RWTC congratulates Seth Baron, the winner of the Guitar Survival Kit giveaway! Seth lives in Muncie, IN where he is the worship pastor at First Church of the Nazarene. As many of you worship pastors know you have to be a person of all trades at times and Seth is no exception. He sings, plays the guitar and has started to pick up the piano. He’s hoping second time is a charm.
“I love leading people in worship. God stirs my heart when His people sing to Him.” Seth said. “I love being in the middle of that! God has been so gracious to my family and we will forever worship Him!”
As 2012 is underway we will be announcing huge additions to Rockin’ With The Cross. As you may notice on our website our giveaway banner has changed to make ready the announcement of our mobile app platform. Many have asked for a mobile app and the ability to have everything you do, be available on the go. We are about to unveil an amazing music app. It will be a two part process with iPads, iTouch and iPhones getting the app first. At the same time launching our wireless Bluetooth foot pedal system that allows for hands free song switching. The app for Android devices will be released later this year. (the secret is out –we’ve joined forces with an established music app which has a 5 out of 5 rating on iTunes) At this moment we are in the process of adding the RWTC archive to the software and once that is completed we will announce our official launch to everyone. (just a little bit more time and we promise you will be blown away)
Remember that each membership allows us to keep going and equip others like you in ministry here in the U.S. and abroad. We are so excited at what the Lord is allowing us to be involved in and to do in 2012! Please know that you help us directly and indirectly minister to millions. Praying for you all!
Maybe It’s Not Subjective:
What Is Good Sound?
Ever think about what good sounds really means? You’re probably thinking good material, excellent musicianship and the right equipment, but it’s really a little more scientific than that.
Most problems in live performance are directly related to fidelity, intelligibility and loudness. If one or more of these basic measures of sound quality isn’t right, your audience can’t really hear the music you’ve worked so hard to perfect. Let’s look at them, one by one.
Is it true? This is mostly determined by the overall frequency response of the sound arriving at the listener’s ear. It must have sufficient frequency range and uniformity to produce realistic and accurate speech and music. All parts of the audio chain contribute to it: a limitation in any individual component will limit the fidelity of the entire system.
Is it understandable? This is a function of the overall signal-to-noise ratio and the direct-to-reverberant sound ratio at the listener’s ear. All this really means is that the “signal” – which is the desired sound from the sound system — must be at least 20 decibels louder than the noise and reverberation level at the listener’s ear to be intelligible.
What makes a room “live” or “dead”? Here’s where direct-to-reverberant ratios comes in. It’s determined by the acoustics of the room and the direction of the loudspeakers. Reverberation time is the length of time that a sound persists even after the sound source has stopped. A high level or reverberant sound interferes with the intelligibility of the sound since your audience won’t be able to determine where one sound stopped and another started. On the other hand, a very low level of reverberant sound can create a lifeless acoustic environment; a dead room.
Most musicians find this concept the easiest to understand and apply: optimum volume levels must be achieved without unwanted distortion or feedback. A sound system used by a rock and roll band demands that attention be paid to Potential Acoustic Gain; in other words, the amount of amplification that can be delivered before the screeching howl of feedback occurs. The position of microphones and loudspeakers – as well as room acoustics – all play a role.
reprinted from Shure – http://www.shurenotes.com/issue48/what_good_sound.asp
I don’t know if you’re church sets up and tears down each week, but here is some sound advice and tips for your ministry …
This article is a re-print from Shure Note’s – House of Worship newsletter
Sound Advice For Church Plants and Established Churches:
Tips from an Audio Pro about Maximizing Your Sound Ministry
Lightning Atkinson loves systems. He gets excited when things run smoothly. It is this love for systems that has kept him in the audio industry for over 15 years, wiring radio stations, mixing live sound, designing and installing sound systems, mixing for broadcast, and consulting and training for church clients.
I’ve made my living for the past fifteen years as a professional audio engineer, working in both the concert and corporate sides of the industry. In that time, I’ve consulted with lots of churches and been on staff at some very different ones. I’ve been involved in several church plants and written a couple books on the topic of church audio.
Here’s some quick advice, based on my own experience that can save you from some of the most common pitfalls of running church sound.
Develop a Comprehensive Plan
Every church should plan on spending money regularly on the sound system. This approach of steady maintenance and growth will be much better in the long run than purchasing equipment frantically to resolve a crisis.
“The comprehensive plan should list the equipment to be purchased over the next 3-5 years, and it should be grouped in different phases.”
Regardless of the size or age of the church, there should be a plan on paper for the growth of the sound ministry and the purchase of equipment. Having a comprehensive equipment plan will help the church budget for the future, and will also prevent the people purchasing the equipment from being swayed by every wind and trend in the audio market.
The comprehensive plan should list the equipment to be purchased over the next 3-5 years, and it should be grouped in different phases. Each phase should build on the previous phases so none of the equipment purchased is abandoned as the church grows. Unfortunately, there are few resources to help a church develop a comprehensive technical plan. It’s worth the investment to have a trusted audio professional spend a few hours learning about your church and helping you put a plan on paper.
You can find an example of a comprehensive plan in my book The Audio Handbook for Pastors and Church Planters.
In all areas of the church, leadership must be relational. This seems obvious and comes naturally for those who lead small groups. Sometimes this relational orientation goes out the window when church leaders are interacting with people who serve in technical roles.
This may be because the people who serve in technical roles sometimes have a different set of social skills. It’s really important to maintain a relational paradigm throughout the technical ministries because all volunteers must be acknowledged and appreciated. Your technical ministries run on volunteers. Protect them.
“Your technical ministries run on volunteers. Protect them.”
When this relational orientation extends also to vendors and consultants, the advantages are many. When you consolidate your spending across two or three vendors, you’ll get better pricing, better service and more likely than not, support in crisis situations.
Don’t Purchase Non-Scalable Systems
Music stores love to sell all in one package sound systems to churches. I’ve seen many medium-size ministries and church plants buy one of these only to regret it later. All the components of these systems are manufactured by the same company and the package is highly portable.
The downside of these cheap systems is they can’t be upgraded and they aren’t durable. It’s common for a church plant to go through two or three of these systems in the first five years. The money spent on packages would have been better spent on individual pieces of equipment that could have been upgraded to suit the needs of the growing church.
(See the PCI article in this issue.)
Have Realistic Expectations Of Volunteers
After his volunteer audio tech quit, one senior pastor told me, “there wasn’t a single Sunday that he ran sound that I wasn’t frustrated”. Many pastors live in a state of constant annoyance with their sound teams because of weekly screeching feedback, difficulties with preaching microphones, forgotten sermon recordings and endless volume wars.
Pastors believe their audio volunteers are careless, inept, defiant or lazy. This is rarely the case. The issues that confound technical ministries are most often the result of:
- Volunteers who don’t have the necessary training,
- Equipment that is of mediocre quality or wasn’t designed for the way it is being used,
- Volunteers who are functioning outside of their natural strengths and temperaments, or
- Lack of leadership in the technical ministries.
The volunteers are probably functioning at the highest level they can.
“Many pastors live in a state of constant annoyance with their sound teams because of weekly screeching feedback, difficulties with preaching microphones, forgotten sermon recordings and endless volume wars.”
As I talk to pastors about this issue, the next question they ask is usually, “why don’t they have these problems out there, in the secular world?” The answer is funding and experience.
First, a local church often chooses sound equipment that is of a significantly lesser quality than the equipment used at professional concerts, because the better equipment is more expensive. The equipment churches often settle for doesn’t sound as good, is not as durable (which is very important in the world of portable church), and lacks the features necessary to achieve quality sound.
Second, the sound technicians that tour with bands have been doing sound every day for years. A volunteer who faithfully serves two out of eight Sundays in a rotation can never achieve this level of proficiency. Audio engineering is a profession that requires a very specific technical skill set, an experienced and trained ear, a grasp of electronics, an understanding of some aspects of physics, and an artistic ability to blend a band of individual instruments into a cohesive mix.
“It is unreasonable to expect a church volunteer to be a high caliber audio technician.”
These characteristics are in addition to the people skills, professionalism, problem-solving skills, and physical health required for any active on-site job. It is unreasonable to expect a church volunteer to be a high caliber audio technician. A person with no formal training who does sound only on a rotation will never be able to advance his/her skills beyond a beginners level.
This reality forces us to grapple with the question how high a priority is quality sound at your church?
If you have an active drama ministry, or use a lot of multimedia elements in your service, or have a congregation of young people, sound might be a very high priority. If your congregation is comprised of people who didn’t go to a concert on Saturday night, then the sound at church on Sunday morning might not be as important. The trade-off is obvious: the better you want the sound to be, the more money will have to be spent on equipment and the more professional involvement (and therefore money) will be required.
Build Harmonious Relationships Between the Sound and Worship Teams
I know of a worship ministry that used to refer to their technical staff as the ministry prevention department. This is a glaring example of a common but nearly invisible problem.
“I know of a worship ministry that used to refer to their technical staff as the ministry prevention department.”
In many churches, there is a latent tension between the sound team and the worship team. This tension is the result of years of poor communication, misunderstandings, and each team not appreciating the skill of the other. This tension can be instantly transformed into vivid expressions of distrust and antagonism when the audio technician asks the electric guitar player to turn his amplifier down, or when the drummer asks for his monitor to be turned up.
There are a few factors that have contributed to this situation:
- The audio technician feels unappreciated,
- The audio technician is caught in the middle of an un-winnable volume war,
- The band doesn’t understand the complexity of the audio technician’s job,
- The audio technician views the band as disorganized and sloppy, and
- The band views the audio technician as unaccommodating and rigid.
And here are a few suggestions for combating it:
- If your church sets-up and tears-down every week, have the band show up at the same time as the tech team to help carry the equipment. The audio team will feel the band is helping them, and the band will understand the amount of work that goes into setting up the sound system every week. Leave no room for prima donna musicians.
- Include the technical volunteers in all worship team meetings. Consider the technical ministry part of the worship ministry.
- If you have enough technicians, try to align the audio rotation and the worship rotation so the same tech team is always working with the same band. This will allow trust to develop between the worship leader and the volunteer who is mixing and can lead to beneficial inter-ministry friendships.
- Foster a strong relationship between the leader of the worship ministry and the sound team leader. Either leader should be able to talk to the other about the team members who don’t have the right attitude or aren’t pulling their weight.
- Teach your musicians a few basic audio principals so they can plug in their own instruments and monitors.
- Coach both the sound team and worship team on healthy communication and conflict resolution skills.
- The goal is for the audio team to want to serve the worship team, and for the worship team to treat the technical volunteers with respect. Worship is much too important to be derailed or diluted by tension between the technical team and the worship ministry.
Church plants are full of passion and energy. Seeing a new expression of church birthed through your hard work is exhilarating. In the excitement, details are sometimes missed and strategic planning falls by the wayside. Investing some intentional time and money in your technical ministries by addressing these common pitfalls will set the new church on a road to success and longevity.
Are you interested in nailing down your rhythm and timing?
NCH Software is offering free metronome software. The software runs on Windows, iPhone, pocket PC or your smart phone.
TempoPerfect Metronome Software
Download free tempo software for musicians
TempoPerfect is a free software metronome. Unlike mechanical metronomes, our software metronome provides a clear and precise beat that won’t wind down, making it an essential tool for any musician.
Designed to help musicians play in time, this tempo software creates accurate beat patterns for simple or complex rhythms. Using a combination of accented beats and normal beats, you can subdivide beats to hear tricky patterns like triplets, or accent the first beat in a measure when working in difficult time signatures.
TempoPerfect also includes a tempo guide in the main window, which is a helpful resource for remembering the BPM for particular speed markings (e.g., Allegro).
Hey all – Matt Underwood here, talking a little bit about gear. We’ll cover guitars, amps, pedals, and combinations of them together.
First things first – reality is that you need a good combination of gear. A great guitar through a junk amp is going to sound like the back half of the equation: junk. It’s vital that each link of the chain be a good, strong link.
Guitars – are the source of everything we are discussing. You don’t need me to tell you that there are tons of amazing guitars to choose from. However, choosing a great guitar on a budget can be a challenge.
I have several guitars that I rely on, such as a Gibson Les Paul Standard, Fender Telecaster Deluxe ’72 RI, Gretsch White Falcon… the list goes on.
However, if you can only choose one or two, choose something with diversity. The tele deluxe is great because it has 2 humbuckers, giving it a warm, full sound, yet also has the ability to clean up and sound pretty, like all teles.
Also, a hollow-body, such as a Gretsch (or, if looking for a good guitar on a budget, Samick has some great models). The hollow body combined with a humbucker creates a very full, yet very pure sound. Very diverse.
Amps – the next important part of the equation. If you are playing live, you are likely using effects pedals. This is a huge factor, as some amps sound great with pedals, and other’s do not. I love the sound of amp tone, through and through. I will take tube amp overdrive over a pedal any day of the week – however, it’s not always logical to use live, for many reasons. One thing I do is generally stick with low-wattage amps through a 1X12 or 2X12 cabinet. Tube amps always sound better when they are pushed (aka when you crank them). But, in a live setting, especially in a church, it’s not always practical to have a screaming loud amp. By choosing a low-wattage amp through a smaller cabinet, you can eliminate a lot of the excess volume.
For instance, live, I almost always use my Vox Handwired AC-15. 15 watts sounds tiny, I know, but trust me, this amp can belt. I rarely turn it above 4 or 5, and that can still be ear-piercingly loud. This is great because it allows me to get a great sound out of my amp by pushing the tubes to a slight amount of breakup, giving me just a little bit of natural overdrive from the amp. However, it is slight enough that if I want to clean up my sound, I just roll the volume back a bit on my guitar. It’s also slight enough that when I put on an overdrive pedal, the pedal merely enhances the sound.
So, a low wattage tube amp that keeps it’s sound fairly clean is the way to go (Vox AC15 or 30, Fender Bassman, Marshall JCM 800, etc.)
Last but not least – Pedals. As we are on the topic of overdrive with amps, let’s transition to overdrive with pedals. If you have a slightly overdriven amp (where your tone is mostly clean with a just a small amount of breakup) then you want an overdrive that is not going to overpower your sound with fuzz. A great place to start is the Ibanez tube screamer. It cleans up nicely while still getting dirty when needed. The key is dialing in the right amount of grit on your amp and then turning on your pedal and dialing in the perfect amount of overdrive that doesn’t oversaturate your sound, but merely enhances it and makes it bigger, warmer, etc. Great places to start are the tubescreamer, Fulltone Fulldrive, Visual sound route 66, or any boutique overdrive pedal.
Other pedals that are important – delay, volume, tuner, reverb, poly-octave generator, or anything else that gives you the sound that you want.
As most Christian music today is in the U2 ethereal vain, delay is the go-to pedal.
When playing live, I use a combination of boss pedals (dd-5 and dd-7). I use two because sometimes I like to use them simultaneously on different settings. I keep the dd-7 on a warm, analog sound set to standard quarter notes. I put the dd-5 on the “U2” setting, or the dotted eighth note. When used simultaneously, it creates a ping-pong sort of effect. Then, add some reverb and you can create a sort of swimming sensation.
We could go on and on with gear, but I these are a few of the keys to creating great tone. Keep in mind the saying “You are only as strong as your weakest link.” This greatly applies to guitar tone. Each step of the equation must be equally as strong; otherwise your tone will suffer.
Also, remember, it’s not about how expensive the gear is – you can make decent gear sound great if you know what you are doing and you know how to build the equation. I’ve heard plenty of killer rigs sound terrible in the hands of someone who doesn’t know how to really use all the elements.
Ultimately, it’s about you, as a guitarist, and as a worshipper, connecting with the gear you have and creating a sound that is your “voice.” Once you have that sound, and you know it inside and out, you will free yourself up to really create when you are playing instead of clouding your thinking with technical worries.
Keep playing, keep discovering, keep growing. –Matt
About Matt Underwood - Matt has played guitar in worship for Sonicflood, Jonathan Lee, Ayiesha Woods, and Andy Kirk among others. Has Recorded guitar parts for Charmaine, Philmont, David Marshall, and Brentwood Benson Demos.
This is part two of a two-part article by Michael Hodge profiling his pedal boards and how he uses them throughout the varied facets of his ministry.
RT-20 Rotary Ensemble (virtual Leslie speaker)
I use this pedal A LOT. I had a Leslie at one time because it sounds amazing on guitar, and this one is even more awesome…and slightly easier to carry. It also does a Roto Vibe thing quite well. I love the slow setting with an overdriven sound. It’s very convincing. I also use the fast setting for guitar lines that I want to really stick out. There is an incredible energy when you are changing speeds from slow to fast and back. You can adjust how long it takes to spin-up to full speed. This is also the coolest looking pedal in the dark. The LED display looks awesome. It also has distortion built in if you need it. This is one of my favorite BOSS pedals, hands down.
DD-20 Giga Delay
I could easily write an entire article on this pedal. If you play modern worship music, you know all about delays. I rely a lot on delay for swells, ambient pads, Ebow lines and choppy staccato notes. Of course, it’s essential for all the “Edge-U2” stuff that is so fun to play! I have one of these on every pedal board I own! One cool thing is that the direct signal doesn’t lose tone. This pedal sounds great and is really versatile.
On the DD-20, there are four programmable settings with one “extra” default setting that you can change as well. I like to use the “Smooth” patch as the default setting, which is a delay with reverb. I have progressive amounts of delay on presets one through four – the 4th preset being the longest. You can set the display to show milliseconds or BPM. I’ve started using BPM live since we have the tempo written on our charts, so I know if my “tapping” is in the pocket. I do save certain tempos for quick song changes during a service. We do a lot of segues with little time to tap out the new tempos. Some other favorites are the “modulate delay,” which is like a “Memory Man” and is wonderful for swells. The “pan delay” I use a lot in the studio. For me, the DD-20 is a must have these days.
FS-5U Foot Switch
I use this as a tap pedal to set delays on the DD-20. You can use a Y-cable out to set multiple delay pedals at the same time.
RV-5 Digital Reverb
This is a great stereo reverb pedal. There is a spring reverb setting, as well as a plate and hall. I tend to go for the plate or modulate setting. I use it whenever I play slide or Ebow along with some delay. I also use it with no delay for the R&B “chicken pickin” stuff to give a little warmth and “spank.” Since I play through two amps I have the RT-20, DD-20 and the RV-5 all in stereo mode.
Signal path for Michael’s BOSS pedals
Other BOSS pedals I use:
In the studio I use the OD-20 for metal tones and for the octave effect. It is really nice. I use the looper pedals as well – both the RC-20XL which packs a huge punch for the size, as well as the big brother RC-50, which I am using to do the “Phil Keaggy” thing. I have a PS-5 on my studio board, which does Vibrato-bar simulations – very cool!
I also have a much-coveted VB-1 vintage vibrato which I found used at a local music store near by. It does something very unique and is analog, of course. This puts a special mojo on swells and is kind of similar to a tremolo.
Whatever you are doing in your music career and ministry, especially if you are a guitar player, BOSS pedals are your friends. They never complain and let you walk all over them! May you be filled with creativity and passion both in writing, playing and ministering to His beloved people!
Michael Hodge is a self-described “pedal geek” and is currently a guitarist, producer and worship band leader at Lakewood Church in Houston. Check out Michael’s guitar tones on any Lakewood recording, such as Free to Worship. If you’d like to get in touch with Michael, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you could add one pedal to your arsenal what would it be?
Thanks in advance to Griff for making this fun to watch video:
Hi, Griff here from Blues Guitar Unleashed
Over on the BGU member’s forum we talk a lot about gear… I know it’s a shock, right?
Guitar players are generally crazy about getting the cool tones. And one of the most common problems is getting a good amp sound at “bedroom” levels that won’t irritate your neighbors or loved ones.
I put together a fun video where I demonstrated an amp I really like, the Fender Blues Junior. Obviously there are a lot of amps that could fill this void, but this is one I have, and doing this video also gave me a chance to demonstrate how I use some effects pedals as well.
Judging from the feedback I’ve received it’s been helpful for a lot of the BGU members, so I thought I would share it with you all as well.
PS – For more info on the blues guitar method visit bluesguitarunleashed.com