Trouble balancing instruments

Trouble balancing instruments

Postby Stevo123 » Thu Apr 22, 2010 1:40 pm

So I've been playing a lot with a group of people lately: drums, bass, myself (guitar), and 2 other guitarists. We do a lot of heavy jam stuff. The problem is we're having trouble getting a good balance. The 3 guitar thing is actually really cool a lot of the time. They are very good musicians and a lot of fun to play with. They play with a lot of distortion and do a lot of trading off of licks. They're both really into scooping their mids and playing with heavy bass. On the other hand, I cut my bass fairly heavily to keep my tone bright and clean. Certain recordings sound phenomenal when we manage to get the levels right but it's a recurring problem that I tend to get buried in the mix. As dominant as they usually are, they often claim they still can't hear themselves. A lot of times it ends up where everyone has trouble hearing anything period. I don't know much about the science of sound but it seems to me that the heavy bass all around might be the cause of this. Is this off base?
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Re: Trouble balancing instruments

Postby Tennessee Jedi » Thu Apr 22, 2010 1:46 pm

I dont know but with guitars
1) I dont like amps aimed at me .... I know my amp is a killer :cool: It leads to volume wars.
2) guitars that are all distorted seem to cancel out each other sometimes .... could it be they are all too similar in their sounds And tones ?
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Re: Trouble balancing instruments

Postby strumminsix » Thu Apr 22, 2010 1:55 pm

"They're both really into scooping their mids and playing with heavy bass. "

^^^ This is your problem ^^^

A guitar is a midrange instrument. Cutting mids + heavy bass + distortion = massive volume requirement + tons of mud + lacking instrument clarity.

Tell your bandmates to learn how voice a guitars so they sound like guitars and cut back on the OD. Some of the most famous "heavy metal" guys actually are much lower gain than most think they are.

Your cutting of your lows is perfect! Bravo! You are keeping your signal clean of mud and out of the bassist's range and when you start playing with a keyboardist you and he will mesh well together! Keep up the good work!
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Re: Trouble balancing instruments

Postby myoung6923 » Thu Apr 22, 2010 2:02 pm

Also - 3 guitars really is a trick to keep them from stepping all over each other & turning the whole thing into chaos.

The guitars should for the most part - have clearly distinct tones from each other AND be playing totally different chord voicings, riffs and rhythms. There really isn't any need for 2 guitars to be playing the same thing - they'll just sound cluttered. Also - no need for the guitars to have the same sound - again, it will make everything turn to mush.
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Re: Trouble balancing instruments

Postby Stevo123 » Thu Apr 22, 2010 2:23 pm

Cool, thanks for the input! I just confirmed it by playing some tracks through windows media player and messing with the 10 band eq. As soon as I boosted the mids I go from barely audible to just underneath the other guitarists! Sounds better overall too lol. Looks like that's the conversation that needs to happen then. Thanks!
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Re: Trouble balancing instruments

Postby Stone » Thu Apr 22, 2010 3:16 pm

3 Guitars ...that can be a PITA. Getting a tone that works with the band and cuts thru the mix can be tough. Especially if you guys are playing similar gear. A few key points to keep vol , tone and patience wars to a minimum.

1. Point your speakers at your head and not the back of your ankles. (it might sound right to u but could be peeling the paint off the walls on the other side of the room...lol
2. Maybe throw in a acoustic guitar to break up the sounds a bit.
3. Every time u add a member everyone has to play less.
4. less is more.
5. listen listen listen to the guys around u.
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Re: Trouble balancing instruments

Postby Stevo123 » Thu Apr 22, 2010 4:18 pm

I'm pretty sure it's gonna work out great once they roll off the bass. I'm gonna have no problem cutting through the mix since I play clean. They do a great job playing off of each other and harmonizing each other's leads on the spot etc. which is a very cool thing. They can melt faces pretty much, lol. We're playing tonight and we're gonna try working out some tone stuff and see how it goes. I'm very optimistic. I'll post tomorrow about how it went.
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Re: Trouble balancing instruments

Postby Stevo123 » Fri Apr 23, 2010 10:37 am

Wow, talk about night and day. One of the other guys was playing with his bass on 9! On a bassy marshall amp too. No wonder! We backed him off to 1, he was still satisfied with his tone, and we could hear each other beautifully lol. I was able to hear the kick drum for the first time in a while, which was nice! lol
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Re: Trouble balancing instruments

Postby RiverRat » Fri Apr 23, 2010 6:51 pm

How big is the room you're playing in?

Low end can be a real problem with small rooms... You need to put bass traps in the corners to absorb some of the energy. Point the speakers up and at your ears does give a musician a better shot at hearing his own rig BUT that does little for improving the room sound. It actually will make things worse depending on what you have for floors and ceilings.

Emoto has a fairly small rehearsal space in his house, he installed some rigid fiberglass traps and it has done wonders. Even thinking about adding some more to make it more manageable.

Try checking out Gearslutz, Homerecording or John Sayer's web site for info on how to acoustically treat a room.
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