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What Do I Need For Pro Gigs.


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The bands I play in have good stage equipment, on setup could be considered pro-level. My personal setup is a combo amp, homemade pedal board and a couple of backpacks. And at least one guitar. Weekend warrior.

Question - if we start doing some openings at concerts (several thousand indoor or large outdoor venues), what do I really need and what do I need to know?
 

  • My first thought is to have my pedal board, footswitch and cables in one carrier. Prewired or only needing to connect one or two cables to be good to go. Not sure if other people could end up setting it up sometimes
  • Do I need roadcases for my amp? Other stuff? Guitar?
  • Will mics for vocals and Amos be provided or do I need to bring mine? I assume they will manage
  • What about stands, other accessories?
  • Clip on tuner or pedal board tuner?
  • What NOT to bring
  • Should I have ear buds for IEM? What type of connection?  I am OK with normal stage monitors, no experience with IEMs. I assume a big show would have their own transmitters and receivers since frequencies vary. Or does our band need to bring our own system and mixer for our mix?
  • Etiquette or other “you should already know” stuff.
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You already have a good idea of what you need to think about.  

When I set up and ran PA systems at festivals there were some bands that took too long to set up and tear down.  If you are not the headliner you need a small footprint that can move quickly.  Disassembly takes place offstage unless something immediately gets cased up.  "Immediately" means you close a lid and that's it!  

Flight cases are heavy and take up more volume in your truck than you expect.  Cheaper plastic cases may not be as "cool" looking, but you want to protect the knobs on your amp from getting broken off if something falls on them.  Pots will shear off at the nuts that hold them in place. 

Have a case for cables.  Have spare cables.  

Do not bring mics, stands, or mic cables.  Provide a stage plot for the sound crew and they will have them set up for you.  

If you want to be paranoid, invest in one of those Tech 21 Fly Rigs.

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There are other guys here who do bigger shows more than I, so they may have better advice, but here are my 2 cents. 

There are plenty of pros who play on a simple rig like yours. Most of them just have someone keeping an eye on things so they can just worry about playing. That happens between shows as well, and that's what always bites me in the ass. Shit always seems to magically quit working while just lying around in a case for some reason.  I imagine having a dedicated tech going through everything between shows is really nice.

Ah, to dream...

I try to have two of most everything that I can sensibly. I bought a Quilter as a SS backup that is also plug-and-play with my regular rig so if whatever tube amp I am bringing shits the bed, I can quickly swap it and get through a show.

Steve mentioned speed, and I have spent a good deal of money on that. I have a Friedman board with a power supply and buffer pay so I can connect and disconnect everything quickly. I also label EVERYTHING (need to go back and label my power block connections actually). If we are in a quick changeover and something isn't working, I can hunt down all the connections and so on as quickly as possibly. I also carry a spare patch so if I'm having an issue with the loop or something, I can patch everything to go straight in. I can also pull all of my gear off stage quickly if needed.

Most of my amps which I gig with have a strip of masking tape with all the settings written on them. I usually do tweak them a tad from a room, but it's a helluvalot quicker to tweak from a baseline than trying to remember if I always set the bass to 2 on this amp, or if something got bumped on the way to the gig.

I don't have road cases. If I was flying with gear or dealing with cartage, I probably would. But it's me doing the packing and so on, so it's not worth it to me.  And they do take up a lot of room. 

Usually anywhere I play has PA, stands, and mics. Some people are picky about mics and want to use a particular one. If so, bring it.  My hornline does.  I'm not, so I use whatever is there. If you're worried about availability and aren't to the stage of using riders, call ahead and ask. 

I have a board tuner and FINALLY dropped the money to buy a good three-guitar stand. Having a stand for every guitar means that if you have some time between soundcheck and playing or are doing multiple sets, you don't have to make the choice between leaning the guitar on something or dragging a case out and taking up space and then putting it back up when you play, which is what you have to do if you don't have a stand for every guitar. As cases are annoying, I would often be left to lean or place the second guitar somewhere when I would try to get by with only bringing a stand for the guitar I wasn't playing. It's a damn wonder I've never broken a headstock. 

I see in-ears in more and more places, though I wouldn't say they are common around here.  I hate them. I like being able to hear myself well enough on stage to know that I'm in tune and key and fretting the notes I think I am, but I play worse if I stick out in the monitor mix. I always feel like I'm the only guy in the room on in-ears. Whether we're on ears of wedges, house does the monitor mix, though we don't play anywhere that has a dedicated monitor engineer on the side stage. It's always FOH. 

As far as etiquette, try to be early and try to be cool. Sound engineers are crusty most everywhere I play, but most of them are nice guys or gals once they realize you are going the hear them out and work with them. I think guitarists and FOH are predisposed at seeing one another as mortal enemies - you're going to make me deaf vs. you're going to make my tone suck - so getting everyone off the defensive is useful. Plus, if it is a venue's sound person or someone that works a lot of shows in the area , they see your whole show and everything else. Every town I've been in, getting a good rep with whatever stage crews you deal with, be they one or many, led to more shows and bigger opportunities. 

Beyond that, I'd go back to that redundancy thing. Footprint and speed is a big deal (as well as $$$), but having a backup for as much as you can or a way to quickly simplify a rig and get through the gig if something doesn't work is worth it.  Just little shit like screwdrivers, a spare cheap strap, patch cables, 1/4" cable, etc. I can't tell you how many time Jason Tonight was happy to see that Jason Last Week left a $6 cheapy strap at the bottom of the tool box. 

Edited by LucSulla
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Maybe things have changed, but it used to be your guitars and effects. Then pick a backline amp you think is gonna get you there. If you have a rider you can specify an amp you want. If hauling your own then guitars cables effects pic's etc. Mic's and stands are provided and can be switched out during sound check sometimes, but a SM57 was the go to back in the day.

 

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Longtime lurker and have not posted before. I enjoy the info on many of the threads and this is a perfect time for me to contribute something back to you good folks. I play the kinds of gigs you're talking about. I just played three different large outdoor venues in the past two weekends ranging from crowds of 1000-5000 and here's the things that are fresh in my mind.

 

For these size of shows you need:

-Guitar, Pedal board and all your cables to go from the amp to your guitar.

-you absolutely need to bring a tuner

-in these post Covid times you can bring your own vocal mic, tech's won't have an issue with that unless it's a crap mic. Shure SM58 is the easiest to deal with as it's standard fare or something comparable. In all my recent gigs the stage crews did a fantastic job of swapping out and disinfecting vocal mics between acts.

 

You generally don't need:

-an amp; backline is almost always provided and often you have no choice of what that is. In my last gigs it was all Marshall 2000's with 4x12 cabs and one gig I had a choice of that or a number of Fender combos (deluxes, and a twin). Occasionally I have brought my own head to hook up to existing stage cabs but in most cases it's just not worth it considering the time you have for setup and soundchecks

-stands not needed; mic, guitar, etc all provided

-IEM's; you can bring them but in many cases in my experience you may be rushed through the soundcheck and there's simply no time to mess around with anything but the existing stage monitors

 

Tips from my experience:

-ask ahead of time to clarify what is provided on stage

-be organized. there's nothing more important than this except a positive attitude

-the simpler you can make your setup the better it will be for you

-be quick with your setup and make sure everything works before you pack your stuff to head to a gig

-bring spare cables (pedalboard, guitar)

-Make sure your guitar has a brand new set of strings on. I often will bring a spare backup guitar too. You're only doing one set as an opener, sometimes short so there's no time to stop and change a guitar string

-make sure anything using a battery has a fresh one and you have a spare

-be courteous to the stage hands and monitor people. If you're easy to work with and respectful they'll do their very best to make you comfortable to have a good show. Otherwise it can be absolute hell

-be patient

-don't make a pile of noise playing when someone else is checking their monitors

-if something isn't quite right on stage for you then ask for assistance, but don't be a pain in the a$$. It's a fine line

-be ready for anything especially last minute changes, no matter what's been promised. the last gig I did we were to have a half hour setup and monitor check. One of the headliners was doing their setup before us and things were taking longer and not going smoothly. Our half hour quickly dwindled to less than 10 minutes and quickly became hectic and a pressure situation. It's vital to remain calm and cool and get yourself ready ASAP and to not let what could be a stressful situation show on stage while performing.

-be a nice person. Occasionally I've had some really great conversations with bands I've opened for, introduced myself to the guitar player and they ended up letting me use their own rig and even helped me set it up and get a better sound.

-outdoor gigs in the summer can be brutally hot. dress appropriately. make sure you have water onstage and a towel is helpful. sunglasses can be very useful. also keep in mind on your pedalboard in the direct sun you won't see a single LED on your board or your tuner. A makeshift cardboard shade in front of your board can be a lifesaver.

-if one word can sum all this up, it's be professional

 

Hope that's useful.

Cheers!

 

 

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Do a stage plot for the band. A drawing of the stage which show were everyone stands and what they use, as: guitar, bass, drums, vocal mikes, pedal boards, etc.

Ask the venue if they have a back line. If they do, ask what kind of guitar amps they provide. Does it seem like something you can use? If not, bring your own amp. Perhaps the amp sucks, but they have a good speaker cab. Bring your amp, used their cab.

Ask venue how much time you have to set everything up on stage, and if you get a sound check or just a line check. Talk to the sound guy/girl well in time before you start to set up on stage and get directions and help from him/her.

Bring good cables. If you use a tube amp, transport it carefully and see to it that your tubes are in good shape. If you use a pedal board check all cables in time. My board is a mess, but I usually pull it of anyways. I should fix it, but I am lazy. 

Bring guitar stands. If the venue has them alreday, just leave yours in the car. Better to bring than not. 

Also, bring your best guitar face, guitar poses and cool clothes. Even if you sound like crap you want to look like a pro, people listen with their eyes.

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Thanks for sharing your experiences and tips.

First item is to get my pedal board set and all cables arranged so I can simply plug up. Simple and fast, backup cables and such readily available.  One bag/box for that stuff, one guitar ready to carry in. Amp ready if needed. 

Some questions on pedal boards, as this item is key for fast and simple setup.

  • I have a homemade board made from hardwood flooring and using super hook/loop. Have a 1 Spot wall wart with pedals daisy chained, only have 4-5 simple pedals. Consider mounting it to the pedal board and have an extension cord to connect to AC? I have found AC across front of stage and not. No big deal on a smaller stage if, not, it reaches. 1 Spot wall wart is universal input, world wide.
  • Any votes for a PedalTrain or other commercial or custom board? Different power supply (seem expensive, not needed for the power my board consumes, many are US voltage only)
  • The other guitarist spent time on the road some years ago and built a road case for his pedals. Disadvantage in my view is size, hard to locate it near the mic stand. Lays flat, no tilt. However, just open and plug. If I did this, mine would be smaller.

 

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21 minutes ago, BoogieMKIIA said:

 

  • I have a homemade board made from hardwood flooring and using super hook/loop. Have a 1 Spot wall wart with pedals daisy chained, only have 4-5 simple pedals. Consider mounting it to the pedal board and have an extension cord to connect to AC? I have found AC across front of stage and not. No big deal on a smaller stage if, not, it reaches. 1 Spot wall wart is universal input, world wide.

 

For 4-5 pedals, I have found the following boards very useful. With the Temple Audio, you can use Velcro or tie wraps. The 1 Spot can power the tuner & then daisy chain the others with the tuner's output (providing all your pedals are 9V and don't require a special wart). I always have a 10-12 ft extension cord in my bag just in case, but generally you'll have outlets across the stage front.

Temple Audio

Blackbird

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1 hour ago, BoogieMKIIA said:

 

  • Any votes for a PedalTrain or other commercial or custom board? Different power supply (seem expensive, not needed for the power my board consumes, many are US voltage only)

Depends upon your board. I've seen some homemade boards that are well made, functional, and look "professional"  (impressions mean something...)  I've seen other boards that, well, might leave a bad impression. You want them to remember you, not your board!  : )

I love these guys - expensive, but *very* well made. 

https://www.nycpedalboards.com/

Pack and unpack quickly, which is what you want. 

Lot of options for power - I use walrus audio and keep a spare. Again, pricey, but good. 

https://www.walrusaudio.com/collections/power-supplies-accessories

They take a regular power cord, so I keep a right angle and left angle plug in the bag to use depending on where the power is on stage.  

I've done a couple of larger shows opening, but not nearly as much as some of the posts above. Take their advice over mine. I do a lot of church gigs on the side, and they have the same needs - get in and out quickly and repeatably. 

Good luck. Sounds like you're asking the right questions and are in a good place!  Don't be afraid to ask one of the roadies after the gig what you could have done better.  Experienced people love to give advice when asked. 

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I stopped reading when I hit homemade board wall wart daisy chain. Get a solid board and pedal power. The unit I use now has a cushioned bag and all my cables fit in it too. It takes 30 seconds to unplug from the amp and have it loaded and ready to travel. I should add I am not gigging much anymore but having the good stuff makes life easier. If you notice many guitars and basses lay on drum risers and amp/speaker tops. Get a foldable guitar stand. There's a shit load of good info in this thread!!!

Edited by Dutchman
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As far as road cases, I'd say yes especially if there are times where you won't be handling them.  

Homemade stuff can be fine if it's overbuilt.  In the 80s, my dad built me a board for my pedals (wah, SD-1, MXR dist II, Boss DS-1, Ibanez analog delay and a chorus with a DOD power supply.  He painted the outside black, the inside white, had foam in the lid to hold things in place while moving, velcro holding things down and handles and latches.  Heavy, but took a beating for about 8 years.  Look at Premier Guitar's rig rundowns, some of these groups have homemade janky looking stuff and they're touring the world. 

If you're buying something commercially available, I'd determine how you want things laid out first, then look at the type of board.  

If you're going for IEMs, spend plenty of time with them, because it's a different world than floor monitors.  Neither is right or wrong, just preference.  

I agree with making your setup as bulletproof as possible.  Make sure if something goes wrong, you have a way to bypass or plug straight into the amp and keep going.  You don't want to be on a stage sifting through patch cables etc.  A decent backup device might be an HX stomp or a Boss GT-1 programmed to be an overdrive, a delay and a modulation.  You can go guitar > Stomp/GT-1 > amp and keep going quickly.  The GT-1 can run on batteries too, so that may be a bonus.  

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"Homemade" Power Supplies don't have to be a disaster.

Here's Jack Orman's take, and a PCB he sells.

https://www.muzique.com/tech/power4.htm

ETA: I totally agree with the sentiments expressed in this thread. If it can fail, it will fail. Have a backup plan."

Also, buy good shit. It's better for your mental health.

Edited by JGale
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1 hour ago, Dutchman said:

I stopped reading when I hit homemade board wall wart daisy chain. 

This all day. 

The last thing you want to do is start figuring out a ground loop when you are trying to get on fast, and amps are crazy.  Almost every amp I own is fine daisy chaining between some loop pedals and some front end pedals, but, even with an isolated power supply, the VIntage Modern I own hates it. Then you throw in stuff like ending up close to a generator, an AC unit, RF, or just plain dirty power, and those wall wart daisy chains that are fine at home or the rehearsal space are all the sudden noisy as hell. 

Edited by LucSulla
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We know lots of country, no requests yet for Rawhide. Those places are happy with our selection. Maybe not much removed from that clip. We can blend right in.

A little surprised regarding the 1 Spot wall wart. Any actual experience with buzz and loops using it?  I like the 1 Spot CS6 if I upgrade. Universal AC input and built in the box. We may go to Europe next year for a week or so, have to handle 240V/50Hz.

I have a couple of friends who could build a nice board, but a PedalTrain seems good for the money (Temple Audio, as well). Can get a soft case with option for a hard case. My dilemma is size. When I use my Express 5:25+, the footswitch for it is large. I set it on the floor, on my side of the homemade. To put it all on one pedal board, it gets to be a bit large (for me). However, it would always be there and I wouldn’t have to remember to bring it depending on amp used. Something like the Novo 18 - 18” long and 14” wide.

Again, thanks for all the advice.  A better pedal board is first step, the other stuff can be easily added if we get some bigger gigs.
 

 

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Ok, one last request….

Choosing between the following, actual experience or opinions welcome. 5 mostly standard size pedals and Boogie 5:25+ large footswitch

  1. Pedaltrain Classic Jr or Classic 1 with new design soft case and 1 Spot Pro CS6
  2. Voodoo Dingbat Medium with soft case and Voodoo Pedal Power 3

Both are the right size, enough power, universal AC input and lightweight.  Choice 1 made in China and ~$250. Choice 2 made in USA and ~$429. Otherwise, any big difference between rails and holes?

Looked at Temple 17 duo (made in Canada), a little narrow for me and soft case reviews were not so good.

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I'm not a fan of soft cases.  I think there are plenty of good options out there for a full hard case with ps in the $400 range.  In a rush during load out, I appreciate not worrying if the case is upside down or if I put something else on top of it. 

Either the rails or holes will let you wire the board and hide the cabling underneath. I opted to cut each wire to length and not need to hide the wiring, but it takes some soldering to do. 

I like that the power supplies both take standard ac. Definitely a good plan there. 

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On 8/14/2022 at 5:28 PM, BoogieMKIIA said:

A little surprised regarding the 1 Spot wall wart. Any actual experience with buzz and loops using it?  

More experience than I like to remember. At this point, whenever I have a 60 cycle hum, the first thing I look for is a wall wart. Then I move it as far away from any audio cable as possible.  9 times out of 10, that's the problem. The other time it's a ground lift. 

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31 minutes ago, veatch said:

More experience than I like to remember. At this point, whenever I have a 60 cycle hum, the first thing I look for is a wall wart. Then I move it as far away from any audio cable as possible.  9 times out of 10, that's the problem. The other time it's a ground lift. 

After I put my EE hat on, I realized the long unshielded daisy chain cable could be susceptible to noise versus individual short dc cables. The wart itself might not be problem. 

The weight is a factor for me and a TBD if/when/how many large gigs we may get. Can alway purchase/build a hard case if fantasy becomes reality.

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The field caused by the transformer in the wall wart will bleed into just about anything but the best shielding. 

I may be overstating it, but my experience has been "just say no" to wall warts. 

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A regulated power supply with isolated outs is the only way to go. The 1-Spot-type, daisy chained plugs are cheap, flimsy and will not stand up to the rigors of repeated gigging. I teched for a guitarist a few months ago. She had a tiny board with a Korg tuner, xOtic EP booster, Boss Reverb and tremolo. It crapped out twice during her set, so she had to bypass two of the pedals. I felt bad for her, but you need to have your pedal platform solid, reliable and bulletproof. 

Edited by RobB
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3 hours ago, BoogieMKIIA said:

Voodoo Dingbat Medium with soft case and Voodoo Pedal Power 3

All day long. Excellent quality, the gig bag is heavy-duty, rip-stop cordura nylon. 
 

Pedal Python. A handy item which keeps all of your connection cables bundled, safe and ready to go. Mine has: 20’ IEC cable, 2x18’ send return cables, 18’ amp input cable and amp switcher cable. Takes two minutes to set everything up. 

Edited by RobB
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16 minutes ago, RobB said:

Pedal Python. A handy item which keeps all of your connection cables bundled, safe and ready to go. Mine has: 20’ IEC cable, 2x18’ send return cables, 18’ amp input cable and amp switcher cable. Takes two minutes to set everything up. 

Take my money!!!

Great idea!

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