Why do guys out here in LA play so loud?!?
It is the nuttiest thing I have ever seen. Brilliant musicians, all turning their amps up to 11 and jamming with earplugs in! Why?!?
Just turn it down!
– Play at a volume that is acceptable over a sustained period of time. If your ears can handle it, the audience can, too. If you need earplugs, you are playing too loud!
– Play to the room. Let the drummer play alone, without amplification, for a few minutes, so he can gauge how loud to play before the room starts to resonate uncomfortably. Have other players adjust to that level. Make the drummer understand that he should be playing at an average level below that, so there’s some room for crescendos and fortes.
– The bass is extremely room-sensitive. There can be lot of build-up and standing waves at high volume, which can effectively alter the way we perceive the pitch of the instrument. This has happened to me many times. In some rooms, at high volume the bass will sound almost a semi-tone higher than what is played. It is excruciating to try and play along in what sounds like a different key!
– When a player turns it up a little for his solo, remind him to turn it back down when he is done with it. It is amazing how often people will forget to turn it down (and that includes me, yes).
– To get an idea of what music sounded like before we brought 5 kW amps to the gig, do a couple of acoustic gigs. It is amazing how much difference that can make. Remember, there was a time when an entire big band would play with an unamplified double bass.
Really, guys, who are we kidding? I don’t know about you, but I can’t even play well with those earplugs in. I will use them on occasion when I fear the sound pressure could cause hearing damage, but it changes everything, and it feels and sounds unnatural to me. That is NOT how music is supposed to be made.
Turn it down, people. There is no need.