When I was a child, I took piano lessons and had to endure performing in recitals. I did not enjoy this very much, perhaps because I was not cut out to handle to rigors of the Royal Conservatory of Music. Or maybe I just sucked at piano. However, playing in a recital is a solo endeavour, so if I was not keeping proper time, no one else suffered (except perhaps the ears of the poor parents in the audience).
Later I took acoustic guitar lessons and strummed and sang some songs. Once again, it was just me playing, so keeping the beat was not as important.
When I was in high school, I played trumpet in the high school band. I relied on the conductor to ensure that I was keeping tempo and playing in the right spot.
Currently, I play in a mid-life crises rock band called ‘Below the Belt”. Its just four of us…a drummer, guitarist, vocalist, and myself on bass guitar. I quickly learned how fatal timing errors can be. If we are all not in the same spot, we sound like donkey poop.
I have difficulty hearing the kick drum of the drummer when playing live music. If I try to move closer to the drum kit, all I hear is the crash and ride cymbals and nothing else. Snare drum is easier to hear, but as a bass player I am required to be “locked in” with the kick drum.
So upon the suggestion of a colleague from Switzerland, I created a platform to stand on. It consists of the following components:
- Microphone on kick drum
- XLR cable
- Microphone Pre-amp
- Subwoofer amplifier
- Bass Shaker
- Plywood platform to stand on
So basically what happens, is that the microphone picks up the sound of the kick drum and causes my platform to shake. I feel the kick drum through the soles of my shoes.
I obtained the microphone, XLR cable, and pre-amp from a music store (Long and McQuade inCanada). The subwoofer amplifier and bass shaker were obtained from Parts Express in the United States.
Note that I am hesitant to give you the exact part numbers. To build such a device, you need to understand power, watts, speaker impedance, series vs parallel wiring. Failure to do so could cause an accident, and I don’t want to be responsible for that. If you don’t know how to build such a device, get some expert help before proceeding.
Now that I made that disclaimer, I can tell you that it has been a great help for me. My band mates tell me that I play much “tighter” with this unit. Any musician or singer who stands can use this. I can see this being used with a musician who sits down as well, such as a piano player, by attaching it into the chair.
Here are some pictures of my band and the platform I use.
In an upcoming post, I will show you what I do to hear better while playing live music.