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musicians amps on stage

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Tom Herr:
I have been in the music industry most of my life. I have been on the sound and lighting end as well as a performing musician with countless hours experience in both areas. Worked with national and locals in both capacities. I have played rock, blues, country, some gospel and quite a bit of contemporary christian music.
Now I am running into houses of worship that don't allow amplifiers on stage. Seriously, why would you hamstring a musician like that?
I understand the desire to control the mix and that there are musicians out there who are half deaf, but why punish the entire lot over a few?
I am now approaching 60 years of age and am quite capable of playing at a moderate volume. In some respects taking away a guitar players amp is like taking away the sustain pedal from a piano player. Yes you can add compression to increase sustain on a digital simulated amp but that is not the same as the warm natural sound of a good tube amp. And yes digital has improved but still has a long ways to go. In ear monitors completely eliminates the ability to position ones self to key in on different instruments on the stage. There is no way that I can simulate thru in ears what I am able to do on a stage with live amps. You would have to have foot controlled volumes for each channel in the mix. And for those of us who play with groups who insist on playing songs that have not been rehearsed for a long time, there is no substitute for being able to turn down on stage while getting your ears in line with the amp so you can find a part during the song without disrupting the song.
IMO we are trying so hard to have complete control over the mix and crippling the musicians in the process.
I always believed the sound engineers job was to enhance and bring out the best of what the musicians were doing, not to restrict and take away from their talent.

Scott Holtzman:

--- Quote from: Tom Herr on May 17, 2021, 11:50:45 am ---I have been in the music industry most of my life. I have been on the sound and lighting end as well as a performing musician with countless hours experience in both areas. Worked with national and locals in both capacities. I have played rock, blues, country, some gospel and quite a bit of contemporary christian music.
Now I am running into houses of worship that don't allow amplifiers on stage. Seriously, why would you hamstring a musician like that?
I understand the desire to control the mix and that there are musicians out there who are half deaf, but why punish the entire lot over a few?
I am now approaching 60 years of age and am quite capable of playing at a moderate volume. In some respects taking away a guitar players amp is like taking away the sustain pedal from a piano player. Yes you can add compression to increase sustain on a digital simulated amp but that is not the same as the warm natural sound of a good tube amp. And yes digital has improved but still has a long ways to go. In ear monitors completely eliminates the ability to position ones self to key in on different instruments on the stage. There is no way that I can simulate thru in ears what I am able to do on a stage with live amps. You would have to have foot controlled volumes for each channel in the mix. And for those of us who play with groups who insist on playing songs that have not been rehearsed for a long time, there is no substitute for being able to turn down on stage while getting your ears in line with the amp so you can find a part during the song without disrupting the song.
IMO we are trying so hard to have complete control over the mix and crippling the musicians in the process.
I always believed the sound engineers job was to enhance and bring out the best of what the musicians were doing, not to restrict and take away from their talent.

--- End quote ---


While you may know how to play at a decent volume, most do not.  You can put your amp in an iso cabinet too if you feel the need.  In the church environment they want a silent stage so the engineer has absolute control over the volume and presentation of the instruments.


Old dogs can learn new tricks.  A good stereo mix can give you that stage presence you want in your ears.  The truth is most engineers don't know how to mix IEM's.  I can also tell you that a whole litany of heritage acts, prior to the pandemic, were traveling with Kemper's and ears only.  They sounded pretty damn good to me and the audience enjoyed the show.  Not one person came up to FOH and asked where Randy Bachman's amp was!


If you take the same tact in dealing with the these churches that you did in your note then you must be a real peach to work with.  At least you used your real name.  That puts you in the upper 1 percentile!



Tim Weaver:
You can have your amp. In fact I have a whole closet just for amps. It's painful to go in there when the Steel Player is playing.


Radial SGI let's you put your amp as far away from you as needed and there is no penalty for "extra long cords". The SGI allows you to dial in the amount of input impedance so it behaves exactly like your amp does.

In ear monitors give you and entirely clean slate to dial up as much or as little direct vs ambient sound that you need to "feel" right. The bonus is that you'll save your hearing and become a much better player in the process. You'll hear every little thing your amp does, and that translates into cleaner, better playing.

Not "Feeling it in the chest" enough? I have buttkickers embedded in the stage to give the deck a little rattle if needed. It's very little, but the guys certainly notice it when it's not there.


Any other complaints?

Are you being paid to be there or Volunteer?

Erik Jerde:
Church music is about connecting people to God via worship.  Everything else is subservient to that end.  Usually that involves moderate not high room SPL and a vocal that is more prominent than at a concert.

In a modern worship setting that need for a lower SPL has necessitated remote amps or modeling and often drums in a box.  Sound engineers have gotten really tired of having to be the SPL police because leadership has given a SPL ceiling and then hired animal as the drummer and a guitar player with the knob stuck at 10.

If you want to have your amp on stage then the beat way to go about it is start by playing inside the rules they have.  Do a good job, develop positive relationships with the engineer.  Then once you have a relationship broach the question of just trying it out.  Be prepared for a no.  It may not even be their decision to make.  There may be reasons behind that no that youíre not aware of and they donít have the desire to get into.  Donít be a dick about it if you donít get the answer you want.

I for one prefer drums out of the box, amps and all that on stage.  Unfortunately there are some rooms and some players where it just isnít possible while serving the main goal.  Keep the goal in mind and be part of the team working toward that.

Debbie Dunkley:

--- Quote from: Tom Herr on May 17, 2021, 11:50:45 am ---
I understand the desire to control the mix and that there are musicians out there who are half deaf, but why punish the entire lot over a few?
....... In some respects taking away a guitar players amp is like taking away the sustain pedal from a piano player. Yes you can add compression to increase sustain on a digital simulated amp but that is not the same as the warm natural sound of a good tube amp. And yes digital has improved but still has a long ways to go. 

--- End quote ---

I agree - 10+ years ago! Tom, it is possible to get amazing tone without using backline these days - certainly good enough that no-one including the player will notice the difference. The last 2 guitarists I worked with (both in their 50's) used Fractals and they sounded amazing. FX in stereo is made easy and so effective.

Regarding iems.... well I am a big fan myself and once you have the right mix, quality ear buds and most importantly, great isolation, you can have the most amazing stage experience. I understand not everyone likes them but I really think if those who have tried and given up had persevered, they would have conquered the iem experience. My husband is a bass player and sings and he has said he would NEVER EVER go back to a wedge. Many of my other band colleagues feel the same way. I'd use them myself except I run the sound remotely from FOH whilst wirelessly singing and I need to hear what everyone else is hearing...

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