Friday, May 11, 2012

GTRPLYR seeking SNDGY...

All my posts so far have been from the perspective of being behind a console.  I've spent most of the past 12 years behind a desk of some sort, but I also have a lot of time logged on stage as a guitar player, and over the past 2 years, I've been playing guitar more than mixing.  I thought I'd talk about what I look for in an engineer when I'm on stage...

First, when I arrive, I look to see if the house is aware of our stage plot, and if there are going to be any suprises on deck. Typically we play in churches, and that usually means we are in for some sort of adventure. Let's assume that this is an event where a local sound company was hired to provide sound, and we have a normal (rectangle) stage to work on.  Is there a short mic stand with a 609 on it on my side of the stage? Oh, good, I'll go put my amp there.  

Typically I have a FOH guy with me, but usually not a monitor guy. I try to seek out this person and say hello and introduce myself.  I do like it better when that guy comes out to the band though for introductions.  It sets a tone that the house guy is prepared, and wanting to know how we are when we arrive, and ready to address any issues or abnormal situations that none of us planned for. 

After setting up, getting mics up, getting sounds out of the amps, we are going to line check and sound check.  Ok monitor guy,  this is where we all need you.  We use IEM's, but even if we are using wedges, I want to hear your voice.  I'm going to be talking to you a lot over the next 30 mins, and I don't want to take my ears out to hear you.  Neither does the rest of the band.  Please have your talkback mic ready.  

When we are checking, I want to know that you're being attentive to the entire band. I understand if you're dialing in a sound, and your head is down looking at the console...but not for 5 minutes. When you're turning up channels in our ears,  have a hand on the aux send, and your eyes on the person you are dialing in, so you can see when we have enough. 

When you get to my channel, I'm going to be concerned about my tone. I know all guitar players are ultra obsessed with their tone, but this sound coming out of the amp is my voice. If it sounds weird to me in my ears, I'm going to ask questions.  Please don't shrug me off. I really want to know if it sounds too bright, dull, shrill etc. I'm probably going to move the microphone without asking. If it really ruins the sound, let me know.  I trust my FOH guy to let me know if it's not good in the house,  but I'm going to ask you about fixing it in my ears.

I'll probably have weird requests...like, "I want all of the toms in my head as much as the snare is, and overheads as well."  I'm finding more and more as I play with IEM's is that I personally feel really lost if I don't hear the entire drum kit. Singers complain of feeling isolated when they don't hear the crowd,  I feel isolated when I don't hear the entire kit.  I can't explain it, I think it has to do with playing small stages with no IEM and being right next to the kit all the time. So please humor me, and turn 'em up! I'm going to be picky about EQ. I'll be able to tell you what frequencies I don't like, but typically you will be interpreting obscure adjectives to make the artist happy.  

After we play a couple tunes,  we will all have adjustments to be made.  If you're on a digi desk, please save your scene when we are done!!! At show time, we probably won't have many changes or requests of you, but please don't walk away or snooze on us. Sometimes I ask for changes at the end of soundcheck that seem like a good idea at the time, but I soon realize that it's not working for me once our set begins.  Hopefully we get things ironed out in the first song or two.

If you're a lone engineer at a venue and you are handling FOH and monitors,  please give monitors as much attention as you can during soundcheck.  Engineers that pay extra attention to the band get extra swag at the end of the night. The stats prove it.

Trust me, I and the rest of the guys really appreciate you, house guy. When we all have success, you are sure to get compliments from us to your boss, the promoter that booked you, and the rest of the bands that we see when we are on our way, which will get you more work.  Have fun, good luck.

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