Bands play all sorts of venues each week and you don’t know exactly what to expect until you arrive and see how big or small the room is. More and more venues are looking to compete in the wedding venue market, which means they need to allow for bands to play for the evening entertainment.
However, due to this coupled with the fact that many venues have neighbours, it means that more venues are having decibel limiters fitted. Limiter systems are not new, they have been around for decades. Many of them work on a traffic light system where bands and DJ’s can see when the lights change from green to amber (beware!) and when it hits the red there is usually a few seconds before the electricity is cut and the venue is plunged into musical darkness!
Bands and limiters go together like vegans and abattoirs however, they aren’t going away and musicians have to get used to them. You can always tell an experienced band as limiters don’t phase them and they have evolved to cope.
Here are a few ways that bands can breeze through a limiter gig.
1. Kill the Drums
Of course killing the drummer is only allowed in a few states in America… however, as the other instruments work to the level of the drums there are ways you can take the volume of the kit down. Instead of drum sticks, try using ‘Flix Rods‘ which are bendy plastic rods. They are a little more robust than wooden hot rods and are good for lower levels. Failing that, a tea towel over the snare sounds acceptable, even if drummers hate it.
2. Gaffa is King
Every musician carries gaffa tape and a well-placed strip on the bottom of every cymbal (and hi-hat) takes all of the top end nastiness away from the room. Also, add some to the snare – use your ears to figure out how much is too much.
3. It’s all About the Bass
Think carefully about what bass guitar is being used. Big heavy Precision basses are very ‘boomy’ while thinner jazz style (or active basses) are easier to control certain frequencies. Ironically, many limiters are sensitive to frequencies and not just noise levels.
4. Amp it Up
Solid state amps can sound thinner at lower levels (due to pushing less air) and they can handle being turned off and on without damage. Also putting the guitar through the PA, spreads the sound and stops it being pushed hard from one small area.
5. Switched On?
Make 100% sure that the venue have turned the limiter on when sound checking to avoid a very embarrassing first few songs in the set.
6. No to Nirvana!
Lastly, be careful with your song choices during the gig. Standard procedure at a party is for the music to get more rowdy and enthusiastic as the night goes on however, Nirvana might not be the feasible on these occasions.
We want every gig to be as awesome as it can be and we want each couple or customer to have the best time ever, so we do everything we can to make this happen including adhering to limiters to ensure all venues keep their live music license. Some limiters can be harder than others but with these tips the night can still be an awesome success!!
Hope this helps,
Published by Warble Entertainment