Helping the band help me with the PA system

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by rorsini, Apr 21, 2024.

  1. rorsini

    rorsini Supporting Member

    Jun 8, 2010
    SF Bay, California
    I've been struggling as the sound guy AND the bass player in one of the bands I play with. I sprung for all the sound gear because I really wanted us to start gigging and have pro sound out of the gate. Over the past year, I've tried to encourage people to help with all the setup but it's been a struggle.

    A couple weeks ago I finally sort of drew the line and explained that it was just too much work to take on solo and that I would probably prioritize gigs where I just was only responsible for my bass gear. So, we had a band meeting, and my approach was to just explain all the stress I was under on an average gig, and I walked them through it step by step. The band listened and we came up with a plan for me to make some simple instructions that everyone could use to start to pitch in. So this is what I came up with:


    We got to try out the new arrangement at a gig yesterday and it worked. Those who were able to help could rely on the diagram instead of pulling me away from whatever I was in the middle of to explain things.

    Maybe someone else will find this useful too. I'm also curious to hear about how others have handled this situation, or maybe avoided it altogether?

    Last edited: Apr 21, 2024
    MCF, nickpc, skyline_01 and 47 others like this.
  2. I like it!
    rorsini likes this.
  3. bajaandy


    Apr 25, 2010
    Wow, you're way more organized than we are! Good for you! And good on you for spelling it out to the other members. You nailed one of the most difficult problems: ignorance of what to do.
    We've been doing it long enough that pretty much everyone chips in and does their thing, although most of it still falls to the guitarist and I. But we've got a pretty good system going, and everyone assists with tear down and load out. It works.
  4. RyanOh

    RyanOh Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 10, 2016
    I've helped a couple bands setup guides/instructions, but we've labeled the inputs and outputs of the mixer and speakers directly. The XLR cables are all loose and not specifically labeled, although some are labeled or color coded for length.

    Good job getting the band to help out. Carrying gear in and out and getting there early enough to help is a huge win. The actual wiring usually doesn't take that long.
    rorsini likes this.
  5. rorsini

    rorsini Supporting Member

    Jun 8, 2010
    SF Bay, California
    Thanks! I think some of the players in this group are new to gigging so it's been about educating. I initially expected it to be common sense to help, but that just wasn't enough. ha
    Kubicki Fan likes this.
  6. rorsini

    rorsini Supporting Member

    Jun 8, 2010
    SF Bay, California
    Thanks! I didn't go as far as labeling the cables. It's mostly about just placing the things where they need to go, and then packed away again. Also, wrapping cable is a biggy! I got lots of help with that last night.

    Wrapping cable correctly could be it's own diagram!
    RyanOh likes this.
  7. rorsini

    rorsini Supporting Member

    Jun 8, 2010
    SF Bay, California
    By the way, I created this diagram using Inkscape (free vector drawing program) and had a blast learning and using it. I think I dumped 10 hours into it(!!), but had fun doing it.

    Draw Freely | Inkscape
    Kevnn4 likes this.
  8. Lance Bunyon

    Lance Bunyon

    Jul 17, 2018
    30 years ago I was the junior member of a oldies/Doo Wop/R&B band in upstate NY. We hired this old obnoxious front man when the last front man retired. It was my job to connect all the cables in the P.A. system, which could be time consuming.
    This obnoxious front man had stage fright he would play into by raging at me and the other junior member.
    One night I was carefully laying cable in front of the drumkit when Mr Obnoxious yelled "WHAT...ARE...YOU...DOING?".
    I looked at him, looked at the coiled speaker cable, placed it in his hand, and said "NUTHIN!".
    And I never ran cable in that band again.
  9. Oddly


    Jan 17, 2014
    Dublin, Ireland.
    Great idea!
    Next step I'd suggest is getting everyone to set up in some sort of order so for example the drummer is pretty much set up before the PA dance.
    rorsini likes this.
  10. Five or Six

    Five or Six

    Jun 21, 2022
    West Michigan
    I've been doing it for years. My big thing is guys just plugging stuff in without me knowing it. Put your amp on stage, that's it! (We still run old school) Leave your pedals and guitars off the stage, period! Put it up there before I'm ready and I break something, it's on you!! They understand now to leave all their stuff off the stage until everything is setup. Then I will direct them where I want what cords go where. Then sound checks. I get in the zone, leave me alone.
    amoodymule and rorsini like this.
  11. DirtDog


    Jun 7, 2002
    The Deep North

    honestly, I just asked them to stay off the stage for 45 minutes. Then showed them where they could plug in (labelled with their name). Was still like herding cats most of the time.

    My setup was actually pretty streamlined. Stage snake and wiring harness for everything (incl. IEM feeds).

    Now, tear down is where I let them shine. Happy for them to roll cables, stack boxes by the door, etc. I was able to roll everything out in two trips, including my basses.
    SoCal80s and rorsini like this.
  12. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    Everyone should help equally packing the PA. If anything, the others should be doing more, since the PA owner has to pack and unpack it from his vehicle.
  13. gln1955

    gln1955 Supporting Member

    Aug 25, 2014
    Ohio, USA
    Our BL always gets to the venue early and sets up his PA and lights. He does things different for each venue depending on size and indoor vs outdoor, so it's best we stay out of his way. For this he gets an extra cut. We all tear down and load out and everyone knows what their job is. We've done it so many times, we are a well-oiled machine.
    rorsini likes this.
  14. pfschim

    pfschim Just a Skeleton with a Jazz bass Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2006
    SF Bay Area
    OP, sounds like you developed a good plan.

    I have been in the same boat re PA setup for several years now. In the end, what I asked for, and have generally got from the several bands I'm in where I provide PA is:
    A. The willingness to show up early with me to load in the PA elements into the venue
    B. The awareness of what generally goes where, how to set it up and what cables are used for the various PA elements
    C. Follow a map I made for all of them on how to connect their own vocal mic to the right mixer channel, connect their instrument source (DI, mic'd cab etc..), and connect their own monitor option to the mixer AUX out.

    I do the Mixer setup and inital settings, which have become quite easy with saved settings/scenes per venue. I at least have a good starting point for everything going thru the PA. These days I only have to do minor/quick tweaks to the mix to get us ready for sound check. Once we soundcheck and everyone gives me a thumbs-up, they are on their own with individual monitor mix options via their smart phone or tablet (I happen to use Soundcraft, so that's super easy).

    After the gig, everyone helps tear down and we have generally got it down to about 20-25 min to take the PA down and load it out to my car.

    It took a few go'rounds for each band to get it mostly right, but it generally works pretty well. The only issue I have is that I still load all the gear into my car by myself before the gig, and then I have to unload solo once I get home, but I don't really see any workable option there.

    For reference, I'm using a Soundcraft Ui24r (great board) 2 x EV EKX15S subs, 2 x QSC K10.2 tops, and a variety of monitor options (small wedges, personal Hot Spots or IEMs .. depending on the band). So it's a pretty simple PA.

    This PA is just for small/medium gigs where we do not get venue provided FOH (about 40% of our gigs), and the audio quality works really well for our needs. However, I'll freely admit that when we get in bigger venues or festival stages and there is a provided backline and solid FOH with good techs, it's a real treat for me NOT to be doing sound! ;)
    rorsini likes this.
  15. Discount Bassy

    Discount Bassy Supporting Member

    Mar 9, 2020
    Right Here.
    Great approach. I have gigged with some folks who go into auto-martyr mode in your situation, refusing all offered help and then persistently complaining about it. When I am the gear bank, I am careful about giving specific instructions, but feel sometimes that there are those who make a point of forgetting how to do the same setups no matter how many repetitions. Your system is great and clears things up. I hate to give homework other than to learn the material, but this is valuable.
    rorsini likes this.
  16. Uncle Ernie

    Uncle Ernie Supporting Member

    Mar 10, 2007
    Are you setting up in South Park?
  17. True story.

    Back on LI in the mid to late 80's, I was the bassist in a pretty successful band. I had an 86 Mitsubishi Mighty Max with a cap on the back. The band jointly owned the PA system. I ran the sound while we were playing.

    To fit everything in my truck, it had to packed in a very specific way. The guys would always bring everything to me, while I stayed in the truck, moving everything into the perfect position so it would all fit. It worked like clockwork.

    At the end of one gig at a club called January's, I went out to the truck, full of sweat from just getting off the stage. I backed up the truck to the rear door for loading. It must have been 25 degrees out. I'm waiting... 2 minutes... 5 minutes... I'm freezing and getting pissed off. The rhythm guitarist comes out carrying his combo. He's saying something, but I don't hear him because I screaming at him that I'm freezing out here. He goes back inside.

    5 mins later, I'm furious! I go back in, and everyone in the band is like "Where were you man?" I said freezing and waiting for all of you. The lead guitarist says "You missed him." I asked "Missed who?"

    Apparently, Steve Vai and his manager stopped in for a drink and caught our last set. He even signed the rhythm guitarist's pickguard with a sharpie. He swapped out the pickguard and its still hanging on his wall. I was the only one in the band that didn't get to meet him. Lol!
    ebo, rorsini, covermego and 1 other person like this.
  18. Killing Floor

    Killing Floor Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2020
    Austin, TX
    Now your band mates will have a better understanding what they are watching you do.
    Hasty and rorsini like this.
  19. Lava

    Lava Supporting Member

    Jul 14, 2014
    El Paso, TX
    This is awesome. Cables section is brilliant!
    rorsini likes this.
  20. It's a great idea. I would not trust bandmates to get this right, lol. I'm happy if they plug in their own monitor and mic cable. Frankly, I prefer they just stay out of the way.
    rorsini likes this.