[Dixielandjazz] Too Loud?

john petters jpettjazz at btinternet.com
Sat Nov 22 09:35:35 PST 2003

Rob said
 >the bass is the foundation of the group and does need to be heard.

I think this is slightly wrong in terms of traditional jazz & swing. Of
course the bass needs to be heard but the foundation of the rhythm section
is the drummer - he is the section leader. All too often the bass is turned
up to sound like an elastic band.

>Though I agree that many bands are over amplified, I've also heard bands
> play acoustically where most of the instruments just don't project.  These
> bands, in order to balance, are forced to play quieter.  The problem is
> they might sound well balanced to the musicians on stage, but their sound
> dies in front of the stage.
What is wrong with playing quietly? The more you turn up the pa the louder
the babble from the audience. Play quieter and you may just get them to

>IMHO, very
> few upright bass players can make their sound project in most situations
> without the aid of at least a small amplifier

Correct - but that is due to laziness and a poor technique. Before the
polytone ruined the sound of bass players, the instrumentalists had to make
the notes sound. Blanton and Pops Foster are two examples of bassists of
differing styles achieving this. The amplifier enabled the musician to lower
his action and touch the strings instead of really hitting them. Bass
players in classical orchestras have no problem projection because they have
the chops to do it..

PA is ok in circumstances where playing acoustic is impossible - but it
should always be used for sound enhancement and not to batter the ears of
the audience
John Petters
Amateur Radio Station G3YPZ

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