What To Do When People Are Complaining About Your Volume Level

Here are some suggestions to help you set your band’s volume level when you get complaints about volume.

Solve Volume Problems With A Decibel Meter
Solve Volume Problems With A Decibel Meter

   Having played in live bands for so long I’ve been in plenty of situations where I’ve had comments about the bands volume level. Some people complain that the band’s too loud. Some people complain that the band’s too quiet. I’ve even had cases when there have been people commenting both ways right after one another at the very same gig!

   Here’s a funny story for you. One night we were playing a gig at a local Elks Lodge. There was an incredibly diverse range of ages and people there that night. An older lady came up and complained that the band was too loud. We turned down just a little bit and a younger girl came up and demanded we turn the band up louder! We told this girl “The lady over there complained that we were too loud, so we turned down.” Immediately the younger girl marched over to the older lady and got right in her face saying that the older lady wasn’t the lodge manager and that the band was way too quiet. It turned into a full scale fight and somebody had to actually separate these two women!    Continue reading “What To Do When People Are Complaining About Your Volume Level”

Should You Bi-Amp Your P.A. System?

Bi-Amping is an excellent way to get better and more efficient sound from your P.A. System.

Rane AC 22S Crossover - The Key To Your Bi-Amp System
Rane AC 22S Crossover - The Key To Your Bi-Amp System

   There are a lot of different ways to run a P.A. System in your live band. Depending on the size of your gigs, your P.A. requirements can be very different. If you’re just playing a small room such as a coffee house for 20-30 people then using powered speakers may be the way to go. If you’re playing medium sized to large clubs, it may be time to step up to a bi-amped P.A. System.

   So what is bi-amping? Put simply, it’s using two separate amplifiers on your P.A. System with one of the amps powering the low  frequencies and the other amp powering the mid/high frequencies.     Continue reading “Should You Bi-Amp Your P.A. System?”

What Can You Do If Your Live Band’s Volume Is Too Loud Onstage

Controlling your stage volume is essential in your live band so you can save your hearing and sound your best.

A Drum Shield Will Help Control Stage Volume
A Drum Shield Will Help Control Stage Volume

   One of the most common problems with playing in a live band is dealing with loud stage volume. High stage volumes can hurt you and your band in several different ways. The biggest problem with having a high stage volume is the terrible toll it takes on your hearing. You are literally destroying your hearing when you have things too loud onstage. It also doesn’t help your band at all when the clubs that book you are complaining about volume either. I’ve heard of many bands not being asked to play again because they were too loud. So what can you do to deal with high stage volumes?            Continue reading “What Can You Do If Your Live Band’s Volume Is Too Loud Onstage”

Live Mixing Tips For Small Venues And Small Budget

Live mixing can be tricky when it’s a small room or you have limited sound reinforcement.

In Stereo Plays A Small Room
In Stereo Plays A Small Room

   In my live band we have a microphone on every drum and on every piece of equipment onstage and it’s all run through the main P.A.. It’s by far the best way to get a good mix and the best way to control your live sound level. Of course we have invested a lot of money in our live setup and we also play fairly big venues so having everything mic’ed up and mixed through the P.A. is not a problem for us. But there are times when we play a smaller room and we don’t need to mic everything up. There was even a time when all we could afford was a drumset, instruments and amplifiers and a microphone with a small P.A. for the singer. That’s when it can be tricky to get a decent live mix. So what’s the best way to get a good live mix without mic’ing everything? Here are some tips for you to help you with your small venue and and small budget live mixing.

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Creating Sonic Space Between Instruments Before Mixdown

Create sonic space between instruments while working out parts and you will save a lot of trouble during mixdown.

Bill and Frank work out parts in the practice room.
Bill and Frank work out parts in the practice room.

  How many times have you spent a lot of time recording your new masterpiece only to come to the mixdown and finding that there are way too many low frequencies? It sucks when you get to mixdown and you have to filter out frequencies on the bass guitar just so it will have some presence in the mix. Having too many low frequencies in the mix is something that you will struggle with at your live shows as well. The biggest cause of too many low frequencies that I have found over the course of my live and recording career is the simple fact that the players in the band are playing in the same frequency range as each other at the same time. I’m not talking about lovely unison lines but when two or more instruments are playing different parts at the same time in the same frequency range.

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The Difference Between Playing A Song And Playing A Song Well

When you play a cover song in a live band you can just play a song, or you can play a song well. The difference is in the details.

Copying The Original Artist
Matt Copying The Original Artist

   I remember back when I was in my first live band how awesome it was just to make it through an entire song from beginning to end. We would get a chord chart and the lyrics and just play through the songs. It was fun and it sounded pretty good. As time went on and our ability to listen to the individual parts that make up a song increased, we realized that we were missing a lot of subtle nuances that made the songs we were playing go from good to great. It’s true when people say “The difference is in the details.” That’s what I’d like to talk about today.

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Set Delays On The Beat With The Delay Effect Formula

Use these formulas to calculate delay times to match the Beats Per Minute (BPM) of your music.

Yamaha SPX2000
Yamaha SPX2000 Digital Effects Processor

   One of the tricks of the trade when it comes to mixing down recordings is synchronizing the delay settings with the beat of the song. It gives your recorded tracks a very smooth and even feel when the delays are hitting on the beat or on divisions of the beat. These days, so many live bands are using sequenced tracks or recorded backing tracks that it’s an essential skill as a live musician to be able to set your delay effects to hit with the beat of the song that you’re playing. With all of the excellent digital delays and digitally controlled analog delays it’s easier than ever to get your delay effect units set to the beat of the song you’re playing.

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How To Get Your Band In Tune

Peterson Stroboflip VS-F

   I’m going to talk about a common problem that I hear quite often when I’m out listening to bands. It’s a problem I’ve encountered working with various musicians in my studio as well. The problem that I’m talking about is the use of several different electronic tuners while tuning the various instruments in a band. You would think that a tuner is a tuner and that they’re all properly calibrated but the truth is that any individual tuner can be slightly out of calibration. If you have two different tuners and they’re both a little bit out of calibration, let’s say one is slightly sharp and the other is slightly flat, you’ll hear a big difference in tuning between the different instruments that have been tuned on them. The audience will simply hear an out of tune band which isn’t good for any performance by a live musician.

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Getting Proper Equalization With EQ Frequencies

Proper equalization is one of the most important things you can do to improve your bands live sound as well as your recordings.

Mackie Quad EQ

One of the most important aspects of mixing music in a live venue or in the studio is the use of equalization. The other day I wrote about how to tweak your guitar amplifier EQ settings. Today I’m going to write about the effect of equalization on other parts of the mix.

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A Few Words On Amplifier Equalization

Fender 65 Twin Reverb Control Panel

When you’re EQ’ing your guitar at home you’re most likely turned lower in volume than onstage. You’re also most likely directly in front of your amplifier with the amp within arms reach so you can tweak the controls. So you work and tweak your amp until it sounds perfect and you’re happy with your tone. So why does it sound so horrible when you get to the gig?

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