Tuesday, October 13, 2015

9 Things Every Musician Needs To Know About The Sound Guy

Okay, today I came across this article pertaining to what a musician needs to know about the average sound guy at any gig. Here is the link to the article: http://www.digitalmusicnews.com/2014/01/06/sound-guy/

My Thoughts About Being A Sound Guy:

One of the things I wish to express to all musicians is about your personal gear for your show. As a sound tech, the biggest thing I come across at shows is when musicians do not bring all the required gear for their stage setup. (For example: power bars, extension cable, instrument cable, patch cable,  etc.)

Here is how I would like you to remember it for any gig. Bring all required accessories, cables, from the point of where you instrument setup begins to the point where it ends ready to patch into the sound system. For most sound systems that will usually mean at the point of connection at the microphone snake box onstage. Most venues will have the required XLR microphone cables to hookup to microphones, DI boxes and balanced line outs on instrument amplifiers. That means you as a musician need to worry about everything in the signal chain up to that point.

For guitarists: make sure you have all your guitar cables for your patches between you guitar, amp and pedalboard. I recommend that you also bring your own power bars and AC extension cable to power it all.
From the sound guy or girl: he or she will have the microphone, stand, and XLR cable to patch you into the PA.

For keyboardists: same as above. Make sure you have all your required patch cables and AC power for your keyboards. Some keyboardists show up without their own keyboard amp which is not recommend assuming that they can just patch into the PA. While that works with the proper DI boxes connected, it is not the optimum setup. Your guitarist/bassist buddies in your band have amps, so should you. Since keyboard amps usually have multiple channels then, you would able to have independent levels for each keyboard along with a way to monitor yourself during the show. The keyboard amp would have a line out that would be patched to the PA for the house mix. An alternate option to the keyboard amp could be a powered mixer with passive speakers or a passive mixer with powered speakers.

For drummers: if you have acoustic drums a great way for consistant stage sound is to purchase your own set of drum mics and carry to each gig. That way you know everything works and all you have to do is get the sound tech to patch into the PA.
From the sound guy or girl: we like to use sub snake cables for drum setups. It keeps the cable clutter down by allowing to use shorter XLR cables for each drum mic. Now, a cool option for a drummer is to also have a small sub snake cable constructed of about 10ft. consisting of just XLR Male and XLR Female tales ends labelled for each specific drum mic in your setup. Another popular option is to use a compact mixer to submix all the drum channels allowing the drummer to control the levels to monitor while sending a patch to the PA to the house mix.

For acoustic/electric guitarists: please remember to bring your guitar cable and spare batteries for your guitar preamp system. At most venues, there are not usually spares of this gear. Having an actual acoustic guitar amp to play through is a nice option compared to just plugging your guitar into a DI box patched into the PA. That guitar amp will give you confidence monitoring while onstage and it can patched directly to the PA for the house mix keeping your stage mix independent. If you don't have an amp then, at least purchase your own DI box for your setup. Many acoustic guitarists I have worked with always bring there own DI boxes to each gig which are patched into the PA. Make sure your DI box and guitar cables are in good, working order. Buy quality guitar cables and not the cheap ones. Quality cables will sound better and last longer.

For vocalists: if you have a specific vocal mic that your like to use then, please bring it. Most venues will only have a certain compliment of vocal mics to use onstage. (ie: Shure, AKG, EV, etc.) If you have a wireless mic setup that you prefer to use then, please bring that to the gig and inform the sound guy that you want to use it during the show. Don't forget the mic clip and batteries for your mic. Most venues do not have spare mic clips for wireless handheld mics which have a larger shaft then a regular wired mic. Bring your spare batteries and put in a fresh set just before you go on for the show. If your mic dies during your set there is nothing the sound guy can do about that. Note: If the venue has in-house wireless mics then, the battery responsibility goes to the house sound guy.

For all musicians: please do not damage any gear in the venue. If you noticed something that is broken with the sound gear onstage, please let the sound guy know so that he or she can make a note to have it fixed. When you have drinks onstage, please make sure to keep them upright during your set and take them away once your are done. Part of this is for safety reasons. Spill drink on mic connector and AC connectors and you may get the shock of your life. When it comes to teardown after a gig make sure you take your gear and only your gear. Please do not mix the venue's gear with your own. It all costs money to replace regardless of who loses it. It is best to mark all your cables, and cords with some kind of ID showing who it belongs to.

One note from the sound guy: Please make sure that the sound guy has muted all the mixer channels before you start unplugging cables from your gear causing loud bangs and pops through the PA. This is not good for the audience and it is not good for the speakers. Give the sound guy a few minutes to mute all the channels on the mixing console and then confirm with him or her before you unplug.

Thank you musicians for understanding what us sound guys are trying to do for you at your performances.
Rock on!

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