Stupid Soundmen Questions

The lowdown on the Mississippi Sax. Just for Google, this section is about harmonicas.

Stupid Soundmen Questions

Postby dcblues » Sun Aug 16, 2009 10:32 pm

I had a concert gig yesterday and when we were doing the sound check the soundman asked me something like, "Why does your amp sound so percussive? It really echoes a lot." I told him that I use an echo pedal (the Danelectro BLT) and I turned it off and played some more. But he still thought it was too percussive. I tried to explain tongue blocking to him and that is how amplified blues harp should sound, but he didn't get it.

And that's not the worst soundman story I have. Some of them are just clueless.
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Re: Stupid Soundmen Questions

Postby jeffl » Mon Aug 17, 2009 1:14 pm

I know you're just venting dc, but you must be accustomed to educating soundmen since you play harp. Look at it from the soundman's point of view: he obviously hadn't worked with harpers much, and now you've contributed to his education. Keep up the work and hide your frustrations... that stuff'll never end.
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Re: Stupid Soundmen Questions

Postby Bournio » Mon Aug 17, 2009 4:18 pm

Don't be shy to tell soundmen things! A lot of people don't know how to treat it! I'm sure there're loads of instruments I'd have to ask about!
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Re: Stupid Soundmen Questions

Postby barbequebob » Tue Aug 18, 2009 9:09 pm

From 30+ years of pro playing experience, trust me, for every sound guy who has a clue about harmonica, there's at least 100K of them that are totally clueless, and a HUGE number of them will think bob Dylan and bury the instrument badly, as most of the guys they deal with are gonna be rock vocalists/frontmen trying to play harp, and are usually gonna be godawful, to put it very politely. In all that time, I can count maybe 5 or 6 guys who really knew what they were doing when it came to harmonica, and one was himself a great harp player, and in this club he was doing the sound for one night, he had that PA and the whole thing sound like Chess Records!!!!

Unfortunately, educating sound guys is gonna be par for the course, and too often the same for recording engineers as well.
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Re: Stupid Soundmen Questions

Postby MakaInOz » Wed Aug 19, 2009 5:30 am

I have gone the massive overkill path for educating a sound man.

The first step (and the most fun part) was the conception. 24 years, most of an IT degree and a diploma in music technology later, I've got a pretty reasonable sound man who at least understands how to get harp in the mix.

From either a financial or timeliness perspective, this is probably not the most efficient way to educate a sound man. But he plays both doghouse and electric bass, a bit of piano and guitar and is currently having fun learning mandolin, so he has other uses besides his ability on the board. Hate to think what the total food and education bill is though!
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Re: Stupid Soundmen Questions

Postby bottleneck » Wed Aug 19, 2009 4:48 pm

from 30+ years of pro playing,trust me,what bbq bob says is spot on.

now that i'm older and wiser,one of the first things i do when i get to a club with a soundman(rather than the places where you do your own sound)is try to win the sound man over.even if he is a classic rock mullet,even if i have to be obsequious .it makes a big difference.

there are things worse than soundmen that don't have a clue.i once had a soundman that would eq out notes like the one hole draw in the house speakers but it sounded fine in the monitors.he knew exactly what he was doing ,we were just after the same girl,haha

www.myspace.com/shakeylyman
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Re: Stupid Soundmen Questions

Postby tobie » Mon Aug 24, 2009 12:08 pm

jeffl wrote:I know you're just venting dc, but you must be accustomed to educating soundmen since you play harp.... that stuff'll never end.

True, so true. I've given up playing dobro & pedal steel at church, for the same reason (that has helped convincing me to play bass - for some reason everyone understands bass). Maybe I'll have the energy to re-introduce the dobro soon... :?

I've trained my soundman to keep all of the harmonica settings at '0' and I'm adding all effects before sending it to the PA. That way the audience hear what I want them to hear.
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Re: Stupid Soundmen Questions

Postby bosco » Mon Aug 24, 2009 1:22 pm

We played a benefit last Saturday and the soundman is a friend of mine from another band. When we were setting up I approached the sound board to ask him which stage mic he wanted me to use for my harp amp. He looked up, saw me coming and before I could even say a word he shouted "NO"!

:lol:

Anyway he did a great job, no complaints. Having actual musicians running the board helps in a lot of ways.
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Re: Stupid Soundmen Questions

Postby barbequebob » Mon Aug 24, 2009 2:02 pm

I did a gig once where the soundman was a friend of mine and a helluva harp player in his own right. He made a really run of the mill house PA sound more like Chess Records, and his main gig was as a sound guy for a rockabilly band and he made that board sound like Sun Records for them. Trust me, there are veeeeeeeeeery few guys like that!
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Re: Stupid Soundmen Questions

Postby jeffl » Mon Aug 24, 2009 4:25 pm

A few years ago I caught Leon Russell at an all-day outdoor fest. The first two bands were mixed great and the sound was perfect. Leon's sound sucked. I asked the "house" soundman what the hell the problem was and he said that Leon's sound guy wouldn't take any advice from him, and the equipment belonged to the "house" soundman....! I noticed a minor stream of local musicians wandering up to the soundman 'cuz Leon's mix was so bad (even the peons without ears could tell somethin' was wrong) , but to no avail.
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