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does anyone else not like mic-ing up amps when playing live?

G'OlPeachPhan

Member
Messages
1,298
Lots of good discussion in this thread! Depends a bit on genre, but for smaller/intimate venues I think the mix is often best served by running only vocals and/or acoustic instruments (not drums) through the pa. For larger venues, the whole point of using a PA is better dispersion to provide a more consistent listening experience no matter where you are seated, but unfortunately this has become synonymous with inescapable deafening volume, defeating the merits of the PA by creating more phase cancellations along with the insane volume... Not much can be done there except wait and hope for change.

One suggestion to making better friends with a PA when required as a guitar player, is to take matters into your own hands... Spend the time and money to find a mic and mic position that you feel does a good job of representing your sound through the PA. Lots of guitar players spend hundreds of hours (and dollars) fretting (pun ;))over what guitar, amp, and pedals to use for their tone, and completely neglect mic choice. If you’re serious about sounding good through the PA, consider buying your own mic of choice, carry it with you when needed, and be well-prepared to use it... I mean, you can hang that crusty old sm57 by the cable wherever in front of the grill and hope for the best (if you insist on something like that, at least use a mic that’s designed to sound decent that way, like an e609), but you’re probably always gonna be disappointed through the PA, and it’ll be a crapshoot at best. On the other hand, the same sm57 with one of those amp grabber arms to get the mic in the optimum position immediately every time, or just marking your spot with tape on the grillcloth, for example, might yield results that you enjoy just as much as what you hear coming from your amp speaker(s). Methods that can help aid in that discovery process include using a home recording interface with isolation headphones while experimenting with mics and positions (and amp settings), or making friends with the soundman at a local venue who might be willing to work with you at off hours to help you dial in something you’re happy with. Further experimenting and experience will teach you to know how and what adjustments to make if something isn’t quite working at a given venue (might be position, gear setting adjustment, or both at times). If you know you’re going to need to mic up, this can all help prepare you to get the most from it. :)
 

bobcs71

Member
Messages
5,556
Even with a cab on stage, I much prefer running an IR to FOH. There are so many good and convenient ones, like the BluBox or CAB M Among many others.

Not having the guitar in the PA won‘t work for me. IMHO that is too uneven for the audience As guitar cabs tend to be very directional.
Yup. Walk from side to side in a venue where a guitar amp isn't in the PA.
You hear it too loud in front of it and you barely hear it in other spots. A beam blocker helps but doesn't fix it.
I may try an IR with a tube amp. Does it make the sound guy's job easier?
 

fusionbear

exquirentibus veritatem
Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
11,092
Yup. Walk from side to side in a venue where a guitar amp isn't in the PA.
You hear it too loud in front of it and you barely hear it in other spots. A beam blocker helps but doesn't fix it.
I may try an IR with a tube amp. Does it make the sound guy's job easier?
Yes, it makes the sound guy's job easier and its consistent. Also, you don't have to worry about the mic stand being bumped or moved and losing the mix set up for your sound.

For me, some venues are still going to be cranked amp, unmic'd. But the IR option to FOH is very, very appealing and "real-world" useful for other venues.
 

bobcs71

Member
Messages
5,556
Yes, it makes the sound guy's job easier and its consistent. Also, you don't have to worry about the mic stand being bumped or moved and losing the mix set up for you sound.

For me, some venues are still going to be cranked amp, unmic'd. But the IR option to FOH is very, very appealing and "real-world" useful for other venues.
If I had a nicked for every time a mic was bumped! I should look into an IR. I just don't want to spend Ox box $$$.
Yea, the smallish-medium gigs don't seem to be mic'd.
 

Guitar Dave T

Member
Messages
10,890
I have and continue to do it both ways, depending on venue, and often record the results from out in the crowd with a decent stereo condenser mic just to help insure whatever I'm doing, it's putting me in the right place in the mix.

Pre-covid, there were only a couple of regular venues that mic'd everything out of a handful, gigging most weekends locally. One was a medium sized, top-tier club with a soundman who really knew/knows his stuff, and allowed everyone to bring full backline and achieve their own levels first. The room always sounded/sounds fantastic and the guitars and amps come across to the audience as the real thing. Funny thing was this venue started out as a band-BYO sound system affair where the only things that usually got mic'd were kick drum, vocals and (sometimes) keyboard, and it was pretty decent sounding based on backline alone. It is now off-the-chain, ridiculously good sounding.

The other was a large, top-tier restaurant/club where micing through the house sound system was an absolute necessity. I would usually bring either a 50w 1x12 combo or 50w head and 2x12 cab, and out of courtesy to the sound guy, I would shield it with plexiglass so he could have complete control. When the top level sound guy was running the mix, it sounded decent in the crowd, though never as good as a good open backline mix on-stage due to the live nature of the room. However, when he got promoted in the organization and he started bringing in a younger, less experienced sound tech, the FOH guitar tone and mix level suffered greatly to the point where I probably would have removed the plexiglass if I hadn't suspected the sound tech would have taken me completely out of FOH.

Since things have opened back up, there are a still only a few venues where things get mic'd up. The large top-tier restaurant/club has been replaced by a smaller top-tier "listening" venue, but everything still gets mic'd and there are two sound techs, a great one and a less-experienced-in-guitar-mix one. Fortunately, this venue allows us to get our own backline level, and the it's a small enough room that for guitar, backline volume is usually enough.

So for me, it's always a mixed bag when everything gets mic'd. My guitar style and preference is lots of mids-forward, articulate, but not over-the-top gain or "bite". This means lots of tube-amp headroom and it seems that only the most experienced sound guys get that.

In the meantime, the majority of gigs I work are still BYO PA where kick and vocals get mic'd and everything else relies on a good backline and backline mix.
 

kmanick

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
811
I've been using my Splawn 2X12 on stage and running into my Captor X FOH. It's been really easy and I love the IR I've been using so I've no complaints.
Stage volume is loud enough to hear over the drummer, that's all I need, the rest comes through the monitors
 

Frank67

Member
Messages
1,618
Yup. Walk from side to side in a venue where a guitar amp isn't in the PA.
You hear it too loud in front of it and you barely hear it in other spots. A beam blocker helps but doesn't fix it.
I may try an IR with a tube amp. Does it make the sound guy's job easier?
Yes IRs make the sound guys life much easier. You can have your amp as monitor for the real feel and get a great sound upfront through the IR (inserted between poweramp and speaker) that sounds like a well mic‘ed speaker.

A small potential catch is that the IR will usually not be identical sounding to your speaker. Hence one needs to pay a bit of attention that the mismatch is not too big, but with a little tweak it should be just fine.

For example, I run a Bluguitar Amp1 into a Blubox and from there via XLR to FOH and via THRU to a a Fatcab or Nanocab that I point towards me …. Everybody is happy. Best sounding live setup I ever had and still really compact and portable.
 

somedude

Member
Messages
8,034
I have and continue to do it both ways, depending on venue, and often record the results from out in the crowd with a decent stereo condenser mic just to help insure whatever I'm doing, it's putting me in the right place in the mix.

Pre-covid, there were only a couple of regular venues that mic'd everything out of a handful, gigging most weekends locally. One was a medium sized, top-tier club with a soundman who really knew/knows his stuff, and allowed everyone to bring full backline and achieve their own levels first. The room always sounded/sounds fantastic and the guitars and amps come across to the audience as the real thing. Funny thing was this venue started out as a band-BYO sound system affair where the only things that usually got mic'd were kick drum, vocals and (sometimes) keyboard, and it was pretty decent sounding based on backline alone. It is now off-the-chain, ridiculously good sounding.

The other was a large, top-tier restaurant/club where micing through the house sound system was an absolute necessity. I would usually bring either a 50w 1x12 combo or 50w head and 2x12 cab, and out of courtesy to the sound guy, I would shield it with plexiglass so he could have complete control. When the top level sound guy was running the mix, it sounded decent in the crowd, though never as good as a good open backline mix on-stage due to the live nature of the room. However, when he got promoted in the organization and he started bringing in a younger, less experienced sound tech, the FOH guitar tone and mix level suffered greatly to the point where I probably would have removed the plexiglass if I hadn't suspected the sound tech would have taken me completely out of FOH.

Since things have opened back up, there are a still only a few venues where things get mic'd up. The large top-tier restaurant/club has been replaced by a smaller top-tier "listening" venue, but everything still gets mic'd and there are two sound techs, a great one and a less-experienced-in-guitar-mix one. Fortunately, this venue allows us to get our own backline level, and the it's a small enough room that for guitar, backline volume is usually enough.

So for me, it's always a mixed bag when everything gets mic'd. My guitar style and preference is lots of mids-forward, articulate, but not over-the-top gain or "bite". This means lots of tube-amp headroom and it seems that only the most experienced sound guys get that.

In the meantime, the majority of gigs I work are still BYO PA where kick and vocals get mic'd and everything else relies on a good backline and backline mix.
You hit on a good point…

Around here, all the best soundmen seem to let the band turn up (as necessary, but not inappropriately) and reinforce as necessary.

The ones that really struggle are the ones that try to produce like they’re mixing an album.
 

bobcs71

Member
Messages
5,556
Yes IRs make the sound guys life much easier. You can have your amp as monitor for the real feel and get a great sound upfront through the IR (inserted between poweramp and speaker) that sounds like a well mic‘ed speaker.

A small potential catch is that the IR will usually not be identical sounding to your speaker. Hence one needs to pay a bit of attention that the mismatch is not too big, but with a little tweak it should be just fine.

For example, I run a Bluguitar Amp1 into a Blubox and from there via XLR to FOH and via THRU to a a Fatcab or Nanocab that I point towards me …. Everybody is happy. Best sounding live setup I ever had and still really compact and portable.
Recorded, all my amps sounded best through a 12" Celestion & an SM57 offset anyway.
 

doublescale1

Suhr S-Classic, V60LP's, Soft V neck
Gold Supporting Member
Messages
6,437
I use a Palmer PDI09 direct box with all my amps when we play out. The amps vary depending on set list's or my mood. Could be the Rambler, Mesa MarkV:35 or Vicky Double Deluxe - but they always sound great through the PA with the Palmer DI. We sidewash/side-fill our guitar amps (2 guitarist in a 9 piece horn band) so we don't run the risk of blowing over the mains.
 

ratedepth

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
518
If you have the luxury of time, mic placement can make a huge difference in liking the mic'ed sound. Maybe consider marking (gaffer's tape) your preferred spot on the grille.

For those who enjoy such things:

 

WillLane

Member
Messages
2,205
Whenever these kinds of threads pop up, my heart hurts for how many musicians have been burned by poor sound engineering and the venues that didn't care about their nightly talent. A good sound engineer will work with the band to make their experience as enjoyable as possible, while also considering the needs of FOH, and will blend the two in the best possible way.

If I ever get a chance to mix for any of you, I'd put the best effort into working with you to create as an enjoyable experience on stage as possible, and the best mix at FOH as possible. And if you'd ever feel like I wasn't doing that, I'll get you an extra long cable and you can hear FOH for yourself.

sorry for the book

... my impression is that many TGPers consistently play venues with incompetent house sound personnel or none at all?

That's the real problem. We would all probably not mind mic'ing our amps as long as everything that came after was handled correctly. Sadly, most of the time it isn't.

So what many of us actually don't like are things like 1) poor mic'ing technique 2) poor FOH processing/mixing 3) poor monitoring processing/mixing 4) poor stage volume management 5) poor communication 6) lack of guitar-amp interaction..., and on and on. It's not so much the concept of mic'ing an amp to PA that we don't like, but the mishandling of the whole process.

Personally, I think modern PAs are what’s killed/still killing live music. They’re often too loud and people don’t want to go to venues where their ears are being blown out.
I've heard loud PAs where the soundman got super FOH clarity and you could talk to and hear each other. Next time I run into this I'm going to ask her/him what they're doing. Scooping the mids somehow, but it sounded really good.

There are a lot of things that contribute to this kind of FOH mix. One of them is a relatively quiet stage. It doesn't have to be so quiet it takes the fun out of playing live with live equipment, but it needs to be manageable relative to the venue and genre. So if you're playing in the corner of a dive and you're already pushing 100dBA before FOH is on, it's either going to be a very unbalanced FOH mix or FOH has to be pushed even louder to overcome the band. Being clever with mic placement, amp placement, speaker placement, playing to the room, etc... all contribute here. It takes a skilled and personable engineer to get the best out of the stage volume.

Another contribution is good processing on the FOH and monitor channels. Things like dumping the bass and lower midrange out of vocal mics, scooping the midrange out of kicks and bass guitars, compression, master room EQ, etc... all allow you to get a lot more clarity with much less volume. The sad thing is, most of the training many "sound guys" have is only to turn the console on and pull up the faders.

I've been hearing that more and more venues are either requiring amps to be offstage or not used unless going DI without a cab. Anyone running into this yet?

It will depend on the size and capabilities of the venue. If it's a small dive, there's probably no where for the amp to go so it has to be on stage at a moderate volume, either enough to fill FOH or pointed backwards at a low level and mic'd. A medium sized venue, like a Church built for modern music, will probably require the amps back stage or require a DI, either through a provided amp sim or expected from the player.

A large venue (concert hall) will probably be the most varied; sometimes they are large enough/FOH is powerful enough the amp can be on stage when placed cleverly, other times they may have SGI's to back rooms, other times the engineer won't know what he's doing and say "NO AMPS TOO LOUD" yet he'll push 105dBA at FOH.

A very large venue (arena) is where anything goes. Generally FOH is powerful enough and there's enough distance between the audience and stage (and the guitar equipment and vocal/drum mics) where anything is passable. Amps on stage, facing forward, pushing volume, mic'd. Although I'd argue facing the cabs backward will reduce stage noise and still give the guitarist guitar-amp interaction.

In any case, there is really no situation where a live amp can't be on stage. It's a pretty simple formula. Match the amp wattage to the venue, likely face the cab backwards to a wall, turn it up. And if you need FOH spread, put a bit of acoustic proofing on the wall and mic it.
 
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GCDEF

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
28,448
You need to mic up for best sound in the audience. I play a 100 watt Marshall half stack and it's pretty fricking loud. Still mic it up.
 

Aaron Mayo

Member
Messages
2,196
If I am providing sound equipment (little gigs) I keep it vocals only in monitor and mains and try best to keep the volume down. I hipass everything (vocals) and try to make sure there’s no feedback. There’s no “running sound” from the bandstand while playing. One of the singers goes in front of the mains and points to a person and tells them turn up or turn down. The band should listen enough to blend together. If they can’t, it’s no fun for me.

Bigger stuff has an actual sound person and I generally trust them. They can mic, di whatever they think is best. It doesn’t bother me to turn my amp way down since I’m usually not doing big rock guitar.
 

AxeVictim52

Member
Messages
582
I have no objection to miking up the amps, In fact, I encourage it. I just object to sound engineers with bad attitudes.

By that I mean - I prefer to rely as much on the backline balance to hear the overall sound of the instruments - those that have their own amplification, or those that are just naturally loud. I don't exactly want my guitar to be the dominant thing in the overall balance of what I'm hearing either, because I want to be able to lock in with the other musicians and I want to have some level of dynamic control over my voice which I find impossible when my ears are being blown out by thunderously loud walls of noise. So I don't turn my amp up excessively loud. Having a mic in front of everything for FoH reinforcement/projection and to even out any imbalances within each individual musicians' onstage balance is a good thing. Without a mic in front of my amp, my bandmates are constantly telling me to turn my amp up. True story.

But occasionally, I get a sound engineer who seems to think that putting a mic in front of something means if it has a volume control, you should turn it down to the lowest setting you can reasonably get away with... and then bring it down another hair just to be safe. So you're suddenly relying entirely on the sound engineer to give each and every musician something resembling the balance they want - and that's a tall order even for the most experienced engineers. when you have someone acting as both monitoring and FoH, who doesn't know the band particularly well... this is normally bad news. Every time a sound engineer has told me to put my amp volume on "don't wake the baby that's sleeping inside the back of your 4x12" levels, I've had a terribly balanced monitor mix that is always way too loud overall and always way too guitar-heavy, so it's almost like the "guitarists always want to be louder than everyone else" stereotype hitting me with a double-whammy - sound engineer made me turn my amp down too much because "guitarists want to be the loudest" and then sound engineer turned me up in the monitors too much because "guitarists want to be the loudest"... But the problem is I can't feel my way around the vocal parts because my ears being blasted with overzealous monitoring that is beyond my control. And if you ask them to turn it down? they tell you "turn it down on stage". grr...

That turned into a bit of a rant, but I'm sure many of you can relate :facepalm
 

Shiny_Beast

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
10,964
I like running amps live and leave it at that. Amp position is important though, but in most cases back even with or behind the drummer is good enough. I like having combos on a chair or something as well.
 




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