Steve Lagudi Blog Series: Guitars & Bass in a Live Setting – Getting to Know the Band and Addressing Volume

We’re excited to welcome guest blogger Steve Lagudi back to Where it’s A-T, with a fresh installment of posts centered on “Guitars & Bass in a Live Setting.” In case you missed his first series on Miking Live Drums, you can read it here.

In my previous blog posts I discussed my approach to drums. This time, I am going to get into guitars and, YES!!! bass. I might be biased since I “was” a bass player many lifetimes ago, but bass IS very important despite all the jokes, plus it can be very tricky to get it to sit properly in a mix. Let’s jump right in…

It is no secret that guitars cover a broad spectrum of frequencies, and for many it’s a challenge to get them to sit properly in a mix, or to know what frequencies to cut/boost, dynamic treatment, if any at all, how much gain, panning, blah blah blah.

Before we even think about a microphone or the placement and all that goes into setting up our guitars, we first need to look at the artist we are working with, the sound we are trying to achieve and the gear (or lack of gear) they have provided us to work with. This simple and basic understanding is the foundation to help guide us in the right direction. Don’t be afraid to ask them, guitarists will pretty much ALWAYS tell you what they want, and chances are they will describe the most ridiculous & impossible guitar sound that only exists in their fantasy world, hahahaha! Seriously though, talking with the artists can help – they might have a complex guitar rig, might split signals, run stereo effects, or some random set up and trust me, I see it all the time! Doing this also shows that you actually care about your job and maybe you won’t get a “thank you” for it, but it will be appreciated. Even if it’s not noticed, this is good practice.

When dealing with a group you have never worked with before and IF there is time, don’t be afraid to listen to the sound they have going on. By doing this we can look for potential issues we might run into, if a guitar is overly bright or boomy, mid-range heavy, heavily scooped, etc. etc. Oh and this is very very important – now is the time to talk to them about their stage volumes. There is nothing worse than dealing with a band, or a particular musician, who is insanely loud on stage. Mixing the rest of the band around all the stage bleed is very challenging. Dealing with stage bleed is the biggest pain in the….. I don’t think there is anything worse than when someone is way too loud on stage. The people in the front row get their faces melted off, and many times the person who is doing it will think that it is cool, or tell ya “that’s my sound!!!!” In my experience, I find that it’s usually the bass players who are the ones that are too loud, and it’s usually not their fault. In case you yourself don’t know, bass frequencies take time and distance to fully develop, so when the player is standing a foot or two in front of his or her amp, it might not seem loud, but walk 30-40 feet out in front and it will no doubt be stupid loud.

In Steve’s next installment, he’ll offer more advice on balancing volume on stage – look for it next Wednesday!

Audio-Technica

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