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Why good players sounds so bad.

I heard one of the worst bands I ever heard last nite. And most of the players in the band were fairly good. But they sounded like a giant loud indecernable mess. And these were supposed professional guys who should know better.

Four piece band, the two guitar players just buried the whole band, walking all over each other's leads and the vocals, the kick durm was mic'd so loud it was just jumble in the mix, the drummer (another supposed pro) over played, and had no backbeat... in short it was a wall of unidentifiable noise.
My friend kept telling me what great players they all were and it was the room. .Wailing away on rhythm guitar and burying the rest of the band has nothing to do with the room accoustics I told him. .My point was how good could these guys really be if they don't have enough sense to play in proper porportion to each other and stop walking all over each other, and get a drum that understands the basics of putting a beat across. These guys in the band seem to be completely oblivious to how bad they sounded. I was thinking to myself, if I was up there and was trying to sing, I'd turn around and scream at them, "Shut the F**K up I'm trying to sing".
Point one- I'm tired of hearing people blame "the sound" and the room for what is really bad musicianship. 99 percent of the circumstances I've come across, is that the sounds sucks because or the indvidual players not the sound system. They simple don't know how to play out of the way and let the lead/vocal come thru, they over play and play with muddled tone and/or to loud.
Point two: I don't care how technical or proficient a person is on their instrument, they are still chump change amatures if they don't know how to fit into a band setting and make a good sound that is soft and cuts, and play a part that is simple and effective.

The group I saw last nite, were all suppose to be all seasoned old hands according to my friend. And I must say they all were very proficient at their instruments, but my point to my friend was that just because you are proficient at your instrument doesn't mean you know anything about music or how to play and sound good. Music and sounding good in a band is so much more than just being able to play an instument.
And STOP blaming the sound system !


drumist69 Tue, 05/29/2007 - 14:38
Was that for my comment, hueseph? I wasn't speaking of bands like Dream Theatre, just the "hometown hero" types who spent too much time shredding in the basement and not enough time listening to what the rest of the players are doing. I grew up on old school progressive rock, so I can appreciate technique! Peace! Andy

BobRogers Tue, 05/29/2007 - 18:12
Well, this thread has had at least one positive result. It inspired me to play my Standing in the Shadows of Motown DVD. It's not the world's greatest documentary, but I have a great time with it. Great way to watch a whole battalion on musicians who could stay out of each others way and create great grooves. Typically three guitarists playing these tiny parts in perfect sync. Two pianos, organ. vibes, tambourine, drums, congas, and BASS. Horn section, backup singers. AND plenty of room for the lead singer to be a star. There're people who can still do it, but there's too many who have the guitar hero mentality (happens in all genres).

Pro Audio Guest Wed, 05/30/2007 - 23:14
BobRogers Wrote:
Well, this thread has had at least one positive result. It inspired me to play my Standing in the Shadows of Motown DVD. It's not the world's greatest documentary, but I have a great time with it. Great way to watch a whole battalion on musicians who could stay out of each others way and create great grooves.

Excuse my ignorance but........
So do groups like this (Standing in the.....) have a musical leader/conductor who oversees what the group sounds like while it's playing and he says...."Hey're to loud ---- and you on the piano bring it up more on your solo". I'm assuming that someone must write and actual arrangement to, right ?

I think the trouble with your typical band is that usually no one is musically in charge, so all the player are just doing whatever they fell like it, and playing as loud or soft as the want, while no one is being the set of ears for the overall band everyone just wails away and let's the sound guy try to sort it out. The problem with someone trying to act as the conductor (for lack of a better term) in your typical band with the no-so-pro-players is that someone always gets ticked off whenever anyone tries to tell him anything - and just saying "turn it down" are fightin' words.... :lol:

Link555 Wed, 05/30/2007 - 23:24
Somewhat -with producers and all, but mainly it’s just them listening to one another. That’s the mark of a true musician in my eyes, the ability to hear everyone else and blend themselves into the groove. Much easier said then done, so when you see artists able to do it so well, due to all that experience and practice in their past, its very refreshing.

BobRogers Thu, 05/31/2007 - 06:58
SITSOM is about the "Funk Brothers," the studio musicians for Motown back in the Detroit days. The songs there would typically have an arranger and/or producer, but there would be a lot of room for (and high expectations of) creativity. And of course, they were paid to take orders and they were there for the check, not for an ego trip. Perhaps their strong ties to jazz led them to accept the management structure of a strong leader with others playing the role of sidemen. I think a lot of rock musicians forget that the "democratic group" isn't the only structure that has produced good music.

But in addition to management, there was an attitude toward music that we see much less today. Those guys took more pride in being accompanists - playing for the song. Much more of a team concept than you often see today. You have to look long and hard through the Motown catalog to find a solo by any instrument longer than four bars, and I can't think of any longer than eight off the top of my head.

Pro Audio Guest Sun, 05/27/2007 - 01:28
JoeJoeMan wrote:
they are still chump change amatures if they don't know how to fit into a band setting and make a good sound that is soft and cuts, and play a part that is simple and effective.

I agree with your statement except for this part. A "good soft" sound is preference, as is simplicity.

But yeah I've seen this all too often. It especially blows when you're the guy behind the mixer and have to explain to "back seat soundguys" that the vocals are as loud as they can go - and the only way to turn the guitars down is to climb on stage and reach for that Marshall head set on eleven, because I took them out of the mix a long time ago!

rockstardave Sun, 05/27/2007 - 11:57
i printed up a list of "tips" (requirements) that i give to each member before a show.

basically details proper mic usage, as well as a quick "how to sound great on stage" paragraph. of course that's where it mentions that i have a FRONT OF HOUSE system for the FRONT OF THE HOUSE.

"just keep yourself as loud as you need to hear yourself. i have plenty of microphones and 2400 watts of power. let me handle the audience, you handle yourself. and if necessary, i can put you through the monitors as much as you want too"

.. or something like that.

it's obvious to us sound fellas, but for the average joe schmoe guitar player, he may be used to not having his amp mic'ed up or something. who knows..

then if there are complaints i can give a copy to the complainer and tell them that the band has read over this and elected not to follow my advice on how to sound good.

although generally it works REALLY well... as long as you arent a dick when you talk to the band they generally WANT to sound good.

my 2cents

Pro Audio Guest Sun, 06/03/2007 - 11:52
I played with my band this weekend......Our keyboard player really has a tendency to over play and walk on the vocals/lead.....We try to explain it to him, he say "Oh yes I know"......and he means it to, but he just doesn't get it......which leads me to a point and that is that the older I get, the more I play the more I'm realizing that being a good musician is about one's approach more so then their ability to play their instrument, focusing on 'playing' without the big pictures, in the end will make you a worse player.
Some people put their focus on the wrong things, as such they'll never sound good, they will in the end just windup practicing their mistakes and getting very good at it.....even if they can play at the speed of light......
Other players focus on the end result - the sound - the music, as such their objective is to find those things that get them to that end, they use that to guide them, learning and practicing what is required to meet the end, whether it requires play complicated or very simple things. The difficulty or the amount of notes they play is not part of their equation - only the end result is.
So unlike some that think one must be gifted or posses great ability to be good - I disagree. I believe your attitude and approach are what will make you good in the end. Being able to sound good is basical easy, if you come at it with the right perspective. Some people get it and so people don't.

Pro Audio Guest Tue, 05/29/2007 - 08:44
Thanks for confirming my thoughts guys.....At least I know it's not just me.
Players have a tendency to just think about what they are doing/ if they are just at home playing along with a CD, they don't think in terms of - what does the song need, does it even need me at all to play anything.
I have a group, I try (try) to keep the players in balance, etc, when I suggest to a player to just play a simple part like a simple note or two to fill a musical hole in the arrangement - I usualy get "yea but I'm won't be doing anything" - you see the delema, they thing they have to play alot and play all the time. Point being that cluttering up the arrangement is one part of the problem.
A big problem with the "NOISE" band I saw the other night was that both or the guitar players were strumming chords and playing none stop on every song....most of the time both of them were pounding out conflicting overly complex rhythms - LOUD, the vocals didn't have a chance.
I kept jokingly telling my buddy, "the drummer forgot to bring his snare" .....I thought they didn't mic it, but every so often, you could hear it when he decided to hit it properly, in the meantime his kick drum was mic and set to destroy the world.
And you know what's funny is that - just about every band I see/hear does the same thing, albiet the guys I saw last weekend really take the cake. And these guys are touted as the 'pros'

hueseph Tue, 05/29/2007 - 10:24
Sounds to me to be just a bit of an ego battle. It's bound to happen with some musicians. A bad case of too many cooks in the kitchen. Sure it's fine to have a kitchen full of cooks but they can't all be on the stove at the same time. (Sorry, it's almost lunch.)

It's great to have a band full of musicians that know their craft. That's what Jazz is all about isn't it? It's helpful though, when each band member knows when to play rhythm.

In regards to so called "technical musician who can't play music". Those things are a matter of opinion. There are plenty of people who don't like Dream Theatre because it's too "technical". That doesn't make it any less music for people who can appreciate it.