Outdoor gigs - do you do anything different with your kit?

basset52

Senior Member
Our band has a couple of outdoor gigs coming up. I've never played outside so I'm curious as to how others approach it in relation to tuning snare, toms, bass drum. Does the temperature matter as to the approach to your tuning ie hot/cold ? We only mic the bass drum.
 

Rotarded

Senior Member
Our band has a couple of outdoor gigs coming up. I've never played outside so I'm curious as to how others approach it in relation to tuning snare, toms, bass drum. Does the temperature matter as to the approach to your tuning ie hot/cold ? We only mic the bass drum.

Depends on a few factors. A temperature range, and location, would be useful.
 

basset52

Senior Member
Depends on a few factors. A temperature range, and location, would be useful.
We are playing at a couple of wineries - outside on the grass , under a tree I believe . The bass player booked it and I haven't seen the venue. We play classic rock. Here in Adelaide South Australia in February the temperature could be anything from 75 degrees to 105 degrees. The venue is in the hills. It would be unlikely to be cold, but it could get cool.
 

Rotarded

Senior Member
As C.M. says, tune high for wide open spaces. The temp will play no factor, except in the amount you perspire.
 

Sonorfan

Well-known member
Our band has a couple of outdoor gigs coming up. I've never played outside so I'm curious as to how others approach it in relation to tuning snare, toms, bass drum. Does the temperature matter as to the approach to your tuning ie hot/cold ? We only mic the bass drum.
I live in the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia that is semi desert and gets very hot and dry 90+F. I’ve done outdoor gigs at wineries as we have 150 in a 50 mile area. On hot afternoons the advice to high tune
is good as heat especially from Sunshine can really effect skins. And, as someone else pointed out, unless you have some type of backing behind you your drums tend to get lost. If you have a system to mike your kick hopefully there are extra channels to let you do the same with the rest of the kit. I’ve simply used a basic astatic mike sitting on a low bass mike stand and placed it right under my snare and that also picks up kick batter head so I dispensed with the regular bass mike.and it worked well. And as for playing on grass.. don’t ! If you can take a sheet of 1/2 in /12.5 mm plywood big enough to go under your hat and kick pedal because unless the lawn is a golf Tee Box you can bet that it’s uneven. Nothing worse than an unstable hat or kick pedal. Luckily Wineries here all have some sort of stage or solid surface for bands.
P.S. sounds like anything but a drummer booking a “grass gig”
Tell your bass man you want him to play hanging upside down from a tree ! ???
Tie me Kangaroo down Sport !
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
You're outside. Mic everything. Every drum gets a mic, hi-hat mic, and an overhead. People always think the drums are inherently loud, but once you get outside, there will be no way to project above everybody else. Even if you play really hard, the drums will sound like they're behind something once you're outside. Even when I played outside with my Bonham set-up, I still mic'ed up. Being un-mic'd outside will make you over compensate and you'll be playing too heavy all the time. It'll take all the musicality out of your performance.
 

ineedaclutch

Platinum Member
And as for playing on grass.. don’t ! If you can take a sheet of 1/2 in /12.5 mm plywood big enough to go under your hat and kick pedal because unless the lawn is a golf Tee Box you can bet that it’s uneven. Nothing worse than an unstable hat or kick pedal.
This is the most important contribution to this thread. Nothing made me angrier than finding out I was setting up on grass, dirt, rocks, or sand when I got to a gig. I ended up with 2 2x5’ of 3/4” ply attached with a piano hinge down the middle to give me a 5x5’ footprint.
 

Xstr8edgtnrdrmrX

Well-known member
We are playing at a couple of wineries - outside on the grass , under a tree I believe . The bass player booked it and I haven't seen the venue. We play classic rock. Here in Adelaide South Australia in February the temperature could be anything from 75 degrees to 105 degrees. The venue is in the hills. It would be unlikely to be cold, but it could get cool.

80% of my gigs in my jazz band are like this, and the first thing I check is the weather, and I prepare for that. I bought a waterproof tent rain fly from REI that will quickly cover my whole set, and I keep that near my throne. Definitely have some thing stable to at least put your bass drum, HH stand and throne on. Have quite a few 6 outlet power strips.

Unless you are using full PA, and everything is mic's and mixed, outside is always going to sound wonky...it can be very "dry" sounding if not everything is running through a PA.

we also play with only 1 electric instrument - the guitar - and he is VERY conscious of his volume. We "sound check" so that the acoustic bass can be heard about 20 feet out front. I use brushes the whole time.

if you are a louder group...like all amps, again, just take into consideration how there is nothing for sound to bounce off of...if you do run everythgin through a PA, still keep "stage' volume of amps down so that the PA can create the mix....
 

J-W

Well-known member
Don't worry about micing everything, projecting, or "cutting through" the amps. They are winery gigs, not coliseums or outdoor stadiums. It's not a concert. You're there as background music, where conversation should be able to take place while you play. As an audience member there is nothing worse than having to yell to the person next to you while you're trying to enjoying a glass of wine and get to know people. Tune a bit higher, as CM Jones said, and do a proper soundcheck. As others said, make sure you're going to be on a solid, level surface or bring one. Then just enjoy the gig.
 

MrInsanePolack

Platinum Member
Also, you probably wont be able to hear anything. Just like the drums, the sound from the other instruments had no boundaries to stay in or bounce off of. On top of that, you have drums making noise directly in front of you.

If the other players have amp'd instruments, put them (amps) behind you so you can hear. Have the others stand in front of you so they can hear also.
 

Xstr8edgtnrdrmrX

Well-known member
Don't worry about micing everything, projecting, or "cutting through" the amps. They are winery gigs, not coliseums or outdoor stadiums. It's not a concert. You're there as background music, where conversation should be able to take place while you play. As an audience member there is nothing worse than having to yell to the person next to you while you're trying to enjoying a glass of wine and get to know people. Tune a bit higher, as CM Jones said, and do a proper soundcheck. As others said, make sure you're going to be on a solid, level surface or bring one. Then just enjoy the gig.

this is so true...and why we only use acoustic instruments...the guitar is a hollow body through an amp at low level

they also always set us up sort of "far away" from where most of the congregating is...I think t hat is sort of more up to the winery. When we play the 2 different ones, the owners are pretty organized about what we do and how we do it.
 

NouveauCliche

Senior Member
Our band has a couple of outdoor gigs coming up. I've never played outside so I'm curious as to how others approach it in relation to tuning snare, toms, bass drum. Does the temperature matter as to the approach to your tuning ie hot/cold ? We only mic the bass drum.

I didn't read everyone else's advice so I might be redundant with the abundant quality folks in here but for me it really depends on the amplification status more than indoors vs outdoor.

If I'm going to be running through a PA: I'll have the drums tuned lower with a little less resonance to get more punch and impact.

If I'm going acoustic - I like the drums to be tuned slighter higher with more resonance and I find that it not only cuts through the music a little better - but it provides a more round a full tone from the audience perspective.

A lot of drummer keep everything tuned way down and that's fine in smaller space or close mic'd - but it sounds flappy and dead outdoors with no amplification.
 
So classic Rock at a winery? I guess you'll still play with a bit more volume than a piano trio, so not sure if this is useful to you: I remember an outdoor gig where I played brushes on some songs (no mics since it was a small low-key gig) - during sound check everything was fine but then the wind picked up and drowned out everything. I might as well just have played bass drum and hi hat. So my advice is to prepare for playing songs differently and very clearly if you're not sure how much the audience and your band members are going to hear from you. Stage monitors might seem like overkill but could help to keep everything together. Otherwise you might experience what I did - not unlike an uncontrolled decompression on a plane, so not too pleasant. :D
 

rebonn

Senior Member
You're outside. Mic everything. Every drum gets a mic, hi-hat mic, and an overhead. People always think the drums are inherently loud, but once you get outside, there will be no way to project above everybody else. Even if you play really hard, the drums will sound like they're behind something once you're outside. Even when I played outside with my Bonham set-up, I still mic'ed up. Being un-mic'd outside will make you over compensate and you'll be playing too heavy all the time. It'll take all the musicality out of your performance.

THIS
 

SomeBadDrummer

Well-known member
Great advice on here already, I'd just add that if possible you may want to add some sort of backdrop behind you which will help project and amplify the sound forward instead of losing it 360...thinking three 6' high x 6' wide panels set in a half polygon...although I'm sure there are sound engineers who will violently disagree...

And as @Xstr8edgtnrdrmrX said definitely take rain protection for your kit just in case.
 

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Sonorfan

Well-known member
Great advice on here already, I'd just add that if possible you may want to add some sort of backdrop behind you which will help project and amplify the sound forward instead of losing it 360...thinking three 6' high x 6' wide panels set in a half polygon...although I'm sure there are sound engineers who will violently disagree...

And as @Xstr8edgtnrdrmrX said definitely take rain protection for your kit just in case.
One winery gig we did we had a 6x6 ft
vinyl tarp with our band name hung behind us basically to serve as a sunshade. We didn’t do it until the sun forced it before the 2nd set and we did a brief sound check after hanging it. We all noticed it did improve our sound output .. i’m sure a studio sound engineer would laugh but hey it worked somewhat.
 

SharkSandwich

Junior Member
Bring a sheet to protect your drums from direct sun during setup. I always have a 10' x 10' pop-up sun shade ready just in case. I played one gig in direct summer sun and it was a TOTAL bummer. Have fun!!
 
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