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Bandmate Issues

ChiefbigeasyChiefbigeasy New Orleans, LA✭✭✭ Alves de Puga DR670; Dupont MDC 50; The Loar LH600
I’m fortunate enough to have found two bandmates—guitar and bass—and a great practice place, and a monthly gig at a coffeehouse. The fly in the ointment? We practice acoustically, but amp up for the gig and my fellow guitarist turns up too loud for solos.

He uses a Peche a la Mouche and thinks he can control volume on the fly, turning up to solo and down to accompany. I’ve suggested setting levels before we start by setting the highest solo volume and then backing off a little for rhythm. He prefers to dial it in while playing. This invariably leads to too much volume. I also think that it’s starting to become a crutch in that the pickup sound can be forgiving with some sloppy technique.

I don’t like the idea getting louder myself; that’s a classic dead end. I lead the trio and can usually control things by “bringing it down” a bit, but it’s starting to bug me. Just to keep things in perspective, I’m getting supporting feedback from the audience as well.

Among the reasoned arguments I’m going to to try to make is that I think the Peche works and sounds better full on—no distortion, but full range. I’ve also suggested he use a foot switch with the amp that could toggle between two channels set a different volumes. That would eliminate fiddling with the volume knob on the Peche entirely.

We’ve had lots of good gigs at this venue, but his volume issue is a regular thorn in my ear. As anyone playing is already probably aware, it’s hard enough juggling the other random problems playing live without having a regular irritant pop up. My next to final solution will be to suggest with play acoustically. The coffeehouse is quiet enough to support this, though there’s a house PA with the standard SM57’s and 58’s on hand.

Haven’t seen too much in the forum about bandmate issues, or I’m not looking in the right places. I’m lucky to have the players and gigs I’ve got, but I just want to get the best from what I’ve got.

I’d appreciate any feedback or comments on your experiences.
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Comments

  • Wim GlennWim Glenn oƃɐɔᴉɥƆVirtuoso 503
    Rearrange your seating: Get yourself out of the firing line of other guitarists amp, if you're not already. Then ask the guitarist to place his amp behind his own seating position. It's much easier to get a feel for acceptable volume level here, and there is no problem with feedback on the Peche a la mouche.

    If he was previously sitting behind his amp, or had it off to the side, it could be a simple case of not realizing how loud it actually was for bandmates and/or front of house.
    ConorF
  • Lango-DjangoLango-Django Niagara-On-The-Lake, ONModerator
    I used to play with an older sax player who had hearing problems, and always wanted his mike level up too high. And if we turned him down, he would get pissy...

    Has your guy got any hearing issues? If so, that the the first thing to address.

    If that’s not the problem, I’d start recording my group at every gig and sharing the results with the other guys... chances are everybody wants a good blend and will cooperate to make it happen...
    I live in a little tourist town called Niagara-On-The-Lake, Ontario, Canada, which is about twenty miles north of Niagara Falls.

    If you are ever planning on visiting the beautiful Niagara area, feel free to PM me and perhaps we can get together and do some jamming.
  • I personally don't see a reason to switch between two different levels, one for solos and one for rhythm. I think you should just adjust your playing dynamics, set your level loud enough for solo, not too loud, and lighten up the rhythm playing. Even in my rock days when I was playing distorted, I was always aiming to set my sound and levels and just play. But I see it often, it's very popular with people. Another thing I see more in the jazz and GJ than in rock is the need for a loud personal monitoring. Which sometimes makes that one person the loudest instrument overall. The band sound has to always come first and everybody needs to be open to adjust themselves so that this goal is hit.

    Mostly I see people get a gain pedal and boost the level for solos. Better solution I think is to get a simple passive volume control box with a switchable preset that really acts as attenuator. So you set the levels that you think you need for solos and then use the attenuator box to cut the signal a little quieter for rhythm. They're pretty easy to put together yourself. Here's instructions:
    https://www.premierguitar.com/articles/19549-state-of-the-stomp-build-a-preset-volume-box

    For your band buddy, if he is much louder in the room, besides positioning his amp so he can monitor himself better, have a friend come up to the stage and tell you something like "it sounds good guys, only so and so is a little loud". Hopefully you can be open with him and tell him that the band sound comes first. But there are ways to satisfy both requirements as long as everyone is willing to work on it.

    Yeah, for a coffeehouse going acoustic into the PA is probably your best bet.
    Every note wants to go somewhere-Kurt Rosenwinkel
  • Chris MartinChris Martin Shellharbour NSW Australia✭✭ Petrarca Modèle Chorus, Di Mauro Modèle Django, Gitane DG-250M, Favino Model 5A, Bucolo 'petite bouche', Hoyer & Framus Archtops, and a few electrics.
    Get Spinal Tap on DVD and invite the boys round one evening for some beer and pizza.............
  • My two centavos:

    If you can’t directly communicate these concerns to a bandmate and resolve the issue immediately, just move on without them.

    If other band mates and the audience are telling you the guitarist is making the band sound bad, that reflects on you as a band leader. Deal with it, positively and professionally, and move on.
  • In the past, I've been accused of playing too loud but it's a combination of a slight hearing deficiency (diagnosed recently) and I think a more universal problem that many of us tend to focus more on our own instrument than the overall mix and only feel like we're not loud enough. Everybody kinda wants to be front and center! Lots of people I've played with don't think they're loud enough when they are.

    It may also be a lack of experience and "maturity" in a bandmate who won't listen to reason. If a bandmate suggests that I'm too loud or I suggest that he or she is, we just turn it down. To not do so means to me that the person is a jackass.
  • @Chiefbigeasy I see you already tried a lot of what I suggested, sorry man I have a cold haha.
    If he's not willing to budge then it's like @dm7b5 said, be completely open with him and if he's still not willing to work with you, move on. Playing duo with bass is a great exercise.
    Every note wants to go somewhere-Kurt Rosenwinkel
  • A few more thoughts, Adolph:
    1) The beauty of the Peche is that you can turn it down without having to get up and go to your amp. If he's so touchy when asked, proceed to my #4.
    2) If you're running everything to a house mix, turn him down at the mixer.
    3) Make him get a cheap in-ear monitor and blast his guitar into it.
    4) Like @Buco and @dm7b5 said, get rid of him.

    @Buco also had good advice by having planted audience member tell him that his guitar is too loud, but it sucks to have to be underhanded and that he won't attempt to comply when asked by you. May signal future issues ahead with the guy.
  • ChiefbigeasyChiefbigeasy New Orleans, LA✭✭✭ Alves de Puga DR670; Dupont MDC 50; The Loar LH600
    Thanks for all the good suggestions and observations.

    My thought is to set levels before the set starts so all that would be required is to back off the volume a little if necessary. The Peche has a control right on the pickup. Personally, I use a volume pedal for my Schertler amp.

    I’m hoping the diplomatic approach will work. I’ve cultivated his skills for several years and I’d hate to star over. Not that many musicians for me to choose from otherwise.

  • therealguyfitherealguyfi Milwaukee, WINew Dell Arte Hommage oval
    edited November 28
    I think varying your technique for lead/rhythm volumes is easy in a quiet situation but more difficult with ambient noise (like playing in a bar). In my band we tried a variety of boost pedals (clean boost, eq, compressors, etc) but they all changed the tone and/or made the guitar feed back. We use AT pro 70's and Compact 60's. The solution was building something similar to the link Buco shared above. When it's "on" (lead mode, LED lit up) it's really bypassed and doing nothing, the other mode brings your volume down for playing rhythm. This has worked out very well for us, and I've built them for several other GJ players in the region. They're very transparent work well with the Pro 70, the Ishell, K and K's. One buddy uses it with the Peche, though I think it's a bit less transparent with magnetic pickups. If you build something like the one above, you might try a 50k pot instead of a 500k, which is used frequently with humbuckers. Message me for more info.
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