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  1. #1
    Distinguished SOTW Member Honeyboy's Avatar
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    Default The Sax is Too Loud!!!

    Tonight I had a first ever in my 38 years of playing the sax. I was playing for the first time with a new blues band. We were supposed to be playing outside but there was a 60% chance of rain so they put us inside. The room was very live. Unfortunately it was right across the hall from the resort restaurant. Anyways, I came prepared to blow 'em away with my '29 Martin Handcraft and a Brilhart Levelaire (new model). We started off with me miked a bit. My sound was loud, rich and complex-like a really big early R&B tone. The electric guitar was actually playing kind of soft, the upright bass was miked, the drummer was using brushes and the singer's mike was relatively quiet. I was so loud, I turned off my mike! Soon, the waitress came over and said the whole band was too loud, especially the sax.
    So, we turned down even more, and I took off the Levelaire and put on my Dukoff, which plays quieter. After the next song, the waitress came over and said we were still too loud!. I was blowing as quietly as I could and still be able to get a sound out of the mouthpiece. Still too loud. So I went out to the car and got my 7* Otto Link NY and put that one on the Martin. Still too loud! During the break, I took my '29 Martin out to the car and and brought in my '53 The Martin which plays quieter than the Handcraft. I put the Link on it, hoping this would be naturally quieter. The drummer looked at me with a sad look. I said, "Okay, I'm going home, I can't get any softer."
    So they gave me 1/2 of my pay and my wife and I went home. The people who ran the place really apparently wanted us so much in the background that even the guys watching the football game were louder than us. "Johnny Be Good" sounded like it was playing on a transistor radio! Anyways- next week we'll probably be out on the patio again, so I'll get to do my thing. I was really getting off on my sound before they pulled the plug on my fun, so I don't feel too bad. One lady in the restaurant came over and asked me why I wasn't playing. She took one of my cards for another of my bands to play at one of her parties, so it wasn't a complete loss.
    11th Commandment: Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's axe.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: The Sax is Too Loud!!!

    Wow...that.........never.........happens. Guitars, drums, and bass are usually too loud at a blues gig. Honeyboy, you may be a pioneer for us sax players.

    Well, at least you got a gig out of the deal.

  3. #3
    Forum Contributor 2013 Multi Reed's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Sax is Too Loud!!!

    Been there!

    We had an 8 piece band booked to play a wedding function at a winery. We had not even unpacked the car and the owner was having a fit. "You will be too loud". "It won't work".

    He even tried to tell us how to set the band up so that it would look more appealing. At that point we had the chat - "I don't tell you how to do your business...." It did not go down terribly well. We had set up and there was a little down time. In came the bride and groom to have a photo taken with the cake.

    As an incredibly unprofessional venue owner would do - he then complained to the bride about how the band will be inappropriate as they are too big and might be too loud. He also said that the band would not put the horns closest to the dance floor which is what he recommended.

    At this point the usually quiet and polite bride raised her voice. "We are paying for this f*#king function. If my brother's band is going to be a problem for you then it will be a long night for you. I suggest you get over it. This is the band I want".

    It is amazing how much better we were treated after all of that. My sister kept asking him to come over to ask us to turn up throughout the night too.

    Then came the cruncher - After the function, he asked us for our card for more work in the future. We went back twice as a band and then he went bust. I played in a trio for him several times before he went under too.

    Oh yeah, I love my sis. We still laugh about it.







    I also played in a duo - piano and reeds - for several months at a hotel while people were dining. Sometimes we would record what we were doing and the pianiist would set a mic in front of the sax and mics inside the grand piano. Funny thing was that as soon as people saw the mics, they told us to turn down and that the sax was too loud. I would just change over to some clarinet or flute songs and work back into the sax stuff. The most complaints would come from when people saw mics. So we would drag down a fader on the desk and ask them if that was any better. Of course it was - even though nothing was plugged into it.

    You soon learn that you ignore those that aren't paying the bills and take your advice from the venue.

  4. #4

    Default Re: The Sax is Too Loud!!!

    Quote Originally Posted by Multi Reed View Post
    Funny thing was that as soon as people saw the mics, they told us to turn down and that the sax was too loud. I would just change over to some clarinet or flute songs and work back into the sax stuff. The most complaints would come from when people saw mics. So we would drag down a fader on the desk and ask them if that was any better. Of course it was - even though nothing was plugged into it.

    You soon learn that you ignore those that aren't paying the bills and take your advice from the venue.
    Similar thing happened to me- the owner of a restaurant where I was playing trio was an amateur saxophonist. He saw my metal mouthpiece when we were setting up and said "Won't that be too loud? Yeah, I'm sure it will be too loud. Metal pieces are really loud." So we started and I didn't change mouthpieces because it's a Link STM... not particularly bright or anything. The owner came over, saw the mouthpiece and said "I told you it would be too loud and it is. It's your mouthpiece. You know metal mouthpieces are louder, don't you?" So I said okay, and thought to myself "whatever I'll just throw on my Meyer to shut this guy up." After that tune I decided to put back on my STM. After that set the owner comes up to me and says "See what I mean? It sounds so much better, it's warm and lush and a good volume!" And I pointed to my shiny metal STM and said "Oh, thanks."

    Owner was pretty mad and said he must have not been hearing me clearly...
    Relax, because as long as you're still breathing, nothing else REALLY matters.

  5. #5
    Forum Contributor 2013 Multi Reed's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Sax is Too Loud!!!

    At some venues they have a traffic light type system. It is a decibel reader. Green is good. Yellow is okay. Red cuts out the power on the stage. I tried to find a contract from an agent that demonstrates this but no luck. Effectively it says that if the band cut the power 3 times the gig is cancelled and as you haven't met your obligations - no pay.

    We were playing a venue as a duo and the crowd were actually much louder than what we were. In fact, we had to get the venue owner to turn the dB reader off as the crowd clapping and cheering was causing the meter to trip. Fortunately this owner was very understanding - and very happy that his venue was full.

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    Distinguished SOTW Member themacintrasher's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Sax is Too Loud!!!

    I was playing in a medium sized resturaunt, and we were on a break, and I was sitting down, and this guy started talking to me, and he said I was too loud for the band I was playing in. I was using my Soloist, which I do not figure is a loud mouthpiece. He was mentioning this other player in town, who plays on a Selmer BA and an HR link. Kind of a Getzy sound, though still about the same volume as me, in my experience from playing with me. The guy was sitting right up against the "stage", though.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: The Sax is Too Loud!!!

    Must have been playing in the house of glass.
    Next time outside you'll feel better, the sound will just take off.

    Don'cha hate it when the powers that be are dissatisfied
    and insist that you make it better immediately.
    Besides losing feel and the ability to be yourself.
    My wife, whose ears I trust, said that my sound is much fuller, richer, more powerful and resonant on this set up.
    ... but really folks... my wife said, " It sounds like a saxophone ".

  8. #8
    Distinguished SOTW Member Honeyboy's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Sax is Too Loud!!!

    Quote Originally Posted by saxphil View Post
    Must have been playing in the house of glass.
    Next time outside you'll feel better, the sound will just take off.

    Don'cha hate it when the powers that be are dissatisfied
    and insist that you make it better immediately.
    Besides losing feel and the ability to be yourself.
    Exactly- I'm the last one to give up money , but I was so wanting to do my thing and was supposed to play at C*/#2 reed levels I just had to excuse myself. I think the manager would have been happy if I brought a closet full of clothes, got inside, and played from there. The really funny part was I never heard a Marshall half stack sound so quiet!!
    11th Commandment: Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's axe.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: The Sax is Too Loud!!!

    This situation is not all the rare. Both extremes (too loud & too soft) are difficult to deal with, but if you can learn to play softly with the entire band, you might land a few gigs that you otherwise wouldn't have.

    My band (bass, drums, sax, guitar) had an ongoing gig (about twice a month) in a restaurant where we had to play at a whisper on the first set, slightly louder on the second set, and then when only the drinkers were still around, still louder on the last set. At no time did I have to pull out a microphone for the sax! I actually grew to enjoy playing unmiked and I still do, when I can get away with it. Anyway, the early "whisper soft" set was difficult for all of us, but it sure was good practice and the band actually improved from it. The last set was always enjoyable.

    It is possible to play the sax softly, but it takes some practice. One thing I discovered about an RPC mpc is I can play it at all dynamics and it still sounds good. So on these unmiked gigs where the sound can go from a whisper to relatively loud, I don't have to mess with changing mpcs. ymmv on this, but it is worthwhile to learn to play softly. Assuming you have a drummer, especially, and a band that can do it.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: The Sax is Too Loud!!!

    The sax is never too loud. That's unpossible.

    When I am being childish, and I get turned down to the point where I can't hear myself, I play so quietly that nobody can hear me. Yeah I know, that's pretty dumb on many levels. But, my point being that you should be able to figure out a way to play quietly enough. The real trick is to play quietly and maintain intensity, energy and excitement.
    Come see me live with Platinum Express

  11. #11

    Default Re: The Sax is Too Loud!!!

    Just tell them "I'm being paid to do a job. If you would like to pay me right now in cash, I'll gladly pack up and go away...."

  12. #12
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    Default Re: The Sax is Too Loud!!!

    I scare small dogs while I'm busking on a regular basis.

    I can't really play my DV while busking. People walking by cover their ears and give me dirty looks.

    I think that you often player louder relative to how little monitor you have.
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    Default Re: The Sax is Too Loud!!!

    About 30 years ago, I was playing in a Christian contemporary band. This was how we made our living, and we promoted our albums by giving concerts in churches, etc.

    One church we played at, we got a standing ovation on the very first song. However one old lady yelled out at the top of her voice "Too loud"!I asked the sound man to turn the system volume to 3, from a volume level of 2. After the next song, we got another ovation, and the same lady yelled out "just right!"

    Some people are just not happy unless they can complain about something!!

  14. #14

    Default Re: The Sax is Too Loud!!!

    Often, the folks you play for are compelled to have too much input on the gig. There is a classic movie titled "The Gig". If you can get a copy it's a pretty fun movie. One of the best scenes regards the volume of a Dixieland Jazz band at a retirement geezer gig.

    You gotta love the Bozos who give advice about your setup,too. That's rich.

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    Default Re: The Sax is Too Loud!!!

    Quote Originally Posted by Honeyboy View Post
    So they gave me 1/2 of my pay and my wife and I went home.
    This part almost got by me. There is no way, no how I would have left with only half my pay. You contracted with the band and the client for a certain amount of money, and that's what you should have been paid, assuming you didn't make the decision to go home.

    I think a much better way for you to have handled this would have been to remain on the gig to the end and simply play very softly (and not worry about whether anyone can hear you) or lay out as much as possible, or both. Then collect your full pay.

  16. #16
    Distinguished SOTW Member Honeyboy's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Sax is Too Loud!!!

    Quote Originally Posted by JL View Post
    This part almost got by me. There is no way, no how I would have left with only half my pay. You contracted with the band and the client for a certain amount of money, and that's what you should have been paid, assuming you didn't make the decision to go home.

    I think a much better way for you to have handled this would have been to remain on the gig to the end and simply play very softly (and not worry about whether anyone can hear you) or lay out as much as possible, or both. Then collect your full pay.
    Actually this morning I was cleaning out my pockets, and as it turns out, the drummer actually paid me the full amount for just one set. (I can't see too well in poorly lit areas). I thought last night he only gave me half which I was okay with, as I will explain below.
    I got the gig from the night before at a party and basically the drummer, an old bandmate of mine, invited me to come out. The other band members agreed to cut their pay to pay me. So, I was really working for my friends, not the resort. So, I was happy to get half for one set, and when I found out I got the full amount, I called him up today to thank him for his righteous behavior, which he felt I deserved since I came out, and it was basically the resort who were complaining,, no fault of mine. It was my idea to leave but I think they were going to suggest it anyways. They suggested I might stick around if the volume was allowed to go up, but they never were allowed to. I didn't want to jeopardize their gig so I thought it best to just go home.
    As far as comments regarding me playing softer, I was basically playing quite soft at the end, but the sound was really bouncing off the back wall of the bar-an amazingly live room. There really was little I could do with the mouthpieces and saxes I had with me.I wasn't exagerrating much when I said the volume level of the band was really quite soft. The normal sound of the sax, even when blowing really soft, was still sticking out too much!
    11th Commandment: Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's axe.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: The Sax is Too Loud!!!

    I did a corporate function a few years ago with my nine-piece band. The promoter was a very highly-strung woman who kept saying we were too loud. We turned the PA lower and lower until it was off altogether. She then got worried because nobody was dancing....
    ...but, of course, I digress.

  18. #18

    Default Re: The Sax is Too Loud!!!

    Brings back memories..

    "Too piercing man! Too piercing! I don't dig loud noises...."

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3qFRN_0qtmc
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    Default Re: The Sax is Too Loud!!!

    Quote Originally Posted by Honeyboy View Post
    Actually this morning I was cleaning out my pockets, and as it turns out, the drummer actually paid me the full amount for just one set. (I can't see too well in poorly lit areas). I thought last night he only gave me half which I was okay with, as I will explain below.
    ....
    I hear you now. Sorry, I commented with out knowing the 'rest of the story.' Looks like you did all you could with the situation.

  20. #20
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    Talking Re: The Sax is Too Loud!!!

    Quote Originally Posted by Doghouse Riley View Post
    Brings back memories..

    "Too piercing man! Too piercing! I don't dig loud noises...."

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3qFRN_0qtmc
    They made a good job of that video! I still vaguely remember the original.

    Yeah, "Too piercing!" - really good.
    ...but, of course, I digress.

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