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Author Topic: Guitar Players Levels  (Read 18283 times)

David Parker

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Guitar Players Levels
« on: December 16, 2011, 10:00:33 am »

why is it guitar players can't tell their volume changes drastically when they switch channels or change effects? Most of the guitar players I've worked with over the years have this problem. Keyboard players are worse. Every patch has a different volume. It seems like it would be evident to them. If they switch to a louder setting, I can tell and turn them down, but if they switch to a lower volume setting, sometimes I don't notice and they disappear in the mix.
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Stu McDoniel

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Re: Guitar Players Levels
« Reply #1 on: December 16, 2011, 10:18:42 am »

why is it guitar players can't tell their volume changes drastically when they switch channels or change effects? Most of the guitar players I've worked with over the years have this problem. Keyboard players are worse. Every patch has a different volume. It seems like it would be evident to them. If they switch to a louder setting, I can tell and turn them down, but if they switch to a lower volume setting, sometimes I don't notice and they disappear in the mix.
A band that has there $%it together can control their own dynamics and individual volumes to each other and sound good right out of the box.  Ive ran sound for many big blues acts where all I had to do
was basically get levels and they control their individual volumes and overall band dynamics on their
own with very little done on the FOH.   The electric guitar and amp is a beast of its own and most
guys tell you they cant get the tone they want until the volume is at 11 (which is "one" more then 10)
All jokes aside it goes with the quality of the musician to be able to discern the issues you are describing
above.   
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David Parker

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Re: Guitar Players Levels
« Reply #2 on: December 16, 2011, 10:23:51 am »


All jokes aside it goes with the quality of the musician to be able to discern the issues you are describing
above.   

I've worked with Nashville musicians on occasion, and those guy really have their stuff together. I've also worked with really great guitar players locally that don't, and it really takes away from their chops when they can't level their volume. It just blows my mind that they can't tell their volume is all over the map. I don't mind mixing. I don't mind having to make a few adjustments here and there, but when I have to make changes  DURING A SONG every time the guitar player switches from clean to dirty, well that's a bit much.
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Jean-Pierre Coetzee

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Re: Guitar Players Levels
« Reply #3 on: December 16, 2011, 10:28:30 am »

and most guys tell you they cant get the tone they want until the volume is at 11

This is true but can be worked around(a 50watt valve amp is overkill in all circumstances). With the changing of volume it is a muso thing, with guitar if clean is softer than drive then they are doing it right(only way to get the same level is to use two amps and do you really want to do that). If a guitarist walks onto stage with a pedal board the size of the console(it does exist) you had better hope he's not going to use every pedal. Keys is a different annoyance but it's just down to working with those part time bands...
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"If you want "loud", then run a piece of sheet metal through a table saw------

If you want "watts"-then plug in a toaster"
- Ivan Beaver

David Parker

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Re: Guitar Players Levels
« Reply #4 on: December 16, 2011, 10:45:26 am »

This is true but can be worked around(a 50watt valve amp is overkill in all circumstances). With the changing of volume it is a muso thing, with guitar if clean is softer than drive then they are doing it right(only way to get the same level is to use two amps and do you really want to do that). If a guitarist walks onto stage with a pedal board the size of the console(it does exist) you had better hope he's not going to use every pedal. Keys is a different annoyance but it's just down to working with those part time bands...

My experience has been that their clean tone is typically much louder than their distorted tone.
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Jean-Pierre Coetzee

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Re: Guitar Players Levels
« Reply #5 on: December 16, 2011, 11:09:22 am »

My experience has been that their clean tone is typically much louder than their distorted tone.

Then they have no clue about their instruments... I'd suggest educating them since you are the engineer, if the refuse to listen accept the cheque and buy a compressor. Go read up on valve amps as well as how distortion is achieved in them, it will be an eye opener about the levels and will give you a leg to stand on if a guitarist tries to go against you.

There are hundreds of topics on how to get the guitarist levels down on stage and very few about keeping levels relative. If a guitarist has a solid state amp(most will) and they tell you crap about tone and volume you know that you are working with a nitwit... Feel free to pm me about this topic since I'm willing to stand up for guitarists that know what they are doing.
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"If you want "loud", then run a piece of sheet metal through a table saw------

If you want "watts"-then plug in a toaster"
- Ivan Beaver

Jamie Miller

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Re: Guitar Players Levels
« Reply #6 on: December 16, 2011, 11:39:24 am »

why is it guitar players can't tell their volume changes drastically when they switch channels or change effects? Most of the guitar players I've worked with over the years have this problem. Keyboard players are worse. Every patch has a different volume. It seems like it would be evident to them. If they switch to a louder setting, I can tell and turn them down, but if they switch to a lower volume setting, sometimes I don't notice and they disappear in the mix.


I don't pretend to know a lot of the ins and outs of the sound world.  That's why I mostly read and rarely post.

But, I run sound off of stage for my band and when setting my line levels, I have our other guitarist run through all of his channels and pedals and adjust them so they are even.  After the first couple of gigs doing this it has been pretty consistent and only takes a few minutes to do.

He's also very understanding of my situation and easy to work with so that helps greatly.

Okay.  Back to mostly reading. ;)
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Jonathan Betts

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Re: Guitar Players Levels
« Reply #7 on: December 16, 2011, 12:06:11 pm »

Are the guitar amps on the ground pointed at their knees like most? I always bring extra amp stands to my shows and suggest that they point them up at their ears. All the seasoned guitar players I work with do just this allowing me to fill their sound out with the PA.
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Robert Weston

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Re: Guitar Players Levels
« Reply #8 on: December 16, 2011, 12:56:02 pm »

If they can't their amps up toward their heads, try this...

http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/CSPA43/

...not saying they have to use this specific type/model, but some kind of sheild is probably needed.  They can turn themselves up to get the "tone" and not blast anyone.

A band that I occassionaly run sound for just employed similar sheilds to their guitar rigs... damn, what a difference!!
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Ned Ward

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Re: Guitar Players Levels
« Reply #9 on: December 16, 2011, 01:13:34 pm »

if they have sound check, have them check their clean, crunch and lead sounds. Clean and crunch should be the same level and yes, you can do this with pedals and such. Lead should be set at a level agreed to by you and them that's thicker/louder, but not deafening.

Remind them that their levels for their 3 different sounds will vary by venue and that's what the knobs on their amps and pedals are fore -- they're not set and forget. Otherwise they'd be recessed into the pedals with set screws...
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Re: Guitar Players Levels
« Reply #9 on: December 16, 2011, 01:13:34 pm »


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