3

I am a guitarist in a band and want to start using an active wedge monitor, as I sometimes struggle to hear what I am playing.

I am wondering if I can just use a mic on my cabinet and run it direct to my powered monitor? Or do I have to mic up through the main desk and do it as an auxillary send instead. I am looking for simplicity.

2

As someone who plays guitar in a band, I can certainly understand how important it is to hear your guitar while you are playing.

The simplest approach is as Laurence suggested, re-position your guitar amp so you can hear it. Of course Laurence also suggested that the rest of the band and the audience really don't want to hear you as much as you want to hear you.

You could also (as you suggested) mic your guitar cabinet and run the signal from the mic directly into the powered monitor wedge (or if your guitar amp has a jack to output the signal - directly from the amp to the monitor without a mic). This is the next simplest approach.

But with simplicity you may be sacrificing utility and practicality! Both of these simpler methods will result in you hearing more of your guitar, but to the exclusion of your ability to hear anything else. In other words, to your ears your guitar will overpower everything else in the mix.

When playing in a band, it is important to hear what the other musicians and the vocalist are playing (or singing) - in addition to what you are playing. Otherwise, you run the risk of playing something that is not in sync with the rest of the band. Perhaps they go into the bridge one measure sooner than you thought they would or start the next verse without repeating the transition like you expected. Or their timing may vary slightly from what you expect and you might need to adjust so you are playing the right notes over the chords the other musicians are playing at the time.

In order to achieve the optimal balance between hearing what you are playing and what the rest of the band is playing, your best bet is to run the signal from your guitar amp into the mixing desk and from there to your active monitor. Then the overall mix of your guitar to the rest of the band can be adjusted to your liking and the overall volume of said adjusted mix in your monitor can be controlled by the volume control on your monitor. This is assuming your mixing desk has independent control of the monitor mix separate from the main mix as most decent mixer's will.

If your guitar amp or cabinet does not have a direct output to run to the mixer, you will need to mic it. Some guitarist simply drape a mic over the top of the cabinet by the mic cable. Best results can be achieved by using a dedicated instrument mic (such as a Shure SM57) with a focused pick up pattern on a short adjustable mic stand placed in front of your cabinet such that the mic can be positioned for optimal pickup of the guitar cabinet with minimal pickup of extraneous sounds.

You will want to experiment with different mic placements because the sound of your guitar in your monitor will vary depending on mic placement. Generally, placing the mic pointing at the center of the speaker will give your guitar a brighter tone and placing it to the side, a bassier, darker tone. You will also get a different tone by angling the mic (off axis) towards the amp speaker than you will pointing it directly at (perpendicular) to the speaker.

With a little experimentation at your next band practice, you should be able to achieve your goal and be able to hear as much of your guitar as you need (so your brain can confirm you are playing the right notes) and still hear the rest of the band. Good luck!

2

Are you using a combo amp/speaker? To hear what YOU are playing, place it not in the traditional "back line" position where it's making the sound mixer's job hard by blasting right into the audience's face (but into the back of your knees) but closer to you, aimed straight into your ears. You will immediately hear far too MUCH of your playing and turn your volume down. This will also please the rest of the band, and the audience!

2

Hopefully adding to the two good answers, there's a chance you could run a passive wedge off your guitar amp, which will then be in front of you, to hear better. Or a powered monitor from the output of the amp. No, not a speaker connection!

As discussed in another question some time ago, if you're having trouble hearing yourself on stage, the sound pressure from everyone is too great. The volume needs to be directed at the audience, not at yourself, as often it becomes a battle of who can be loudest to hear themselves, which is then a viscious spiral. In reality only the guys with no backline - vocals and anyone only DI'd into the p.a. should need extra foldback.

1

This depends on what you're already doing. You don't "have to" do anything.

Here are your options, starting with the simplest and getting more complicated.

Just a cab

As Laurence suggests, use your cab as your monitor - put it close to you and point it at your ears.

If your guitar doesn't go to the PA speakers, this is a good option. You need to adjust both the position and volume of the cab, to find the perfect level for both yourself and the audience.

Cab -> wedge

Either mic up your cabinet, or take an aux signal from it, direct to the wedge. Adjust the wedge volume yourself to get the volume you need.

Taking an aux, if your cab supports it, is simpler and has less scope for feedback and sound leaks. You could also take a feed from a signal splitter before the input to the cab. You would probably want more pedals between that and your monitor to get a similar enough tone. Whether this is acceptable depends on your playing style.

Using a mic gives you more of the authentic tone of your cabinet, but you have to control mix feedback, and it might capture other sounds.

Cab -> desk -> wedge

Again, either mic up your cabinet or take an aux signal, to the desk and from the desk to your wedge. This is the most complicated, but it has advantages:

  • The desk can send the wedge a mix of your guitar and other instruments. For example, maybe you want to hear more of the vocalist while you're riffing. How far you can take this depends on the sophistication of the desk. A top end setup can send a different mix to every performer.
  • The sound man can control your monitor volume from the desk. That means you can do the thing where you make eye contact and point your finger in the air to ask for an increase... It also means that you could have cued changes in volume -- "Please bring my monitor up when the rest of the band goes to a crescendo in the third song". Of course you may prefer to have direct control over that -- it's your choice.
1

Adding to this excellent zombie thread - choose a monitor with a small driver, 10 inches works well. Your monitor should be horribly trebly, this will ensure that the sound cuts through the mix. Remember, the audience doesn’t hear your monitor so what matters is you hearing it.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.