Does guitar just not cut through a live mix well?

Discussion in 'The Sound Hound Lounge' started by cantstoplt021, May 10, 2015.

  1. cantstoplt021

    cantstoplt021 Member

    Messages:
    1,188
    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2013
    Something I've noticed with bands, both pro touring and local, is that of all the classic band instruments (guitar, bass, drums, keys) it is always the guitarist that is hard to hear. Maybe it's just me, but it seems like guitar doesn't cut through that well unless they play loudly. With drums, bass and keys they seem to all have their own sonic place without having to crank the volume. Drums you can hear and feel fine, bass you can feel, keys just seem to magically float and be heard perfectly, but guitar struggle. Maybe it's just me, but I've noticed this with a bunch of bands.
     
  2. Floyd Eye

    Floyd Eye Member

    Messages:
    12,647
    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2011
    Location:
    St. Louis, Mo.
    I guess a bunch of the bands you see have crappy sound guys. Ordinarily the bass sounds non existent to me. In any case it's not really that hard to get everything to sit well in the mix.
     
  3. rizla

    rizla Member

    Messages:
    4,718
    Joined:
    May 9, 2010
    Location:
    the long far queue
    I get sick of hearing guitars to far out front in the mix!
     
  4. smolder

    smolder Gold Supporting Member

    Messages:
    13,844
    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2008
    Location:
    Central Rocky Mountains
    Unless it's a power chord rock band the rhythm guitar is generally subtle. When a solo comes, it's really up to the player to turn up and stand out, not the sound man (unless you're big time). Sometimes it's hard to judge FOH balance from stage.

    That said, a lot of players EQ while practicing and never adjust for the band mix or the room.
     
  5. CowTipton

    CowTipton Silver Supporting Member

    Messages:
    8,474
    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2011
    Location:
    Haunting Mid-west
    I saw Skynyrd and Bad Company last summer.

    The sound for Skynyrd was a jumbled mess. I could barely hear anything.
    The sound for Bad Company was perfect, I could hear every instrument.

    What was different? The gear? The volume? Sure. But most obvious was the sound guy.
     
  6. fjblair

    fjblair Silver Supporting Member

    Messages:
    11,170
    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2011
    Location:
    NC High Country
    Honestly I have rarely encountered a band where the guitar was too far back in the mix. Seems to me bass is the instrument that is often too big or too little.
     
  7. Steve73

    Steve73 Member

    Messages:
    4,597
    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2008
    Location:
    Alberta, Canada
    Depends on the guitar tone as well. Mid scooped tones will get buried in the mix easier.
     
  8. Bankston

    Bankston Member

    Messages:
    13,607
    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2007
    Location:
    Houston
    Yep. You can sure make the sound guy's job easier by knowing that mids are where the guitar sits in the mix.
     
  9. Brooks

    Brooks Member

    Messages:
    4,645
    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2004
    Location:
    North Cacolaki
    guitars often are competing w/ vocals for the same mid frequencies, so they often seem too loud or not loud enough
     
  10. bgmacaw

    bgmacaw Member

    Messages:
    8,115
    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2005
    Location:
    Atlanta, GA
    I've observed the same thing. The flipside is that the guitar player realizes that's happening and turns up his gear to a painful 11. Here's my take on the situation...

    1. Using certain popular single coil sized humbuckers in a Strat tends to compress the sound. The guitar sounds good at home but gets lost in the upper-mid band mix. Solution, use a full size HB or mike the amp and mix it properly.

    2. Poor amp placement is another cause. People sit the amp on the floor directly behind them and it gets muffled. Use an amp stand or even a chair to get it off the ground. Off to the side, elevated and tipped slightly upward will get the best results. You might even cure #1 to some degree if you don't insist on being cool with your amp aimed at your backside.

    3. Guitar amp bleeding into the vocal mike mix. This can get ugly sounding, turning the band sound into sonic mud.
     
  11. Average Joe

    Average Joe Member

    Messages:
    10,061
    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2010
    Location:
    On a chair, behind a desk
    1. A lot of players dial in too full a sound to cut through - then they'll either get buried in a mix competing with the other instruments or the soundman turn em down to make some room for the other instruments. You really need a fairly nasty sound (in isolation) to cut through a band mix

    2. Also, a lot of modern soundmen seem to regard the guitar as one of the lesser instruments in the mix. It does seem like a modern trend to bury the guitar as an afterthought to the rest of the mix.

    3. sometimes the guitar isn't meant to "cut through", to stand out. Sometimes the role is to be one of the spices rather than the main ingredient.
     
  12. Ogre

    Ogre Member

    Messages:
    4,301
    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2002
    One factor in the lower level bands, is the fact that many musicians overplay, leaving no room & space in the mix for everything to be heard clearly. In my experience keyboardists & guitarists are the prime offenders.
     
  13. swiveltung

    swiveltung Member

    Messages:
    14,566
    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2011
    Location:
    PNW
    I agree it happens often. For one thing, even if the guitar is loud on stage, it doesn't project like the bass/drums and even Organ.
    I use a wireless a lot... it's depressing. You get out in a room at a club and WTF? where my guitar?
    The only solution is a sound man, guitar mic'd and making the sound man aware of the mix you want.
    The overplaying thing happens too... my experience is not the guitar, but especially the bass and drums. For some reason, as soon as someone takes a lead, usually guitar or another solo instrument.. the bass and drums go wild. Geez... just keep the groove guys...
     
  14. georgestrings

    georgestrings Senior Member

    Messages:
    1,510
    Joined:
    May 21, 2012
    Pretty much - not being able to hear guitar well enough is almost never a problem with bands...


    - georgestrings
     
  15. HoboMan

    HoboMan Silver Supporting Member

    Messages:
    15,331
    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2007
    Location:
    WI
    Lots of factors:
    • the gear
    • Sound tech
    • the venue
    • And the most important - where you were sitting at the show

    That last one is a huge factor.
     
  16. Lephty

    Lephty Member

    Messages:
    1,382
    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2012
    Location:
    Boulder, CO
    This. I would add drummers to the list of primary offenders.
     
  17. sideman

    sideman Member

    Messages:
    2,033
    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2005
    agreed. also guitarists often think they are not up in the mix enough, which is why they are often too loud (if allowed to control volume). the two things i usually find too loud in club bands - vocals and guitar.
     
  18. gibsonES330

    gibsonES330 Member

    Messages:
    880
    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2015
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    Maybe OP goes to too many shows and is losing his hearing?
     
  19. MORE BARN

    MORE BARN Member

    Messages:
    1,229
    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2009
    Good thread. Not to hijack it but I have a question:

    People say 'mids' are good, and 'scooped' is not, okay I get that (I found that when using those 2 & 4 Strat sounds--it was like the guitar disappeared).

    So why is it that a Tele is generally accepted to be great in a band ('nothing cuts like a Tele, etc.), whereas a humbucker guitar people say 'gets buried'? For example, an SG with 2 humbuckers. Doesn't the SG have more 'mids' than the Tele?
     
  20. TRGuy

    TRGuy Member

    Messages:
    2,242
    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2008
    This is the biggest thing that I've learnt. When I was gigging regularly I would dial in a killer tone on my own before the gig, but it would just get drowned out. The other guitarist was using some ****** digitech pedal which sounded absolutely awful on its own, but in the mix it cut like a knife and didn't sound too bad.
     

Share This Page