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Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by 985plowboy, Mar 26, 2020 at 9:26 AM.
Find a different church. Or come to Dallas and I will use you!
Thankless job is all in the character of the church. Our soundguy is fantastic and I tell him that all the time. He is a part of our worship team as are the light guys and the pro presenter people.
I had a vocalist on my team say some not nice things to one of my guitarist. I met with her after service and put her in her place explaining that my guitarist feelings were way more important than whether he was playing the solo exactly right. That once she invested hundreds of dollars in gear, spent more than 30 minutes practicing her one song she was leading then she could ask me to speak into my guitar players life.
Churches are just like family and businesses, there are always a few people who talk too much and are too opinionated and think more of themselves than everyone else does.
I long ago gave up any idea that I’ll sound like I want to once a mic gets stuck on my amp. There are some indications of what kind of sound tech you have to work with, however.
1. If the sound tech doesn’t ask you how you like your amp mic’d, you’re probably in for a long night. Not always, but probably.
2. If the sound tech just walks up and sticks a mic in front of your amp, and points it on axis directly at the center of your speaker cone... they are an idiot and you’re gonna sound like crap. Unless that’s what you’re after, then hey. Go for it, I guess.
3. If you don’t know how you like your amp mic’d, do some research. Get into a decent studio for a day and do it there. Yes, it costs money. What you’ll learn about mic’ing amps will be worth it.
If you do #3:
Use the time to try everything. Try as many different mics as possible. Mic on axis, off axis, center cone, edge of cone, all points in between. Do as many different mic techniques and microphones as possible, and do them all with a flat eq. Find the mic and placement combo you like best. THEN start messing with the eq. Then when you leave, go buy that mic and carry it with you. Any decent vocalist carries their own mic. You should too. It’s part of your rig.
Granted, the sounds you get in a studio will not translate perfectly to a live stage. But you’ll have learned a lot, and be much closer. When the sound person comes to mic your amp, use your own mic, and place it how you like it. Don’t be a dick about it, be friendly, but most techs I’ve interacted with do not have a problem with a guitarist who carries and places his or her own mic. If they really cop an attitude, sorry. You’re in for a long night, and you’re going to sound bad.
Now, even with all of this done, you might still sound bad. You’re still ultimately under their control, and subject to their ears, if they’re mic’ing you. But at least you tried. You’ll sleep better knowing that much. If you’re running your own pa and mic’ing your own stuff, this experience will prove well worth the money you spent.
In the studio for recording sessions, forget about it. I don’t even think about it. If it’s my music, yes, I work very hard on the sounds. If it’s somebody else’s and I’m just hired for the session? I get as close as I can to whatever the artist/producer wants, as fast as I can. Don’t spend a lot of time dicking with “your” sound. It’s their money you’re spending, and they don’t really give a damn about whether or not you’re happy. They’re gonna make it sound however they want to anyhow. They may even re-amp the whole thing, or process it lord knows how. Just get close to what they tell you they want as quickly as possible, lay your track down, and get out of the way. It’s not about you in any way whatsoever.
Them’s my $.02.
It depends on the sound man. A lot of times a sound man just boosts the volume of the amps and tries to balance everyone. In other words there is, in my opinion, a good chance that what you think was your sound didn't sound like what you thought it did.
Guitar players playing too loud on stage? Say it ain't so!
True, and most people don't have ears in the backs of their legs...
You mean a bad tape?
This topic brings up a lot of feelings. Right now playing in a band with IEMs. I sound good in my own ears. Then I go talk to my wife and she says she couldn't hear anything I played. Well, at least I know I sounded good!
Dude, I'm in my fifties and haven't seen tape since the early 90s
who said it? I can't remember. But whoever it was said:
"just shut up and play".
Especially if you are playing in a church worship situation. If the Lord can look after the tiniest sparrow, do you not think he will look after your sound in the church band - if it really matters to him? Faith and trust. And play the guitar.
Like everyone else, I've had bad experiences with sound techs. People who didn't care and spent more time trying to pick up waitresses than running sound. Or had mixing and EQ ideas that didn't work with my band's sound. On and on. I've also had really good experiences. It's the luck of the draw. Whatever the situation, it just doesn't pay to be in an adversarial role with a sound person.
The only time I knew for sure the sound mix was the way we wanted it was when I ran our sound from the stage. Which required hauling all the production around, using a wireless so I could walk around the room to check the mix, and get complaints from the other guys about their monitor mix. While playing guitar and singing most of the lead vocals. Those days are over.
But I think I've had better luck than most because I've always stressed controlling the stage volume. If you're playing at a reasonable volume with a good balance between the instruments, you're making the FOH person's job easier and giving them less opportunities to mess up your sound. If the drummer is hitting as hard as he can and the guitar player is turning his 100-watt head with 4 12" speakers up to 8 because "that's where the sweet spot is"...even the best, most dedicated sound mixer is going to struggle with that.
Great post, I just wanted to offer a couple of comments-
I don't think I've ever asked a player how they wanted to be miked, unless it was an instrument I wasn't familiar with and wanted guidance (concert harp, rain stick, etc). This is because the vast majority of players don't even realize it makes a difference, and even when I was wet behind the ears I knew more than they did. Most pros don't tell you how to mic their rigs, either- they figure you know what you're doing, and they let you get on with it. If they don't like the way it comes back at them through their monitors they'll tell you, but generally leave it up to you to figure out how to fix.
Generally, yes. I do place mics that way sometimes, but only if I'm blending it with another mic towards the edge of the cone (I've never done this for a PA gig though, it's a studio trick). By itself, that miking technique yields a very... extreme tone.
This is a great idea, but you can even do it at home with a DAW and an SM57. I wouldn't sweat too much over carrying your own guitar amp mic- whoever's providing PA will have mics, and if they have junk mics they're gonna have junk PA too, and the mic won't make a difference. It matters more for singers, though.
I've worked with good and bad, like everyone else.
I assume the sound person is a pro, and knows how to do his/her job, unless shown otherwise.
I usually measure by the monitor I'm getting--if it's clear, and I can hear myself and the other parts I want to hear, I figure I'm in pretty good shape out front also.
If the monitor is a mess, I may ask once for some change, and if it doesn't happen, well.....just suck it up. It will be a long night.
^^ this is the crux of the problem, IMO. Sound men, especially those who aren't players themselves, too often fancy themselves producers. I agree wholeheartedly with teletail here, the band members are the artists and should be determining their sound. Sound reinforcement should be primarily just that, reinforcement.
Zipdrive? Flashdrive? The point I was trying to make is...just what does "a bad recording" mean?
There's an often used 'sound man' in Chattanooga. I've had to use him 3 times. Each time he was late, had bad chords he couldn't find, and caused the band to start late because of his incompetence. On the 3rd try, he was on stage touching everyone's mic and commenting on the quality of each.
I saw him fondling my mic and I gave him my stare. He said, oh, I'm can't see what it is. I told him. He said, oh, that's a good mic. I said, yeah, maybe you shouldn't touch it. I could care less what I sounded like that night. I had already made up my mind I was getting the first lick in this time.
What I've discovered is that church sound guys are basically good-hearted volunteers who know how to mute channels when they feed back, but don't have an ear for a good mix. The worst part is that nobody will want to hurt their feelings, so nobody will say anything. This will go on about 10 to 15 years before somebody steps in and fixes everything. I've seen it with my own eyes.
The 10 to 15 years is not an exaggeration. Basically, you have to try to fool the sound guy into getting a good mix. Find out where the deficiencies in the mix are, and compensate with your equipment on the stage. That's the best you can do. In my case, the sound guy simply did not like electric guitar, so you could barely ever hear it. So I would keep it at the regular volume during sound check, then during the service I would turn it up slightly. Enough to make a difference, but not enough for him to be able to hear it and turn me down. eventually, I give up and told the music director I did not want to play anymore, and told him why. They ended up fixing the problem about 2 or 3 years after I left.
[EDIT: All of this becomes exponentially worse if the sound guy says things like, "I went to school for [insert number here] years learning how to engineer sound."]
That's great in theory, but how do you think it works? It's not like a PA console is a big volume knob like on your home stereo, a FOH mixer has up to 32 (or more!) inputs to combine, all of which affect the others. Too much low end in the bass guitar obscures the kick drum. If you've got two guitars and keys, all three of them need their own sonic space to exist in, or they'll all step on each other and sound like mush. Maybe your amp sounds awesome in your jam room when you're standing next to it, but once you pump it through a PA, things change a lot. Does "your sound" have a lot of low end? Say goodbye to that- the bass player and the keyboard player's left hand get that part of the spectrum.
Sure, using the band as a guinea pig for screwing around with effects (putting a flanger on the vocal, making the drums sound like they're in an empty silo, etc) is a putz move, but how exactly is a guy mixing at a club supposed to know what "your" sound is? He's not getting paid to be your personal audio concierge, if you want that, hire your own guy. Lots of bands do, for exactly that reason. A house sound guy's job is to take what you're doing onstage and make it audible in the house in a generally pleasing way while making sure the monitors don't feed back. In clubs I'd generally ask the bandleader "Anything I need to know?" for general guidelines like "the singer hates delay" or "watch out, the lead guitarist's patches are all at different volumes". If you're the middle band of three, I probably don't have time for that- put your stuff on stage and off we go- I'll get it dialed in in the first song.
Again, there are definitely dufus sound guys out there, especially at the lower end of the market (anybody worth a crap moves up pretty quickly). It just seems like there are a lot of unrealistic expectations out there on the band side of things.
Where did the recording come from?
Harder to dial them in accurately though.
Heard about the PA rental company that only hired Russian board operators?
They had a Czech one, too.
Know why we always say "Check one two"?
(Just teeing 'em up for you)
Band is only as good as its weakest link, including the soundman