Grateful Dead Music Forum

A place to talk about the music of the Grateful Dead 

Chat about Equipment Info
 #85160  by JonnyBoy
 Fri Aug 13, 2010 1:20 pm
Usually when we are playing and getting loud or have to turn up, its to combat the drummers crashing his set. I am so glad we all want to be as quiet as possible in our band, I have played with others that think more watts the better, and it was always too loud for everyone. When I gig I will have my preamp at 2-3 and my MC50 at 1/2 way. As we get louder 3/4 of the way is max, maybe 35 watts and I notice we are too loud for people to really enjoy the music. We don't listen to our stereo that loud, so I never understood why people think playing that loud is enjoyable for the patrons. At this point, between songs we try to reign in the drummer, that always does the trick. There is no reason to break cymbals and toms playing rock n roll.
If guitars or other electric instruments are to blame and players insist on playing at that volume, that's a huge problem for your band and should be seriously addressed if you want a good sound playing bars and clubs. I can sympathize with drummers because it is not easy once you start getting off on the music to keep control, he doesn't have a vol knob, but any other instrument there is no excuse. You're either too loud and need to adjust or your not. Outdoor playing is different, along with big stages too, but open mics and bars just don't need big setups or loud playing to sound good.
 #85168  by SarnoMusicSolutions
 Fri Aug 13, 2010 4:29 pm
Snare drums in particular are dangerous instruments. Cymbals too. Snare drums are designed to be heard for miles away. It truly does take maturity and talent as a drummer to have restraint and control over that thing. It doesn't even take a lot of strength to bang on a snare louder than people want to hear it. Cymbals also often sound best when a drummer truly knows the cymbals and knows how to get the best sound out of them. It's very common for drummers to just pound with full force on those things making a sound way, way louder than is needed or appropriate.

 #85170  by tcsned
 Fri Aug 13, 2010 4:36 pm
SarnoMusicSolutions wrote:Snare drums in particular are dangerous instruments. Cymbals too. Snare drums are designed to be heard for miles away. It truly does take maturity and talent as a drummer to have restraint and control over that thing. It doesn't even take a lot of strength to bang on a snare louder than people want to hear it. Cymbals also often sound best when a drummer truly knows the cymbals and knows how to get the best sound out of them. It's very common for drummers to just pound with full force on those things making a sound way, way louder than is needed or appropriate.

As with any musical instrument good hands and control = good music. Snare drums just don't need an amp or a mic to be too much.
 #85187  by JonnyBoy
 Sat Aug 14, 2010 12:31 pm
Totally agree Brad. When we are trying to hash out a new song we cut our volume in half so we can talk to each other as we play, like" we're going to the Gmaj bridge.. NOW!"
We have a soundproof practice room, so things sound so much softer relative to a bar room. Our drummer is really good, sings most of the songs, he just feels the music too much, especially live in front of an audience. He already knows this.

We all had to laugh at our last gig when he actually said lets reign it in since the owner doesn't want this too loud, and we all wound up going full blast by the end of the song keeping up with his volume increase. The owner said, this is too loud for me and went home. Needless to say we anticipated it and had our vol pedals and knobs ready.

I stand right next to the crash and told him I'm gonna aim an E-120 on its own 100 watt amp at his head if he doesn't stop smacking it so hard at the end of songs! :smile:
Those crash cymbals can be killers...
 #85190  by aiq
 Sat Aug 14, 2010 1:55 pm
Very interesting thread.

I think you have to be loud to be heard/felt/exciting. The thing is what does one mean by loud? For me it means that four/five feet from the amp I sound a bit too loud in relation to the bass and drums but not so much that I can't hear one of the others.

Since my rig is pretty set and satisfying here's what I do. Guitar (SG w/classic 57's) volume dimed, into Sarno Black Box, pedals in a loop chain thru a Lehle, volume pedal at the end. Sort of external Jerry thing.

I put the volume pedal about half/three-fifths open and set the amp so that volume is good for comping and some leads. This is usually about 6 or so on my MM Vibrolux w/Weber neos. Then I have plenty if I dial it up some, based on listening to the others and the feel of the space.

My favorite players: Garcia, Allman, Trucks, Martino, played pretty damn loud when I heard them live.

I'd rather be a bit too loud and be heard than have people tell me later "you could've been louder in the mix".

Ya feel me?
 #85192  by JonnyBoy
 Sat Aug 14, 2010 2:58 pm
Being louder/lower in the mix is different than being too loud in general as a band. Of coarse we are all "Loud" relative to the jukebox. Playing a bar is not a concert, its a service for the patrons of a bar paid for by the Owner, or as far as I am concerned it is. Owners I've dealt with always want things as low as possible, they don't want people to leave due to the fact people can't talk to one another. Once they go home or leave (owners), the party really starts! :D

The point is, Most of us are not national acts. Once one starts playing shows at a theater or stadium or even a club set up especially for live entertainment, playing loud is a part of it, and we're happy to mic or crank it up when we get the chance to play larger venues. Again, Large stages and Outdoors are different situations than open mics/bars, which I believe was the original question. I think a level where people can order a drink and the bartender doesn't have to ask twice what you just ordered is a good level for big room bars. There is a bar here where they have a huge stage area separate than the bar, that is cool. You can get louder there without risking a loss of patrons and drinkers that spend money and in turn gets you asked back to play.

Don't get me wrong, I don't mind playing loud sometimes. Loud music is so powerful and intoxicating. its just that dynamics seem to fly out the window in a small place when we're loud. I really like dynamics, it makes us sound way more seasoned. :smile:
 #85196  by sants
 Sat Aug 14, 2010 4:29 pm
Damn guys! I think I'm going to sell my twin now!!!

This was a great read so far and it seems we all experience the same pains. I have a deluxe reverb reissue that I added a k120 to. It increased the headroom and improved the tone fairly well. My band only plays a few Dad tunes and mostly classic and some harder rock. There are times when the DRRI doesn't stay as clean as I would like so I could imagine what you are dealing with having the princeton. A great amp regardless! I ended up buying a vintage 65 twin reverb and having a head built for it and a ht style cab with jbl e120s. I played a festival last week and was able to run the twin around 6 and it was great. It also sounds great around 3.5 and that volume works well for most gigs I play. at that point it is no louder than my DR but more well rounded and defined.

I have some really important gigs coming up. One is an indoor beer festival and they want us to keep the volume down for the first part of the night. This is a big open place and we will be miked. The problem is our other guitar player is so damn loud as well as the drummer! I think the guitar player is seriously deaf because he is so much louder and has to constantly be told to turn down! I have been trying to convince myself to use the DR more but with that old twin it is kind of hard. The twin has a lot more going on overall dialing in a well rounded tone so it is hard for me to let it sit. Also there are times I want clean and I am breaking up a bit with the DR and the band isn't too loud. Our other guitarist went from an AC30 to 73 Pro Reverb so It can get a little hairy at times.

I love my twin in head and cab form but have been thinking about throwing it back into the original cab to utilize the tilt back legs so I have the sound shot at me more. I am just worried about using my DR and running out of room at a gig. I also can't stnad the thought of that twin sitting while the DRRI is being used.

I should also note that I love the way the Twin has a thicker tone to it and sounds a lot fuller. Not necessarily louder how I play but much fuller!

I would try what everyone has recommended and if you are still having issues try picking up a pro or twin reverb.
 #85206  by Cmnaround
 Sun Aug 15, 2010 7:32 am
SarnoMusicSolutions wrote:
The drummer loud thing is true. So often a drummer will start banging at 100% when things get exciting, and many of them will speed up too. Really good drummers know how to build intensity more musically and less bombastically. Sure there should be some intensification, but not too much. Shawn Colvin came to play in St. Louis at a pretty nice club. During sound check her drummer sat on stage, completely un-miked, and tapped on his snare at about 5 different levels from soft to loud. As soon as he hit the snare where he really heard it fill the room, he calibrated his brain and said "that's the hardest I'm gonna hit tonight". So he put a limit on things musically. He was amazing. Drums and cymbals never overpowered the stage or the system. That's serious musical maturity and made for an amazing stage sound for the others and the house.

Brad - well stated -this is the key point - musical maturity. And I find that it is not just drummers but guitar players that have way to big of a rig for the room they are playing, or just can't accept that they can get a decent sound out of that huge rig on a setting of 2 and not 8. If you are pushing 100 W through 2 JBLs and you are not at a venue with an elevated stage and a huge PA system - you're gonna be way too loud unless you turn way down.

We were practicing in a nice sound padded rehersal room at a drummers place and a guitar player showed up w a 100W 2x2 JBL set up and would always play at like 8+ and would still say things like "I'm not quite getting that same break up Jerry would get so I need to be louder". The Hammond player - with big pads of cotton sticking out of both ears - jokingly said ya know at big venues they put the amps backstage with a mic so you can crank it to get your sound and not kill the mix on stage - so guitar player looks at him and thinks he is serious and so he proposes moving his amp back into the bathroom where he can turn it up even louder and then mic it to run through the PA - which I remind y'all is a small 2x15 vocal set up on poles in a rehersal room.

Back to the main point of musical maturity - need to know your gear - know the room - and be aware of the dynamics of the sound. What is most important is the overall house mix of the entire band - what everyone hears who is there to listen to the music. If you can't hear it exactly the way you want from your perspective it's probably because that is a really hard balance to get without cooperation from the whole band. Needs to be some give on the part of players to loose a little on their personal sound experience so the whole band can sound better. Take that to the extreme and what the dead eventually did was plug in direct to the PA and with the help of a huge sound crew were able to mix it all up right and have it pretty quiet on stage. Puts things into perspective when the gig in question is a bar or small club. Better to focus on playing together in a cohesive way that to just blast it - mastering that is indeed musical maturity.
 #85209  by DeadlyHeptet
 Sun Aug 15, 2010 9:52 am
Jerry didn't always play huge and clean. Certainly true at some point, but earlier in his career he didn't and that is still some of my favorite stuff. Listen to Anthem. That is not "clean", it sounds like a tube amp being pushed and screaming. His picking was always clean and dynamic so it didn't sound overly distorted like it might with some players approach, but clean, no way. Seems a DR would cover that same ground for most people here seeing as most are likely not playing the same size venues. I like the fact that there is some dynamic range with the DR. You can control a lot of of tones from clean to overdriven with just your hands and the volume control.
 #85211  by SarnoMusicSolutions
 Sun Aug 15, 2010 10:11 am

Jerry's change from tube power in '72 to transistor power in '73 was a radical shift and change for the overall sound of the band. They went from fairly grungy to sparkly hi-fi clean. A lot of people didn't care for this loss of power tube warmth and grit and guitar sustain. Some thought the band lost its "rock and roll". Many of us, of course, loved their different and "new direction" (nod to Spinal Tap).

 #85212  by aiq
 Sun Aug 15, 2010 11:08 am
I like the sparkley hi-fi sound but I LOVE the MAch 1 Grateful Dead instrumental sound. For sound but also because they jammed/improvised more.

I've been listening to Live/Dead all week...damn.

Anyone remember the old Cerwin Vega stickers "Loud is beautiful if it's Clean"?
 #85215  by sants
 Sun Aug 15, 2010 2:10 pm
JonnyBoy wrote:SANTS : are you playing, "Top of the Hops" ?
Nope. It is called SIP Fest at Canal St. Pub in Reading, PA. Basically a huge all you can eat and drink Firkin fest with some great beer!
 #85226  by strumminsix
 Mon Aug 16, 2010 8:04 am
Something to consider with distance is disbursement.

Played a gig this weekend with my upgraded PA which now offers stereo mains (and I do stereo monitors too) and learned a few new things:

1. You can control PA monitor stage volume by properly panning vocals so whoever is singing can hear themselves louder
2. The more distance you put between yourself and the amp the more it disperses which results in hearing your bandmates louder and wanting to turn up

Regarding point #1 as I have our vocalists panned (myself and our Jerry) I had our monitors lower than usual and we all heard great all night long. Plus our "friends and family" table said it sounded so much clearer with separation.