Why does everything sound sooooo different in a band?

Psyfuzz

Member
Messages
1,372
It's like anything I come up with in the bedroom is basically guaranteed not to work live.
Further to DGDGBD's point, do as he says and dial it in for live settings, buy one of these for $30, use it at home as your 'home' EQ when jamming alone in your bedroom.

Fairly cheap and easy way to get two drastically different tones cheaply and it means you wont have to continually be dialling in your amp every 2 seconds (It's as good as the Boss one for half the price and quiet enough that you'll have no issue with noise at bedroom levels)

:banana

 

Guitardave

Member
Messages
10,088
I know that stuff does sound different in a band. Some of it makes sense to me, like you don't need as much low end with a band 'cause you have a lot of bass and kick, and you need a little extra midrange, 'cause that's where the guitar lives in the mix. Makes sense to me, ish.

What I don't get is why clipping sounds different in a band. Heavy distortion with humbuckers sounds great at home, but mushy and fizzy with the band. I turn my OD low enough to have some clarity but still plenty of grit with the band, and when I get home, I can barely even tell the overdrive is on. Sometimes if I'm playing clean live, it will still sound thick and heavy in a way it doesn't at home.

It's very strange. Frustrating to work out sounds at home only to find that they don't work with a band, and also frustrating because I can't ask the band to go over something a hundred times to get the exact sound dialed in. I have some good sounds that work great live now, but whenever I want to make a new sound in my head, it really takes quite a few practices and gigs to get it exactly where it needs to be.
Few thoughts: 1st is to setup a recording rig so you can know how your actual sound is to the audience. Like you I find I dial things in for less gain at the gig mostly because I can hear it better...it sounds/feels like it has more gain when I'm playing it - but in listening to the recordings I'm almost always hearing less distortion than I remember. That's not a bad thing....just may tell you that you aren't crazy. I think the louder you play the less gain you need for sustain, etc. etc.

Second is to really work guitar controls more instead of tweaking the amp/pedals....lately it seems like I just dial up my OD pedal for more volume and gain than I think I'll need and run the volume of my guitar lower. Same goes for treble on the basic setup. Watch some old Hendrix, Page, Walsh, Frampton, etc. and it's amazing how many different tones they squeeze out of one guitar.

As previously mentioned - make sure the amp is shooting at your ears so you are actually hearing what's coming out of it. Too many competing signals on most stage to have it shooting past your knees.
 
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3,287
At home I can usually get an OD tone that I think sounds pretty good but that I'm not really blown away by. The last two times I've jammed with anyone (and the first jams I've had in a good while) my rig has really come alive, definitely getting some of the best OD tones I've heard myself get. Not sure if it has something to do with the room or with me playing better with a drummer but there you go...
 

jota

Member
Messages
11,019
That's why I mainly have 3 sounds: clean, rhythm dirty and lead!
It's easy to setup wherever I play.
 

B Money

Member
Messages
5,890
a couple of semi-unrelated comments about playing live with a band. This applies particularly to guitarists:

1. If you can hear yourself clearly on stage, you're probably too loud.

2. You don't need to be as prominent in the mix as you think.

3. a clean guitar sound will always sound bigger and louder than a heavily distorted one.
 

mikebat

Member
Messages
11,087
My experience is volume is the biggest factor in how your sound is different from home jamming to band situation.

The lower the volume, the more overdrive I need to get the amp/guitar to "play along with me". In a band situation, I reduce the overdrive/gain, and my guitar/amp will react with much more bounce and sustain that I need to really feel like it it is not fighting me, but actually pushing me in the back.

A side effect is that you can reduce the bass on the amp too when you are at louder volumes because you are no longer suffering from the Fletcher–Munson effect. That also changes the way your amp produces gain/sustain. Keeping the bass control up high when you really start driving the amp ca lead to over loading that freq range and getting a farty tone, although it may be useful in some situations.

In a way, it is almost worth having a home rig and a band rig so you do not lose your mind thinking it should sound the same in every situation.
 

Digital Wrath

Member
Messages
296
in addition to the above, rooms have their own eq.
This is very true. Just a couple of weeks our friends brought a couple of 4x12s and heads back to our (acoustically good) rehearshal space mid session. This changed the room sound quite significantly, we all heard it right away. (Even though there was a lot of stuff covering the walls already.)

The change was for the better, I might add.
 

Luke

Senior Member
Messages
11,897
When you play alone you can enjoy the entire tonal spectrum. When you play in a band, you must find your little slice of space to be heard, and to not step on the others. The more people involved, the smaller your slice will be.

I find that to cut live I need to cut bass and add treble, a truly horrible tone I could never practice with.
 

C-4

Member
Messages
13,609
One thing that I haven't seen mentioned, but I might have missed it, is that as the amp is turned up, the sound eminating from the saturation changes.

You will hear this when recording. It is possible to sound more distorted on record then you are actually playing to record the part. when you place this into a band mix, as mentioned, you could be overlapping other frequencies played on other instruments, so you need to reduce your frequency bandwidth to find your own place in the mix. Distortion has a lot of harmonics that can mush up a sound both live and on tape.


When I set up my amp at home for a live job, it is just a starting point. After playing through the first song in a band setting, I can hear what I need to adjust on the amp. I usually wind up with a clearer tone, but from years of experience, I have learned not to add too much saturation at home as I used to early on. Adding volume adds sustain and opens up the amp to be used as it should in the sweet range of the amp.
 

cram

Member
Messages
13,712
My EQ pedal has me able to adjust to this without exception and so long as we're all matched in volume.

All these sound sources take up space on our ear's senses. Frequency, volume, overtones, standing waves (room dimension and material)... All of these insert or remove their affect in concert.

I've noticed that "buried" feeling while playing my LP. I've kneeled down mid-song and bumped up the 1.5khz and 3.2khz bands. It felt nice to my ears and I fit the mix.

I left it and I can recall setting up for the next jam with these guys - DAMN, it sounded harsh as I checked my level by myself. But, when we played: all good.
 

ninjaaron

Member
Messages
1,133
Thanks for all the good comments so far!
So change your mindset - forget about how it sounds in the bedroom. Work on your settings to get a live sound when playing live; use different settings at home, but don't worry if it doesn't sound as good in the bedroom. My guitar/amp room has really bad acoustics. I've trained myself to not give rat's ass if it sounds too bright, spikey, bassy, or whatever, at home. i know how to get a good live tone.
That's what I do, but it takes a long time to get a new sound dialed in perfectly live, cause you have to try it with band all the time, and they aren't just waiting around for me to tweak some sounds. We've got work to do. takes a lot of practices/gigs to get it exactly right.

Op- everything does not work, as you notice.
You do not need everything.
You can eq your sound right out of the ballpark at home pursuing some tiny 'improvement.' Ear fatigue and excessive focus on some detail can lead you to believe you have 'it' but nope, you threw 'it' away.
Keep a working sound available for reference an don't stray too far from it.
You really practice at home with the an amp/speaker pointed at your head at band vol level?!??
True that, and don't I know it! Most annoying thing ever. Make a change "for the better" at home only to find what you had before was already perfect when you get back with the band.

as for volume level. I'm the only one who has to hear the amp. Everyone else has it in their monitors, so at practice, it's pointing at me and away from everyone else. Drummer has a sheild, and the bassist and other guitar player are on the other side of the shield, so it's not super loud where I am.

WAY more things than Physic's when playing with a Band,...There is the venue itself, as everywhere you'll play has different acoustics in the building, OR the worst thing, Sh!tty wiring (lot's of 'Dead cat in the corner'/'Clorox cleaned only' beer joints have this issue),...and then yep, what is perceived as a great 'sound/tone' while starring in your bedroom...ain't so great on stage.

But what I find when Musicians tell me of all their experience is, 'Their' timing, which if a Player does a whole lot of jamming by him/herself shows up like a 'Weed' that just will NOT leave a professionally manicured lawn when it's time to actually play the song 'as written' in a Band setting.

Before the Chicken, I say there was the egg...So a lot of different thing's for most need to be addressed before they want to join a Band. Tone Terrific said it best with his "you can EQ yourself out of the park", and a truer statement cannot be stated in this situation,...Basically it's like the Defense on a Football Team when it comes to Pedals in itself,...as the Defense can 'Stunt' Defensive players, right out of their positions, which takes them out of the game...

...way to many pedals WILL have the same effect, and most 'serious' Bands want clarity in signal to make it all come together, and NOT what Jack Black was representing in his hit movie 'School of Rock' (I'm sorry, I find the little bit of 'Truth' in that movie that most did not pick-up on, just Funny as Hell).

If your serious about your playing, practice like your going to gig and push yourself to do so,...go to GC, any Music Shop and buy a pocket Metronome,...it's not just for Percussionist, and some have mini Bass/Guitar tuners with them also...Set it, put it in your pocket, and you will 'Feel' it, when you get a chance put your hand in your pocket and simply feel it that way.

Lot more thing's needed than another guitar or amp. to get your Band's sound/tone right, and I'm SURE most here can find somewhere to put most of your pedals except your 'board, might start by going guitar, cord, into your amp., THEN add on from there. But you will be surprised at what amp.'s DO NOT cut it live...and which do better than you thought. Tom
There is a lot of good advice in there, but I've got to tell you, I've been gigging one to three times a week for past twelve years. This is more a question of "why is it the way it is?", rather than "how is it?" or even "what do I do about it?"

Further to DGDGBD's point, do as he says and dial it in for live settings, buy one of these for $30, use it at home as your 'home' EQ when jamming alone in your bedroom.

Fairly cheap and easy way to get two drastically different tones cheaply and it means you wont have to continually be dialling in your amp every 2 seconds (It's as good as the Boss one for half the price and quiet enough that you'll have no issue with noise at bedroom levels)

:banana

Good idea. I've had the dano version of this for years, but I never thought of using it that way :aok
 

Rod

Tone is Paramount
Gold Supporting Member
Messages
22,087
I find that with the more overdrive you have, the more compression there is in the sound...I've found this to be true with the Kemper, as well as my tube amps...
I'll get the Kemper or amps dialed in at home and then at practice, I always end up turning the gain down some to get more clarity..
 

Aran

Member
Messages
3,194
It always does. :)

Now the trick is to adjust things till it sounds great in the band all the while trying not to piss off the singer, drummer and bassist while doing so. :D Home to Practice sounds different as well as Stages and Venues. Just get used to the idea of tweaking it fast.

p.s. I still am. ;)

One last thing. Bands also start with the drummer. A good dynamic drummer is worth his weight in gold. If he knows how to control the volume he will help the most imho if your music allows it that is.
 

cobrahead1030

Member
Messages
260
Things take on a new life when ya get other instruments in the mix, that's just how it is.

You're wasting your time trying to dial in perfect tones at home, just get it in the ball park, and you'll get it tweaked just fine w/the band playing over time.
 

axdxm

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
2,833
The guitarist and bass player should carve out eq to make room for each others instruments.
 

Razorface

Senior Member
Messages
993
I know that stuff does sound different in a band. Some of it makes sense to me, like you don't need as much low end with a band 'cause you have a lot of bass and kick, and you need a little extra midrange, 'cause that's where the guitar lives in the mix. Makes sense to me, ish.

What I don't get is why clipping sounds different in a band. Heavy distortion with humbuckers sounds great at home, but mushy and fizzy with the band. I turn my OD low enough to have some clarity but still plenty of grit with the band, and when I get home, I can barely even tell the overdrive is on. Sometimes if I'm playing clean live, it will still sound thick and heavy in a way it doesn't at home.

It's very strange. Frustrating to work out sounds at home only to find that they don't work with a band, and also frustrating because I can't ask the band to go over something a hundred times to get the exact sound dialed in. I have some good sounds that work great live now, but whenever I want to make a new sound in my head, it really takes quite a few practices and gigs to get it exactly where it needs to be.

The mix is very complicated. And don't begin to think what sounds great at home will work. It's a whole 'nother world.

The guitar is a mid range instrument. You need to leave room for the bass. Keys can be a terrible thing...as they can dominate all the frequencies. They obv. need to know when and where to play.
 

shelshaf

Member
Messages
201
a couple of semi-unrelated comments about playing live with a band. This applies particularly to guitarists:

1. If you can hear yourself clearly on stage, you're probably too loud.

2. You don't need to be as prominent in the mix as you think.

3. a clean guitar sound will always sound bigger and louder than a heavily distorted one.
I think your comments are spot on for rhythm guitarists strumming away on all six strings. That's a lot of sonic space in a band. If you're playing it loud enough to hear clearly onstage, you're crowding and muddying the band sound.

However, if you play sparse lines on rhythm, coloring little pockets of sound here and there, you can stand to be louder.

Now, if you're playing lead (which is usually only single-notes with a few double-stops) and you can hear yourself blending in evenly with the band, you're probably too quiet. I see too many guitarists jamming out on stage to what they think is an awesome lead tone, while it gets practically buried out front. Of course this doesn't apply when the amp is miked. But a comfortable lead volume to you onstage probably is not projecting further out into the audience with the same volume and clarity.

So many guitarists need to learn how to turn the guitar volume knob down when playing rhythm, so that there's room to turn up during solos.
 
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shelshaf

Member
Messages
201
If we all played clean guitar sounds, we wouldn't have this problem of struggling to get the right volume/tone. Nice clean, spanky sounds are easy to get. But we usually have this strong desire to have crunchier rhythm sounds and compressed, sustaining lead sounds that flow like a saxophone. That's much harder to get. That's when we start adding distortion and overdrive into the equation, trying to create more sustain. These effects create sounds extraneous to the natural sound of the guitar that can obscure and muddy the sound of the actual instrument. It's a tricky prospect indeed. I find that when I use more OD, I have to turn up louder in order to cut through, or maybe add more treble than I would have liked. So, it is a difficult task. I understand your frustration completely. And that's why you can be the best bedroom guitarist in the world, but there's no substitute for stage experience. Playing well with others at high volume takes time, and a lot of trial and error.
 




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