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Not cutting through live mix

Discussion in 'Bands on the Run' started by Hillsy, Aug 5, 2018.

  1. Hillsy

    Hillsy Strat-Talk Member

    Jul 10, 2017

    I’m using an Eric Clapton signature strat with lace sensor pick ups playing through a hot rod deluxe speaker. I can’t seem to find the right sound especially when in a live mix situation, I have issues cutting through other instruments and when I turn it up I loose the sound I want. I run through a boss blues breaker and an Ibanez tube screamer and looking for the clean over drive blues sound similar to the likes of John Mayer SRV. I usually use the neck pick up but sometimes i feel my sound gets lost and can be muffled.

    Any suggestions or eq settings would be much appreciated.
  2. sonny wolf

    sonny wolf Senior Stratmaster

    Aug 7, 2009
    austin texas
    Boosting the midrange on your amp will help cut through the's especially helpful when you are blended with other other instruments and need more presence in the mix.If your tone is too scooped in the mids then you can easily get lost in the mix.

    Also where you stand in relation to your amp.If you are standing right in front of it,a lot of the projection is going right past you 20 or 30 feet away and you are feeling like you are lost in the mix but if you stand way out far from your amp while soundchecking you can determine how your sound is cutting through.When I first started jamming live I was always turning up my amp to hear better when I didn't realise I was sometimes killing the audience with volume!!I learned with time how to percieve my sound onstage and understand how it is actually sounding in front.Some players like to tilt their amp upwards towards their ears to better hear or also stack the amp on a chair.
  3. Textele

    Textele Senior Stratmaster Strat-Talk Supporter

    Oct 10, 2009
    To echo Sonny.

    It's usually not a volume issue but it might be if you're already dialed in.

    It's impossible to dial in without playing in a group. What sounds great in your bedroom will almost certainly not work in a live band (most of the time).

    The mids and presence on your amp is where your cut lies.

    Guitar is a mid-range instrument.

    You have to make sure you are not competing with the other frequencies going on in the band.

    Find your sonic area and slide it right in the mix. Too much mids can make you sound harsh, even in the mix. It's a fine line dialing in your cut.

    Best of luck to you!
  4. Dadocaster

    Dadocaster Dr. Stratster Strat-Talk Supporter

    I have to tilt or elevate my amp to be able to hear myself. Sonny's advice is very good.
  5. mad axe man

    mad axe man Senior Stratmaster

    Jul 23, 2016
    ontario canada
    what amp or cabinet are you using...
  6. Hillsy

    Hillsy Strat-Talk Member

    Jul 10, 2017
    Thanks for your comments.
    sonny wolf likes this.
  7. Hillsy

    Hillsy Strat-Talk Member

    Jul 10, 2017
    Fender Hot rod deluxe 40w,
  8. CGHguitars

    CGHguitars Strat-O-Master

    Sep 8, 2015
    Eden Prairie
    A couple of things I learned...
    Be careful with reverb when you're playing with a full band, unless your solo is way out front in the mix already. It can massively muddy up your sound when you're trying to stand out.

    On rhythm parts, try your middle pickup instead of the neck. Actually switch to it right in the middle of a song. You will be really surprised...

    Be careful with front-end gain from pedals or your amp. Try to leverage the power section of your amp more by bringing the gain gown and turning the master or main volume up. Tube amps live in this space....

    good luck!!
  9. errikwong

    errikwong Strat-Talker

    Mar 11, 2018
    Try to tilt back your combo amp, or elevate it such that it is closer to your head.

    Maybe share with us your current settings, but I would hazard a guess you might want to cut back the bass some and add a little more mids.

    Alternatively, and this is the last resort, see if you can add an EQ pedal into the effects loop and try to boost individual frequencies one by one to see which helps you poke through better. This should only be done once you have tried out / followed the previous recommendations by the respective forum members here.
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2018
    CGHguitars and Hillsy like this.
  10. sertshark

    sertshark Strat-Talk Member

    May 11, 2014
    Oakdale, CA
    Quick answer...... MXR-10, with the settings at an upside down smiley face. In other words, boosting the mids. Does wonders.
  11. john o

    john o Strat-Talker

    Apr 13, 2016
    I have had this problem with strats in general at gigs. Even with good pedals and amps. I love my strat, but when I gig, I take along a G&L comanche. The z-coil pups solve the problem. Some think they look funny, I think they look cool, but it doesn't matter. They are lasers through the mix for leads, they drive my tube amps beautifully for rhythm tones, and if you roll off the volume and tones a bit, they bring some nice strat-like tones. nuff said.
  12. ProSonicLive

    ProSonicLive Senior Stratmaster

    Sep 4, 2016

    Very true. The stereotypical kid in his bedroom playing heavy metal comes to mind.
    He will have volume up, gain up all the way, mids sucked out, trebble up, bass up. and it sounds great. It does. until it gets ANYWHERE NEAR another instrument.
    I know you are playing blues, but the idea is still the same. What you are playing alone may sound golden. If midrange chages it too much, try a touch of top and and a smaller bit of mids.
    circles likes this.
  13. Lester H

    Lester H Strat-Talker

    Jun 6, 2018
    When I first started gigging I used a hot rod deluxe as well and I had the same issue. I was the the only guitarist and my tone just never filled the space to satisfy my ears. I could turn up but my out front tone was just too thin and raspy. I eventually let it go and went with a more mid heavy amp and I could hear myself much better.

    Not saying you need to sell your amp as there are other options like a mid heavy celestion type speaker or maybe try an eq pedal and push some mids that way. For me fenders mids seem to be on the higher frequency side and I like lower mid frequencies better myself to add a little warmth to the cut. I also use pickups with a higher midrange rating as well.

    Seems to me I've read the fender vibroverb amps like SRV used were supposedly more mid heavy than their blackface counterparts and his amps were heavily modded so who knows how much of the original tone stack was changed as well.

    But everyone who says the tone is in the mids is correct. Can sound a little ugly at home without the band though. Just know when you're at the gig that's the control you probably need to tweak first.
  14. Morf2540

    Morf2540 Strat-O-Master

    Nov 8, 2017
    Philadelphia, PA
    Reviving this thread. Like OP, I also have a strat with lace sensor pickups so I can relate. And coincidentally I have been auditioning with various bands lately so have had the chance to play with many different groups of guys, and have a sense of what works. Lots of great advice has already been given. I will just add/reinforce a couple things.

    Mids: Yes this. Lots of people like the "scooped" sound which drops out the mids, but I could never figure out how those guys get that sound to cut through. Sounds great all alone, though. I have always found a more balanced EQ works best. Boost your mids.

    Pickups: OP uses mostly neck pickup. I have lace sensors, and I LIVE on the middle pickup. The neck pickup is too soft. The middle pickup is perfect. We talk about mids, but you need a certain amount of highs, too.

    Pedals: OP mentioned using a Tube Screamer, which is a good choice for boosting mids. I usually stack mine with another OD pedal, depending on the specific sound I'm after.

    Distortion: People often overuse distortion, mistakenly believing it will help them stand out. The opposite is true. In a live situation, your instrument is mixing with all the others. Distortion just makes it harder to discern your specific instrument. I have played many times with good players who overuse distortion. They end up sounding like static. If you listen closely to records, the amount of distortion in classic guitar sounds is really very light.

    Amp: A Hot Rod Deluxe should definitely not have any trouble being heard. I'm not familiar with the stock speaker in that amp, but I will say that in general, speakers make a HUGE difference. If you've tried everything else and are still not satisfied, try swapping speakers. Get an Eminence Texas Heat or Swamp Thang, for instance. Those and many other speakers have a strong mid-range that will punch through a brick wall. For a long time I used a Fender Blues Jr with a Cannabis Rex speaker. That speaker was a gigantic change and improvement over the stock speaker. Just night and day. I ALWAYS cut through, and I ALWAYS got compliments on my tone (and I'm actually not a very good player). I would say that the choice of speaker in your amp is this single biggest contributor to sound, more than guitar, pickups, pedals, amp, anything.

    Listen: As others have said, lots of factors go into what you hear in a live situation. Placement of all the various amps and speakers in the room. Everyone's relative volume. Maybe your sound is perfect and someone else is off. Then there is your own ear. Maybe it's just fine as it is. Try recording the band and play it back. That will tell you a lot. For sure, what you hear when you are alone is NOT what you will hear with a live band. You need to train your ear what to listen for.

    Hope all this helps.
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2018
    ravindave_3600 and JustABluesGuy like this.
  15. carver

    carver The East Coast Strangler Strat-Talk Supporter

    where are your mids set on the amp?

    mids are super important when getting into a mix.

    I find when playing solo I will increase my low end and bring down the mids just a little tiny bit. when playing with a band, I will lower my lows and increase my mids. leave the lows to the bass player.
    Textele and Morf2540 like this.
  16. Stormy Monday

    Stormy Monday Most Honored Senior Member Strat-Talk Supporter

    Jan 19, 2011
    I use a stand to tilt the amp back (although I haven't found one I really like). I also use either a TS9 or a Boss JB2. I also ride the volume knob. Seems to work for me.
  17. BallisticSquid

    BallisticSquid Senior Stratmaster

    Oct 12, 2016
    This is how I've dialed my tone in. I record each practice and what I listen for a lot is how I'm cutting through the mix. As was said over and over in this thread, many times EQ is the answer, not more volume or distortion.

    When you are using different pickups for different songs or parts of songs, dialing things in becomes more challenging. EQ settings that work for the neck pickup may make the bridge pickup too ice picky. You can either dial in a happy medium, or use the tone control to tame any ice pick. On the guitar, you can take away highs but you can't add them.

    Gigging with my band I use humbuckers (PRS CE 24 or Gibson LP). I seemed to have an easier time dialing the tone in there for the range of songs my band does. I tend to use my neck pickup on songs where I want to "sit back" in the mix, otherwise I use the bridge. This is what I've developed over time...trial and error and listening to recordings to hear the final impact.