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Playing on stage is quite different...

Chris98

Senior Member
Messages
1,076
Last night I played a gig with the Swing Band I belong to, it’s the first real gig I’ve done, on stage, looking smart (ish) with stage lighting and so on. Our audience were from the old people’s homes (is that politically correct?) and I have to admit to being rather nervous. I was on the end of the front row playing second tenor next to the PA and had instruction as to what to do in the event of feedback.

For rehearsals we are in a good-sized function room with high ceilings and the acoustics mean that we have reasonably good reverberation and a general feeling of how the band sounds. However on the stage last night I was taken by surprise at the lack of what I could hear of the rest of the band. The audience could clearly hear us so we must have projected reasonably well and had the assistance of the PA but as a player I found this lack of stage sound quite disconcerting and had to really concentrate to ensure I was with everyone else. I did have the trombone players directly behind me so I could clearly hear what they were playing at least!

Has anyone else noticed this and is it something that with more experience you get used to?

All the best,

Chris
 

Jules

Formerly known as "nachoman"
Messages
4,483
Location
brighton by the sea
Yup- live sound is pretty much always a compromise. From my experience it's very rare indeed that things sound balanced- or to be exact- sound like a full band sounds out front. Your best option is to get a firm idea of what you really need to be able to hear to function and press for that in the monitors (assuming you've got monitoring..?). For me -as long as I've got drums and the other sax in audible everythnig else is a luxury!
 

Linky Lee

Member
Messages
182
Location
Salisbury, UK
As Nachoman has eluded too live sound is unpredictable and messy.

I always found the trombones were good to be able to hear as a tenor player, quite a lot of your cues come from them or you're playing in unison/harmony in a lot of big band arrangements.

As long as you can hear something to give you the beat (bass or drums preferably) and another instrument to pitch against (preferably one you're sure is going to be right, like the piano) you can get by.

The law of live sound is that you'll hear the drums and only the few people around you and yourself rather quietly with a lot of muddy mushy noise coming from other areas of the stage. - This is including the exception of having an electric guitarist in the band. Or worse, guitarists.

I've never experienced a 'balanced' sound on stage.
 

Mikey B

Member
Messages
181
Location
South Devon
worst of all is the lead guitarist!!! Always manages to get louder and louder as the gig progresses until thats all you can hear!

Mike.
 

Jules

Formerly known as "nachoman"
Messages
4,483
Location
brighton by the sea
worst of all is the lead guitarist!!! Always manages to get louder and louder as the gig progresses until thats all you can hear!

Mike.
Goes without saying! That's the great thing about playing in a 1950s style R&B band- clean guitar sound with very little drive, distortion or effects of any kind (except for an occasional boost for solos & a bit of slap back rockabilly-ish echo). The guitar really doesn't "fill up a lot of space", sound wise, in that type of music... blissful
 

losaavedra

Member
Messages
392
Location
Rojales, Spain
You guys ain't lived 'til you done a few gigs with bottles, glasses, and other stuff bouncing off the back wall immediately behind you whilst you'se a playin' (the Blues Brothers had it easy in that respect ... we never had none 'a that protectin' chicken wire!), let alone the fights immediately in front of the stage!!! Can't say it bothered me too much (just played louder!) ... any case our drummer was nearest the wall and he never seemed to notice nothin'. Oh, an' this was in the UK rather a lot o' years ago, not the Deep South o' somewhere ... great times though ... miss 'em a lot!

ps. I can do English better than this .. but the dialect seemed more appropriate to the subject!!!!
 
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Taz

Busking Oracle
Messages
3,632
Location
Rugby UK
I have found that if a gig gets too loud, pop in some ear plugs. It might sound daft, but everything sounds so much clearer. You hear yourself much more clearly because the sound of the sax comes from within, and everything else is subdued.Try it sometime!
 

Jules

Formerly known as "nachoman"
Messages
4,483
Location
brighton by the sea
You guys ain't lived 'til you done a few gigs with bottles, glasses, and other stuff bouncing off the back wall immediately behind you whilst you'se a playin' (the Blues Brothers had it easy in that respect ... we never had none 'a that protectin' chicken wire!), let alone the fights immediately in front of the stage!!! Can't say it bothered me too much (just played louder!) ... any case our drummer was nearest the wall and he never seemed to notice nothin'. Oh, an' this was in the UK rather a lot o' years ago, not the Deep South o' somewhere ... great times though ... miss 'em a lot!

ps. I can do English better than this .. but the dialect seemed more appropriate to the subject!!!!
....yup, been there.... several times... Sarf London's 'good' fpr gigs like that.
"can we move our van?".. "No, we're still trying to get get a good fingerprint off the blood stain on the bonnet" ..."Er...yeesh"
 
OP
Chris98

Chris98

Senior Member
Messages
1,076
Our audience was very polite and we managed to play our set without the need to protect ourselves from projectiles! Unusually for a guitarist ours doesn't seem to feel the urge to instigate a volume war, which is just as well as his Vox amp with two 12inch speakers could easily win the battle with just a few power chords!

I guess the stage sound is just something to get used to, we have no monitor speakers so there was no opportunity to adjust a mix. All good experience though and I'll be better prepared next time, it just through me a bit as I wasn't expecting it, and it was my first gig like that.

All the best,

Chris
 

Taz

Busking Oracle
Messages
3,632
Location
Rugby UK
The most important thing to remember is to have fun. If your not having fun you won't sound your best.
 

fluterer

New Member
Messages
12
Location
Bodmin Moor, Cornwall
Agreed

My "Rules for gigs" are basically

1. If I'm not enjoying myself how the hell can I expect anyone else to enjoy it
2. If I'm not completely knackered at the end then I didn't try hard enough
3. Do the band get free drinks?
 

Moz

Senior Member
Messages
841
Location
North of Liskeard, Cornwall,UK
I have found that if a gig gets too loud, pop in some ear plugs. It might sound daft, but everything sounds so much clearer. You hear yourself much more clearly because the sound of the sax comes from within, and everything else is subdued.Try it sometime!
Oh yes. My band is very loud and I suffer from 'clipping' in as much as once the music gets to a certain level it ceases to make any sense to me. I use earplugs to bring the overall level down and everything becomes clear again. I used to use motorcycle earplugs but these tend to muffle everything but I discovered that they actually make earplugs for musicians. The ones I use cost about eight pounds a pair (but of course are fully reuseable). If you want to try the principle out then buy a pair of motorcycle earplugs at about 50p a pair or you can buy earplugs from Boots the Chemist at two quid for three pairs or thereabouts.


One other thing I noticed is that when playing a sax in a noisy environment I appear sometimes to be playing flat. Don't be tempted to sharpen up as a listener out front may well hear you playing off-tune.

Cheers

Martin
 

Richard Perks

Member
Messages
165
Location
Nanaimo BC Canada
Quote [I guess the stage sound is just something to get used to, we have no monitor speakers so there was no opportunity to adjust a mix.] Quote

At one time the band I was with put the main speakers slightly behind us.... then if you don't get feedback you are playing at the right volume. This band did not have monitors either so we needed to hear what the output sound was.
 

dooce

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,417
Location
Daventry
The best bit of kit I have used on stage is one of those nice simple perspex sound reflectors that surround the mic, although of course that stops you using a clip-on or wireless mic - and does nothing to help me hear the poor old singer trying to bellow over the crashing din of a badly-played Gibson Les Paul......
 
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