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Unread 12-24-2013, 09:09 PM   #1
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gig tone sounds REALLY bad at home

Disclaimer: I realize that the tone you use live is somewhat different from the tone you use at home.


Our service consists of 2 keyboards, 1 bassist, several vocalists, 1 drummer and 1 acoustic guitar. I need a tone that'll easily cut through the mix without me having to increase the volume, so what I did was I set my treble on 12 on my Blues Junior III, and maxed out the treble and high mid on my EQ pedal. I use the neck pickup of my telecaster, and occasionally a fuzz pedal.

I've had several people tell me how good my tone was when I'm playing with the band. Yet when I bring my stuff home and play with the exact same settings, it sounds SO icepicky and thin. You won't believe it, it hurts my ears. But it sounds great in the mix. I've even used the exact same settings in smaller rooms playing secular music, and it works fine. The audience loves it.

Is this normal? Did anyone else have any experiences like this? Like I said, I know that your home tone is different from your live tone, but I didn't expect it to be this different at all. I've been playing with the church band for about 4 months.


Last edited by abwh; 12-24-2013 at 09:34 PM.
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Unread 12-25-2013, 12:18 AM   #2
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That is super normal.

I haven't experienced it to the extreme of diming all the treble controls, but everybody has a different approach.

The first time I realized this was during a recording session where for some reason we were recording electrics before the bass guitar tracks were laid down. I was having a LOT of trouble finding a sound I enjoyed. It just sounded thin and a bit too mid-heavy, but due to time constraints had to just do the best I could and hope for the best. I came back the next week after all of the instruments had been recorded and was blown away at how much I loved the tone. It was at that point that it really hit home that the guitar really only needs to fit the instrument's specific frequency range. Without a bass guitar and other instruments, the guitar sounded mid-ish and trebly, but once everything else was in there it sounded great. When playing the guitar by itself we want to hear a full, thick sound with a good sounding bottom end, smooth mids, and great highs, but in a live mix/recording mix, it only has to fill up the mids and (sometimes) the highs. The low end is completely covered by the kick drum and the bass guitar.

When playing live I worry about this a little bit less. I usually just find a tone I like while standing in front of the amp and use that. I almost exclusively use the bridge pickup on my telecaster and as long as my tone isn't too dirty, it cuts through great. If it isn't cutting I'll increase the highs, but not by much. I try to leave that to the sound engineers (if they know what they're doing).
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Unread 12-25-2013, 03:00 AM   #3
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Jfc123 keeping it real. I have nothing to add.

Okay one thing. That EQ job you described sounds nuts.
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Unread 12-25-2013, 02:49 PM   #4
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Thanks for the responses everyone.

I do have another setting that sounds somewhat good at home, and, IMO, should sound good in the gig. For this setting I increased the gain on my BJ to max, treble and bass all the way off, mids dimed, and mids dimed on my EQ pedal with the first two and last two slides all the way off. The EQ pedal is a Boss GE-7.

Theoretically, this should sound good at the gig. But does it work in real life?
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Unread 12-25-2013, 03:37 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by abwh
Thanks for the responses everyone. I do have another setting that sounds somewhat good at home, and, IMO, should sound good in the gig. For this setting I increased the gain on my BJ to max, treble and bass all the way off, mids dimed, and mids dimed on my EQ pedal with the first two and last two slides all the way off. The EQ pedal is a Boss GE-7. Theoretically, this should sound good at the gig. But does it work in real life?
You seem to be all about diming stuff. Haha
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Unread 12-25-2013, 03:50 PM   #6
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All of these settings seem quite extreme, but it's a different set of ears, a different set of opinions, and a different setup of gear for every person.

I'd suggest messing around with subtractive EQ. Once you get to church, start with all EQ's flat (both amp and your EQ pedal). What do you hear? Do you feel like you're going to need more treble and mids to cut through? Take some of the bass and low mids off instead of adding the mids and highs. If you still can't be heard, add a slight bit of high-mids and whatever else you might think is necessary. Diming things is often too extreme to sound "normal" (but ALL tone is subjective so if you like it, ROCK it!). It's hard for me to imagine a guitar with ONLY the mids dimed sounding great, but I'm not in your sanctuary to hear for myself so I couldn't tell you.

Another thing I've learned is that every single mix is different, so (this is 100% personal taste) I prefer to never mark settings on an amp or pedal. Heck, I don't think the tone controls on my amp have ever left the 12 o clock position haha. Every time I set my gear up I'm going to be in a different situation, so a setting that sounded killer in my bedroom could sound too mushy downstairs in the living room, but it might sound way too thin at church. I have places on my amp and pedals that I end up using frequently, but I assess every situation by listening first. Even if it's the exact same location with the exact same gear as the week before, things are going to sound different. It's just how it works haha (thus some people experiencing "good" and "bad" tone days like people have good and bad hair days). Too much overdrive? Turn it down. Too much low end? Turn that sucker down. Our ears deal with a lot of crap so even our ears can hear things differently week to week (thus why "ear fatigue" can be a big problem in the recording process. I can't tell you how many times me and the producer/engineer will love the sound of something then listen to it the next day with fresh ears and realize it sounds like poo).

Trust your ears and your opinion on what you like and adjust as necessary.
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Unread 12-25-2013, 09:18 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thesteve View Post
You seem to be all about diming stuff. Haha
Haha, I guess it just runs in the family.

But seriously, I've been very accustomed to extreme settings due to the horrible period in which I played through nothing but a Marshall MG30DFX.

Jamforchrist, thanks for the advice. I did mess around with subtractive EQ for a while. However, I've never tried it at church, and at least at home, it just didn't feel as good as, well, diming stuff, lol. But like you said, every situation is different, so I'll have to truly evaluate it by using subtractive EQ at church, in a live setting.

Please correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm thinking that bigger rooms tend to make your guitar sound less harsh. I'm hoping this is true, because today I found a killer setting with my fuzz pedal and bridge pickup of my telecaster in the basement, and it's perfect aside from the fact that it's a bit shrill.
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Unread 12-26-2013, 09:48 AM   #8
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A technicality on additive/subtractive EQ-
As I understand it, the EQ on the Blues Jr is passive filtering followed by a gain stage. Thus "dimed" settings are really just letting the entire signal through, and all EQing you do is subtractive. With that in mind, it's not uncommon (or weird...or necessarily bad...) to find that your sound cuts in the mix better when you're letting all the treble through (and not filtering any of it to ground, which is what is happening whenever your treble knob is at any setting besides 12).

As far as bigger rooms affecting your tone... I'd say it depends less on the size and more on the quality of the room itself. Is it tile floor? Are there lots of windows? Is it full of people?
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Unread 12-30-2013, 05:01 PM   #9
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+1 on the advice given, it stands to reason that a sound which works in a mix might not be attractive on its own.
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