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Author Topic: Loud Guitar Amps  (Read 20169 times)

Scott Olewiler

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Loud Guitar Amps
« on: April 18, 2016, 10:16:40 am »

I did a gig Saturday night in a long narrow room. The 30" high "stage" was so shallow we ended deciding to use it as just a drum riser so the amps and rest of the band went on the floor. They were all half stacks and pretty loud but I still had what I thought was a fair amount of guitar going thru the PA.   Unfortunately having a good mix at the front of the room, meant not having enough guitar being heard at the back of the room because the bodies on the dance flloor and the first set of tables (packed house) blocked all the stage sound.

 I was at the halfway point in the audience and the mix was good where I was however the majority of the audience was seated in the back third of the room so I ended up putting much more guitar in the mains than I would like to.  And they still didn't have enough guitar while the front was getting pummeled with it.

The room is local so I'm sure I will be there again and the guitar players in all 3 acts  all had the same "Marshall Stack deafness" that plagues this region among the loacl bar bands. They will never turn down their volumes enough to solve the issue in spite of me asking them to. I've just been through this with too many of these local "rock stars".

So I've come up with 4 options I can work with next time I'm in this situation and I'm wondering what everyone's opinion is on the best method. I have them listed in the order of best to worst per my judgement.

1. Delay speakers for the back third of the room.
2. Have them place the amps on the side of the stage facing in.
3. Get the amps up on the same level as the drum kit. (I don't think this helps enough and potentially puts too much guitar in the vocals and therefore back through the wedges.
4. Move my mix position to the back third of the room and mix for there .

« Last Edit: April 18, 2016, 11:11:49 am by Scott Olewiler »
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John Penkala

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Re: Loud Guitar Amps
« Reply #1 on: April 18, 2016, 10:23:39 am »

I did a gig Saturday night in a long narrow room. The 30" high "stage" was so shallow we ended deciding to use it as just a drum riser so the amps and rest of the band went on the floor. They were all half stacks and pretty loud but I still had what I thought was a fair amount of guitar going thru the PA.   Unfortunately having a good mix at the front of the room, meant not having enough guitar being heard at the back of the room because the bodies on the dance flloor and the first set of tables (packed house) blocked all the stage sound.

 I was at the halfway point in the audience and the mix was good where I was however the majority of the audience was seated in the back third of the room so I ended up putting much more guitar in the mains than I would like to.  And they still didn't have enough guitar while the front was getting pummeled with it.

The room is local so I'm sure I will be there again and the guitar players in all 3 acts  all had the same "Marshall Stack deafness" that plagues this region among the loacl bar bands. They will never turn down their volumes enough to solve the issue in spite of me asking them to. I've just been through this with too many of these local "rock stars".

So I've come up with 4 options I can work with next time I'm in this situation and I'm wondering what everyone's opinion is on the best method. I have them listed in the order of best to worst per my judgement.

1. Delay speakers for the back third of the room.
2. Have them place the amps on the side of the stage facing in.
3. Get the amps up on the same level as the drum kit. (I don't thing this helps enough and potentially puts too much guitar in the vocals and therefore back through the wedges.
4. Move my mic position to the back third of the room and mix for there .

Is it possible that people were in the back of the room because it was too loud?
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Tim McCulloch

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Re: Loud Guitar Amps
« Reply #2 on: April 18, 2016, 10:40:19 am »

I'm told that I'm not allowed to shoot guitar players :(

Not wanting to start a confrontational rant I'll say only this:  these players think they're Artistes.  Yes, yes yes.  They will not change anything for any reason because it might mess up the precious voodoo (my apologies to actual Voodoo practitioners) and render their entire "careers" moot.

Stage SPL and the constant complaints from from bar managers, band wives/girlfriends/significant others regarding levels and mix content are why I fired myself from bar work.  I realize that the vast majority of LAB Lounge participants don't have that luxury but I had to do it to save my sanity and to keep my weapons pointed away from guitarists and cymbal-bashing drummers.

YMMV and all that, but if this is a constant problem you need to either grow a really thick skin and be able to say "piss off, fuckface" to whomever really needs it, or find other ways to use your audio talents.
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Stephen Kirby

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Re: Loud Guitar Amps
« Reply #3 on: April 18, 2016, 11:00:21 am »

I remember seeing Corby Yates (young loud blues rock guitarist) in a small club some years ago.  It was almost comical.  The dance floor was almost empty and the audience was huddled in the back third of the room looking like a Maxell ad (for those who remember them).

It kind of depends on what the purpose of the venue/show is.  Often some people want to get up front for the "full effect" and others want to relax in the back and not get pummeled.  OTOH maybe everyone is there to hear the band but the shape of the room is such that not everyone can be up front.  I used to play in one such "blues hallway" and when it gets crowded and you get pushed to the back, you don't hear the same thing as people up front.  In which case, delays are the only things that work.  HF just doesn't make it's way down a long humid room full of sweaty bodies.

My issue with half stacks isn't so much that they're loud, but that they generate a big low end thump to the attack of a note that obliterates the bass player and turns everything into mud.  It's a seductive visceral effect for the guitarist standing right in front of it, but combined with todays fascination with excessive gain nobody in the audience hears the same sound.
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Scott Olewiler

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Re: Loud Guitar Amps
« Reply #4 on: April 18, 2016, 11:07:30 am »

Is it possible that people were in the back of the room because it was too loud?

No. This was a sold out event. They were in the back because they didn't get there early enough and that's where most of the tables were set up. It really wasn't that loud, as the room was pretty dead. I just could not get an even mix in the back without ruining the front mix.
« Last Edit: April 18, 2016, 11:09:47 am by Scott Olewiler »
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Len Zenith Jr

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Re: Loud Guitar Amps
« Reply #5 on: April 18, 2016, 11:26:00 am »



Stage SPL and the constant complaints from from bar managers, band wives/girlfriends/significant others regarding levels and mix content are why I fired myself from bar work promoted myself to customer

I fixed that for you ... always a silver lining somewhere.
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Chuck Simon

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Re: Loud Guitar Amps
« Reply #6 on: April 18, 2016, 11:32:40 am »

Did you have the main speakers located up high enough?
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Tim McCulloch

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Re: Loud Guitar Amps
« Reply #7 on: April 18, 2016, 12:02:01 pm »

I fixed that for you ... always a silver lining somewhere.

Most bars are just rooms with booze (and really gross restrooms).  For the most part the music presentation sucks (because it's a bar, with all the inherent factors that come with) so unless a band is full of my friends I seldom go out to hear local acts.  I don't drink alcohol, either, so unless I'm meeting someone or there is a social event I'm a part of there is no reason to spend time in a bar.

Booze pays for lots of entertainment expenses, though, and to those patrons who support live music I say "thanks".

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Ned Ward

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Re: Loud Guitar Amps
« Reply #8 on: April 18, 2016, 12:11:03 pm »

Been there as a band member... it's why I also have several Fender amps of differing wattages depending on the venue - bar with our own PA or crappy PA, club with good PA and iffy monitors, club with good PA and good monitors, and outdoor gigs.  I also have tilt-back legs on my amps or an amp stand for the Princeton reverb that lets my ears hear better than my ankles, and keeps volume down.

Just went and saw a band at a local bar, and the guitar player was painfully loud to the point of it drowning out everything else. When I asked him afterwards how it went, he complained that everyone is always telling them that they're too loud... and he had a full pedalboard, so could have gotten the drive and lead sounds at a lower level.

The people I can't stand are idiots who buy non master amps like a plexi Marshall and try to gig with it - they are an awesome amp if you're in a studio, live on a farm, or have an iso cab or a Palmer. Otherwise, you're making everyone cringe in the corner.

Auralex GRAMMA are a godsend for shows like this as it decouples the amp from the floor so you don't get as much low end to fight with bass and drums. I have 2 for home studio use, but always bring one to a show for our bass player just in case.

Other option - take an old passive monitor wedge and remove the crossover and speaker and replace with a guitar speaker. With a speaker cable, you could run out of their amp or speaker cab to this front monitor. They'll be able to hear themselves and not have to turn up as much. Mesa used to make this and Avatar sells one, but for bar bands I think a DIY could be a good start... http://avatarspeakers.com/product/g212-pro-tour-monitor/
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Chris Hindle

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Re: Loud Guitar Amps
« Reply #9 on: April 18, 2016, 12:22:28 pm »



1. Delay speakers for the back third of the room.
2. Have them place the amps on the side of the stage facing in.
3. Get the amps up on the same level as the drum kit. (I don't think this helps enough and potentially puts too much guitar in the vocals and therefore back through the wedges.
4. Move my mix position to the back third of the room and mix for there .
5. Fly the PA. Get them boxes up nice and high, let the stage take care of the front.
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Re: Loud Guitar Amps
« Reply #9 on: April 18, 2016, 12:22:28 pm »


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