PA breakdown lessons

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by jondog, Aug 20, 2005.

  1. jondog


    Mar 14, 2002
    NYC metro area
    Last night our sound was terrible. Many things were breaking and not working correctly. Set 2 we recovered by plugging mics directly into our JBL eons, but it took far too long to get to that decision. I was *very* stressed by the feedback, distortion, etc. and it affected my performance and of course, decreased my enjoyment level (which is mainly why I play out anyway). So, here's what I learned . . .

    a. either cough up the dough to hire a pro soundguy and his system

    b. or KISS - keep it simple stupid - if you have many pieces of gear that's more stuff to break, and extra wires to jiggle around in the rack and maybe get loose. And more knobs to worry about while you're busy playing.

    c. When several different things are obviously going wrong w/ sound during the performance, go to your backup plan immediately. Do not attempt to fix any problem for more than 5 minutes.

    d. Always have a backup plan, and know exactly how you should wire it. It took us 2 songs to remember the mic level switch on the Eons, so even set 2 started poorly. A backup plan may mean lugging extra gear, but it is worth it. My sub drummer had his kiss Carvin PA box die on him at a show just last month. They play jazz so they got through w/ instrumentals w/ lots of solos, but no singing is not an option for most bands.

    e. It is just a gig so try to keep perspective to manage stress. If things go really poorly, just apologize and maybe offer a discount. I apologized but wish I had thought of givng the discount last night. The manager I dealt with was a very cool guy, in retrospect I wish I had offered even just a tip for having a good attitude.

    f. When a unit fails, sell it or retire it to non-performance uses. Yes you can have simple things repaired, but fixing one part does not mean that other bits won't break too, especially if you have budget gear. The peace of mind and dependability of new high quality gear is worth the extra expense.

    g. Test everything at home. Don't bring new gear to a show, even if it's stuff you've had for awhile, without fully vetting it at a rehearsal. This also includes new connections between old gear. You never know when a jack could go bad or that 1 cable that looks fine has developed a short. Get one of those cable testers and discard all iffy cables. KISS so you don't have lots of cables in the first place.

    There's probably other stuff to learn, but that's what I got for now. Anybody else have PA lessons?
  2. Diggler


    Mar 3, 2005
    Western PA
    Label EVERY cable, on each end. I label each and every cable with a code, the first part being the length of the cable and the second being the number. For example, 25-3 is a 25' cable, #3. Label both ends so that if you have a bad cable show up, you can quickly find out where it goes for sure. Keep a pen and paper ready, and jot down the code of any bad cables so you can fix them for next time. If you have any specialty cables, mark them with another label as a 'flag' on each end describing where they go. A monkey could set up our crossover-to-amp cables because they are plainly labeled as to where they go.

    It also helps in setting up, so that the guy on the far side of the stage is sure to get a 30' cord and not a 25' or 20' cord.
  3. For a smallish bar one time, the PA amp went out. YIKES! So I switched my bass amp from bridged mono to stereo, used one channel for my bass, the other for the PA, just ran the PA in mono.

    So be flexible, and keep your eyes out for options like that.

  4. RicPlaya


    Apr 22, 2003
    Whitmoretucky MI
    All the things you said are relavent.

    So somehow someone is dropping the ball with your sound. Who's running it, setting it up, deciding what components to buy etc. making the decisions?
  5. baba

    baba Supporting Member

    Jan 22, 2002
    3rd stone from the sun
    Have a backup soundguy. When ours didn't show up, I was the go to guy since I'm the only one who can do sound. We now have a second option and life is good.