Stage Volume

Stage Volume

Postby chipperj » Wed Mar 06, 2013 4:42 pm

I can't seem to find much on this subject here.. just drips and drabs.

Have any of you lead players found any tricks to managing your stage volume so that your good and loud during solos, but your bandmates don't want to kill you? It seems whenever I try to get in the same balance Garcia had, I'm a dead man- and not in a good way. This is probably only an issue on smaller stages, where amps aren't mic'd. (I realize it's possible Jerry's mates thought he was too loud, and I realize soundmen can be bribed). :-)
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Re: Stage Volume

Postby tcsned » Wed Mar 06, 2013 5:00 pm

It's a tough balance. Being loud enough so that your not just hacking as hard as you can and losing subtleties and being so blisteringly loud that you hurt yourself much less everyone else within 100 yards. Placement of your amp can help, if your speaker cab is on the ground it's not pointing at your ears . . . unless your ears are in your ass (I've been accused of having my head there . . .) If you use a combo amp, get a stand for it or put it on a chair to get it pointed in your direction. If you have a speaker cab tilt it back or lift it up. You don't want to be out of balance with the volume of everything else on stage or else you're just listening to yourself and not the other players which may be more important to making good music. Loud is cool, louder than everyone else is not so cool.
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Re: Stage Volume

Postby ricepr » Wed Mar 06, 2013 5:26 pm

short answer - NO

long answer - it depends a lot on the drummer. Also using modelers direct instead of amps, or even having gitfiddlers pointing their amp at their own head instead of their knees, and micing the amps, those things help. But if the drummer is a caveman noone else is hearing anything. Unless Bam-Bam uses edrums

Oh and turn yer dirt pedal off after the solo sometime :-)
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Re: Stage Volume

Postby myoung6923 » Wed Mar 06, 2013 7:29 pm

Yeah - it's always a tough balance. Doing the Jerry parts, I try to be prominent in the mix like Jerry was, but often it ends up causing others to turn up and the volume ratchets up. As a "Jerry" guy, You don't want to be thin in the mix - at least if the goal is to try to sound somewhat like the Dead.

Some of it does depend on the drummer as well as the rhythm guitarist. If either of them are very loud, then your instinct is to get louder to get back up on top of the mix. I guess the trick is to get others to turn down so that you can turn down too - but that's a tough thing to do sometimes and doesn't always go over so well.

So many rhythm guitarists aren't really playing the Bobby parts and just get to flailing away on strumming full barre chords. Add some significant volume to that kind of flailing rhythm and you have a wall of sound to overcome as the lead guitarist. That can make a volume competition all on it's own - you turn up to sound right in the mix - he turns up too........ Bobby's rhythms were so nice - they filled spaces so nicely. You pretty much never saw Bobby flailing away strumming on barre chords. He was always playing small triads, little riffs - real nice chops - never shredding and wailing away. He always seemed to appropriately play AROUND what Jerry was doing - not the other way around.

Maybe the thing to do is to have a discussion with everybody in the band - all together - so that you can all agree on what mix you are all going for - and how the Dead did it (assuming that is the goal). I know, easier said than done...
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Re: Stage Volume

Postby Poor Peter » Wed Mar 06, 2013 9:06 pm

I tilt my cab up and when needed, I stand right in that sweet spot where I can hear everything I want to hear. Then I wait for the drummer to tell me he cant hear me and I tell him to quit playing so damn loud if he wants to hear me because I ain't turning up. I know our sound man has me right where I need to be out front. I know that sounds a little arrogant, but 9 out of 10 times it works because I know he needs to hear me or he comes across as the one that keeps screwing things up.And we all know what kind of egos musicians can have. Sometimes we wind up sacraficing a tune, sometimes two, but before too long we get a nice stage volume and then, Jed's a millionaire.
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Re: Stage Volume

Postby strumminsix » Thu Mar 07, 2013 6:28 am

IMO... Different amps for coherent settings.

Small rooms use a deluxe reverb, large room Twin.

I see Jerry guys with BIG STAGE rigs that just don't translate well to a small corner of a sports bar gig.
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Re: Stage Volume

Postby playingdead » Thu Mar 07, 2013 7:58 am

Get your guitar into a monitor in front of you instead of behind you, so you can hear yourself without turning up. You can do that by miking your amp and having the soundman just put it into the vocal monitors even if it's not in the house mix, or by putting your amp in front of you tilted back.

Big Garcia rigs do not work well on small stages. They don't work so well on medium stages, either, in my experience, they are just too loud and the JBLs too focused to hear from where you are standing in front of the cabinet without turning them up and shredding everyone's eardrums. Then everyone turns up to hear themselves. It's a losing battle. When I started going direct, our stage volumes dropped and everyone's playing and dynamics improved. Garcia's rig was designed to be used on big open stages with 20,000 watts of PA around it. When your guitar rig is the loudest thing on the stage, no one is going to be able to hear. If your ears are ringing at the end of the night, you are too loud.

If you listen to any GD soundboard you will notice that Garcia's guitar blends very well with everything around it and there is not huge and dramatic boost in volume when he plays a solo. He controlled his dynamics a lot with his picking hand and he would make fine adjustments on his volume pot constantly, but it was never like he reached down and dimed his volume control and suddenly got super loud. You should try to think about it in the terms of jazz, not rock 'n roll ... Coltrane's or Miles' horns weren't any louder or softer during a gig or a recording session because they didn't have volume controls to adjust. They played dynamically. There is no volume control on an acoustic piano or a set of drums. It's about your touch and your fellow musicians giving room in the mix for you.

Once it becomes about "I have to be able to hear myself" you're already in trouble.
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Re: Stage Volume

Postby tcsned » Thu Mar 07, 2013 8:29 am

That's some good advice Vic. Of course, if you're using a single monitor mix it could be difficult to have yourself in the monitor. We use one monitor mix and also run sound from the stage 9 times out of 10 so we get the mix sounding reasonable and rely on everyone to listen to their own balance and not get too far out in front of the rest using your hands . . . And leave your volume knob alone for the most part. I need to be able to hear myself but it's more important to hear my bandmates or else your not interacting which is kind of the point of Dead music. If you start from the premise that you need to hear others at least as much as yourself then it's a lot easier.

I play in a bluegrass band and we use one maybe two mics and usually no monitors unless we're in a crowd volume situation. We rarely have trouble hearing because no one is loud . . . other than the banjo :lol:
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Re: Stage Volume

Postby Tennessee Jedi » Thu Mar 07, 2013 8:35 am

chipperj wrote: (I realize it's possible Jerry's mates thought he was too loud,

Image
:-)
I'm pretty inexperienced and fall into some bad habits sometimes
I dont like to be too close to my amp and I dont like my amp on the ground
I despise jamming with others who have their amps aimed at me and I dont like my amp to be aimed at others - in regard to playing levels .....
I need to be loud enough to interact but not dominate ... not always easy to do when you are noodling behind vocals like on a tune like 'Uncle .... or Looks Like Rain
We play Dead 'cuase we like jamming but its the vocals that should be out front IMHO and go from there
lots of good ideas in this thread
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Re: Stage Volume

Postby tcsned » Thu Mar 07, 2013 8:38 am

Image
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Re: Stage Volume

Postby strumminsix » Thu Mar 07, 2013 9:09 am

playingdead wrote:Get your guitar into a monitor in front of you instead of behind you,

Once it becomes about "I have to be able to hear myself" you're already in trouble.

Lots of GREAT info in your post, PD. Sorry to cut out the guts but I think it's worth restating 2 of your key points!!!

The only thing my earlier post could add would be - folks need to be scalable and not loud to get "your tone". You do it with an Axe, others ElevenRack, others Line6/POD, I like different amps, etc. Either way, scalable rig with effective monitoring, and proper stage blend and house blend!!
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Re: Stage Volume

Postby tigerstrat » Thu Mar 07, 2013 10:05 am

Reality Check indeed, haha!! Bravo

Your amp should always be louder to your own ears than to anyone else's, so point it at your own head and no one else's. One thing I can't stand is to see two guys trading spots and standing in front of each other's amp, or someone standing behind me and blocking my amp.

I cannot abide trying to hear my guitar in a monitor.

For solo volume, keep some rotation to spare in your guitar's vol. pot and don't forget to roll it back after the solo!
Last edited by tigerstrat on Thu Mar 07, 2013 12:20 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Stage Volume

Postby Rusty the Scoob » Thu Mar 07, 2013 10:37 am

Tennessee Jedi wrote:
chipperj wrote: (I realize it's possible Jerry's mates thought he was too loud,

Image
:-)
I'm pretty inexperienced and fall into some bad habits sometimes
I dont like to be too close to my amp and I dont like my amp on the ground
I despise jamming with others who have their amps aimed at me and I dont like my amp to be aimed at others - in regard to playing levels .....
I need to be loud enough to interact but not dominate ... not always easy to do when you are noodling behind vocals like on a tune like 'Uncle .... or Looks Like Rain
We play Dead 'cuase we like jamming but its the vocals that should be out front IMHO and go from there
lots of good ideas in this thread


A lot of getting a good mix is what you play and when - when there are vocals happening, don't play anything distracting. When somebody's soloing, make sure you're playing something that's a supportive role rather than an attention-grabbing one.

Also make sure your tone is clear, muddy tones and lack of communicative interplay create far more "volume" wars than actual decibel-level issues IMHO.
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Re: Stage Volume

Postby tcsned » Thu Mar 07, 2013 11:03 am

Nothing beats situational awareness. Putting your head down and hacking away, which I am guilty of at times, forces others to play to you not everyone playing together. Even when you're "soloing" you gotta make space for the other instruments to have something to play. A lot of my favorite Jerry stuff was leading from behind, letting the others, especially Phil, set up a section and then find a way in and work in the ebbs and flows of the groove. Overall volume is a big part of it but playing dynamics and note selection are more important. I like to be loud enough that I can get over the top when appropriate but don't play at that level from the get go or you've got nowhere to go and grow.

It's been nice using the MC2100, it sounds good at a fairly low volume but even when cranked doesn't get painful.
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Re: Stage Volume

Postby Tennessee Jedi » Thu Mar 07, 2013 11:25 am


This is me .... hacking thru Althea at practice but trying to keep the volume under control - when there are vocals I do try to simplify my parts - and in backing the keys solo Im just chirping a percussive rhythm
I like to be at 5 ft from my lil 1 x 12 .... helps me blend with the band better I think
I'm still learning ....
:cheers:
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