Home  /  PONDERINGS  /  Playing Tips  /  Tone & Volume "Challenges"

Playing Tips

Tone & Volume "Challenges"

The sound board folks in my church are not professionals nor well skilled in the art of mixing. On a particular song with a bass lead the worship leader told me to play most songs with my volume controls on the bass turned down some so I could bring them up myself for the lead. When I ran a soundboard I considered it my job to adjust for solos, leads, loud parts, quiet parts, etc. that the band was playing. Being in the electronics field I always thought it was best to leave the volumes close to full with minor adjustments for a slightly different sound. This would keep the actual sound I want to be over the noise level in the system (ours is very noisy). How do most bass players use their tone and volume controls?

- Bill L. (via e-mail)

I agree with you almost across the board. I feel that it is indeed the sound engineer's role to mix the band, and I also agree that it is best to leave levels generally as hot as possible to maximize S/N ratio.

That stated, I also think that the dynamic level of each instrument can and should also be controlled by the player. By that I mean that I generally leave my volume pot full up, but that doesn't mean that I'm always digging in really hard with my plucking fingers. On the contrary, I might play really lightly for certain things, and really play hard when the bass is to make a more overt statement. As a result, I will likely not touch my volume pot even when going back and forth between acoustic ballads and a driving slap/funk tune. Having this control at your fingertips then allows you to dig in and let that one lick really jump out, while the rest of the bass line is right where it needs to be in the ensemble. Particularly in light of the fact that your sound engineers aren't the most experienced folks around, it would make sense to focus on that.

Anyway, I hope that the musicians & sound crew at your church can get on the same page and adopt a team approach; that is one of the best things that can happen in the grand scheme of things for making the worship time less of a struggle for all concerned.

Ponderings Menu

E-News Letter & Special Offers

Sign up for the groove update, Norm's semi-regular (every 2-3 months) FREE e-newsletter!
The groove update will help you stay in the groove with NormStockton.com and you will get exclusive, members only offers.