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  1. #1

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    Out of curiosity . I was just thinking about terms like " loud enough for a small club gig/great volume for a jazz trio" and wondering what that might mean. I was just testing my new Quilter Micro Block 45 and with my setup the sweet spot of tone/volume combo measured with the Niosh Slm app on my Iphone at my sitting position with the speaker approx 6' away was around 75 db to 85 db depending on what was being played. I had room to get louder - I measured up to 97 db but things were staring to sound a bit harsh and perhaps needing more fineness in playing touch and control adjustment .

    Question - have you measured your db level say in a small club trio setting or small/medium room solo setting at the location where you are sitting ? What is considered a normal range if there is such a thing?

    Will

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  3. #2

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    My philosophy is to play as low as is appropriate, not just for jazz, but for all the music styles I perform. The particular level varies depending on the style, the instrumentation of the band, the venue, and the audience. No matter how good the music, too loud will spoil everything.

    The 75-85dB is a good range for jazz bands without horns playing background for wine clubs and restaurant brunches where the lower end of that range is about right; however, for bands with a horn player, or where the central focus is on the band as a show performance, the upper end of that range and maybe a little louder may be more appropriate, and large bands with horn sections will be even louder at some moments. Keep in mind that measuring sound pressure level playing alone in a quiet room would be different from measuring sound level in a noisy venue while playing with others.

    As a guitarist you already know that you just can't set your volume and leave it; different tunes and your parts in tunes need adjustment. The "jazz way" for guitar is basically aiming to slightly undershoot your volume level, listen as you play, and adjust up if needed. This is why you see the guitarists touching their volume control before and a few seconds after starting a song, starting a solo, and resuming accompaniment - one of the worst sounds in jazz guitar is to initially overshoot your level to the point you have to turn it down.

    To determine the proper level for a small/medium club venue, look where the audience is placing themselves when you play. If they crowd the back of the place and no people are up front... too loud. You want to offer them a gradient so those that want to listen loud can be up front while those that want to be able to talk can go to the back... just notice and adjust. You don't have to measure level, calculate room acoustics, or estimate audience response - just let the audience show you directly by their choice of distance from the band... you are pleasing the most people when the spread from close to far back is fairly even.
    "Bent my ear to hear the tune and closed my eyes to see."

  4. #3

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    It really depends on a bunch of things other than actual db levels. First is the actual room and if you're being miched into the p.a. system,monitors.
    Second what is the instrumentation, and type of music I'm being asked to play

    If the drummer hits really hard,and there's all electric instruments.Am I expected to play to the room and the band with out being miched.
    I usually only play my Elferink Tonemaster archtop on more acoustic type of instrumentation gig and usually a Jazz Stds.gig and use my Quilter Aviator 1x8" combo.
    If it's a louder Jump Swing then I play a laminate, usually a Gibson Thin line and use my Quilter Aviator amp with 1 or 2 x12" cabinet

    If I'm expected to cover all styles and it might get real loud,then I use either my Gibson ES-339 or my G&L Asat Thin line. And run 100 watt Quilter Aviator into a 2x12" cab.

  5. #4

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    Yes.. philosophy and taste matter. However, can't we be a little more specific about an actual measurement? Db has limitations. Unless we're using the same kind of noise, same room attenuation, et al, it's certainly imprecise. But it's still an interesting number. Haven't measured but now I think I will.
    Hell is full of musical amateurs - George Bernard Shaw

  6. #5

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    Maybe I should try and measure, I'm curious. I always try to not play particularly loud after I had such a pleasant experience with Mike Stern & Jan Gunnar Hoff trio and their very low volume.
    ...But I'm a guitar player and I love rock n roll. It's really fun to tear the house down

  7. #6

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    Thanks for the responses. I understand there are subjective and circumstantial issues at play and that makes perfect sense in terms of deciding how to respond to the situation at hand.

    I would still appreciate if anyone has the inclination to measure DB's let me know what you turn up.

    Will

  8. #7

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    I have nothing of value to contribute but an observation only because i came home from a local event more upset then i ever been about this..Maybe 150 to 200 people most i consider friends including band members.Ive been asked often to set in with.But never have.These guys have been playing awhile together they have the means to have top notch equipment and i left early because they were to loud i was so insanely up set.That Collins acoustic is one of those instruments that when you hear it strummed you are drawn to it like with out realizing its in your lap and its the only thing in existence.The bass the, cajon, beautiful instruments .All of it trashed because of one thing to loud.Are people conditioned to except this hope not. A few stepped out side so they could enjoy the music.I will never play with these guys.Maybe a mixer then if they will i can helm that.I came home to this thread an out let to my lack of sleep frustration.Thanks for listening back to you who know so well my mood.

  9. #8

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    That’s a good idea! I should probably measure the Db’s.....

    There’s a certain level - usually with stick drums - I find with my guitar where I really need to think about changing technique. Strings start resonating on their own and so on, and muting becomes a strong consideration.

  10. #9

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    I played in a local blues jam for awhile. I wasn't particularly drawn to the music they preferred, Allman Bros type stuff, but it was music. I just couldn't stand the volume. I was using earplugs the last few times I went, and it was still too loud for me. The drummer was close to deaf, and admitted it, but he hit them as hard as he could, and so everyone else cranked it up, and there would be half a dozen guitars wailing away. It became painful to me. My Little Jazz could keep up, mostly because I was in a slightly different sonic area than the Fender/Katana/clone amps and Strats, but I quit because I just didn't like coming home with ringing ears and a headache. I'm sure the dB level was way over 100, and that's just too loud to be acceptable. The bar wasn't that big, and the crowd had fewer people than the band, so it wasn't necessary, but the drummer drove the volume.

  11. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77 View Post
    That’s a good idea! I should probably measure the Db’s.....

    There’s a certain level - usually with stick drums - I find with my guitar where I really need to think about changing technique. Strings start resonating on their own and so on, and muting becomes a strong consideration.
    That's what I was noticing as well. There seemed a point where the level was such that my go to technique started to come apart.

  12. #11

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    I have never measured the dB of my gigs, but some of them get really quite loud.

    I'm very mindful of volume now as six months ago due to labyrinthitis I have permanently lost most of my hearing in one ear, so obviously I have to protect what I have left.

    There's a certain volume level where archtops just don't sound good. Even with judicious EQing they're boomy and hard to control.

    I also notice my technique falls apart at higher volumes. Simply put, I just don't play very well.

    The ideal volume level is where I can still hear the acoustic sound of an archtop slightly over the electric sound. It's rare to find a venue where such a situation actually occurs...

  13. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by entresz View Post
    The ideal volume level is where I can still hear the acoustic sound of an archtop slightly over the electric sound. It's rare to find a venue where such a situation actually occurs...
    It's called your living room...

  14. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by entresz View Post
    I have never measured the dB of my gigs, but some of them get really quite loud.

    I'm very mindful of volume now as six months ago due to labyrinthitis I have permanently lost most of my hearing in one ear, so obviously I have to protect what I have left.

    There's a certain volume level where archtops just don't sound good. Even with judicious EQing they're boomy and hard to control.

    I also notice my technique falls apart at higher volumes. Simply put, I just don't play very well.

    The ideal volume level is where I can still hear the acoustic sound of an archtop slightly over the electric sound. It's rare to find a venue where such a situation actually occurs...
    So sorry, Labyrinthitis is horrendous, I had it last year. I don’t think it’s affected my hearing though.

  15. #14
    I find its not only a matter of DBs, as every style of music has its own suitable volume level and dynamics. So when things are too loud on a jazz or acoustic type of gig, the feel is wrong, and it becomes impossible to play right. I often wear earplugs at gigs not just to spare me a few dbs, but to turn the music feel back to where it should be, that is jazz being jazz, blues being blues, acoustic guitar, etc..

    Often it's the club or soundman and not the musicians that are responsible for that, but it can be the players too. Especially if they've been playing other, louder styles as well for years without ear protection. I mean, I've done seasons of 4 hour shows (a little of everything music style), wearing 25 db molded earplugs, where most of the other musicians didn't use earplugs, and it was still freaking loud! I sure understand why ear monitoring became the thing!

    That's why laminates are a thing. Or semis. A carved, solid wood archtop can be unplayable on the wrong gig..

  16. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77 View Post
    So sorry, Labyrinthitis is horrendous, I had it last year. I don’t think it’s affected my hearing though.
    Christian, that's so good your hearing wasn't damaged.
    Initially my right ear was completely deaf, but about 40-50% of the hearing returned, but it's kind of uneven sounding, very muddy and garbled.
    Not great for a 26 year old jazz guitarist but makes me appreciate playing music all the more. With time I'm hoping it'll gradually improve :-)