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  1. #1

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    I went to local club tonight to hear reed/guitar/bass/drum. Led by a guitarist who is a fine player and composer.

    His chord voicings were largely not the usual voicings used in the 50s (e.g. drop 2). Mostly he was playing sus 2, sus 4, #9, clusters from melodic minor and so forth.

    He was playing through something that looked like a Class D unit sitting on top of a 12" cabinet

    The club is in what probably used to be a storefront. Not wide at the street, but really deep. That is, the room is maybe 4x longer than it is wide. Maybe more. The stage is located on one of the long walls, kind of in the middle.

    So, the guitarist has his speaker pointing "forward", meaning towards the opposite wall, which isn't that far away. Meanwhile the audience is to his left and to his right.

    Bear with me, I'm coming to the point.

    There was a PA, but I couldn't tell if he was using it.

    He was playing a 335 type and it sounded muddy. He had the tone set dark. His high strings sounded good, but as soon as he played the D string, it sounded kind of boomy and too loud. A string was worse. He layed off the low E.

    I was sitting way to his right, but I walked over to see if the was better right in front of his amp. It was somewhat better -- presumably because the high frequencies are more directional.

    So, maybe he should have mic'ed his cabinet (he didn't, but he might have been into the board) and used the PA to achieve balance. There was a PA speaker facing right, and, I assume another one facing left.

    What I ended up thinking about was how people deal with getting a good sound all over the club.
    It is far from the first time that I found that the guitar sounded good where the guitarist was sitting, and awful elsewhere. I usually ask a musician in the audience, if possible, but nobody wants to be critical in that situation. They might comment on volume, but not usually EQ.

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  3. #2

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    Reinforcement through the PA is crucial, obviously, if you wish to have your sound evenly distributed throughout a space. That said, you should EQ your amp for the space as well. Sometimes it's better to pull out some lows from the amp and bring them back through the PA. A sound check with a long lead helps, or an understanding stage tech....

  4. #3

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    The situation you describe is all too common. My way of dealing with this was to avoid standing waves at all costs. I would use an open-back cabinet tilted back (I had a lightweight portable rig I assembled with a plastic step stool, a couple of ducting brackets, and some C-clamps) and aimed more or less at the opposite wall's ceiling/wall juncture. An SM-57 draped over a speaker fed the PA, and if I was singing, I angled my vocal mic so that if I moved to one side, the mic would be reading the amp, giving a slight boost to the amped guitar. The problem with these rooms is exacerbated by the fact that a 55hz A will have wave crests roughly 10' apart, depending on altitude, humidity, and so forth. If your walls are 20' apart, you're going to have a lot of room gain. I try always to set up at angles, so as to give the sound waves somewhere to go besides into a feedback loop. Of course, if their is FOH, I use my amp as a personal monitor, and let the soundperson do their job with a lighter, cleaner signal.
    Best regards, k

  5. #4

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    Did you ask the player what he thought of the sound? Sometimes it's what the player needs to play the way they do, and the way it sounds to you is different, but it can't be changed. Some players point their amps up a bit, some put an amp on a chair, but always it's what the player needs. That's not to say they don't care what it sounds like out there, it's just a matter of what they need first.

    Could you take a little stroll through the room at some point and hear the difference from different places and possibly offer your observations to the player? Some players would really find that valuable. It can mean a lot when you realize somebody likes your music and wants to be able to hear it clearly.

    Ha ha... or then again they might just say "Who is this guy?!"

    David

  6. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by citizenk74 View Post
    The situation you describe is all too common. My way of dealing with this was to avoid standing waves at all costs. I would use an open-back cabinet tilted back (I had a lightweight portable rig I assembled with a plastic step stool, a couple of ducting brackets, and some C-clamps) and aimed more or less at the opposite wall's ceiling/wall juncture. An SM-57 draped over a speaker fed the PA, and if I was singing, I angled my vocal mic so that if I moved to one side, the mic would be reading the amp, giving a slight boost to the amped guitar. The problem with these rooms is exacerbated by the fact that a 55hz A will have wave crests roughly 10' apart, depending on altitude, humidity, and so forth. If your walls are 20' apart, you're going to have a lot of room gain. I try always to set up at angles, so as to give the sound waves somewhere to go besides into a feedback loop. Of course, if their is FOH, I use my amp as a personal monitor, and let the soundperson do their job with a lighter, cleaner signal.
    You can't really avoid standing waves, they happen regardless of amp placement or direction, they are a function of the room's dimensions. You can, however, try to avoid the dreaded SBIR reflection which can cause certain frequencies to either dip or combine (boost). BTW, low A on a guitar is actually 110 hz, so the wavelengths are not as long as you imagine! (actually half).... As for draping a 57 over the amp, oh dear, the 57 is bad enough for jazz guitar, but one at 90 degrees off phase is missing a lot of detail. But hey, whatever blows yer hair back...
    Last edited by princeplanet; 11-23-2017 at 08:05 AM.

  7. #6

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    His sound would have spread more evenly into the 'wings'
    of the room with two speakers in a V shape probably ....

    Or ... tilt the one speaker up to the ceiling
    would help the spread a bit

    Guitar A string = 110hz = about 10' wavelenght

  8. #7

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    Through the amazing internet, there are sites available for calculating wavelengths. With sound, it's a slightly imprecise calculation, because the speed of the sound waves varies, depending on the temperature, altitude, etc, but at the distances being discussed, it's not going to be a big difference at all.

  9. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by TruthHertz View Post
    Did you ask the player what he thought of the sound? Sometimes it's what the player needs to play the way they do, and the way it sounds to you is different, but it can't be changed. Some players point their amps up a bit, some put an amp on a chair, but always it's what the player needs. That's not to say they don't care what it sounds like out there, it's just a matter of what they need first.

    Could you take a little stroll through the room at some point and hear the difference from different places and possibly offer your observations to the player? Some players would really find that valuable. It can mean a lot when you realize somebody likes your music and wants to be able to hear it clearly.

    Ha ha... or then again they might just say "Who is this guy?!"

    David
    I knew the player slightly. We jammed once or twice and he subbed for me in one of my bands.

    But, I'd have been reluctant to say anything that might even give the appearance of criticizing his tone. Reasons: apparently some players like that bassy tone more than I do; my hearing isn't perfect; but mostly because I don't want to hurt his feelings and my impression is that most guitarists are sensitive about their tone. And, it probably sounded okay where he was standing so fixing it required a sound man, and there wasn't one (sometimes there is at that club).

    I have played the same club and apparently will again -- so I'm thinking about what to do differently. If there's no soundman, probably nothing. I'll set the amp so it sounds good where I'm standing and hope for the best. I do put my amp on a stand, and I try to have it as far from me as I can (so I can hear the volume more in the context of the group rather than blasting myself). If there's a soundman, I can mic my amp and plug in if he's got an extra input. Not sure about that. Last time, there was a sound guy, but I didn't bring a mic and didn't bother to run a line out of my pedalboard into the sound board.

    My wife is perfectly willing to give me honest feedback about my tone -- and usually what I hear from her is that she couldn't hear my comping and my solo tone/volume was fine. There's a busy pianist, so maybe not hearing the guitar all that well is okay. The band leaders have never said anything about tone, just volume.

  10. #9

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    Get a pair of these:

    XVive Wireless System U2 Black - Thomann UK

    And wander around the room as you sound check.

    But yeah, a good pair of ears in the audience are invaluable.

    'On beam' is always going to be different to 'Off beam' - in small amps like AERs this is particularly the case.

  11. #10

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    Oh, I use a wedge, chair or amp stand to angle my amp most of the time...

    It's a difficult one, because then I am hearing the 'on beam' sound so at least I don't deafen everyone or have a super trebly sound out front. But my sound might still be very different in the audience to what it is on stage.

  12. #11

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    I attended a show by bluesman Joe Louis Walker here in Sydney about twenty years ago. At the time, he was touring with a second guitarist, Tom Rose who is a lovely guy and a great player. During the performance, I kept thinking what a terrible sound Tom had on stage. We hung after the gig and unprompted, the first thing he said to me was "Wow, that was just the best sound I've ever had up there!".

  13. #12

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    Scott Henderson said at soundchecks he plays into a looper, then lets it playback while he walks around the venue to see how it sounds and then makes adjustments to his sound.

  14. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by cosmic gumbo View Post
    Scott Henderson said at soundchecks he plays into a looper, then lets it playback while he walks around the venue to see how it sounds and then makes adjustments to his sound.
    Thanks! That's a great idea. My pedal board has that capability and I never thought to use it that way.

  15. #14

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    Tuck Andress has a whole long article about this on his website. IIRC he uses no amp on stage, going direct to the PA.
    Beauty is as close to terror as we can well endure. -Rainer Maria Rilke

  16. #15

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    Some venues just suck. Heck, I've played several that were in some kind of time-space vortex that defies all logic. They sound great one night but terrible the next. They sound good in one spot and awful in another. A crowd can drastically alter things too. I might sound awesome at a sound check when the place is empty. Then, at gig time when there's a full house, it's total crap. Or vice versa.

  17. #16

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    Bose L1 SYSTEM, either standard size or compact, distributes sound more evenly throughout room, or outdoors. Line array, more efficient, sounds about the same 10 feet away or 40 feet away, volume-wise. Very clinical and hi-fi sounding, so some processing is needed, either a tube mic preamp or multi-effects pedal. First time I heard one at Bose in Framingham, I sold all my conventional amps and PA equipment except for a small battery-amp for sailboat and garden party gigs, and have been using L1s ever since. The Compact model works very well for jazz guitar or nylon-string, even 7-string, once you've settled on your outboard processing: I use Digitech and Zoom stuff mostly, and ART or dbx mic pre with a tube if warranted. Other pluses include light weight, good customer support, and a microphone input for vocals or a horn-player sitting in, as well as a 1/4" out to go to the house PA in large situations, although rarely needed. I played Birdland with a quintet and the sound guy didn't put me into the house mix, he said the projection from the Bose was perfectly adequate. It also is self-monitoring, in that you set it behind you, and the whole band can hear it, with virtually no feedback.

  18. #17

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    Very few venues think about or know enough about acoustics to provide a good sound, so they have no treatments to mitigate hard reflective surfaces (wood, concrete, tile, or metal floors, walls, ceilings) and typically have a poor placement for stage or playing area with respect to the space based on non-acoustic preferences.

    Almost all sound problems have a threshold level below which they become non-problems, so the practical issue becomes how loud you can play before problems begin to arise. The real answer to this is, "Not very loud at all", which really means not using a PA system unless you have vocals, and then only the vocals through it... which really means playing in small venues at a level that allows patrons to converse normally at their tables. Fortunately for Jazz, this is the natural historic environment.

    Most bands play way too loud, and of the rest, most of those are still just playing too loud... musically, the primary mistake is to play too loud. No matter how talented the musicians, the patron response to too loud is, "Let's finish our drinks and get out of here."

    Ask yourself...

    How many times has your band been asked by the venue to turn down? ...to turn up?
    "Bent my ear to hear the tune and closed my eyes to see."

  19. #18

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    I agree. Too loud live music is very hard to tolerate.*

    And if the sound is poor, the solution is never to turn up.

    *Unless it's a rock gig in a proper gig venue, in which case it's appropriate.

  20. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by pauln View Post


    How many times has your band been asked by the venue to turn down? ...to turn up?
    Exactly the right question!

    It seems to me that you might be at the right volume if half the complaints are that you're too loud and the other half are that you're not loud enough. That applies to the individual player as well as the band.

    Maybe if you've never been asked to play louder, you're already playing pretty loud. I suppose it's possible that you've got it exactly right, but, more likely, you're on the loud side of neutral.

    I can't recall being on any gig ever where the band was asked to play louder. I've been on many when the band was asked to play softer. And, I've been on gigs where the leader didn't even bother to pass along the venue's request to the sidemen.