Lie About Your Volume Control

By Roger Rocha

When I’m playing live on an acoustic guitar with an on-board volume control and the sound person says “Is your volume all the way up?” I always lie and say yes. I never give up headroom, completely. Who knows when I might need a little bump or dynamic control? Shit happens onstage.

Roger Rocha was the guitarist in the Platinum-selling band Four Non Blondes. His current band is the Goldenhearts.

10 comments to Lie About Your Volume Control

  • Matt Seniff

    I know I am guilty of this when I play live but I hate it when I run sound. It always seemed to me that all the players get louder on stage once the performance begins. This makes the sound guy have to work like mad readjusting pads and tweaking levels virtually guaranteeing that the first few songs of a set sound crappy. This is not such a big deal unless you are the warm up act in which case the sound clears up just in time for your last song (if you are lucky if not then you have crappy sound for the whole set). A better solution would be individually controlled monitor mixes then you will always hear yourself and let the sound guy make you sound great out front. Nobody wins in a battle between the sound guy and the band (especially not the audience).

  • Gabriel

    Do that with singing!! NEVER sing full volume when doing soundcheck. Techs usually back off the volume of the lead voice too much, and no one can hear anything. Sing really softly at the soundcheck, than release the beast within in the actual gig.

  • Shortblack9

    Yeah… that doesn’t work with a good sound guy and you’re setting your band up to sound crap. I’m a guitarist and a sound guy, the little nuances that you hear with your guitar an amp aren’t heard by the audience…save it for the studio.

  • Oinkus

    Have to say that this is always a bad idea ,if you need to lie about anything you are making a mistake.

  • bigmack209

    I do this too, but I think it generally depends on how good your sound guy is. If he’s great and you trust him, don’t lie. But if you’re playing in church, (ironically), go ahead and lie. haha

  • Moods

    If its just voice and guitar, a tiny bit of headroom adjustment is fine. But if you’re playing with a full band, screwing with the volume on an acoustic can really throw the house mix out of balance and cause a lot of pain to your bandmates. It used to be bad enough with stage monitors, but now with in-ears, a spike in acoustic guitar call really flood the mix and actually cause a lot of pain. If you have a competent sound guy and enough time to do a proper sound check at full volumes, boosting your level during the show shouldn’t be necessary. If you insist on doing it for tone reasons, make sure that you have some light compression on it to prevent it from killing the monitor mix.

  • Bastard Bass

    I usually don’t mess with the volume, but i do have separate pre/post lines on my eq so if sound guy is pissing me off i still have full control of both my ouput level and eq settings. “NOT ALL BASSISTs PLAY ROCK” thump thump

  • No comments on possible feedback? Many sound guys try to optimize for the volume the venue supports; turning up beyond your “check” level can drive not only yourself, others into feedback as resonant frequencies unite.

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