NBC: volume

Walter Potter maxdog-blues-l@COMCAST.NET
Sun Oct 14 14:09:24 EDT 2007

The subject of volume comes up quite often at our local club and I just have to wonder why some musicians, guitarists in particular, like to play so loud? A couple of years back a well-known blues guitar player came through our local club and was so loud that many of the patrons of the club complained to him. His response was something like "That's the way its going to be, take it or leave it." It got quite hostile and I doubt he will be welcomed back to the club. No matter what anyone thought of his talent, the pain he brought with his volume and his attitude about it turned off many potential fans.

The club owner will often get the bands to turn down a bit but they often slowly but surely crank it back up during a set. We are not talking about getting them to play at supper club levels, just below 110 decibels. I have had a sound meter for a couple of decades now and since I've been recording some shows lately, I've been using it to get an idea of what  sound levels are affecting the recording levels. This weekend the word got back to the guitarist that he had been measured at over 110 decibels and the response was to hate the meter. Heck, the bass player was wearing earplugs and was visibly whinceing at times.

I understand that amps have a sort of sweet spot that adds to the tone and turning it down too low can make for crappy sound. I've seen some players carry a couple of different amps just to fit the venues. You don't want a wall of Marshall's in a tiny venue or a Pro Junior in an arena (unless you mic it). But it would seem to me that if a significant portion of the audience is complaining, that the musician would turn it down a bit. The idea of "blowing them away" should be figurative, not literal. I want to remember the show because it was good, not because my ears are ringing.

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