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How Loud?


HOW LOUD SHOULD MY AMP BE ONSTAGE? I WANT TO BE SENSITIVE TO THE WORSHIP CONTEXT, BUT SOMETIMES WONDER IF THE BASS CAN EVEN BE HEARD IN THE HOUSE.

Whatever you do, TURN UP. Turn up as loud as possible. Don't let those temperamental vocalists impose upon your TONE. ha - sorry...couldn't resist! Seriously, you have a great question. We bassists are always wondering how we can walk the fine line between being audible & being obtrusive in the worship environment. Let me provide you with the following for your consideration:

  • The only way you can be positively sure about your level in the house is to go wireless & listen as you walk around in the sanctuary during soundcheck. Unfortunately, most wireless systems negatively affect (i.e. "thin-out") one's bass tone. I was unsuccessful in my own experiences with this option for that very reason.
  • If your soundperson is reasonably competent & assures you that your level is ok, you're probably alright. You might want to ask a friend who has decent ears to see if they concur.
  • Depending upon the size of the venue (i.e. small room, or gigantic hall) in which your fellowship meets, you might find that you can play at a higher volume level if you roll off some of the bottom end from your tone. Having a lot of low frequencies (100 hz and below) in your tone will definitely exaggerate the perceived volume of your bass in the house, especially if the room is large (like the gymnasium building my church calls a sanctuary!).
  • As far as the volume level of your amp onstage, I'd suggest that you set it as loud as you'd like, then turn it down until the soundperson & others onstage with you can tolerate it. If that ends up being too low for you, I'd recommend that you get a speaker stand and prop the amp up & aimed toward you (if you've seen "Grooving for Heaven",Volume 2, that concept is demonstrated during the fretless bass section). It works fantastically, allowing you to play with a reasonable volume without blowing out those near the epicenter - ha (the above suggestion about rolling off the low frequencies a bit is also quite useful here as well, for the same reason).
  • In the final analysis, for a bass in the worship setting, it's probably preferable to be slightly on the light end of the house mix, rather than being too loud. You can make occasional subtle contributions even when being a bit low, but have a great potential to disrupt & distract if the bass is pumping out excessive & inappropriate db's.

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