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Grangur

Joe Bonamassa on in-ear monitors

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Posted (edited)

I know nothing about these, but it could be interesting to see what BCers think.

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Edited by Grangur

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Will the answer shock me? 😂

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On 26/05/2019 at 10:25, ped said:

Will the answer shock me? 😂

Don't know. The impression I got was that this is the way tech is going. Joe B doesn't like them. It seems they're bad for your hearing and give a poor representation of the sound of the band. It surprised me.

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1 hour ago, Grangur said:

 It seems they're bad for your hearing and give a poor representation of the sound of the band.

If your budget, or your ability to use the set is limited, this probably is true. I still think this is a bit of a generalization. There are many ways of setting up any other monitoring in such a way, that someone's ears may be damaged or one player just gets poor response from the other musicians.

I had no chance to find that particular article, but I wish he offered some alternatives, too.

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OP edited to include the link. And the text is here incase they take it down:

Hello, Joe Bonamassa here… yeah, you know, the same guy who was accused of calling pedal users lazy (not quite) and has been labelled everything from overrated to overweight. Anyway, I have been asked to write a few words in defence of us loud guitar players out there seeking redemption or at least some sort of validation for our methodology. So here it goes…

It all started in 1939, when a guitarist named Charlie Christian who was tasked as being a featured soloist in the Benny Goodman Sextet (tough gig, those horns are loud!). He needed a guitar with a pickup and an amp… next thing you know, the Gibson ES-150 and amp was in production. Then in 1945, Paul Bigsby, Leo Fender and ultimately Les Paul started a revolution of sorts. The electric guitar was front and centre. Loud and proud, as you would say.

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Since then, the electric guitar has been the focal point of most vocal and non-vocal popular music for almost 80 years. In 1967, Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton took electric-guitar music to a fine art – the finest, in my opinion. Some others have used it as pure songcraft (Neil Young), while others for basic chords in the youthful expression of anger (Sex Pistols, Nirvana, etc).

Now we can all agree on these basic historical facts, the question we must ask is, why do we now find ourselves marginalised by live sound engineers and stage managers that insist we achieve little-to-no stage volume at all? Basically, treating us and the electric guitar as the Typhoid Mary of the onstage environment? When did this happen? Why do we find ourselves chided and picked on as if we’ve done nothing to justify our place onstage?

I have a few ideas why.

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First, let’s talk about in-ear monitors. In my opinion, they do more damage than good. Why? There’s no respite nor sweet spot on stage. It’s all the same and you run that loudness directly into your eardrums for 90 minutes at a time. In reality, you are not saving your hearing at all, regardless of popular belief.

All of this audio goodness is predicated on your willingness to turn down and sacrifice yourself for the ‘greater good’ onstage, which is one misnomer I found shocking when I was convinced to do it five years ago. It lasted one tour and I found I was living in divergent reality from what the audience was experiencing. The sound engineers found themselves in control of dynamics. That was unacceptable to me. It should be unacceptable to you as well, purely from an artistic point of view. It’s like letting Siri control the throttle on your car during the 24 Hours Of Le Mans road race.

Second, and most importantly, is concerning the guitar sound or tone in general. You will find the lower volume onstage and higher volume in the PA does not necessarily equate to a fatter, fuller sound. Most of the times it does not, especially when you listen back to live recordings of your gigs.

You must admit most all of your favourite guitar sounds are based on an amp working hard through a tough speaker or multiple speaker cabinets. ‘All dials to the right’ worked for Eric, Eddie, Jimi, Leslie and many of us at all levels of legend and skillset. You have to admit that a one-watt amp through a speaker simulation isn’t gonna cut it in comparison to a 100-watt Marshall through four cabs like Alvin Lee had at Woodstock. It is certainly not going to sound like Brian May at Live Aid in 1985, even if it sounds like that in your in-ear monitors.

It’s the concept of clean headroom – and tonal variations you get by having clean headroom. The knobs on your guitar were put there for a reason, remember. Not all gigs call for that type of sound, but most times you are told it sounds ‘massive’ out front. Truth be told, it sounds like a hive of bees and if you were in the audience during your own gig, you would not be impressed at all. That’s the truth, 99 times out of 100.

Bottom line: you need to play to the gig (volume- and amp-appropriate), but don’t change what you do to suit someone’s engineering and audio fantasy. They will come at you fast and furious with solutions and ways to take you off your game plan. My advice is to stand your ground and be the guitarist you worked so hard to be. Make Buddy Guy and Jimi Hendrix proud. Also, most importantly, make yourself proud of the work you do and legacy that you leave behind.

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Posted (edited)

And this is why guitarists are always a nightmare when it comes to inears. Playing for themselves instead of the overall sound of the band.

Bad for your hearing? In the fact that you can have a lower SPL? If JB has explored Klang and all the ambient options available, then I would be receptive of his wide, sweeping statements. In Ears have reduced the amount of people that have resulted in having chronic tinnitus... I'd say that's saving your ears. I find it interesting that all those that don't advocate the use of IEMs (typically the old school rockers) - are all the ones that are struggling with insufferable ringing ears.

As for comments about the dynamics... the sounds engineers are in control of the dynamics that audience hear anyway, whether you are using IEMs or not. If your guitar rigs are overpowering the PA, then the balance of music that the audience here is greatly compromised anyway. Better to have a set of ears out front where the audience are to balance the mix.

Fatter and fuller sound - he's saying a desk full of processing and a PA with full range reproduction can't produce a fatter and fuller sound? Err... try getting a fuller and fatter sound out of your kick drum without any processing and see how far you get. If you can't get a fatter and fuller sound, it's down to poor engineering or inadequate tools... not down to the concept of running a quieter stage with the PA doing the work.

I think we can say that JB is a dinosaur who doesn't give a stinky poo about the health of his own, or other people's hearing.

 

But hey, that's rock n roll.

Edited by EBS_freak
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3 minutes ago, stingrayPete1977 said:

Dinosaur twaddle

I bet sound engineers hate him.

"Did you go to that JB gig? Yeah, the sound was awful... what was the sound guy doing?"

Answer - putting nothing through the PA.

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I can see his point for the sizes of stages that he plays, but having a Marshall 100 watt amp & matching 412 in a pub gig at full pelt only sounds great to people in the pub down the road. And even on big  stages I’m not a fan of having the amps any louder than the sound of the drums on their own. I’ve been on stages where the sound-man has had a ‘festival pack’ for the monitors and it’s nearly blown my bl88dy head off - we quickly asked for all of that to be taken out, but it seems many bands want that kind of volume both through the amps and monitors.

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Posted (edited)

Thanks to all for your comments.

I guess the clue is in his words; 

"Bottom  line: you need to play to the gig (volume- and amp-appropriate), but don’t change what you do to suit someone’s engineering and audio fantasy . They will come at you fast and furious with solutions and ways to take you off your game plan. My advice is to stand your ground and be the guitarist you worked so hard to be."

So, he says, don't listen to the guy who works as an audio engineer in that hall every week. Stick with your own inflated ego...  hmmm..

Edited by Grangur
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6 minutes ago, Grangur said:

Thanks to all for your comments.

I guess the clue is in his words; 

"Bottom  line: you need to play to the gig (volume- and amp-appropriate), but don’t change what you do to suit someone’s engineering and audio fantasy . They will come at you fast and furious with solutions and ways to take you off your game plan. My advice is to stand your ground and be the guitarist you worked so hard to be."

So, he says, don't listen to the guy who works as an audio engineer in that hall every week. Stick with your own inflated ego...  hmmm..

That's how I read it too. Must be hard for the stage and tech guys, if JB genuinely takes it as an attack upon his creativity and musicianship. 

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The only possible thought to support his views is the ‘sound man who knows the room’ theory. I’ve worked on gigs with some of those types and that knowledge and how it’s translated into the sound of the bands performing, well I’d liken it to Steve Wonders knowledge of pastel colours. 

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Part of the appeal of in ears is the consistency of the mix, in theory he could do a full band mix in America using the instruments that will be on tour then have that exact mix on every gig every night all over the world for a year long tour, that's why, you know, errr, almost all pro bands are on in ears even if they are jumping about in front of an amp that people will still go out and buy based on that gig! 

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Posted (edited)

None of the readers of that who will pay attention to it will be actual musos who play big venues.

they’ll be bonermassa fanboys banging out shoddy blues in the dog and donkey on a Saturday night - obnoxiously loud.

Dangerous ideas for people who are easily lead.

i have tinnitus from similar thinkers 

Edited by AndyTravis
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I have some sympathy - I read this on Wikipedia earlier:

Quote

Another issue that can develop with bass players who have very high onstage volume is that it can be hard for the audio engineer to produce a clean sound through the PA/sound reinforcement system. For example, if a bassist was driving her bass amp speaker stacks into clipping to create a fuzz bass tone, if the audio engineer wished to have a "clean" bass sound, this could pose a challenge.

Translates as "let the bass player use whatever effects he wants, as long a she keeps the volume down and we can send a dry signal to the punters".

Surely what's needed (and I have no experience of big shows) is being able to trust the sound engineer (and making sure your DI switch is set to 'post').

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@EBS_freak, getting that way too. If, in 2019 he's still publishing articles advocating practices that caused his own ear damage, and he learned about it in 2013, this is not good. The guy appears to be dangerously duplicitous.

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3 hours ago, Grangur said:

@EBS_freak, getting that way too. If, in 2019 he's still publishing articles advocating practices that caused his own ear damage, and he learned about it in 2013, this is not good. The guy appears to be dangerously duplicitous.

I don’t care what he does to his own ears - but to seemingly go out of his way to toast others ears too... well, the guy is clearly a tool.

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C'mon guys he is a pro and he has an opinion.  We may not agree - fine - but roasting him is not helpful.

Peace

Davo

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Posted (edited)
6 minutes ago, Davo-London said:

C'mon guys he is a pro and he has an opinion.  We may not agree - fine - but roasting him is not helpful.

Peace

Davo

Roasting is entirely appropriate if putting others health at risk under the facade of it being the only was of getting full sounding guitars and controlling dynamics - which is just not true. We all know the stories of guitarists running small rigs, often offstage, with fake cabs - there’s a reason for this.

He may be a pro - but his actions are highly irresponsible and short sighted.

Edited by EBS_freak
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I saw a band recently who were all using IEMs and it was the best sound out front I’ve ever heard. 

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It's odd, just after seeing Mr Bonamassa explain that electric guitarists must use all of the amps, turned all of the way up, all of the time, I pottered over to another forum where double bassists were bragging about using no amp and supposedly never needing one even with drums.  And both were equally absolute about it!  

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