Bass Free

Which equipment should our band invest in?

I play a Hagstrom Swede on a Line 6 15 Watt Spider III amp and use different pedals including Boss DS-1, an Aria Wah, and a Line 6 Tone Core Echo Park delay. The other guitarist plays an Ibanez guitar (not sure which model) on a 15 watt Peavey Amp. We are still looking for a bass player and i don't know which kind of set our drummer plays. We use a CDG Karaoke Machine for the mic. What equipment should we invest in if we are planning to get some small gigs and then eventually get some bigger gigs?

Have you seriously jammed as a full band, drums and all, and could actually be heard with 15 watt amps? Remarkable. Your drummer must be playing really softly! Once you introduce even a halfway decent bass amp you'll understand why you need a decent guitar amp - 15 solid state watts just won't cut it.

Firstly, get better guitar amps. Many guitar players will say that you need 100w to play live, but honestly, that's overkill. Volume on stage is actually a bad thing - on stage you want just enough volume to be picked up by a mic, but enough watts to have decent headroom, and be able to turn up a bit louder for an un-mic'd practice... and have enough volume for an un-mic'd gig, for that matter. 15w won't fill a venue of any size, especially with vocals over a PA, drums, and a bass amp all going.

So both of you need to get guitar amps that are a little louder - and preferably have 2 or more speakers. More speakers move more air. That's a good thing.

Get a decent vocal system... get a PA and a decent mic or two. That way your vocalist(s) can actually be heard over the din. You'll want at least 100w total for your PA at the absolute least. More watts = more headroom = higher quality sound = louder volume you can get. As far as mics go, Shure SM58 are great vocal mic's, pretty much industry standard.

That's the basics. You won't need your PA for most gigs, as most venues have a PA, for vocals at the very least. But you'll need it for practice, as a karaoke machine won't do jack against multiple guitars, drums, and a bass.

Free tips - listen to the soundman at gigs. If he says turn down, turn it freakin' down! If your guitar is too loud then he can't do anything to improve your tone or make a correct mix for the band - and you'll sound like poo. I've heard it so many times... on stage, start by turning your guitar up to half of your practice volume (this is all assuming you're mic'd) and raise it if the sound guy says so. I advise lowering your gain and cutting your bass a bit - a guitar that sounds amazing when played solo often sounds like poo or disappears in the mix when playing in a band. You want plenty of treble and a fair amount of mids - no scooping your mids! Lowering your bass frequencies makes it easier for the bass guitar and drums to be heard - if you ever record your band you'll learn very quickly that bass = mud.

Well, that's a good start. Good luck!

Saul

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