it? Do you feel like he's still defeating the PA, even with the panel in place?

 

Scarecrow, speaking of plexiglass, I played a multi-band benefit last Tuesday night at a club called '8.0' in Fort Worth (approx. 200 miles north of Scarecrow's part of Texas for all you Canadians). Outdoor Stage was 4' high. FOH was an EV line array with 6 speakers arrayed on each side (2x8 speaks with 2 horns, something like that?), EV Subs and a big pile of Lab Gruppen power amps.

 

I have a five piece band with two guitar players. We used two 15 watt Fender Blues Jr. amps with Clearsonic-brand plexiglass shields surrounding the amps (six 1' panels) with a 2'x2' absorption panel on top. The sound guys there liked it fine. In fact, a local player came up and asked me about the shields. I thought he was gonna give me a bunch of grief, but he liked it and understood what we were trying to accomplish.

 

Later, we watched some other bands play with Marshall and Fender Combos. Their guitar amps were busy defeating the FOH speakers 30' out from the stage.

 

Have any of you guys ever used plexi amp shields at a show? Any advice you can give me?

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Andy, I've understood this in general for a long while. I just gotta say that I was so perplexed by the hole in this otherwise very intelligent person's thought process that I wondered I might have been a bit off base.

 

And I'm totally sympathetic to the idea of causing the speakers and ot to distort, even if 99% of the folks I meet would better served playing a boss gt-3 DI'd and spending all that effort they spend on tone looking at their song list, 'showiness', and stage presence. I've spent at least a little time trying to understand how tube amps work and why things sound like they sound and tinkering with electronics, though I'm far from a tonmeister. IME, the tone that is too loud for the show is the wrong tone, end of story. But I 'get' that it isn't the same thing as having exactly the preferred tone.

 

And I think Harry has the right answer, that this is just how he (and oddly enough, most guitar players I work with) is used to working.

 

The owners of the club have way more and better equipment than most clubs in the area, and the musicians aren't used to being able to turn up whatever they want in the monitor (much less have to worry that their -monitor- is too loud for the tiny venue). For that matter, I'm thinking that I just need to get aggro and start turning up their guitars in their monitors and their vocals down and tell them to play quieter when they complain.

 

As far as your questions, Harry, I think that the plexi glass does offer a bit of improvement, but that the big improvement is the lower wattage amps which can get dirtier at lower volume levels. I've worked with a lot of people who use them. IME, it makes the amps beam just a little less, but doesn't reduce the overall volume much at all. My preference as a sound guy and as a player is to let the PA and monitors do as absolutely as much of the work as possible, so small amps being pushed by the mons/FOH is much better than loud amps with no need for a monitor.

 

But then I play a lot of string band music, so hat do I know?

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I just recently started playing guitar in a side-project rock band... and I play with a 5W Blackstar HT-5 through a Marshall 412 cab. I have to crank the amp all the way to hear it, but still, it sounds awesome and it isn't killing everybody in the room.

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As far as your questions, Harry, I think that the plexi glass does offer a bit of improvement, but that the big improvement is the lower wattage amps which can get dirtier at lower volume levels.

 

 

I agree. As a rule I like a guitarist who uses a 15 to 35 watt amplifier. I will add however that there is a difference in overdriven sound due to the different topology. Not saying one is better than another (different sounds for different music). If you do a mix of styles, this is where something likea Bass GT-XX comes in handy as you can emulate a lot of different sounds (as I stated earlier, not with perfect acuracy but pretty close). FWIW plexi works OK. you do get some reflections back into the mic (like drum plexi) so it's not perfect but it does allow you to keep your amp onstage with you.

 

Here's to saving your here-ing :-)

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As you become more accomplished as a player, you will find that you can play to the room and the mix coming off the stage rather than just going full tilt booge at the expense of the show.

 

When I teach my horse exhibition classes, one thing I stress is to look around and take into consideration EVERYTHING going on around you. I see so many riders dominating the warmup areas totally clueless about how their actions affect other participants AND spectators.

 

This means that you have to have confidence in your own ability, your horse's ability and you have to have done your homework over the long haul, because it ain't gonna happen in the last 10 minutes in the warmup ring. The for me is to show up with plenty of time to relax, get a feel for the vibe of the audience and show, see what I will be dealing with as far as other riders not part of my show and to have confidence that the riders that are riding in my show have done our homework and don't have to practice full tilt boogie and then we will find a quiety corner away from the idiots and quietly warm up. It there's no quiet place, I will find a way to fit in avoiding those who are borderline out of control.

 

When it comes to showtime, I make sure everybody is ready and we do our show in a way that fits the audience and the space. If the audience has been abused with loud music and rough, fast sloppy cowboy riding then I will choose a routine that brings the show back to the audience center... that may mean a little slower pace, less agressive music, and a quieter set of routines. If things are dragging because of too many slow goofy acts that are just too long and boring then I will do something much more agressive, fast and showy exciting AND it will be short... one act we have is just a little over 1 minute of scary-fast fun (and if one of us wrecks it's going to be spectacular).

 

So, how does this relate to guitar playing? If the club is a loud hard rock or metal oriented club and the audience is used to reallly loud guitar then I may not worry one bit about it and adjust the mix accordingly but of it's in a club with a more middle of the road audience, I would encourage the player to back off and accomodate the audience (and his own band) better so that the audience gets a better show. As far as the band goes, the entire playing approach, sound level, set list, etc. should be tailored to this as well AND the band should be well practiced and confident that they can sit down and play without a lot of warming up and noise that may not be what the audience would care to hear.

 

Performance is performance... it really doesn't matter if it's a band, a DJ, or a horse.

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I just recently started playing guitar in a side-project rock band... and I play with a 5W Blackstar HT-5 through a Marshall 412 cab. I have to crank the amp all the way to hear it, but still, it sounds awesome and it isn't killing everybody in the room.

 

The guitar player in our band uses either a 5W or 10W amp for small crowds or churches. He says it's the only way to turn up enough to get the tube tone and not annoy everyone in the crowd.

The first five years or so that we played together, he routinely ruined our sets with his big and loud amps. One day, after one of the weddings we played for, he got so many complaints from close friends, he finally changed.

 

Another band in town both uses a small amp and angles it upward, then mics it. One of the churches in the area has a separate room where they place their amps, then mics them for the system. Seems to work for them as their members are very picky about volume and mix.

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FWIW plexi works OK. you do get some reflections back into the mic (like drum plexi) so it's not perfect but it does allow you to keep your amp onstage with you.

 

 

As always, Gents, appreciate the advice. My fave guitar amps start at about 30 watts and are usually more. When I play a Fender I like to leave the basic sound clean which means for the amps that I play I have the volume on 3.5 on a non master volume amp like a Vibrolux. That won't mean a lot to non-guitar players, but it means I like to start with a clean rhythm sound and get the overdriven sound with pedals, or my hands.

 

My least favorite Fender amp is the one I play all the time, the 15 watt, single 12" Fender Blues Jr.

 

It's not a bad amp, it's just that I have 30+ years playing amps with different power tubes that sound differently when overdriven. I play the Junior 'all the time' because it's small; I can take it to the gig, surround it completely with a six-piece hinged plexi-shield, even put a (hopefully) sound-absorbing panel on top. The other guitar player uses a Junior and the same shielding, too, so: a) we don't have volume wars, and b) nobody thinks they have the 'smaller' amp and aren't being heard, etc. Usually, the only amps on stage are for guitars (the Keys and the Bass use DIs).

 

As a guitar player, it's always a struggle not to play too loud. That's just the way we learn. You sit around 20' from your amp, and start dialing up the volume until you get what you want for rhythm and lead. For me, that's around 3.5 volume level. For other people players it's considerably more. A lot of the volume aspect has to to do with the amount of 'headroom' that amps inherently have or don't have. It seems like most of the amps that have the headroom I like are 50 watts or larger.

 

I asked an amp tech (who works with a lot of guitar heroes in Austin and also does a lot of amp building) if an amp had to have 50 watts+ for headroom. He said it was mostly a matter of the relative sophistication of the preamp circuit of the typical 50 watt amp versus simpler circuits on the smaller amps.

 

What guides me in the volume department is the goal to have a good sounding band. I don't want somebody to say, 'good guitar, Man', I want them to say, 'nice band, brother'. Having said that, it's still a constant temptation to let it rip. What slows me down is wanting my drummer of 20 years to have a great time, too. He doesn't play too loud, so if I'm too loud, he's the first one to suffer. For example, without the plexi shields, he hears all the sound coming from two open back guitar amps and it covers up his monitor.

 

I would even go one step further and get the rack preamps like jwlussow uses, but I don't think I can take another learning curve just yet. I know my other guitar player can't. He, ah, 'excels in other areas', 'separate and distinct' from knob-turning.

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The guy really just needs to downsize his amp - there's not a lot of places where a big amp is needed anymore.

 

I am a guitarist first and sound guy second - I think until you experience both of these roles it may be hard to fully grasp the problem. Or he could be just Mr Selfish - not thinking about what's best for the band. And if he's played this way for the last 30 years its gonna be pretty hard to make him change.

 

My main issue is usually with drummers being too loud and then everybody else cranking it up to match. We recently changed drummers and the new guy knows how to play at controlled volume - its so enjoyable to play when you can hear everything clearly and its all well balanced. Everything improved especially vocal harmonies. Who would have thought being able to hear yourself would improve your singing?

 

Good luck with this one!

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He says that he would prefer not to, because then it is too loud and it makes him play "timidly". He would instead, prefer to put some clear plexiglass he's brought in front of the amp.


Now here's my question: in what kind of world does it make sense to say that the amp is too loud when it is pointed at you, but it's just fine pointed at an audience 20' away?

 

 

The kind of world where you're missing his point.

 

His concern isn't so much the volume coming off the amp; his concern is how the volume coming off the amp (or rather, his perception of it) affects his playing. Something about the sound of having the amp pointed towards him bothers him: it could be that the tone now sounds brighter and more abrasive to him; it could be that he's not used to hearing the dynamics as cleanly; it could be that he's just self-conscious and getting a more direct sound makes him more aware of his playing. Whatever it is, it's bothering him, and for a guitar player, being "timid" is a sure-fire way to suck.

 

Now, maybe he should've learned to get over this 30+ years ago, and maybe his solution isn't be the best, but addressing this as merely an issue of SPL @ FOH is missing the point. Figure out what it is that makes him play timidly (or what frees him up to play confidently) and try to address that while also taking care of your SPL problem.

 

-Dan.

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Bass proximity effect changes when the amp is tilted back, plus if it's pointed at the back of his head, more of the sound will go into one or two mics......

 

Man, those are heavy amps, I just admire him for still being able to carry one into the Gig!

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Question about plexiglass. Since it doesn't absorb sound it has to reflect it or pass it through somehow. What does that do to the mix on stage. I'm a drummer, but I've never played behind one of those shields. I imagine it would take some getting used to.

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Question about plexiglass. Since it doesn't absorb sound it has to reflect it or pass it through somehow. What does that do to the mix on stage. I'm a drummer, but I've never played behind one of those shields. I imagine it would take some getting used to.

 

 

You think correctly. They CAN create more problems than they solve. Drum shields and hard back walls/ceilings are a good example of where it may not help at all.

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Bass proximity effect changes when the amp is tilted back.

 

 

Yup - I like the way an amp couples with the floor - I'm used to it and I don't play too loud. I happily work with the soundman to get things right out front.

 

The other thing I can't stand is guitar in the monitors. Even with the best system on earth, what comes out of a monitor is a pale comparison to what's coming out of the amp.

 

MG

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All of you guys have missed the point!!!!!!!!!!! It's all about the guitar players and always has been. Don't worry about what we're doing, just roll with it.
:p

 

Is that what I said? I don't think so.

 

Half of this job is psychology and learning how to deal with other people, particularly when it comes to making the performers (and whomever else is paying the bills) feel comfortable. Comfortable, confident musicians play better and make your job easier.

 

-Dan.

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I play at this place(The Yale Hotel) that has two super reverbs (among others) as house amps. They both sit on the floor and they have carpeted plywood shields to stop them from beaming out into the crowd.

 

I much prefer an amp on the floor with a shield than an amp pointed at my head.

 

In fact, for years I played a low watt Mesa Boogie on a stand pointed at my head. After much evaluation I decided I hated that approach.

 

I'm well aware that any amp over about 15 or 20 watts (tube) is too loud for stage but I still don't like to point it at my head. So I have a plexiglass shield I carry with me in case the club doesn't have one - but most do in my part of the world.

 

I can totally understand the guitarist. If he's happy with an amp on the floor and he's happy with a shield, then all is good.

 

I personally prefer a shield because an amp on a stand can leak into vocal mics - YMMV.

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Myself: I play an 84 100w marshall into a 212 cab.

 

But I use an old Boss ME5 in font of it. I have a reasonable stage volume, and while the tone isn't my holy Grail, it's passable 99% of the time. Most people in the crowd dont give a {censored}, they just know when it's too loud.

 

 

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Is that what I said? I don't think so.


Half of this job is psychology and learning how to deal with other people, particularly when it comes to making the performers (and whomever else is paying the bills) feel comfortable. Comfortable, confident musicians play better and make your job easier.


-Dan.

 

 

 

Dan--It was a joke :poke:

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Myself: I play an 84 100w marshall into a 212 cab.


But I use an old Boss ME5 in font of it. I have a reasonable stage volume, and while the tone isn't my holy Grail, it's passable 99% of the time. Most people in the crowd dont give a {censored}, they just know when it's too loud.


 

 

So, what kind of decibel reading would we get in front of your amp on this solo? What is reasonable stage volume to you? Is the audio on the Youtube vid from your StudioLive?

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So, what kind of decibel reading would we get in front of your amp on this solo? What is reasonable stage volume to you? Is the audio on the Youtube vid from your StudioLive?

 

 

I've never taken an SPL reading. That audio is more a combination of monitors and the amp. I need my amp in my monitor, as it usually doesn't carry. I'm the first guy to hammer on low stage volumes. With my kids bands, I got it into their heads, and now that the guys in his origional band are in different bands, they too have their guys keep the volumes sane.

 

At the one bar I do sound for, the stage faces the bar. I talk to the guy and let them know that we aren't there to kill the bar staff, and the lower the stage sound is, the more control I have out front. I can always bring it up in their monitors for them... And it can be rather loud on stage, for the band, but it's coming from the monitors towards the band, and not punching into the crowd from on stage...

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