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2 guitar band stage sound/volume issues (guitar) - need help


peel

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Hi forumites...I am a long standing member however I have been away for quite some time. I am hoping you can help with a problem.

 

I have been in a 2 guitar band cover band at some point I have had this problem with stage volume. My issue is in gigs where we do our own sound, which is most of the time for small cover band. Sometimes we mic the amps, others we do not.

 

Problem: I frequently have problems setting levels and maintaining stage volume for a gig - that is I am too loud sometimes, and not loud enough at others. Before you comment I am aware the common denominator is ME here. Knowing this, I have changed my gear over time, and been careful to set up volume and pedals so that in theory I should have control. However, I have been regularly criticized as too loud.

 

To accommodate this, I switched to a 40 w combo, added an amp stand and tilted it so I could hear myself without maxing volume.

 

My gear is: Guitar Gibson SG/Tokai Les Paul or Gibson Studio>pedal board (wah/tuner/barber OD/Chorus/Delay/EQ>Blackstar HT 40

 

This has been a problem on and off for a number of years, and I have yet to resolve it. This is with different bands too. Most often the other guitarist claims I am too loud, which has been true. However of late, I believe that the combo I uses actually more articulate that his, and his is getting lost in the mix, making mine seem louder.

 

We cover typical rock tunes: classic rock and some lighter rock.

 

My questions are for a two guitar band:

 

Q. What process do you use to set levels so that there is a good balance between the guitars and the volume is correct for cues and solos?

 

Q For guitar specific, how do you set-up your rig for a gig?

 

Any thoughts welcome thanks for reading.;)

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I thought about writing "turn your {censored} down" and leaving it at that but I'll offer up a few additional constructive comments...

 

Bite the bullet and hire a knowledgable sound man for a couple gigs and have them help you. Not to sound like a dick but you obviously don't have a good idea about what you're doing on your own since the problem is lingering on and on...so get some help. We hire a sound man for basically every gig and it's the best money we spend.

 

Use a boost pedal for solo volume adjustments and make sure to work with your other guitarist on not stepping on each others toes...i.e. learn how to realize when you need to back off and vice versa. A stomp box will give you more consistent boost levels...that way you're not riding the volume pedal all night long.

 

Lots of guitarists have TMGS (too much gain syndrome). If you don't, teach your other guitarist something about clarity, mud, and mids.

 

Once you get things leveled, don't touch your amp and keep turning it up and up and up all night like some yahoo. Leave it alone!!

 

I use a 22w 1x12 Fender combo, tilted up at me at basically every gig except the larger stages where it's has a plexi shield and I get it in my monitor.

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The easy way to set your volume: With the band playing, standing in your sweet spot, get it your sound just above the rest. Now turn it down a little.

 

The easy way to tell if you're too loud during the gig: If you can't hear what the other guy is doing, turn yourself down.

 

 

It's amazing how by turning yourself down and folding your volume into the group sound, at first, you disappear. But then... you start hearing into the group sound and can hear more accurately what you really sound like. It takes a little discipline, but your playing will actually start improving. It frees you up from scrutinizing the little detail that is lost and acclimates you to getting your sound to project. Not through volume, but through performance. You play differently, and in a way that connects with the audience more. I'm talking attack, tone, note choice. All of it.

 

Hearing yourself too well is not all it's cracked up to be.

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On getting stage volume right.

 

Start by judging against the drums. The whole band will always sound better if your natural stage balance is in order. Don't be lured into thinking it doesn't matter cause the PA will compensate for stage imbalances. It doesn't work. If you reinforce the drums onstage, well, there's your volume reference. If you don't, well... there's your volume reference. Have the drummer play a beat full out. Turn your guitar just below the snare when he's cracking it. Do the same for the bass guitar just under the kick. You won't get lost. Drums aren't steady state signals, guitar and bass can be and usually are.

 

If you think this ratio is wrong, just reference all the records you love. Regardless of genre.

 

It's amazing how a well balanced band onstage will sound great out front. Keep it simple.

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However of late, I believe that the combo I uses actually more articulate that his, and his is getting lost in the mix, making mine seem louder.

 

 

You need addition via subtraction.

 

In other words, given the fact that you already admit that you are regularly too loud, don't try to fix the problem by turning his amp up/making his guitar seem louder. Turn YOUR guitar down until it allows his guitar to be heard equally as well.

 

And has otherwise been said, set your volume according to the live drums.

 

Oh, and while you're at it, get your hearing checked; could easily be that you've suffered hearing loss of some sort and are subconciously (over-)compensating.

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My questions are for a two guitar band:


Q. What process do you use to set levels so that there is a good balance between the guitars and the volume is correct for cues and solos?


Q For guitar specific, how do you set-up your rig for a gig?


Any thoughts welcome thanks for reading.
;)

 

We both play half-stacks, mic'ed with 57s. And both of us use restraint when it comes to stage volume.

 

First, we set our stage/PA volume for the audience. Then, we adjust our monitor levels so we can each hear our own guitars in our own monitors. Usually, I hear more of me out of my monitor than I do my amp. If I want to hear more of Dave, or more of the overall mix, I'll simply back away from my monitor.

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Oh, and while you're at it, get your hearing checked; could easily be that you've suffered hearing loss of some sort and are subconciously (over-)compensating.

 

 

That's what I was thinking. If the volume level he needs to hear himself is overwhelming the other people on the band who are farther away, it may be hearing loss on his part.

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I watched an interview with Larry Carlton and he said he does this: he fiddles with the amp until he finds the 'sweet spot', which is not really loud but the best sound for his setup, and then requires the rest of the band to play to his volume. If they don't, he fires them and gets guys who will.

 

I'm assuming you don't have that luxury, though. But here's what I notice with a LOT rock bands: one or both guitar players will play with too much distortion and/or FX on their rig, causing it to get buried in the mix, even when miced. Some even scoop all the mids out as well. This results in a sound that may be cool a foot in front of the amp, but gets lost in the band stage mix. Try getting your other GT player to turn down the gain, turn up the master a little, add some mids and ease up on FX if he's using them. The turn yourself down and if you don't have a wireless guitar rig, get one, so you can walk around out front during sound check and see what's what.

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Oh, and while you're at it, get your hearing checked; could easily be that you've suffered hearing loss of some sort and are subconsciously (over-)compensating.

 

:thu: Have everybody in the band get their hearing checked. No reason for the audience to suffer because one can't hear them self and everybody has to readjust.

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Oh, and while you're at it, get your hearing checked; could easily be that you've suffered hearing loss of some sort and are subconciously (over-)compensating.

 

 

Great point. When my hearing started going almost 30 years ago I would never admit it was my hearing. It was amp issues or other people's problems but once the ringing doesn't go away you figure it out. I remember my first hearing test after I suspected a problem and I was amazed at how bad my hearing was. I had lost over 90% of some frequencies. Hearing might be part of the OP's issue.

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IN all great comments thanks. Couple of points:

 

To the hearing issue, I have had my hearing checked several times expecting the worst, and all times I had excellent test results.

I realize that to make the point, I over emphasized and made myself seem super loud which overall is not the case. I do not play maxed out, or with high wattage amps. I always hear the other player as well. I wanted to stress my self awareness VS not accepting the problem is me. In some cases other band members blamed the other guitarist FYI.

 

I guess there a couple of things - the point about hearing yourself perfectly all the time, and it not being a good thing is valid. Less gain and more acoustic quality is definitely a factor. The other thing, is I usually do set my volume to the drummer as he determines the overall volume.

 

Again appreciated all the recommendations and steps to get a good mix.

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Sounds like it's time to invest in IEMs . Now a days companies like Presonus make iphone Qmix app for their mixer so the musician can mix their IEM how they like it with their iphone.

I wouldn't advice this with tradition floor wedges because it would be a epic fail disaster for FB problems and their Qmix was specifically design for IEMs users but doesn't matter what mixer you use but IEMs would let you mix your monitor mix how you like it.

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I thought about writing "turn your {censored} down" and leaving it at that but I'll offer up a few additional constructive comments...


Bite the bullet and hire a knowledgable sound man for a couple gigs and have them help you. Not to sound like a dick but you obviously don't have a good idea about what you're doing on your own since the problem is lingering on and on...so get some help. We hire a sound man for basically every gig and it's the best money we spend.


Use a boost pedal for solo volume adjustments and make sure to work with your other guitarist on not stepping on each others toes...i.e. learn how to realize when you need to back off and vice versa. A stomp box will give you more consistent boost levels...that way you're not riding the volume pedal all night long.


Lots of guitarists have TMGS (too much gain syndrome). If you don't, teach your other guitarist something about clarity, mud, and mids.


Once you get things leveled, don't touch your amp and keep turning it up and up and up all night like some yahoo. Leave it alone!!


I use a 22w 1x12 Fender combo, tilted up at me at basically every gig except the larger stages where it's has a plexi shield and I get it in my monitor.

one of the biggest things needed in a two guitar band is that the guitarist who ISN'T going to a lead needs to back off and create "room" for the solo as much as the person playing the lead has to boost his volume. If you are staying on the rhythm, listen to the lead carefully and put your stuff a bit underneath it.

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one of the biggest things needed in a two guitar band is that the guitarist who ISN'T going to a lead needs to back off and create "room" for the solo as much as the person playing the lead has to boost his volume. If you are staying on the rhythm, listen to the lead carefully and put your stuff a bit underneath it.

 

 

Off topic...who is that in your avatar?

 

It looks like KWS and Bryan Lee.....?

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Great point. When my hearing started going almost 30 years ago I would never admit it was my hearing. It was amp issues or other people's problems but once the ringing doesn't go away you figure it out. I remember my first hearing test after I suspected a problem and I was amazed at how bad my hearing was. I had lost over 90% of some frequencies. Hearing might be part of the OP's issue.

 

It's a bummer playing with a guitar player with significant mid/high freq. hearing loss when he insists on eq'ing his guitar to sound good to him.

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Lots of cool advice so far. A few more points:

 

Relating to bedroom tone syndrome stated above, make sure you have plenty of mids in your tone. DO NOT SCOOP THE EQ.

 

Also keep in mind you should be blending, not dominating, no matter where your amp is pointed. Don't be lulled into thinking that you sound loud but that's okay because you have your amp pointed right at your head.

 

Another thing that works for us--make sure your amp is as far away from the other guitarist's amp as possible. Most of the time I barely even hear our other guitarist, nor do I need to. As long as everybody knows where they are in the song, it's not an issue.

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We have a couple of rules that we follow:

 

1) Drums and vocals are always the loudest thing on the stage, followed by the bass and then everything else (keys, guitars).

 

2) For solos, the keys and guitars turn up to come out front of the mix via a boost of some sort.

 

3) After the solos, keys and/or guitars revert back to pre-solo level.

 

We always get compliments on our sound and how our lyrics are intelligible.

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My experience has been that some guitar/amp/effects combinations have a lot more "punch" than others. I've gone toe to toe with amps that had so much punch that no matter how much louder I turned up, my tone/drive couldn't overcome the other amp, or it took so much to overcome it, that I was way over the mix.

 

Isolate the two guitars and work from there.. you have to make them sound good together and MESH well on both volume and tone before the band comes in. If you can't make them sound good without the band .. how will you ever accomplish it with?

 

Oh, for solo boost- I always use the boss EQ pedal.. I put a little gain on the main slider, and just up the mids a hair... One thing I noticed watching other bands is that the guitars that tend to sit well in the mix NEVER seem to factor in enough solo boost.. and my friends/fans agreed- Once I set the boost a little (more) above the mix, I'm seeing more compliments on solos.

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Oh, for solo boost- I always use the boss EQ pedal.. I put a little gain on the main slider, and just up the mids a hair... One thing I noticed watching other bands is that the guitars that tend to sit well in the mix NEVER seem to factor in enough solo boost..

 

 

Good call on the EQ pedal- I forgot about that. I use a volume pedal and have since 1976- but I also used one of those little blue MXR 6 band graphic EQs for years with the mids boosted and it was great. Haven't used one for awhile, but it was great with my old Music Man 210HD 130. I could boost the mids for the humbucker guitars and pull the mids back on the single-coil strat for that really pronounced clean strat "quack". By just boosting the mids, you're increasing just those frequency volumes to cut above the mix without increasing the overall volume too much. That always allowed me to work solo dynamics with the volume pedal.

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