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Blending Amplifiers on stage.

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Blending Amplifiers on stage.

Postby _ Six _ » Sun Jan 28, 2007 4:26 pm

Our band will soon be playing a number of lined up gigs and want to come accross sounding polished and well rehearsed.

Two guitarists both using Marshall tube amplifiers. We have a female vocalist and although we want a rock sound we want to leave space for the vocals to come through.

I understand that gain settings will have an impact but don't have much FOH engineering experience and wondered if anyone could point me in the right direction?

Cheers

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Re: Blending Amplifiers on stage.

Postby LawrenceH » Sun Jan 28, 2007 5:02 pm

Will the whole band be mic-ed up or will you be relying on the backline amps for audience sound? If the former then get the amps as quiet as possible and positioned (using stands if necessary) so that they are pointing directly at the guitarists' ears. I've said it many times on this forum but guitarists often turn up WAY too loud in the mistaken belief that they are able to judge correct volume from an amp pointing at the backs of their knees.

I find Marshall amps can sit in the vocalist's range a lot (especially female vox, which tends to have less complex harmonics than male so intelligibility can be worse). But, pursuading a guitarist to 'compromise' their tone/volume to allow the rest of the band to be heard adequately is easier said than done!
Try and make sure the EQ settings on each amp/guitar compliment, rather than compete with, each other - ie, one brighter, one darker tone and preferably playing in different registers most of the time. No point two guitarists playing the same inversion of the same chord at the same time with the same tone!
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Re: Blending Amplifiers on stage.

Postby dmills » Sun Jan 28, 2007 7:09 pm

If miking the amps, point them across the stage at ear level, not towards the audience (and vocal mics)....

Get the axemen to turn down (by pinching half the amps output tubes if that is the only way.....), they will be WAAAY to loud, they almost always are.

On a stage with a decent FOH rig, you do not need 100W amps, 5 or 10W is ample.

The punters do not come for the guitarists tone, they come to listen to the whole band! Making this point stick is tricky.

Regards, Dan.
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Re: Blending Amplifiers on stage.

Postby Scramble » Sun Jan 28, 2007 9:59 pm

>On a stage with a decent FOH rig, you do not need 100W amps, 5 or 10W is ample.

???
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Re: Blending Amplifiers on stage.

Postby dmills » Sun Jan 28, 2007 10:47 pm

E P Gumby wrote:>On a stage with a decent FOH rig, you do not need 100W amps, 5 or 10W is ample.
???

If the FOH rig is decent, you are probably miking that cab, therefore it does not need to carry out into the audience (And everything sounds better if it does not!, see comb filtering), therefore driving a small amp to get the tone, and letting the FOH guy worry about the volume is the way to go.

The big marshal stacks were an answer to small FOH rigs of the 60s and 70s when KW class clean sound was EXPENSIVE, so miking the cabs was problematic.

Getting the stage volume down and letting the FOH carry the band is the way to go when several kW can be had for a grand in a 2U rack!

Regards, Dan.
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Re: Blending Amplifiers on stage.

Postby planetnine » Mon Jan 29, 2007 12:15 am

heh, the number of times i've had to stop guitarists pluggingin their second 4x12 in a pub or village hall ! :?

has the bottom cab got a different tone to the top one? no? well you'll not hear it and i don't want to. :D
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Re: Blending Amplifiers on stage.

Postby Scramble » Mon Jan 29, 2007 11:44 am

I know guitarists play too loud, but 5-10w doesn't seem realistic. As any guitarist will tell you, you can't rely on the sound mixer to give you adequate levels in the monitors so your amp needs to be loud enough to be heard by itself, and 5-10w will just be swallowed on stage.
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Re: Blending Amplifiers on stage.

Postby onlyone-jc » Mon Jan 29, 2007 1:07 pm

E P Gumby wrote:I know guitarists play too loud, but 5-10w doesn't seem realistic. As any guitarist will tell you, you can't rely on the sound mixer to give you adequate levels in the monitors so your amp needs to be loud enough to be heard by itself, and 5-10w will just be swallowed on stage.

That's what monitors are for (given decent amps to go with them). The engineer can top it back up for you. It's all about finding the right balance. Loud on-stage levels fired towards the performer, are much easier to deal with than loud on-stage levels fired towards the audience, with an already in-place FOH system. Loud on-stage levels fired towards the audience limit what the engineer can actually control.

Good luck,
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Re: Blending Amplifiers on stage.

Postby planetnine » Mon Jan 29, 2007 2:24 pm

As any guitarist will tell you, you can't rely on the sound mixer to give you adequate levels in the monitors...


evil lot sound mixers: refuse to go beyond the limits of acoustic physics/ tolerance of other band members/ their own hearing/ the requests of FOH mix... just for the sake of the guy who does the widdly fills in bits of the song :roll:

i'd apologise for this narrow minded comment, only all of the above applied with the last guitarist i tried to reason with. i wouldn't mind, but his sounds were awful and his levels incosistent. i recorded it for him and gave it to the band.

this seems to be too common with guitarists, especially the ones who get unreasonable when you try to lift their cabs off the floor to ear level.

thank you for letting me share this rant. i feel better now.

seriously, apologies to all the professionally-minded guitarists i've just generalised all over. -but you know what i mean. ;)
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Re: Blending Amplifiers on stage.

Postby seablade » Mon Jan 29, 2007 2:38 pm

E P Gumby wrote:I know guitarists play too loud, but 5-10w doesn't seem realistic. As any guitarist will tell you, you can't rely on the sound mixer to give you adequate levels in the monitors so your amp needs to be loud enough to be heard by itself, and 5-10w will just be swallowed on stage.

Um... yea...

Nathan covered it fairly well, but to address it a different way.

If this is the case(FOH not giving you enough monitor) you need to either A) Get a new engineer or B) Seriously look at the levels you are requesting.

There should NEVER be a time with a reasonable request and decent kit that you are not able to get the levels you need for monitoring on stage. Note the 2 key words there are REASONABLE request and DECENT kit. If the SE can't provide you with reasonable levels on a decent kit they need to be replaced.

If you are however requesting unreasonable levels(As Nathan pointed out this is not always that uncommon for guitarists) then you need to look at what is going on and how those can be reduced.

I have had guitarists insist that their levels need to be that loud on stage, forcing me to mix much louder in the house to attempt to balance than I care to. So then you have given me a choice with your amp on stage, either I mix much to loud for the house, or your set sounds like crud.

Personally lately I will let your set sound awful, my hearing and the hearing of those in the audience gets to be to important, and when I am hearing 110 at the board, there is a problem when I am several hundred feet away from the cluster/stacks/whatever.

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Re: Blending Amplifiers on stage.

Postby LawrenceH » Mon Jan 29, 2007 2:57 pm

10 watts is, amazingly, perfectly realistic for mic'ed guitar amps - check out the orange tiny terror for something perfectly capable of damaging ears! Who uses an AC30 up all the way these days? It's enough to blow your head off!

Having said that a lot of poor quality practice amps are not that loud, giving a false impression of what's necessary with decent kit. A decent 100w guitar amp is easily capable of outcompeting a 2K+ PA rig.
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Re: Blending Amplifiers on stage.

Postby planetnine » Mon Jan 29, 2007 3:30 pm

in a slightly less facetious post, many of the problems i have with guitarist needing unreasonable levels is the sounds they are producing with their amps.

the harder you overdrive your pedal/ preamp circuit, the more overtones (harmonics) are produced compared to tone (fundamental). you get to a point (quite quickly) where the harmonics mask the tone ie different flavours of white noise. unfortunately these harmonics are very similar sounding to the mess of criss-crossing reflected sound bouncing around your typical drums/cymbals/electric-guitar stagespace. you end up with a sound that is hard to differentiate from the rest of the noise generated on stage which needs to be even louder then for the chap generating this noise to hear what note he's playing. this causes everyone else (even with multi-mix monitors on stage) to need higher levels to hear over. which can lead to mr guitarist losing his levels and needing more again.

these guitar sounds have often been developed in isolation where distortion and harmonics = perceived loudness and blam! these sound are often horrible in a large room and indistinguishable against a band's sound.

what to do?
back-off on the overdrive, more tone, less distortion. i've asked problem guitarists i've regularly worked with who their influences are, and played clips of guitar thru the monitors at them to compare -it's like a nail-file versus a war-hammer. where's all that white noise on the cd? also, transistor distortion is not as nice as valve -get a valve preamp.

and of course the usual tricks such as putting the cones near the guitarists head (that's fun with a newbie guitarist, watch them turn down) yer ears aren't on yer knees!

live sound is a compromise compared to the recorded product, you can't have it perfect on stage. help the engineer(s) to acheive the best in that compromise. (a few miserable buggers excepted) they're there to help you sound good. all of you.
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Re: Blending Amplifiers on stage.

Postby Scramble » Mon Jan 29, 2007 4:21 pm

Maybe there are these amazing 5-10w amps around that produce a loud enough volume to be heard on stage that I haven't heard, but if you suggested to my guitarist that he use one, he would think you're mad. And no, he isn't one of those guitarists who plays too loud, and he does sit his amp up high and direct it towards his ear, and we do keep the on-stage levels as low as we can.

It's all very well to be saying that your mixer should be handling all the on-stage volume through the monitors. In theory yes, and I certainly agree that's what we all should be aiming for, but in practise if you're in a band with a loud drum kit and lots of keyboards and a place with funny acoustics then the monitor mix becomes tricky and it can easily be inadequate for a period, and you need to be able to rely on some personal monitoring.

I use a 30w keyboard monitor to top up my levels when necessary, but if it's a small venue where we're all squashed together that can barely be heard even over the drums, let alone the monitor mix. And my drummer is not a thumper, he just has a very good kit. (If we play on a big stage things are completely different).

But don't let me put off anyone who tries a small guitar amp and finds it works on stage for them. I'm just skeptical. Perhaps that's because from the perspective of the sound guys in this forum I'm just a musician who's part of the problem. But I remember jamming a few months ago with another band and I tried out my Yamaha P140 keyboard which has 2 x 6W in-built speakers (a keyboard I normally only use at home). Not that loud a band, but I couldn't hear the speakers at all over them.

(As far as the original questions goes, I agree with the recommendations made to get your guitarists to turn their amps down).
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Re: Blending Amplifiers on stage.

Postby dmills » Mon Jan 29, 2007 4:36 pm

Keyboard volume Vs guitar volume, very different things....

The guitarist will be driving that PA stage in his amp into clipping at least quite a lot of the time, your keys need to sound totally clean as far as any distortion produced by the amp is concerned.... Thats probably worth 10db or so, of difference in required amp power! 60W for a keyboard is reasonable (But again best done by sending a DI to monitor world and coming back thru the wedges or in ears).

Looking at your report above, there should be no problem getting the guitar in the guitarists monitor mix up there as long as the guy on the monitor board is halfway competent. After all that is being sourced from a mic a few inches away from a 12 inch cone, so feedback just should not be an issue.

Note that all of this applies to a situation with a good FOH (And monitor) rig, and not to a local bar with a pair of hisys 2 as FOH, and a pair of carlsbro self powered wedges with blown horns (In which situation, other, generally less satisfactory, methods come into play).

Regards, Dan.
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Re: Blending Amplifiers on stage.

Postby planetnine » Mon Jan 29, 2007 5:15 pm

if you're in a tiny performing space Mr Gumby, then your levels (including the drummer) need to come down massively. monitors won't help that much when everythings in a space the size of your front room, you'll feed back long before you get levels required for bigger rooms. laws of physics. that's when it gets really tricky to sound good AND hear yourself. it can be done, but it involves compromises. its also hard to generalise about these situations, each one is different.
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Re: Blending Amplifiers on stage.

Postby IvanSC » Tue Jan 30, 2007 10:01 am

I would like to suggest we adopt officially my pet term for guitarists with THAT sound: The Wasp In A Jamjar sound.
"well it sounds great in my bedroom/garage/outside loo"

And my other favorite guitarist quote: I just can`t get My Sound unless I turn everything up that far..."

Lord help us.....
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Re: Blending Amplifiers on stage.

Postby planetnine » Tue Jan 30, 2007 1:12 pm

it's not your sound i'm here for mr widdly, i'm here to mix a band ;)

ps i am actually friends with some really good guitarists, i don't hate you all :beamup:
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Re: Blending Amplifiers on stage.

Postby _ Six _ » Tue Jan 30, 2007 6:19 pm

OH MY GOD!

Looks like i've opened a can of worms here...

In rehearsal yesterday I convinced the other guitarist to lift his cabinet to ear level and the difference in sound was immediate. We could hear ourselves again! Thanks for the advice.

Just for the record on Saturday we are playing a small wine bar type gaff and don't have any foldback so fingers crossed.

Cheers guys

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Re: Blending Amplifiers on stage.

Postby dmills » Tue Jan 30, 2007 8:57 pm

Just a case of a few too many of us doing battle of the bands nights (Spit!), and being driven up the wall by grossly inappropriate stacks (And axechildren (by and large they don't qualify as men) with attitude issues, see comments on 'my sound').

Lifting the cab does make for a rather nicer on stage environment doesn't it? Smaller amps are the next step, as is firing the amp across stage, but one that is hard on the ego!
Now if we could only get this explained in some guitar books!

Now to deal with the drummers!

Regards, Dan.
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Re: Blending Amplifiers on stage.

Postby hifistud2 » Tue Jan 30, 2007 10:49 pm

dmills wrote:
Now to deal with the drummers!

Lexan (1/4") is your friend. Made up a front cage many moons ago, and it's worth its weight in, erm, lexan.

Bottom line with drums is that you do need to hit them with a certain amount of force, else they sound like bits of rubber on baking tins.
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Re: Blending Amplifiers on stage.

Postby Scramble » Tue Jan 30, 2007 11:41 pm

>Bottom line with drums is that you do need to hit them with a certain amount of force, else they sound like bits of rubber on baking tins.

Also, a lot of drummers find that their timing goes if they have to play softly.

>Lexan (1/4") is your friend. Made up a front cage many moons ago, and it's worth its weight in, erm, lexan.

I noticed on one of the sumemr festivals on TV this year that Lou Reed's band (I think it was) had their drummer in a glass cage. Was this just a gimmick, or was it to cut down on the sound of the drums (or because he was a maniac)?
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Re: Blending Amplifiers on stage.

Postby planetnine » Wed Jan 31, 2007 1:14 am

it's usually to cut down bleed onto the vocals/ any other mics on stage, and it's especially useful if the stage is being fed to multitrack. with the drum sound under control, stage monitor levels can come down a couple of notches too, so for celebrity gigs, especially where live feeds are going to tv/ recorders, the sound is more controlled.
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Re: Blending Amplifiers on stage.

Postby MarkPAman » Wed Jan 31, 2007 9:30 am

The down side is that drum sound is reflected back towards the kit which can make getting the right sound more difficult, and does increase the SPL for the drummer. :frown:
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Re: Blending Amplifiers on stage.

Postby LawrenceH » Wed Jan 31, 2007 11:07 am

SixStringzzz wrote: I convinced the other guitarist to lift his cabinet to ear level and the difference in sound was immediate. We could hear ourselves again!
Yes!! Finally someone has actually listened to this advice and surprise surprise it worked! As dmills says, the ultimate sound engineer's dream is a small amp on a stand pointing across the stage. (Or eles it's a band with no guitarists ;) )
Good luck with the gig on Saturday - if you haven't got foldback then amp positioning becomes critical. Get them high up!
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Re: Blending Amplifiers on stage.

Postby planetnine » Wed Jan 31, 2007 11:57 am

the angled floorstands popular with fender twin combo players and the like are good too. the sound is angled towards the players ears and not the auditorium. you don't have to search for flightcases or beer crates to stick you cab on and it looks professional, even "session player". not "rock god" tho.

i find these are used by a lot of professional players where the sound matters, not what it looks like. a lot of session guys use roland combos too.

one of my regular soul band guitarists has a fender twin with a dummy mic behind him on stage for the look -and a small mesa combo miked up with an old condenser offstage -but he trust my monitors!

right, time to go for my weekly session with the shrink to talk about my irrational hate of fender de-ville combo players... :headbang:
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Re: Blending Amplifiers on stage.

Postby James Perrett » Wed Jan 31, 2007 1:18 pm

dmills wrote:as is firing the amp across stage, but one that is hard on the ego!

I'm really not sure whether this is good advice for smaller venues. While it means that the guitarist can hear themselves better on stage it also means that the audience will hear more reflected sound from the guitar amp rather than direct sound. When this is combined with the increased guitar volume needed from the FOH PA you end up with a messier sound. I prefer to have the amps facing the audience and, if they're loud, keeping them out of the PA almost entirely.

Cheers

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Re: Blending Amplifiers on stage.

Postby dmills » Wed Jan 31, 2007 1:35 pm

For pub sized venues with no mons, a postage stamp sized stage and a rather lacking FOH rig, I tend to agree, I was thinking more in terms of a gig with monitors and something remotely sane out front.

Still get the amp up on a stand however.

Regards, Dan.
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Re: Blending Amplifiers on stage.

Postby kevell » Sat Feb 03, 2007 4:57 pm

(first post!)

I had the same problem with a guitarist a while back - constantly he insisted on turning his stack up (a marshall head on a really old nameless cab, admittedly it sounded great) - he was convinced his "sound" needed far more drive than was necessary - solution: turn his drive down to what sounded good, and sidechained his monitor sound through a POD to trick him :lol: worked!
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Re: Blending Amplifiers on stage.

Postby robare99 » Wed May 30, 2012 8:37 pm

Scramble wrote:I know guitarists play too loud, but 5-10w doesn't seem realistic. As any guitarist will tell you, you can't rely on the sound mixer to give you adequate levels in the monitors so your amp needs to be loud enough to be heard by itself, and 5-10w will just be swallowed on stage.

Don't worry, I'd have you covered.

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Re: Blending Amplifiers on stage.

Postby seablade » Wed May 30, 2012 10:08 pm

robare99 wrote:
Don't worry, I'd have you covered.

Might be more applicable 5+ years ago when the thread was recent;)
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