How to properly mic an amp on stage


maggior
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maggior
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08/12/2014 1:28 pm
When setting up our sound at our gig last week, the sound guy had me turn my amp down so low that on my "lead" channel I lost all of the dirt in my tone. He told me if I had it any louder, I might as well not even be miced. I don't even think my amp was at 1, so this made no sense to me. If I turned it up just a smidge, I would have had what I needed, but I was told it was too loud.

My amp is a 50W tube amp with a single 12" speaker. I had it setup so I had the tone I wanted at a low volume - at 1 perhaps. It's not like I was looking to drive the amp really hard to get my tone.

I see bands with 100W stacks on stage that are miced, so I can't imagine the issue is that my amp is too powerful.

How should I approach this in the future...this is completely new for me since I've always just played through my amp with it being miced into the PA.

Thanks!!!
# 1
fretsmith
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fretsmith
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08/12/2014 2:38 pm
Hey Rich- There's prob a few diff ways the sound guy could address/correct your situation. But if you want to control your tone/volume yourself I would recommend an "attenuator". Search e-bay and you'll find 100's. There are "real" atten that hook up in front of your amps speaker and work real well but can get pricey. A cheap ($25) alternative are the ones that work thru your effects loop. You can ring up whatever tone/dirt you want on your amp and then control the overall output with the atten without altering the tone. Running ur 50w amp at "1" is like driving a car in first gear.... it's begging for room to run.

They also smooth out the volume contour. I have tube amps that can't hit that sweet spot between "not quite loud enough" and "too loud"... the vol control is just too touchy. $25 solved both problems (for me). Highly recommended.
# 2
maggior
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maggior
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08/12/2014 3:41 pm
Thanks Fretsmith. Is this what guys with 100W Marshall stacks are typically doing?

Funny - I bought a higher powered amp so I would be able to gig with it...never did I think too much power was going to be an issue :-).

You're right though - this amp wants to run. I was able to get it cranking at rehearsal like I can't at home. BIG difference.
# 3
Ben Lindholm
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Ben Lindholm
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08/12/2014 6:31 pm
Yeah, this is always an issue when playing small clubs. I'm guessing this was a small club?

A 50W tube amp can be REALLY loud, and usually 30W of pure tube will be more than enough for almost any gig.

Like you, I hate having to play at 1 or 1,5 when I really want to go to 11. :) One thing you can do in these situations is turn the amp backwards, facing away from the audience. Sometimes the drummer will want the guitar amp facing him if he has trouble hearing what's going on over his drums. This way you can turn it up a bit, and the mic'd up amp will come out evenly through the PA system for the audience.

If you don't have monitors facing you on stage, this can of course be a problem since you won't hear yourself as well.
# 4
maggior
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maggior
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08/12/2014 7:19 pm
Hi Ben -

Thanks for chiming in. Actually, this was an outdoor gig. I would have been happy at 2...anything would have been better than .5!! I think the guy running sound wanted the sound to come purely through the PA.

He hung the mic so the chord was wrapped around the carry handle of my amp (a combo amp) putting the mic laying against the grill of my amp.

Should the mic have been on a stand and moved back a bit? Can't you attenuate the signal coming from the mic?

This was an ad-hoc setup since we were an opening act. Our stuff was run though a different mixer than the main act. Though there were monitors on stage, only the singer was going through the monitors. That was a different challenge - not hearing what I was playing clearly :-). I have dealt with that before and managed.

I need to sit down with somebody that has been in bands for years, buy them a few beers, and pick their brain for a couple of hours. Eventually we should have our own stuff and not have to rely on others.
# 5
ChristopherSchlegel
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ChristopherSchlegel
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08/12/2014 8:39 pm
Sorry for the bad experience. Been there 1K times. :p
Originally Posted by: maggiorI think the guy running sound wanted the sound to come purely through the PA.[/quote]
You are thinking exactly right. Majority of sound guys want total control over the mix. And the smaller the room, the harder that is to do without everything being line-in.

I've had FOH guys tell me to turn down my half-stack in a big hall. :rolleyes:
[QUOTE=maggior]
He hung the mic so the chord was wrapped around the carry handle of my amp (a combo amp) putting the mic laying against the grill of my amp.

Should the mic have been on a stand and moved back a bit? Can't you attenuate the signal coming from the mic?

Yes, the mic should have been on a stand. That hanging it over the amp thing is lame & I've also had to deal with that too many times. But moving the mic around isn't going to fix the battle with the sound guy. He can turn the mic up or down as needed, but the issue is the SPL coming out of the amp.

Ben mentioned a classic fix: turn your amp around. This works great sometimes. But not always. Especially if the amp is open backed, then sound is coming out the back as loud as the front. Also, if the stage is against a wall, it's just bouncing back at you.

Finally, you can't hear & react to the sound coming out of your amp. Which is the problem in the first place!

The best fix is exactly what sound panels & baffles are for: to isolate & control sound. You've probably seen the expensive clear plexiglass version in front of drums or amps.

We used cheap workarounds for years. You can put your guitar case in front of the speaker to block how much sound is getting to the sound guy. You can throw a blanket over the whole amp & mic. You can build a simple plywood wall to put right in front of the amp (cheap plexiglass baffle!). If it looks too amateur, then paint it flat black. :p Or put your band's logo on a banner. :)

Whatever you do, try to work with the sound guy. Keep him on your side. If the sound guy doesn't like your attitude you're asking for nothing but trouble.

Hope this helps!
Christopher Schlegel
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# 6
maggior
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maggior
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08/12/2014 9:11 pm
Thanks Christopher for chiming in!

Yeah, my amp is open backed, so turning it around wouldn't have helped...unless I turned it sideways.

I've read elsewhere that you don't want to annoy the sound guy...make him your buddy...he has the power to make you sound horrible...or great!

I've seen the clear plexiglass baffles put in front of drum kits, but never amps. I like your idea of building a baffle from plywood, painting it black, and putting the band's logo on it.

Well, I have other ideas and stuff to explore...thanks!
# 7
ChristopherSchlegel
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ChristopherSchlegel
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08/13/2014 2:05 am
http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/CSPA43/

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v413/peterreid/IMG_20090804_0311.jpg?t=1249771629
Christopher Schlegel
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# 8
maggior
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maggior
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08/13/2014 3:07 am
Huh, maybe they've been used and I just never noticed. They are expensive.

I see you included a picture of my buddy Joe B using one :-).

Thanks!!
# 9
SJWeissen
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SJWeissen
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08/13/2014 8:28 am
It is interesting that you chose a picture of Joe Bonamassa. On his podcast a week or two back he was talking about a gig when he was a teenager at an outdoor venue (I believe in Atlanta) that was very close the governor's mansion or mayor's house and had a very strict decibel restriction. The restriction was enforced by decibel meters on stage, and even with his amp turned to like 1 he was still too loud. He said the decibel meter was right in front of his amp. He eventually kept everyone happy by placing his guitar case between the amp and the meter. He said it didn't really change the volume but kept the guy checking the meter happy.
# 10
maggior
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maggior
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08/13/2014 11:57 am
Interesting story. Little did I know how involved this would be...even guys like Joe have to deal with it!!

So this whole thing makes me want to take control of our sound, which will mean getting or renting a PA. In a band setting, are the mics and stands and baffles considered part of the PA, or is it expected that each player will provide a mic, cable, stand, baffle, etc. The PA speakers and mixer I guess would be "band property"...

I'm thinking it makes sense for each player to provide what it takes to mic up their equipment...what have any of you guys done?
# 11

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