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barks62

Help with mixing my POD with the rest of the band

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I have been using my POD for band practice for a little over a year now, always going direct into our mixer and out to our PA speakers.  That worked well when I was the only guitar player, but we recently added a second guitar player and now my guitar is getting lost in the mix.  Our other guitar player is also our singer, and he doesn't always play while he sings so I'm not constantly competing with him, but it is enough that I have started trying to tweak my tone to compensate.

 

First, his setup is a simple Marshall combo amp (DSL40c).  No stomp boxes or anything.  My setup is the SLO Crunch model for clean tones with a Line 6 Distortion in front of it for heavy tones, with some delay when I'm playing solos.  I have the gain turned down on both of them, and even though I like a bright tone I've tried to trim down the high end because it really became ear splitting when we cranked the volume.  I also make sure there is plenty of mid range in my amp model and on the distortion box model.  By itself, the guitar tone sounds pretty good to me, even at loud volumes.  With the band, clean tones sound ok but when I kick on that distortion it gets lost in the mix.  I've tried other distortion and overdrive models in the POD, but this combo is definitely my favorite so I want to make it work if at all possible.

 

I tried putting a mid focus EQ last in my chain, and it trimmed off all of my high end.  That made the guitar mix a lot better, but I don't really care for the tone.  It almost sounds like I'm listening to my guitar through a tin can or someone threw a towel over the speakers.  I tried putting the mid focus EQ before the Distortion box, and that kept some of the brightness of my tone, but I still was hard to hear in the mix.

 

A little more background info:  We practice in a basement.  We have the Marshall, a bass amp and cab, an acoustic drum kit, my POD, two microphones and 3 PA speakers in this little basement.  I'm sure that is making it tough to hear everything, and that leads me to my two questions.  1) if I use my normal, bright guitar tone and we go to a bigger room or outside somewhere, is it reasonable to expect things to sound better?  Could the main source of my problem be that there are just too many sound sources in a small room?  And 2) should I spend a lot of time tweaking my tone that it sounds good in that basement?  I'm afraid that if I get it to sound good there it won't sound good when we go play in a bar.  Or is the opposite true, should I make sure it mixes well in that small room so that it sounds even better in a big room?

 

I know this is a broad topic, but I'm hoping some experienced stage players can at least point me in the right direction.  I've been fighting with this for a while and I'm getting super frustrated with it.

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Problem with guitar is it is such a broadband instrument thru an amp.

 

Your going thru a small PA likely on stands and he is going thru an amp probably on the floor.

 

Further you probably share the PA with the Electronic drums and the vocalist. On your own it is fine.

Put in a decent amp and your swamped. 

 

The basement should be packed with bass traps up in the corners if no space. They can be made cheaply and help improve your space acoustically: a must as without treatment everything is bouncing around and nulling and nodes reinforcing.

 

If you route the Amp line out, if it has one into the PA so every thing goes thru it, there is a level playing field and may or may not solve it. It may expose the actual cause!

 

The main issue is two guitars. Like two fiddles or two basses, they share the same audio spectrum.

 

When two instruments of the same timbre play they cancel each other so it is necessary to change the timbre between them by playing in different positions on the neck.

 

If you both have distorted guitars it is easier to swamp each others sound and you sound thinner in fact. Both amps should reduce the amount of distortion. One amp cleaner sounding  will cut thru over a distortion. (differing timbres) This can also be aided by EQ. One guitar can have the mids scooped to allow vocals to cut thru the other if lead can go for more of a voice or synth tonality and should roll off the bottom end more then the other.

 

Get back to pre production and have a band meeting and do some pre production.

ie: If you lift an amp off the floor it will loose bottom end or the corollary; amp on the floor will have an exaggerated bottom end.

 

Bass on the floor, Rhythm guitar on a crate or pointing up off the floor. Lead guitar on a table. Just this alone will give separation.

If both playing chords one plays a different voicing. If not EQ, as mentioned.

 

Finally, if the the other guy doesn't want to know about it you need communication skills after all a musician is in the communicating business and we have all seen great players or singers who never made it and others not so great who did. 

The difference is skill in communicating. Can you get an idea across without malice when there are egos to get the better of.? LOL 

Just like handling a crowd! Diplomacy is part of it. 

Pre production meeting is a place to sort it out. You set up for sounding your best as a band. Then your rehearsals in the basement will be better if everyone can hear everyone so too for performances.

Sometimes it is education; showing an article rather then tell how it should be. Many great players need Tech guys as they dont know the engineering end.

 

Dont forget to get the bass traps up. maybe as a band effort.

 

Good luck

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Speaking from experience, I believe it's a (simpler) matter of everybody knowing their place in the mix. A lead guitar solo should be up in the mix, at a similar level where the vocal level is, when the singer is singing. I'm sure the singer wouldn't like it if everybody was so loud that they couldn't be heard over the mix. It's a big turnoff for me, playing with players, who may otherwise be quite talented, but ego makes them think that they need to be louder than is actually necessary. Clearly having a 2nd guitarist in the mix makes for a fuller sound, and thus less "room" for a solo to be heard. Make sure you have a decent boost from rhythm level to solo level. As well as using a "boost pedal" (whichever type you choose), I also use the volume pedal if necessary, when using the Pod, (taking it from anywhere around 70% up to 100%), and when I'm just jamming at the local blues jam, plugging straight into the amp, I use the volume knob on my guitar.

It's surprising the number of players who don't adopt this appreciation of dynamics, and show others some respect, by not playing over the top of solos. I have walked out of pubs/clubs, rather than listen to an otherwise good band, but where everybody thinks they need to be louder than everybody else, (particularly guitarists), and it just sounds like a mess.

You may disagree with my opinion, and that's fine.

 

Ha, bjnette just pipped me at the post with his reply, which I just read, and thus edited this...

 

Good and valid points, particularly about the egos, and "distortion muddying tone".

 

Ask everybody (not just the 2nd guitarist), to be aware of playing too loud, (and also too busy)...

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Simple solution... 

 

You had a good mix before he came along. He is the one that needs to make the damn change. 

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Good thread with gold comments up there. :)

 

Nothing worse then volume wars.

 

When we had a 2nd guitarist he would just crank the amp (in a basement where the ham fisted drummer was already deafing us). Reason was he was not used to a 2nd guitarist and was comparing what he was hearing to what he was used to. 2 guitars compliment each other and live, should blend in (except solo time). Brought in tilted amp stands and then I started bringing in a digital recorder for "level checking" night (it might take a bit to find that neutral spot to record from). Only when the guys heard how the mix was screwed was the problem addressed - everyone turned down to human levels and then we made one change at a time.

 

Or PG's advice works too. :D 

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Thanks everybody for the replies!  There is a ton of good information here.  Honestly, I don't think ego will be a problem.  The biggest problem is inexperience, as we are all in our 40's but have only been playing for a few years.  This is my first time having another guitarist playing while I'm playing, so this is new to me.  The other guitarist is really only playing to try to fill out the sound so I think he will be open to whatever changes we need to make to get this thing to work.

 

Rearranging our setup and putting up bass traps is definitely where I will start.  We are all meeting at the practice space to rearrange everything tomorrow.  For starters, we have the entire PA plugged into the main outs of the mixer, no monitor mix or anything, and that itself has created some problems.  Tomorrow I will make sure one of our speakers is a monitor so we can adjust the mix for the singer to hear himself, and we'll also make sure to get his amp off of the floor.  I record all of our practices, but finding a good place to record has been tough.  All I use is my iphone on a shelf with one PA pointing at it.

 

One thing I never though of is adjusting my tone for solos.  I know it sounds simple, but since I never had a rhythm guitar player it was never really necessary for me.  When I play a solo now all I do is go from a very slight delay on my rhythm tone to more delay on my lead tone.  I need to add a volume boost, too.  I'm thinking maybe I'll cut my rhythm delay completely and only use delay on the solos.  I had the delay in there when I was the lone guitarist, but maybe it is doing more harm than good now.

 

Also I'll check the EQ.  Maybe scoop his mids a little so that when I solo we're not interfering.  If he plays while he's singing, maybe scooping the mids will give him some more room.  The power of the EQ is all new to me, believe me.  With only one guitar it was just plug in and play.

 

When I solo, should I kick in the mid focus EQ at the end of the chain?  Maybe remove some of the high end breakup and give some clarity to the notes? 

 

These are great ideas.  Thanks, everybody.  These are things I probably should have known, but I didn't even know where to start.  Now I have lots of things to try.

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At this point, I'd just reiterate bjnette's comment about drive/distortion.

You haven't mentioned your musical style, but I'm reading between the lines, and taking a gander at the headstock style of your guitar, and guessing it'd hard rock/metal.

If you listen closely to AC/DC, and other big bands of that genre, the guitarists' sounds are more about attitude than overdrive. Over the years I've leaned FAR more to the clean tone side of things, (admittedly I'm more into blues these days, but really digging on the 40's/50's dirty low wattage amp sound from the lead guitarists of the time), and have begun to really appreciate the dynamics from the volume control on the guitar, and (probably more importantly), from how much you dig in with the pick. The Young brothers are the perfect example of how to get it right (regardless of your musical taste), with the right amounts of clean, grunt, space, and groove.

It took me many years to understand this, because nobody told me, and I figured it out myself. Don't beat yourself up for not knowing it already. I dunno who said it first, but your tone definitely starts in the fingers.

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When Iron Maiden and Alice Cooper started using 3 guitar players --- did they say "we have 3 guitar players, we can start to make Country songs now"? 

Of course not. They made the 3rd guy fit into what they were already doing. 

 

lollipop on everyone who said that you need to adjust things. Make the new guy adjust, especially since he is only a part time player. 

 

The one thing you may need to do is create a "solo" sound - since, with one guitarist the "rhythm" guitar sound drops out during solos, but with 2 guitarists it does not. 

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I wanted to thank you all again for the input and suggestions.  We had practice again this week and everything sounded better in the room and on the recording I made with my phone.

 

We took a lot of steps to try to help.  Starting with lifting the other guitarist's amp off of the floor and putting it on an amp stand.  I also cut his mids a bit so that he wasn't competing with his own vocals or my solos as much.  I also added a mid focus eq for my "solo tone" that not only gave me the eq but also a volume boost.  Just the change in eq helped a lot I think, and the volume boos on the solos was the icing on the cake.  Thanks again.  You all made me look like I know what I'm doing!

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Perfect choice...

My live sound, playing with a bassist and two other guitars is a lot different then playing by myself at home...

That's why I love the global EQ on the HD500X for a quick way to fix issues...

 

I up the mids quite a bit and use the volume knob on my guitar or palm mute a lot more when I'm playing or practicing live...

 

I'm also a light player...

So pick inflection and palm muting can give more inflection to your playing live too

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