No matter what level of fame your band is, rehearsals are essential. However, setting up rehearsal rooms can be a pain, especially if you don’t know what you’re doing. The chances are that if you have rehearsed with a band, you’ve faced issues with sound and not been able to hear yourself think. Quite often, this can cause squabbles between members, despite it not being anyone’s fault. Typically, issues with sound stem from equipment quality and positioning. When you rehearse, each member needs to hear what they are doing, as well as what everyone else is doing. Therefore, it can be tempting to position your equipment in a circle, which teaches reliance on visual signals. When you rehearse, you should set your room up to mimic the stage. To help you out with this, we’ve gathered together six great tips.
Setting up your rehearsal space starts before you choose a venue. You need to make sure that a rehearsal studio will suit your style of playing. You need to bear in mind the acoustics, the quality of the walls, and the size of the rooms. Here are some considerations to make as part of your wider rehearsal setup:
- Reflectivity. Sound interacts with the environment, which can make adjustments to the quality of your rehearsal. One way it does this is through reflectivity. This happens when amps are facing reflective surfaces, such as windows. The way the sound carries can cause target people to hear sounds out of sync. Alternatively, the waves can cancel out completely. When you set up your rehearsal space, make sure that your amps are facing away from reflective surfaces.
- Size. When you rehearse, the size of a room has a significant impact on the sound. This is why when you experience music in an arena, it sounds different from intimate venues. To get a grasp on adequate size, you should measure the room diagonally. You need to do this to work out how music waves will travel (50 Hz waves = 22.6 inch approx).
- Construction. When you rehearse, you’re going to make some serious sound. If the walls in the rehearsal studio are solid rock, you will hear an overpowering sound. This is because of a fancy process called diaphragmatic action, which is to do with the way sound vibrates walls.
There’s no way to get around this, the drummer is the loudest member of the band, which means no one will struggle to hear them. However, the issue is that the drummer likely can’t hear the rest of the band over the drums. To counteract the issue, the most important member to ensure the drummer can hear on stage and in rehearsals is the bassist. Therefore, when you set up, the drummer will be at the back of the set and the bass amp will be as close as possible. This doesn’t mean that the other components aren’t important, but without the bass, the drummer will be lost.
When you head down to professional rehearsal rooms like those provided by PIRATE, you will be able to borrow drum kits and amplifiers because they are heavy to traverse. Further, when you book through PIRATE, you will have 24/7 access to get your setup correct.
When it comes to the bassist, you need to decide which side they will stand on stage. Perhaps they’re a lefty and your guitarist is a righty, and you want to style them around that. No matter which side you choose, you need to make sure that the bass amp is positioned near the drummer – towards the back of the room. You don’t need to worry about angling the amp in the direction of the drummer because the waves from a bass amp are spread outwards. When you position the bassist, they need to be stood on the same side as the amp so they can hear it.
Guitarists need to hear the bass amp well while being stood on the opposite side of the stage. Their next priority is ensuring are making sure themselves, the drummer, and the audience can hear the amp. Typically, the guitar amp gets set parallel to the bass amp. That way, the guitarist can hear the rhythm section and the audience can hear their sound. Of course, on stage, artists move around from time to time to add to the band’s stage presence. You should use rehearsal time to practice when to move during sets. There will be times during complex parts where you need to stay still and focus.
During rehearsals, the vocalist will stand towards the front and face the imaginary audience. That way, they will get a good mix of sounds and be able to keep in time. When it comes to the stage, you can use monitors (performer-facing speakers) to help you keep in tune. These are especially useful if a guitarist is dabbling in vocals.
If you’ve got a keyboardist along for the ride, their sound will usually be projected through a PA system. If you use an amp for rehearsals, you should set it up facing the band during rehearsals. When it comes to transposing this to the stage, your amp needs to be facing the keyboardist. You don’t need to worry about the crowd hearing your sound, since the PA will take care of that. When it comes to your band hearing you on stage, monitors will do the job. Essentially, a keyboardist needs to hear their sound to allow concentration. To keep in time with everyone else, they need to position themselves near the drums and bass.
Band rehearsals are important no matter what stage you are in. However, ensuring that your room is set up properly takes a bit of skill. You need to fully understand how sound waves interact with each other. Further, you need to put thought into which members need to hear each other. Essentially, the drummer needs to hear the bassist, the guitarist needs to hear the bassist and drummer, and the vocalist needs a full range. If you have a keyboardist, they need to hear themselves.