#1
Hello all, I just joined a band as their new bassist and we have a few shows coming up in a couple months. I've never played live before, and it's not the performance I'm nervous about, it's the set up before hand. I know things have to be efficient when setting up and tearing down and I don't want you cause any trouble. I know every venue is a bit different, but how do you set up a bass? Do they just mic the amp and go from there or is there more to it? Please help!
#2
Assuming you have an amplifier and speaker for use on the Back Line - i.e. at the back of the stage, agree with your band where it goes, e.g. if you have two guitarists and a drummer it should go next to the drummer and the guitarists one either side. So, is it powerfull enough - 30W is OK for backing a folk band, more like 300W for Heavy Metal.

There are two normal ways of connecting it to the PA system - only needed in larger venues - 1. a mic in front of your speaker - don't let them just dangle it down the front,  make it a face the speaker on a stand otherwise it will sound crap. Hope it is a decent mic or buy one yourself   2. they connect to the line output on your amplifier (if it has one) 

Alternatives: a) if you don't have a big amp but the band has a big PA and big monitors you can connect to that via a DI box - not really a brill idea but works OK for folk band / acoustics etc. b) they connect your bass to the PA by a DI box which has a second output to your amplifier c) they connect a DI box to your speaker output.

If the PA guy is a pro (or as good as one) he will do a sound check and may ask you to change your volume up or down - stick to this volume thoughout the gig - if you can't hear it loud enough on stage then get closer to it rather than turn it up as this will fuck up the mix.

Obviously tune your bass before you sound check and check it before you go on stage and, if there are lots of hot lights check and tune after the first song - which your guitarists should do too - your front man should have rehearsed something to say while you do this.

Ensure you have a LONG good quality guitar cable, speaker cable (if your amp is not a combo), a LONG mains cable or an mains extension (i.e. long enough for the biggest stage you expect.)
Last edited by PSimonR at Jun 12, 2017,
#3
MrVandresan It depends on your gear and where you're playing etc.

Don't over think it.  Bass guitar plugs into bass amp, bass amp plugs into bass cab.  Maybe there's a pedal board between the bass and the amp. Maybe the amp is actually a combo.  Maybe it's a small place and there is no micing.  Maybe it's a bigger place and there is a mic.

If the later is the case, 9 times out of 10 the tech is going to mic your cab.  Sometimes guitar/bass players mark their cab for which speaker they like micd.  If not, it's usually just the most efficient speaker to get the mic in front of.  If it's a bit more formal of a setting, they may give you an opportunity to play briefly so they can set your levels.  If it's more rushed and/or informal, they may adjust levels during your first song and throughout your set

Here's some rules to live by:

-not all techs know what they are doing
-you won't always get a soundcheck
-keep it simple and don't overthink
-rock and fucking roll
"I definitely don’t write all my music in a blackout, like I used to, although I did come up with some good stuff in a blackout."
-Matt Fucking Pike
#4
I would disagree with PSimonR's stance that D.I. isn't ideal. It's a lot better than using an unbalanced line out, as the balanced output from a D.I. box protects the signal from interference from the inevitably long cable from stage to desk. I'm also unaware of a DI Box that goes after the speaker output. The idea is to take a small signal and boost it to line level, something the desk can use. It's counter intuitive and potentially costly to do it after the amp, as the components have to be much, much higher rated to deal with the much, much higher power, and then attenuate the signal.

Many, many bassists go the DI route. One famous example was Geddy Lee. For the longest time he wouldn't have an amp onstage at all.
#5
I agree with deliriumbassist,

I've seen countless times people just DI into the house.  In fact, I've played a handful of places that had permanent DI's installed on the stage.  Alternatively, I've also seen plenty of examples of bass players who DI into the house and also run a stage rig.  A local metal band did this and the stage rig was 100% distorted and the house line was a sub bass signal.  Made the band sound huge. 

The odds of all this applying to the show you're playing?  Hard to tell.  People get worked up about setup and tear down.  If you know how to plug your bass in, and how to connect your cab to your head with a speaker cable, and you have power cord and can plug it in, there isn't anything to worry about.  Play enough times you'll learn that an eager band and a tech wrapping mic cables will always exist - so pay no mind to them, but be efficient and get your stuff together and off the stage.

Understanding what your rig is and what you're dealing with could also help us address some of your stresses.  
"I definitely don’t write all my music in a blackout, like I used to, although I did come up with some good stuff in a blackout."
-Matt Fucking Pike
#6
Other basic things:

At least two of most things - cables, battery if you have an active bass, strings. And duct tape. Great for sticking down set lists and cable excess.

I would also say that it's a dangerous line of thinking that 'not all techs know what they're doing.' While it may be true, a lot of perceived problems are because musicians don't know what they're doing. Stage volume and tone are very different from room volume and tone. That's why sound desks are where they are.
Last edited by Deliriumbassist at Jun 12, 2017,
#7
Quote by PSimonR
 a) if you don't have a big amp but the band has a big PA and big monitors you can connect to that via a DI box - not really a brill idea but works OK for folk band / acoustics etc. 

What even? I'm both a bassist and a "sound tech guy" (I've mixed school shows, club gigs, musicals, speeches etc.) and I'll tell you that DI is an ideal choice for almost anything. I love DI boxes, especially when I'm in the sound tech department. They work wonders. As a bass player, I'm going to be pretty pissed if I can't play with a DI box, and as a sound tech guy, I'm pissed if the bassist doesn't have a DI box. There aren't many situations where I'd pick an amp over a DI.
Quote by Deliriumbassist
I would also say that it's a dangerous line of thinking that 'not all techs know what they're doing.' While it may be true, a lot of perceived problems are because musicians don't know what they're doing. Stage volume and tone are very different from room volume and tone. That's why sound desks are where they are.

If the venue has a good house technician, I'm willing to bet that any problems they'd face would be their own fault. Not all sound techs know their stuff, sure, but they still know it better than most of the musicians in the band probably. So I agree with you.
Quote by MrVandresan
I know every venue is a bit different, but how do you set up a bass? Do they just mic the amp and go from there or is there more to it? Please help!

Do you own a mic? Do you own a DI box? If not, do you know if the venue you're playing has house mics, or a house DI? If not, ask beforehand so you'll know for sure. Every gig I've done, the bass is often the most straightforward, I either mic the cab or plug it in directly, check that it works and sounds good and I'm done. I expect anyone working in sound tech to help you with the set up, unless you're doing the gig completely on your own. Do you know if you'll have some sort of a technician around for the show?
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#8
Quote by Kevätuhri
What even? I'm both a bassist and a "sound tech guy" (I've mixed school shows, club gigs, musicals, speeches etc.) and I'll tell you that DI is an ideal choice for almost anything. I love DI boxes, especially when I'm in the sound tech department. They work wonders. As a bass player, I'm going to be pretty pissed if I can't play with a DI box, and as a sound tech guy, I'm pissed if the bassist doesn't have a DI box. There aren't many situations where I'd pick an amp over a DI.

have you got to try your microbass out live yet? sound guys love me.

granted, not every gig will have a big PA (depends on what you're doing), but as long as you're not playing a house show, you'll be fine. having a bass amp is helpful for stage sound it just makes me feel a little less naked, but as long as you have a good quality DI and your bass is set-up well, you'll be good

something to note: when you hear yourself play, you might think your tone sounds awful. it's important to note that the sound guy is on the other side of the room for a reason - bass sound travels in mysterious ways. trust him and just have fun 

as far as non-DI route, TS, the best advice i can give is to pick a corner to plunk your stuff down. a lot of newer bass amps are designed to have a small stage footprint and make your live easy at gigs. ideally you'll be able to be able to bring your amp and bass in at the same time, or in 2 trips max. if you have older/bigger gear, that isn't realistic, but in a perfect world you'll be a 1-trip pony

then your job is to help set up drums. and break them down at the end. that's the curse of theoretically being able to bring your entire rig in one gig bag (bass, DI, tuner, cables)
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#9
Quote by Hail
have you got to try your microbass out live yet? sound guys love me.


Not yet, maybe I'll hit up a jam session with friends and try it out. At home, it sounds pretty great for the stuff I like to play. It'll get plenty of use later this year and early next year when the musical project stuff starts taking off.
then your job is to help set up drums. and break them down at the end. that's the curse of theoretically being able to bring your entire rig in one gig bag (bass, DI, tuner, cables)

Absolutely. You need to understand that drums take much more time to set up than any other instrument, and from experience I can tell you that if you leave the drummer alone with the task you'll spend an extra thirty minutes at the venue with a very angry drummer.
Quote by Jet Penguin
Theory: Not rules, just tools.

Quote by Hail
*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
#10
Quote by Deliriumbassist

   I would also say that it's a dangerous line of thinking that 'not all techs know what they're doing.' While it may be true, a lot of perceived problems are because musicians don't know what they're doing. Stage volume and tone are very different from room volume and tone. That's why sound desks are where they are.

Quote by Kevätuhri

If the venue has a good house technician, I'm willing to bet that any problems they'd face would be their own fault. Not all sound techs know their stuff, sure, but they still know it better than most of the musicians in the band probably. So I agree with you.

Yeah, "IF."  

I can see where these perspectives come from and I respect it.  But I'm just being real here.  I'm not a professional musician.  I've played a lot of venues of a lot of different sizes and qualities.  One day you get a person who is grade A with all pro house gear and he/she is there well before the show and you can tell it's their passion, they craft the best possible sound as possible, it's utopic sort of.  Next day you're in a can and the tech shows up 20 minutes before the show, everyone is backlined where the bartender said to setup, and he's rushing to untangle mic cables from a milk crate while the show goers are wondering wtf they paid 20 bucks for.  

Equally, you have musicians who show up 100% ready to work with the tech to establish the best sound, and you have musicians (usually novice) completely unsympathetic to the job that the tech has to do, and has no understanding for what his/her goals and objectives are.  

I'm not sure it's a dangerous line of thinking.  I think it's more dangerous to walk into a venue and meet the sound tech, whom you've never met and don't know their technical proficiency, and assume they are going to provide you with the best sound.  If you've had nothing but great experiences with well trained technicians then I am happy for you, but that is not the reality most bands are facing when they are starting at the bottom.  I've watched apprentices bastardize a set, and techs lose track of the show because they are teaching interns, had guys admit to me they were hired even though they didn't know anything about the equipment in that venue, and had sound guys completely disappear .  I think it's perfectly fair to say don't assume they know what's up, and I'm speaking technically and professionally.  Not all sound techs are at the top of their game, and when you meet these techs, you need to be your best self-advocate and work with them to make sure no balls are dropped.  

I also humbly offer the opinion that at the end of the day what the audience hears is what the tech is letting them hear (for better or worse).  Perception or not, problem or not, it's the techs job to handle whatever comes their way.  Oddball equipment, shitty sounding gear, headstrong guitarists who want to play at 11 even though it's not needed, vocalists who sing too far away from the mic, vocalists who give the mic a blowjob, vocalists who swing the mic and cord and mess it up.  If a band sounds bad, and the musicians in that band don't know much if anything about live sound, I'm not seeing the logic in saying the live sound problems are a function of the tech knowing what they are doing.  

Just my 2c  
"I definitely don’t write all my music in a blackout, like I used to, although I did come up with some good stuff in a blackout."
-Matt Fucking Pike
#11
In my early days PA.s were purely for vocals hence big 18" loaded cabs for bass. I've never mic'd up alwayd used DI with either the post or pre EQ. 
G&L L2500
Squier Affinity Jazz Bass 5
Ashdown RPM pre-amp
Ashdown Little Giant 1000
300 watt 15" powered cab
450 watt 15" powered sub bass cab
2x10 + horn
1x15x10 + horn