In our rehearsals, I can't hit the
drums softer, but then they don't hear the guitars. Then they turn it
louder, after which follows the bass. When we bring the microphones as
loud as we can, feedback occurs. What can we do to hear ourselves
better at rehearsal? - Andrei
The main part of a
drum set that masks vocals is the
cymbals. Put some thick sticky tape on them - forget how they sound in
rehearsal. Play them just so you know where they happen in the music.
Pad the drums slightly too, or perhaps put a blanket over the front of
Have the guitar
his amp toward the wall, so it isn't
directly aiming at the ears of the other musicians. This will make the
vocals be more immediate sounding and easier to hear.
Have the bass
down the ultra low end of the bass. Low end
can feel good, but save it for the show. Don't put the bass player in
the corner of a room. Corners are like a low frequency "horn" that
Don't put up
carpet or deadening materials on the walls. Keep
the room a little live, although carpeted floors is fine. A partition
between, let's say, the guitarist's amp and the bass player's amp will
help make the sound a little more "individual" within a room. Some
simple bass trapping in corners can help too. This can be as simple as
leaning a 2' wide x 8' high piece of 1/4" (3/8" or 1/2") plywood in the
room corners (making a triangle shape if you were looking from up above
headphones in rehearsal (unless you need a
click from prerecorded tracks, or unless you have really really
separated each player from each other... like in a recording studio).
You can't move as well, and part of the art of music is leaning how to
listen to each other. The recording studio is a separate art, and is
another part of listening too. Each way of listening helps the other
investing in a
headphone setup, get either a graphic eq (at
least 10 bands) or a feedback eliminating device (Behringer makes one).
Set the eq flat (all sliders in the middle) and then bring down the
one(s) that stop the feedback. When there is no feedback, push up each
band a little to see which frequency makes feedback occur again most
easily. When you play, be ready to bring down those sensitive
frequencies first. With some practice, you'll get to know which sliders
work the best. Also, make sure the mics are pointed away from the
trick is to
use gates on the mics. Set each gate so that
only the singer's direct voice turns on the mic (of course I assume
that each singer is on *top* of their mic). Then when the backup
vocalists aren't singing, there isn't additional monitor sound being
picked up by all the mics at once.
The next idea
is the actual musical arrangement of each
song. Are the musical parts covering up the vocals? Do the guitar parts
bury the vocals, or do they leave some sonic space when the vocalist is
singing? In many recordings you'll hear additional instruments drop out
when the vocals come it. Are the accents and dynamic changes
cooperative with the vocals instead of conflicting with the vocals?
Space is an important factor in hearing detail in music.
How about the
arrangement" of the sound? Do the guitars have
a lot of mids and upper mid frequencies that make it harder to hear the
voices? Are the chord voicings in the same register as the singers
Key: The best way to have
effective rehearsals is to have a good attitude. Investing in
"us-we-all of us" instead of "I-me-my". Get the band together and
simply decide to support each other more than ever before. If the whole
benefits, the individuals benefit.
Make sure each person is happy with the sound, and be willing to
compromise. Listen more carefully to each other, and use eye contact to
strengthen your musical bond with each other. Rehearsal is a place to
develop a win-win attitude. I win and you win - not I win and you lose.
After each rehearsal, check in with each other to see if over all you
are getting better results.
When having band discussions, listen carefully to what each person has
to say. Don't plan your answer in your head while the other person is
still talking. Make sure the other person has finished their sentence
(or point). This is called "Listening Empty". Respect each other - say
what you want, not what you don't want. Come to rehearsal with a
reverence for everyone's time. Talk about what your dreams are, and be
there to support each other's dreams, otherwise you're wasting their
time and yours.
And remember, practice does not make perfect. Practice makes progress, and PERFECT
practice makes perfect. If need be, start out taking new songs a
little slower than they will ultimately be. When you rehearse, it's all
about memorizing the insides of the music and the performance. When the
basics are solid, the fun and showmanship will be all the better.