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Stereo vs. Mono at gigs. What are you using?

Hooligan

Inspired
I typically run mono, as I traditionally view guitar as a mono instrument, and I’ve heard that stereo guitar effects and setups can be lost on an audience- depending on the venue setup.

However, I have been absolutely loving the stereo effects and sounds at home using monitors and headphones, and would really like to use these sounds at gigs. Anyone running stereo guitar live? If so, are you the sole guitarist? Or does anyone have 2 guitarists in stereo? Do you have tips, tricks, or suggestions? Please let me know about your experiences!
 

vangrieg

Forum Addict
Ah, that old can of worms is open again. :)

Common wisdom is to avoid stereo because half of your audience will hear only one channel, guitar is a mono source etc. Not all venues have stereo PA (although in reality I haven’t encountered such venues).

That said, many sound guys operating boards will pan guitars to the sides if the band has two of them, to make room for vocals the easy way. Which means that half of the audience won’t hear your unforgettable solo and their lives will never be fulfilled. They just don’t give a damn because guitar isn’t the most important part of the mix.

So, IMO, if there’s any panning involved whatsoever, it’s better to prepare it yourself, feed two XLRs per guitar to FOH, and tell them not to touch panning at all. Don’t do hard panning, move just a little. Don’t do ping pong delays and such. Place solos dead center. Make sure all of that sums to mono without problems.

Whether it’s useful at all to have stereo in a live gig is up for (endless) debate, but it’s better to be ready for any scenario.
 

Moke

Fractal Fanatic
Sole guitarist here. I always go stereo (when possible). Nothing too drastic. Minor panning of dual-path stuff. Stereo Chorus/Detune, etc... All presets are mono-compatible.

Most live venues have a lot of reflections. Even people standing very close to one side will hear some of whats coming out of the other side? And if they don't, only a small portion is missing out on something a little extra. The rest are getting it to varying degrees.

I've watched the smiles on peoples faces when they catch something cool happening. Why deprive 75% of the audience of a better experience that doesn't affect the other 25% at all?
 
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Bodde

Fractal Fanatic
Another problem with stereo can be the monitoring. I have had several gigs where they had put only one side of the sound on the monitor. Really annoying when you discover that in the middle of the set and you have to play a tempo dual delay. So always check for that.
 

666was999

Forum Addict
So, IMO, if there’s any panning involved whatsoever, it’s better to prepare it yourself, feed two XLRs per guitar to FOH, and tell them not to touch panning at all. Don’t do hard panning, move just a little. Don’t do ping pong delays and such. Place solos dead center. Make sure all of that sums to mono without problems.
Just to get it right. I guess you mean the techs should pan fully left and right and don't touch that setting?
Otherwise, with both pans at center you don't get any stereo at all.
 

craiguitar

Forum Addict
Mono. Stereo mixes are wasted on awkward bar layouts and drunk patrons.
Stereo for me, all the time!
Seeing as it takes zero effort to use a stereo setting, whether it's wasted on the drunken audience is their business. I don't care. They're getting a stereo mix, whether they like it, hear it, don't hear it, don't like it, whatever.... It sound's great and that's what counts.
I actually get compliments about it frequently enough. Our vocalist loves the environment of being all wrapped up in a blanket of swirly delays and stuff. The caveat here is that I'm the only guitar player in our band. If there were another, it would take more consideration.
 

RoshRoslin

Veteran
Mono.

Last time I ran stereo years ago, the drummer only got the Right side (mostly the 'pong' from a ping-pong delay) and was convinced that I had bad time and was keeping time to that. He was perfectly 375 ms behind my tempo apparently o_O
 

Bodde

Fractal Fanatic
But if you love stereo, use two monitors for yourself.
That's not always possible. With bigger stages and theaters that's usually not a problem.
Otherwise you have the monitor guy sum the stereo to mono on one monitor.
 

yek

Moderator
Moderator
That's not always possible. With bigger stages and theaters that's usually not a problem.
Otherwise you have the monitor guy sum the stereo to mono on one monitor.
Yes, or bring your own. I used to do that but portability is now a priority.
 

vangrieg

Forum Addict
Just to get it right. I guess you mean the techs should pan fully left and right and don't touch that setting?
Otherwise, with both pans at center you don't get any stereo at all.
No I don’t mean that. I mean, if you have two guitars, adjust panning in your presets whatever way you want panning to be in the gig, and give that panning to FOH, telling them not to touch it. I wouldn’t use full panning though. Say you are located stage right, so pan your “dry” signal slightly right, and stereo delays/reverbs center. The other guitarist would reverse that. When you play solo, both pan center. Something like that.
 

Perdikament

Forum Addict
Stereo everything. & we used a a second out from the Board with a full mix sent to side-fills. So the band got to hear the same as FOH. Everyone absolutely loved that setup.
We only played a few big venues, the rest we just local bars & we always brought our own PA & insisted upon using it. In retrospect it was incredibly overpowered and we were f’n loud, but it was clean pristine loud, so it was misleading. The side fills alone were what most places had as mains. It was a pain in the arse to set it all up, but we did it, & I didn’t even mention our drummer & his obsession with lights & lasers & smoke machines.. freakin guy’s drum rack looked like a Christmas tree, he did have colored LED’s inside all his drums that was pretty cool though..
 
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decreebass

Veteran
No I don’t mean that. I mean, if you have two guitars, adjust panning in your presets whatever way you want panning to be in the gig, and give that panning to FOH, telling them not to touch it. I wouldn’t use full panning though. Say you are located stage right, so pan your “dry” signal slightly right, and stereo delays/reverbs center. The other guitarist would reverse that. When you play solo, both pan center. Something like that.
This may be the most confusing thing I'll read all day :D
 

bdrepko

Forum Addict
So how do you handle 2 guitarists running stereo? I assume you wouldn't pan them both fully left and right. Is there a trick for this?
 

vangrieg

Forum Addict
This may be the most confusing thing I'll read all day :D
You are a lucky one if that’s the most confusing thing.

I’m not sure which part you don’t understand though.

If for whatever reason you want guitars panned, don’t hard pan them as a part of the audience won’t hear you at all.

I don’t think it makes sense to pan stereo special effects such as reverbs at all - they are stereo, after all, so let them sound equally on both sides.

That’s it, essentially.
 

lqdsnddist

Axe-Master
I run stereo at home and recording. Actually quad sound at home with things like my rotary sounds going to different monitors. For my own enjoyment but it sounds awesome lol

Live, I just run the left output, so essentially mono.

I don’t do things like ping pong delay so it’s not taking away much from the right output and while not as nice as stereo, it translates to any venue and avoid pitfalls of stereo.

If I was in a place with a proper stereo system I could always plug in right and left

I don’t play out enough to need different patches for different venues. Just keep things simple and enjoy stereo for home
 

Fredneck

Inspired
For the cover band gigs in a different drunken venue every night: I send out Mono Sum LR. For the modern church gig with a seated audience: I also send out Mono Sum LR, but finally last gig sent out Stereo. This was done on an Axe II, but I'm excited to get 4x as many Multi-delays now on the Axe III. FAS user Simeon has contributed useful Delays, Multi-Delays, and Synths in blocks and presets.

For the cover band everyone receives mono IEM mixes (blah).
For the church gig everyone receives stereo IEM mixes.
 
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