Volume control when playing live with band

Discussion in 'The Sound Hound Lounge' started by wscottarmstrong, Feb 11, 2015.

  1. wscottarmstrong

    wscottarmstrong Supporting Member

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    I don't play out live that often with a full band, but when I do I always am struggling with controlling volume. The struggle is in two ways. First, increasing volume for solo parts vs. the rhythm volume, and second when I use some level of boosted volume, keeping it from getting way too dirty. As a disclaimer, I like to play somewhat dirty with overdrive and fuzz, and only usually play with humbucker equipped guitars or P-90's, and I usually like the bridge position. But, I am wondering how most are controlling volume when they play?

    I have tried various boosts, clean/transparent type and overdrive type, when soloing, have tried pickup switching, and the volume knob. All with some success, but not great success. I have now moved to a volume pedal on my board for volume control and I much prefer that over the volume knob.

    The more I play live the more I realize that really good players are really good at controlling volume. I see these guys flip their pickup switch to the bridge and just rip and it sounds perfect. Curious to what people are doing.

    If this has been discussed ad nauseum on here, I apologize in advance.
     
  2. NoQuarter

    NoQuarter Member

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    Having a sound man to boost you and, keep it in check is a big plus also. Keep in mind, most pro's have this going for them. You have to experiment as much as possible and stand far from your amp (at rehearsal) and listen, over and over. I was once in your shoes and it drove me nuts. Every room is different too. Good luck.
     
  3. GuitarGuy66

    GuitarGuy66 Member

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    I use a volume pedal. I set my lead volume then back it off for rythm. Our other guitarist uses one of his pedals as a boost I believe. (I believe his amp is a single channel, so is mine) we work together to not overpower each other. I'll even back it off during his lead so he comes through more.

    Since we mix from the stage, it's all about being aware of the different members and who is playing what. I don't touch my amp volume during the night. In fact I generally leave it where it is gig after gig. I can put more me in my monitor if I need to.
     
  4. loudboy

    loudboy Member

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    If you're using a cleaner amp and getting distortion from pedals, you need to have a clean boost at the end, or some kind of A/B system which allows you to have a preset boost for solos.

    If you're using amp distortion, you need to have a booster in a post-pre FX loop or something. Or an amp w/3 channels?
     
  5. GCDEF

    GCDEF Supporting Member

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    I use a volume pedal in the effects loop. It acts like a foot controlled master volume.

    Some amps offer separate master volumes that you can switch between or foot switchable boosts too.
     
  6. neastguy

    neastguy Supporting Member

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    since Im the only guitar player in the band.. I just use my volume knob..
     
  7. ronmail65

    ronmail65 Supporting Member

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    Yeah... it's probably been discussed (and debated) quite extensively, but I'll bite. I don't like the guitar volume knob either -- I feel like it's always a compromise and never gives me all I need. Here are several methods that I use - most of them require different gear.

    1. This is where a 2 channel amp (or other multi-channel / programmable amps) can be great. Set a rhythm channel(s) and a lead channel(s). Of course, tone and performance varies by amp.
    2. There are also many amps on the market with a "solo boost" feature that is either preset or has it's own volume knob. Again, tone and performance varies by amp.
    3. EQ or volume pedal / control through a series FX loop. Of course, your amp must have an FX loop and you need an EQ or a volume pedal for this to work. If the amp has a good FX loop, I find this to be fairly transparent and effective at raising volume.
    4. There are also external "boost" pedals and EQs that you can run into the front of your amp instead using an FX loop. I don't think these work very well. Because if you're using the pre-amp on your amplifier, that leaves very little headroom for the pedal to actually affect. Some people use these in reverse and claim success.... for example, the effect is "on" with the level cut for rhythm, then you actually turn it "off" to achieve the boost.
    5. Lastly, there are guitars that have battery powered internal +db boosts (in case you want to try a different guitar). I don't have any experience with these, so I don't know how effective they are. I suspect they suffer from the same amp headroom limitations noted above.

    The ultimate solution is to have a guitar tech and soundman that do all of that stuff for you!!

    That's all I've got. Good luck!
     
  8. smv929

    smv929 Member

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    A volume pedal is useful. However, you still have to be careful about using it, otherwise, you will spike or drop out suddenly, which is annoying to band mates and makes you look like you're fiddling around. A useful alternative that provides precise control is a pedal called The Leveler made by Pfieffer Electronics. It has two foot switches that allow you to switch among 7 levels of volume, where 4 is unity gain. A display window shows the level number. So, if you want to drop the volume some, click the left switch once and display goes from 4 to 3. Or go down further to 2 if you need even less volume. Once you need more volume, toggle back up to level 4 and you’ll be where you started. If you need to go higher, toggle up to 5 or 6; and later back to down to 4 again. I have three of them. BTW I’m not affiliated with the guy who makes them.
     
  9. Campfired

    Campfired Gold Supporting Member

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    Regards volume, IMHO, it should be a case of what other's ears can tolerate so that conversation can occur during quieter parts of the song vs. needing to curtail conversation during louder parts.

    The point being, many folks in a restaurant or bar setting need to be able to converse so that it doesn't require trying to drown out the music with your voice.

    Guitar, amp and PA volume, IMHO, should be tasteful, unless you are in an arena or festival setting where extraneous crowd noise is not desirable.

    On a smaller scale, guitar or effect volume might be able to be set such that any overdrive or distortion could be compressed so as to avoid transient volume spikes.

    A good boost pedal can add volume for lead work and also contribute to the tone of an overdrive pedal.

    There should also be some stipulation for PA described as "unity gain" where clipping does not exceed the PA's clean headroom.

    My preference is for both a boost pedal or leads and a volume pedal for taming loud solos. (The volume pedal rolled back cleans up overdrive nicely)
     
  10. Schafrocks

    Schafrocks Member

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    Clean boost in the loop works great. A volume pedal in the loop is great too. But you have to make sure you get one with the correct pot in it.
     
  11. Dubious

    Dubious Member

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    how do you manage this issue during band practice?

    helps if you jam / practice at stage levels.. less surprises come gig time
     
  12. rmconner80

    rmconner80 Cantankerous Luddite Silver Supporting Member

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    I agree, volume control is huge. And in order for it to work, the other members of the band have to be coordinating too. If your drummer just holds one volume the whole song, it's not going to matter what you are doing.

    I accomplish it using 2-3 pedals with differing amounts of dirt/volume, my picking, and liberal use of the volume knob, into an amp right at the edge of breakup. If, during the course of a song, I find I need more volume, I just turn the guitar volume knob rom 8 to 9, or if my hands are too busy, I stack a pedal. That's all it takes; but for those types of SPLs, it's only for a couple bars - not an entire song. My loudest solo is probably literally triple the volume of the quietest I play during sections of some songs. Dynamics.

    If my 'base' volume is not enough during the set, I just turn up the amp a hair.
     
  13. cbguy

    cbguy Green & Gold Supporter

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    I usually just use my guitar volume or a volume pedal. I use the pedal for a lot of "swell" effects so I don't use it for what I am about to suggest.

    On a lot of volume pedals they provide a control that allows you to set a "minimum volume". Using this allows you to set a rhythm volume and then go up to the max volume on the pedal that you could use for solos.

    Just an idea. Practicing with your current setup will probably get you where you need to go, though. Good luck.
     
  14. GuitarGuy66

    GuitarGuy66 Member

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    More volume control. I was using Marshall CD10 for practice. 2 channels but you had to press a button. I've sonce bought a little 30W 2 Channel Vox. It works pretty good.
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2015
  15. BMX

    BMX Supporting Member

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    For me the key is in the mids. When you don't gig a lot most people tend to set up their amp favoring the neck pickup and have a sound heavy on bass and treble with not much mids. Then when they take that on stage they can't hear themselves so they keep turning up until the front few rows are getting blasted. The key for me is to set the amp up for the bridge pickup- turn the treble on the amp pretty low, and turn up the mids and a little gain. Then when you go play rhythm you hang on the neck pickup and although it's a little muddy at times you can still hear yourself because of the mids. It helps to play lightly on the neck pickup with this setup. Then when it's time for a solo go to the bridge pickup where your amp is dialed in for and it will sound great.

    My 2 cents.
     
  16. burningyen

    burningyen Vendor

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    With a digital rig you can boost or cut volume without any effect on tone.
     
  17. Yer Blues

    Yer Blues Member

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    I use a boost pedal and volume knob on the guitar. Sometimes it doesn't sound like I want it to on stage, but anytime I see a video out front I'm pretty happy with the tone.
     
  18. TheoDog

    TheoDog Silver Supporting Member

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    A rhythm tone that is darker than what you expect is helpful so that a boost in the tone knob can help a solo cut through a bit.
    A dryer tone with less reverb and delay cuts through a mix better.

    Playing with an ensemble of listeners is vital. When other musicians know your solo is coming up and back off a bit to let you blow through your feature, it is way better than any money spent on gear.
     
  19. Endr_rpm

    Endr_rpm Member

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    One trick (heard of, not tried yet) is to stick a fairly transparent pedal at the end of your FX chain, whether that is right before the amp input or in the FX Loop. then set that pedal to CUT your volume to where you want your rhythm/comping level. Then when you take the pedal out, it is just the amps natural sound for your lead bits. Sounds good in theory :)
     
  20. Phletch

    Phletch Member

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    +1. Being the only guitarist makes the volume issue a lot easier. I have a 2-channel amp (Mini Rec) which helps, too, although I rarely, if ever, switch channels during a song; it's an either/or for me. With the guitar volume backed off I can get cleans with both channels. On the clean channel, the range is soft clean to a loud, "dirty clean" (or crunch, pick your terminology) with guitar volume rolled up; there's only a few songs where that's used. On the OD channel, it's clean-ish with guitar volume rolled way down, and searing with guitar volume wide open which it hardly ever is; I just have the amp set to have more on tap than what I need. I ride the guitar volume a lot. Low output PAFs really facilitate this style.
     

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