#1
Hey guys,

me and my friends started playing in rental rehearsal rooms around the city and since we're all noobs in non-bedroom playing, we sound like shit. Actually like a shit avalanche. Lot of noise but not much instrument sounds if you know what I mean.

"I can't hear my guitar!"
"I can hear ONLY your guitar!"
"Turn it up!"
"Turn it down!"
"Fuck you!"

...you get the picture.

My question is:
what do we do to sound like a band playing? So we can hear all the instruments? I play guitar, we have two guitars, my problem is I can't hear shit from my amp and from the other too. And at the same time other guys are telling me to turn it down. Then I become confused. And pissed.

It's always the same: I can hear bass, drums and vocals, but no guitars. Bass guy can't hear his bass and wants guitars lower. And so on...

I guess I need to know something about frequencies, how to set them right on each amp, how to set volumes and so on...

How do YOU do it with your band? How do I properly set up amps? I kinda don't know what the whole question is, but I need to know the answer

One guitar has humbuckers, the other single coils. And we're just drums, bass, guitars and vocals.

Thanks for your advice.
#2
Make your drummer play quieter if needed. 80% of problems I've had with both practice and live mixes have been due to the drummer being completely unaware of his volume and not being able to control his dynamics for shit.

If your mid knob is below 12 o'clock on either guitar amp, crank it. No mids=no guitars.

Turn your gain down (if you play with distortion).

Turn up the bass on the bass (duh) and turn it down on the guitars a bit. Not too much though, or you'll end up with muddy bass and thin guitars.

Point the speakers at your ears, tilt the amps accordingly. Position the amps and yourselves so that everyone gets their share from each amp.

Make sure no one in the band is a narcissistic dick who only wants to hear himself.
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Last edited by Kevätuhri at Oct 22, 2015,
#3
Big +1 to what Kevatuhri said. Most of the issues I have experienced have been drummers that play too loud and just bang away with no regard for how f**kin' loud they are. I also agree with the amp issues especially if you play with too much distortion and you have just a lot of thin, washed out "buzzing bee" sounds coming out of your amp. Clean up the distortion and you'll hear yourself much better. You may not be as happy with the sound but you'll hear what you are really playing much better and what your guitars really sound like.
Also consider that as noobs you will suck. Everyone does when they start. As Joe Walsh says "You may have been a legend in your own garage but now it's time to get out and play in front of people". Now just work on sucking less. We feel your pain. Don't give up. Good luck.
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Last edited by Rickholly74 at Oct 22, 2015,
#4
Depending on what amps you have and what size they are, it will help to position yourself accordingly.

For example, standing next to your half stack with the other guitarist's half stack facing right at you is probably not the way to go.

Also probably worth EQing the amps slightly differently.
#5
Here are some points that Ive come by in my experience:

The room is very important. The bigger the room, the better in my opinion; you need space for all your gear, and you need space for the sound to breathe. If youre playing in a tiny room, you will have to play much quieter unfortunately. Also, if you can sound treat the room, that will help clean things up.

As mentioned above, the drums are usually a big problem, but they arent the only big problem. If an electronic kit isnt an option, push your drummer into using those braided sticks or even brushes ect. He will hate it. My drummer gets really cunty about that stuff, but they dont realize that it is important for volume and mix control.

The next most important thing IMO is how you are monitoring your guitars. As others have said, you want your amps pointed up at you. This is true, except a lot of guitar cabs are highly directional and might sound perfect and clear to one person in the room, but not to another due to where theyre standing. I HIGHLY recommend getting a mixer and some PA speakers. Close mic all your amps and arrange them to avoid feedback. You can position your monitors to give you the best sound dispersion. Run your vocals through the same mixer/monitors.
I find the reason that sound quality in the jam space is so poor is because A. Its usually way too loud, and B. You have sound sources in all different places. Ideally, all of your sounds would be miked, routed through your mixer, and sent through the monitors so all the sound can more or less come from the same source.
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#6
Quote by Watterboy
I HIGHLY recommend getting a mixer and some PA speakers. Close mic all your amps and arrange them to avoid feedback. You can position your monitors to give you the best sound dispersion. Run your vocals through the same mixer/monitors.


I completely agree, if TS can afford it.

Quote by Watterboy
A. Its usually way too loud


I agree with this as well, a lot of people don't understand that if something is too low in the mix, the answer isn't always to turn it up. Keeping the volume levels reasonable is very important in any kind of mix.

Quote by Watterboy
B. You have sound sources in all different places. Ideally, all of your sounds would be miked, routed through your mixer, and sent through the monitors so all the sound can more or less come from the same source.


If only TS can afford a PA system, I recommend this approach as well.
Quote by Jet Penguin
Theory: Not rules, just tools.

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*note that by fan i mean that guy who wants his friends to know he knows this totally obscure hip band that only he knows about with 236 views on youtube. lookin' at Kev here
#7
All points above are valid.

If you're playing rental rehearsal spaces then most likely there's a PA system there.
The way we used to set up was as playing on stage with a backline:

..............................<guitar amp1><bass amp><drummer><guitaramp2>..........................
(people positioned)<guitarist1> <bassist> <vocalist> <guitarist2>

You can flip the bass amp on the other side depending on your setup but that's pretty much the standard setup. Then the rehearsal room will probably have some wedge monitors so take a direct out of each amp or mic out and feed mix as required. The drummer will probably like to hear his kick in the PA as well. We used to angle the amps about 30% towards the middle if the room is big enough, i.e. pointing towards drum riser.
It helps also if you can point the speakers up a little bit so you get more toward your ears but it depends on what you're working with so you might not be able to.
EQ the guitar amps differently so each has their own space. Sometimes just having different guitars does that, say LP vs Strat have totally different tonalities. One guy playing Orange, the other Mesa...one brighter and more midrangey as the other is darker and more smoother sounding...or you try to eq for that. Drop some bass on the guitars so that you can hear the bassist, so try to eq in such a manner that the bass can be heard.

For the latter part of my stage career shoddy sound didn't matter much as you just learn to live with it. As long as I could hear snare and some of my guitar amp which I was standing in front of I was fine. You just learn to work with it.

There is another option which is getting a headphone preamp and putting the whole band on headphones with something like the Jamhub:
#8
Yea, doing everything in headphones like diabolical said is a great idea too. It usually sounds really good and you can take more advantage of panning techniques with your mixer to help clean up the mix
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#9
I forgot to mention that going on headphones has one drawback which is that the singer doesn't learn how to work a stage PA system, i.e. they don't belt out as much and tend to sing quiet live. The other issue is that pops, hisses, etc. are beaming straight into your earcups.
#10
When you set up get the drummer to play. Then drums and bass together until both are clear. Then add the vocals until clear and loud, reduce bass frequencies on vocals to reduce feedback if you can. then bring in the guitars until you can hear them but not drowning out vocals. Ease back on the guitars aggression when singer is singing. (technique). If you have keyboards, turn them off. lol.
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