Let’s face it- a certain degree of loudness is par for the course at a rock and roll show. But louder is not always better. While nothing compares to standing in front of a cranked half stack and letting it rip, the fact of the matter is that most of the time, a band that is too loud onstage often sounds worse than one that makes a conscientious effort to monitor their stage volume! It sounds counterintuitive, but bringing your stage volume down can improve your live show for a variety of reasons.
Why Bands Play Too Loud
Let’s say you’re playing guitar and can’t hear yourself onstage. Your natural reaction would be to turn your amp up, and understandably so! However, that also sets off a chain reaction. Your bassist will have to turn up as well to match your louder volume, your drummer will have to hit harder, and your singer will have to really belt it out. This is what we call a volume war. All the band members are competing to be loud and present in the mix and hear themselves clearly.
To play in tune and in time, and to feel the music, musicians need to be able to hear themselves. If they can’t, despite a dialed-in amp and fully functioning stage monitors, it can seem like a hopeless situation that can only be solved by turning up stage volume, when doing so actually just exacerbates the situation.
In end you may be taken out of the PA in order to keep show levels inside of the venues maximum volume or the PA’s maximum volume. When competing stage and house volumes start happening neither one gets a good mix.
To keep your stage volume down, here are some things you can try:
Turning down onstage will let the PA do the work and make it easier for the sound guy to do his job, since there will not be excessive volume bleeding from the stage into the house mix. Try it out at your next gig and let us know how it works out!
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Practice the Art of Being a Team Player
In the same way that learning the other players' parts will help you to fit in well, so too will learning to become a team player. Any guitarist can tell you that your amp sounds great when it's shaking the rafters. But if you crank up indiscriminately, it makes it hard for the other musicians to play at their best. Remember, they need to be able to hear as well. So, when they tell you they need you to adjust your volume, try to accommodate them to the extent possible. A good stage mix allows the whole band to hear not only themselves, but all the other parts as well. It does not require the ultimate guitar tone; that is essential out front, but it isn't always the top priority on stage.
In this article, you will learn how to focus your efforts on the areas you need to improve the most, and we will see how important it can be to see the 'big picture' when playing in a band. Last time, we learned some effective practice strategies, but how do you know which areas in which to invest your time? How can you improve your ability to "see" where you are taking your music?
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