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Played at a big banquet hall with bad ground power issues

Discussion in 'Bass Humor & Gig Stories [BG]' started by Richland123, Nov 20, 2018.

  1. Richland123


    Apr 17, 2009
    Last Saturday, we played for a ski club party in my hometown, Johnstown, PA, at one of the biggest banquet halls around. It has a large stage and dance floor and plenty of seating.

    The people who run it bought it several years ago and did some remodeling; but, the one thing they have not done is upgrade the electric service even though the place is used for weddings, parties, etc. that have bands and D.J.s. The co-owners even have a D.J. business. They only have 2 power outlets on the stage with 2 sockets each.

    We set up and I plugged everything in and immediately the P.A. was humming from a ground issue. One of the owners (D.J.) heard the speakers humming and came over and had a weird attitude and said that some of their electric outlets have ground problems after he saw me running the power cables and plugging them in. There was only one good power outlet on the stage with 2 sockets and we ran the mixing board and guitar amp in it. The other side of the stage was only good to run the lights.

    He said I would have to run power cables somewhere else but he did not know where the good outlets were. I found an outlet off to the side of the stage back near the kitchen door but it was falling out of the wall and I had to use it and duct tape the power cable to the wall. Finally, we did not have any humming and played the first set with no trouble. When we started the second set, we played the intro to Cracklin' Rosie and my amp and the entire P.A. went off in front of a roomful of people. Not only did one of the workers not know where the breaker box was, the power outlet was coming out of the wall with the cord hanging loose. Fortunately, the crowd was understanding and after I had to re-tape the power cord to the wall, we were able to start and play through the rest of the gig.

    The owners and employees of this big banquet facility do not seem to care about things and the electric service should have been a priority when they renovated.

    Anyway, we got treated very well by the ski club people and we also got to eat a buffet meal that was good. I am friends with many of the members and used to be in the ski club. If we play there again, I will know the drill.





    Last edited: Nov 21, 2018
  2. bholder

    bholder Affable Sociopath Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2001
    central NY state
    Received a gift from Sire* (see sig)
    Inexcusable that a fancy place like that would have bad power.
    saabfender, MCF, Ekulati and 6 others like this.
  3. BassCliff


    May 17, 2012
    So. Cal.

    Yeah, that's a nice looking venue. It's too bad the owners don't care about the wiring. It seems like it would be easy to fry your gear or even get electrocuted playing there. That's a lawsuit waiting to happen. Let's be careful. ;)

    Thank you for your indulgence,

    MCF, Crazy_Jake, fhm555 and 6 others like this.
  4. McG

    McG Goat Hill Gamblers

    Oct 6, 2010
    Costa Mesa, CA
    That's a rough one. And as Cliff said, possibly dangerous. I guess no permit inspections were required for the remodeling they did. Nice looking stage and room though.
  5. juancaminos

    juancaminos Supporting Member

    May 30, 2003
    USA, Phoenix, AZ
    We played at a bar that had terrible outlets. We would always get these little shocks and a little buzz out of the PA. And old sage told me of a trick and it worked: Bring a long wire with alligator clips on each end and a screw driver. Clip one side to a metal part of your mixer, pull the center screw out of the outlet cover enough to clip the other end onto it. It worked! At least at this particular place.
    MCF, HolmeBass, rtav and 3 others like this.
  6. Since you have an in with them and were once a member, you are in a better position than most walking in cold. Talk to them about the seriousness of this electrical nightmare. It's not just about crackles and hums in the PA, it's about human beings becoming part of a live circuit.

    Clubs like this most likely have a member who is or knows a qualified electrician who can sort this out quickly and fairly inexpensively. Don't let them wait until someone gets hurt or dies.

    With "tricks" like these, one has to wonder had that "sage" got to be old.
    RSBBass, Jhengsman, Mr_Moo and 5 others like this.
  7. Medford Bassman

    Medford Bassman Supporting Member

    Aug 8, 2007
    Medford, Wisconsin
    Sorry you had to experience that situation. I've played too many joints that simply didn't care about their electrical. Dirty power, hum etc.

    Played a gig once at a bar. They put us in a room that the owners and friends remodeled. We plug in, about to do a sound check and our summer tells me my Genz Benz Shuttle 6.0 is smoking. I look over and walk to my amp to see class going out of my AMP'S DI. real flames. Mind you, I was running an sorry to the board from that DI. I shut it down and the mixer, unfortunately by that time a channel on the mixer was fried. The drummer who was a home remodeler checked the electrical and found the idiots had wired the hot as the ground! He actually rewired the outlets we were using and we were able to do the show. Amazingly, my Shuttle was able to function but the DI was burnt beyond use. Which was lucky because after this gig we were on the road and had another gig the next night.

    Side note, I contacted Genz afterwards. They immediately shipped another amp and a box because they had me ship the old amp back because they couldn't believe the amp still worked after the DI was burnt to hell. That was an awesome company
    catcauphonic, Jhengsman, MCF and 5 others like this.
  8. turf3


    Sep 26, 2011
    Actually, connecting a grounded part of an amp to a (hopefully) grounded part of the building is an extremely low-risk trick that has a very high chance of success.

    I was in fact going to suggest something similar: it seems that it might not be a bad idea to carry a long lead with alligator clips or something similar, so that (after some careful checking with a multimeter) you could connect a ground prong to something you KNOW is grounded, like a water pipe (that is, if the piece of equipment of concern has a three prong cord).
    juancaminos and BBassBassington like this.
  9. Richland123


    Apr 17, 2009
    The Ski Club does not own the banquet hall, they just rent it for their party. However, they use it every year and you would think with all the events in there that other bands, D.J.s, etc. would have also had troubles there. A friend of mine who has a sound company does a 3 day, multiple band, Labor Day Weekend event there and he said he has had problems too. I believe that he had to tap right into their main power panel to run his huge system and avoid using the bad wall outlets.
  10. rohi

    rohi Lead Lined Supporting Member

    Mar 1, 2018
    I'm an electrician, so I usually just leave them my business card when I find outlets like this at venues, ha.
  11. salcott

    salcott Supporting Member

    Aug 22, 2007
    NYC, Inwood.
    There should be a city agency that inspects buildings to make sure things like electricity are up to code.
    MCF, pablomago, Mr_Moo and 1 other person like this.
  12. An indispensable item to ALWAYS carry...

    The best under $10 you will EVER spend in order to keep not only the gig alive, but your own equipment!

    I have two- one in EACH bass case...
  13. Tough situation, hopefully they'll take the issue seriously before there is a big problem or an injury.
    Richland123 likes this.
  14. This sort of thing used to make me crazy, as more than once the venue owners would hard-time us for serious problems they knew existed but refused to fix, as in 'well, I don't hear my juke box buzzin' like that !'.

    But then again: We played a place like that, and they did remodel it, AC and all. There used to be a 220v window air conditioner sunk in the wall above and behind the drummer's spot. In the remodel, they removed it and supposedly turned the 220v wall socket into a regular 110v outlet, 'Bubba re-did that for us when he re-wired everything else'. Turns out, it was still a 220v feed with a 110v box wired and installed. Plugged in the head PA we were using, and when we turned it on, BOOM!!!, a big smoke ring, and this vision of sparks shooting out of every 1/4" jack. Damn that Bubba . . . . . . . and of course, our famously brain-dead guitar player asked if you could get that fixed under warranty coverage.
    MCF, HolmeBass, Mr_Moo and 2 others like this.
  15. JoeWPgh


    Dec 21, 2012
    If it's a venue they are trying to save, it could be they do not yet have the resources to deal with the power. What good is clean power when the doors are chained shut due to bankruptcy?
  16. Bunk McNulty

    Bunk McNulty It is not easy to do simple things correctly. Supporting Member

    Dec 11, 2012
    Northampton, MA
    What good is it to be open with an electrical system that malfunctions?
    RSBBass and HolmeBass like this.
  17. mike57


    Feb 12, 2009
    Our Fair City, MA
    There are those city agencies.

    They do not inspect existing buildings where no work has been performed, nor are they empowered to look at a system if no work has been done to it. Govt inspectors cannot turn up at a building owners door and go on a fishing expedition for violations without cause.

    In the example given of the hall, even if they did 'some remodeling', if the electric was not upgraded, and there wouldn't be cause to do so, the electrical system would not be required to be inspected.

    Now that said, a complaint of faulty wiring placed to the city could get either the FD and/or the city inspectors out to check it out. They cannot order the stage wired to specifications for live music, but they can order things like grounding and circuits checked and made safe.
    RSBBass, Jhengsman, MCF and 2 others like this.
  18. DanAdams

    DanAdams Supporting Member

    Nov 3, 2013
    FREE BUFFET! :hyper:
    now what was the problem?

    They should really put a little sub panel behind the stage. no amount of additional receptacles or circuits will solve the ground loops that likely exist..
    but damn, free buffet.
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2018
    Ekulati and mike57 like this.
  19. fhm555

    fhm555 So FOS my eyes are brown Supporting Member

    Feb 16, 2011
    Or a local code violation at the least.
  20. Richland123


    Apr 17, 2009
    They have owned it for about 5 or 6 years now. They spent money on chairs, tables, paint, lights, ceiling tiles, and such but not the electrical service. It's not cheap to rent the place, for food catering, to buy drinks, or just to hire their DJ service for $1,700 for a wedding or banquet. It is rented out a lot for events.

    However, the co-owner said he knows they have bad outlets and ground problems. If they already know, you would think they would do something about it. The outlet falling out of the wall should be fixed pronto.
    catcauphonic likes this.

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