Practice area setup questions...

Discussion in 'Band Wagon' started by beninma, Sep 18, 2019.

  1. beninma

    beninma Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    Got a couple questions that I think would be easy for many to answer here.

    About the past month or so I've been meeting up with a group of people to practice songs... we're definitely having audio problems. It's a little bit of an odd setup.

    - No drummer or bassist right now
    - Mix of Acoustic/Electric
    - The guy hosting has a lot of amps & a PA so we've been using his stuff
    - We generally have 2 microphones for singing and pass them around song to song to switch up whose singing
    - No acoustic guitar specific amps, all guitars have been going into electric guitar amps
    - It's kind of a warehouse type environment, high ceiling, acoustics aren't great, it feels like if you play unplugged it just disappears
    - Amps are kind of arrayed in a circle pointing inwards, he probably set this up because the background is more playing acoustic in a circle
    - No micing guitar amps (definitely no need, we're not playing that loud)

    Last night we were having a ton of trouble staying locked in. For the most part I was the only one who really needed an amp last night as I had my Telecaster. There were only 3 of us, the other two people were playing acoustic guitars. Sometimes it's more like 5-6 people.

    When we were all plugged in we were having a ridiculously difficult time staying locked onto the beat. Eventually I started realizing the woman to the right of me was sounding seriously weird with her acoustic guitar going through a Marshall. It was like some notes could barely be heard and others were loud, in a way that made it sound like we were out of sync even when we were. (E.x. Bass accent on 1 and I wouldn't even be able to hear it, then she strums on 2 and it sounds super loud so I think she just hit the bass accent on 1) She's got a vintage gibson, who knows what the pickup is, but when she just picked each string 1 by 1 by herself it sounded fine.

    The last song we unplugged all the acoustic guitars and I turned the volume way down and all of a sudden we played the song completely perfectly in sync all the way through.

    Are there any starting points on how to set stuff up so we're not wasting time? No one is being a jerk here or anything we just don't have much experience with everyone plugged in. In the past (for almost 2 years) we'd been getting together somewhere else and 95% of the time no one was plugging in guitars and we justed a PA for singing. No one really cares about guitar tone type stuff here either, the entire purpose is just to work on playing the songs and staying tight with everyone in sync with each other.

    I do think a drummer or bassist would clear this up cause we'd all just follow them. Finding a bassist is probably more realistic than a drummer. I'm fairly certain with a drummer I'd be able to stay on the beat even if I couldn't really hear myself. But if I can't hear myself that great and/or can't hear the other guitar player without a drummer it's a lot harder.

    I think we are also chronically not turning the singer up loud enough.
     
  2. Martin R

    Martin R Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    Try running the acoustics thru the PA.
     
  3. dannyh

    dannyh Tele-Afflicted

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    This sounds like the answer.
     
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  4. beninma

    beninma Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    Running acoustics through the PA sounds like a good thing to try.

    I was fine turning my electric guitar down to the right volume to play with the acoustics, I've done that quite a few times before, but some nights we might have 2-3 more electric guitars and then that becomes problematic.

    I am more wondering whether us playing in a circle is inherently a problem. We generally stand in front of the amps we are plugged into, but anything coming out of the PA is coming from a different direction as the PA is off on one side. It is actually a little weird when you're singing having the sound coming from another part of the room. I have extremely little experience singing and singing through the PA is pretty wacked out for me.
     
  5. Old duck

    Old duck Tele-Meister

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    Uh, you could play an acoustic and not be the odd man out....... Just saying.
     
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  6. nojazzhere

    nojazzhere Poster Extraordinaire

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    All just my opinion of course, but......playing in a circle is a good way to hear each other. Lined up (like on a stage) makes it more difficult. Having a drummer may or MAY NOT help staying "in time". Unless he/she is a GOOD drummer, the beat may drift all over the place. Your acoustic players may not be experienced in playing amplified, thus making their sound "hit or miss". Personally, I don't like the idea of running instruments through PA.....it "muddies" the vocals, plus makes it harder for less experienced players to distinguish THEIR instrument from others. You said for the last song you unplugged acoustics and you turned down your Tele, and you were, "....perfectly in sync...." There's your answer. Any future performances might be a problem, but that's a different thread. Good luck.
     
  7. ReverendRevolver

    ReverendRevolver Tele-Holic

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    I'd need to be present to actually say what the "fix" is, but......

    Is there a practical way to run all the acoustics directly to PA, and run monitors? If you can isolate everything but the electrics and amps in the mix, it may be easier*see below*. Having one persons vocals mic cut over the rest will help (even if it switches each song) and have one electric or acoustic dedicated to sitting in a frequency range not occupied by the rest of the six strings. It needs to be whoever has the most robust internal metronome. That person will be playing rhythm with or without fills, and is the anchor. That's who you watch for cues and changes, and is your tempo. Dont let them sing. They keep the trainwreck from happening. They dont have to be loud, they just gotta cut through and be heard.
    I reccomend a tele or something with darkish and warm humbuckers, running something with 6L6s into a 15" speaker occupying some low middle grounds with thump OR a 6v6 or el84 thing running through a couple 10s and single coils dialed for reasonable punch.

    If you're running solid state, hopefully it's a Peavey bandit and you have a 10band eq to push whatever guitar into something that'll cut without having to compete at top volume.


    Everyone loves 12" speakers until having other stuff becomes a pragmatic way to fall into the mix.
    *option*
    All the acoustic ppl may not be ina situation where direct to amp is great, but even into a preamp or eq then PA might fly. I prefer a mic in front of a full bodied acoustic over its pickup I to an amp, but not sure that's work here. I'd reccomend taking the electrics and doing the above mentioned thing. If you can keep it mostly acoustic, cool. Itd be neat having the amp 20' away if space allows, just to toy with options.....

    Nobody "needs" a keyboard player, but bass players help. I'd hope for someone to come along with a small drum set, perfect pacing, and loads of patience. It's hard for me to not have a drummer. Even when I'm keeping tempo and not them, It helps complete what my brain says i should be hearing.
     
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2019
  8. Chunkocaster

    Chunkocaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    This is why they invented mixers with independent volume channels and eq.

    In that situation i would tell that guy to sell the random stuff and replace with a small single column line array pa in the corner (less space, feedback issues when standing in front of speaker, doubles as monitor) ad mixer and get an electronic drum kit. Run acoustics, vocals and drum/keys through the mixer to pa and match the electric guitar amps volume to taste or just leave the amp at home and bring something like a sansamp pedal for rehearsal through the pa.
     
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2019
  9. beninma

    beninma Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    I do sometimes play acoustic. Last night I just had my Tele. I started out showing up with the acoustic, and everyone else was plugging in. If I'm going to get stuck plugging the acoustic into an electric amp I figure better to take my Tele. The guy whose the host has most of his stuff there so he switched back and forth last night between acoustic and a Strat.

    It's kind of chaotic, it's not even guaranteed who is going to show up a given week. You could probably say 1/3 of the people who come will always show up with an acoustic guitar and wouldn't want to play electric, 1/3 are going to show up with an electric guitar, and 1/3 are willing to play either. I was looking for some kind of strategy where we could adapt to whatever situation arose. Some of the stuff we play is better off played with electric guitars as well.

    If we could guarantee everyone was cool with playing acoustic and then we just used the PA to sing into that'd work but it doesn't seem like we can guarantee that.
     
  10. beninma

    beninma Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    Actually we have one in the room. Doesn't necessarily help me if none of us know the right way to mix it.

    The host is a rather epic gear collector. Totally ridiculous. He's probably got all kinds of stuff I don't even know about.
     
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  11. Chunkocaster

    Chunkocaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    $600 Maui 5, $200 Behringer mixer, Recorded with an iPhone. Still sounds great.
     
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2019
  12. W.L.Weller

    W.L.Weller Tele-Holic

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    Maybe see if his collection includes a drum machine? Warehouses are tough, I practice in one also and even though none of us are trying to play acoustic, getting the mix right can take a minute.
     
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  13. 6stringcowboy

    6stringcowboy Tele-Afflicted

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    We face our amps in for practice. Helps keep volumes down.

    I'd DI all the acoustics to the PA and get a cheap drum machine or use an input for an electric metronome to help keep the beat.

    ymmv
     
  14. beninma

    beninma Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    Thanks for all the help everyone.

    I may push the drum machine angle. I have one, and have suggested it, but got some pushback. I don't necessarily think we have to do it if we can figure out how to get it so everyone can hear clearly but I wish people were more open to that.

    There's a drum kit in the room too, just no one who plays drums well enough.
     
  15. W.L.Weller

    W.L.Weller Tele-Holic

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    For your purposes, and to help the pitch to the recalcitrant go over, don't think of a drum machine as a replacement for an actual drummer. More like using it as a fancy metronome, that can play a couple different sounds and patterns.

    We have one we use this way, and it frees up our human drummer to play accents and patterns that he might not be able to pull off otherwise.

    And playing at a lower overall volume is good on a few fronts.
     
  16. beninma

    beninma Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    I love the drum machine and practice with one incessantly when I'm on my own. I think it's a lot more fun. I need to play with an actual drummer more cause personally I think I still have some trouble not getting screwed up when the drummer plays fills/accents, etc..

    It just seems like a lot of people have some kind of hump they need to get over... they're afraid/dislike metronomes/drum machines/drummers until they see the light. I know it made things harder for me at first, once I got over the hump it makes things easier.

    But at least the 3 of us last night, we don't have trouble staying in time together as long as we can all hear each other. It's just if we can't hear each other clearly but could hear drums clearly the drums would help.
     
  17. Steve 78

    Steve 78 Friend of Leo's

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    My 2 cents...

    Are you playing for fun or is the intention to do gigs? In a circle is good for starting out or just for fun but eventually if you plan on playing live it is a good idea to practice with the same setup you will be in while playing live, at least some of the time.

    +1 on acoustics via mixer/PA. Try it out at least. Have someone setting the mix while everyone else is playing. Don't be afraid to play with the EQs on the PA - cut out some bass if things are too boomy/muffled.

    Could you hang some rectangles of sound proofing foam, etc. from the ceiling? It might help to cut out excess noise / reverberation.

    Also, have you tried listening to everyone individually to make sure it isn't equipment or playing technique that is making the sound uneven or hard to hear?
     
  18. Dismalhead

    Dismalhead Poster Extraordinaire

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    A circle of amps sounds like a terrible idea. Put all your amps in a row side-by-side and everyone stand in front of their own amp.

    If you stand in the beam of someone else's amp you'll turn up because you can't hear yourself, and then they'll turn up because they can't hear themselves, and it'll go on an on with everyone there until all your ears are ringing.
     
  19. MilwMark

    MilwMark Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    I’ve never been in a band, acoustic or electric, that didn’t rehearse in a circle most of the time.

    The circle is not the problem.

    Not knowing how to EQ amps and set levels to the room and context is the problem.
     
  20. muudcat

    muudcat Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

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    acoustic guitars through electric guitar amps sound terrible for the most part. Some people like em, I don't for what I do, which is run through the PA, and with really good pre amps.
    Try using a foot percussion device run by some one with good timing and loud enough so every one can hear it
     
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