Sound gear over kill

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by GtenderG, Mar 3, 2010.

  1. GtenderG

    GtenderG Supporting Member

    Feb 29, 2008
    Back story: Guitarist and I meet via the men’s hockey team we played on. Like me he had taken about 10 years off from music and was ready to jump back into a gigging situation. We immediately hook up with a talented singer and a drummer.
    Guitarist and I start buying pa gear – he buys a power amp and some speakers I buy a power amp, mixer and 2 monitors (I already had effects). So we’re ready to gig.
    1st gig we use POS house PA and Guitarist invites his friend and former sound man to mix while we play. He does a good job with what he had and we welcome him onboard as our sound guy – he gets and equal cut which is more than fair.

    New sound guy buys a ton of gear (as he wants to make a business out of it again) but we get priority -again very cool.

    Now the conflict - he brings everything under the sun and setup and breakdown is done by the band and it takes an hour and a half of hard work. We don’t need 4 community cabs, 6 eaw monitors, 32 channel snake into 32 channel board, 2 racks of amps/sound gear and the drums completely mic’ed for a 3 piece cover band playing in a medium sized room (it’s a bar). It’s overkill.

    Many of you probably wish you had this problem and will tell me to get over it, but we stopped at 1:30am. I had no chance to talk with anyone who came to see us and wasn’t done loading the van till 3:15. This is every gig.
    Guitarist defends this. His point is we want to be big and command more money so we need to sound as good as possible every gig no matter what. When I suggest scaling back sound guy smiles and shakes his head but just bring more the next gig. Guitarist has been privatly telling him to bring whatever he wants...

    Now our drummer has quit saying that the gear situation is ridiculous. How can we attract a new drummer with these criteria?

    Play 1 maybe 2 times a month.

    Practice 1-2 times a week

    Split rent at studio ($380/month) (gigs cover this, but just barely)

    Load a ton of sound gear in/out at every gig.

    Somethings gotta give.
    No one will sign on for that – not even a drummer.
  2. stflbn


    May 10, 2007
    Use minimal gear to still sound good for gigs that don't warrant the whole monstrosity. Beyond minimal gear, he can haul it himself.

    Interact with the crowd after the gig and he can start tearing down his PA.

    Practice less. Gig more.
  3. Ouch! I was in a similar situation and now I suffer from cronic back pain because of it. You better check him before he wrecks you! What he needs to do is trade all of that bulky heavy crap in and get a small yet efficient powered system. QSC makes a great one that is compact but packs a wallop! Its what we went to and my back is so thankful!
    Good luck.
  4. crijan

    crijan Supporting Member

    Jul 6, 2005
    Dallas, Texas
    Endorsing: JH Audio IEMs
    If I hire a sound guy, his gear load-in and out is his own responsibility.
  5. NKUSigEp


    Jun 6, 2006
    Bright, IN
    That's definitely overkill. I'll let you in on a little secret you might wanna share with your sound-guy. Most bar-goers DON'T appreciate volumes that they can't even yell over. IME, the best volume is right about where someone could go to the back of the bar and speak normally to someone right next to them and still be heard. Gear up accordingly.
  6. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    Yep. This guy has enough gear to play the Hollywood Bowl but that doesn't mean he has to bring every stick of it to the smaller venues. Should be able to pull it off with 2 mains, 1-2 subs, 2-3 monitors, power amps as needed, and the board. From the sounds of it, I'm not sure if the soundguy is a show-off or simply sharpening his FOH skills for the "big stuff".

  7. whitespike


    Nov 28, 2007
    Austin, TX
    I don't play venues without gear, period. I use whatever they have. And if it's terrible I don't go back.

    I used to have the works complete with 18" subs, 4 powers amps, 4 monitors, two mains.. It's just silly. No one in the audience appreciates it. And I bet no one in the club does either bc they can't leave until you do. Instead of appearing big, you'll appear to be a bother.. of course you know this.

    I now only have a practice room PA and nothing more. Two monitors and a mixer amp. It never moves. I love it.
  8. GtenderG

    GtenderG Supporting Member

    Feb 29, 2008
    All good comments - thanks!
    The feed back from some of my musician friends is that we sound good and full and not too loud. We aren't as loud as the DJ that plays between sets... The stage sound is very good. I hear what I need too hear. I think he's very good as a sound guy but we're playing for 200 not 2000....
    I come from a blues band back ground where nothing was mic'ed and 1 vocal monitor (for most gigs). I realize that is 'under kill'.

    They laughed when I said 'We're not putting on 'Aida' everynight, lets scale down a bit...'. Like I was kidding..
    Wait till we play this one place with 30 steps to the stage area....
  9. I agree with the sentiment that if the sound guy is getting paid, he should be responsible for the load in and load out. If it's too much, he should hire or recruit a buddy (a roady) to help. This is how other sound guys I have dealt with have worked. The band isn't responsible for it.

    I used to play with a band with a similar "overkill" setup, and it was ridiculous. The guitarist/band leader thought he was back in his '80s glory days or something, and brought a van full of gear we didn't really need.

    We were doing start-up 3 hour gigs for little to no money, and he was bringing six monitors, everything miced up, etc. Could barely move on stage because there were speakers and wires everywhere. Two big towers of speakers on either side (four cabs stacked on either side of the stage). He made the drummer get a shield because the newbie female singers he recruited "couldn't sing over the drums". We were playing in little bars, not theaters or small arenas. I hated it. We'd get done at 1 AM, then take 2 hours to tear down and pack up. I wouldn't get home 'til 4 AM for some of these gigs, and wasn't making enough money to cover gas. I eventually quit and it was one of the best decisions I ever made.

    IMO, load in and load out shouldn't take more than an hour tops. Anything more and it's not worth it, unless you're making big money.
  10. JackANSI


    Sep 12, 2006
    The sound guy probably carries in the mixer, effects, mics, and maybe the stands and snake, possibly even the amps if they are the light ones and immediately starts to look busy setting up... you guys get the rest right?

    You pay him to do sound, he doesn't pay you to carry his stuff or do his job does he? He needs to get set straight and you need to set your band straight, he is ripping you off even at full share..
  11. RustyAxe


    Jul 8, 2008
    ^ this
  12. jive1

    jive1 Commercial User

    Jan 16, 2003
    Owner/Retailer: Jive Sound

    That's one of the reasons you hire a sound guy, so you can concentrate on your rig and play your best.

    Another +1

    If you're tearing down while the staff is sweeping, you need to reduce your break down time. You might want to hang out, but those guys are tired and want to go home. Early on I used to get dirty looks from staff during tear-down, and from that point on, I learned that if you want to make the bar happy, you get your butt out quick. The sooner you leave, the sooner they get off work.
  13. denhou1974


    Mar 6, 2008
    I carry my own gear. If we hire sound then he carries his own gear. If I'm feeling generous then I'll help sometimes with the heavy stuff. Sometimes our guitarist runs sound with his own gear. I'll usually roll up some cables and help him out and we pay him a little more.

    But, I'm not gonna hang out until 3:15AM when my gear only takes 5 minutes to pack and load. If you guys do the same he'll start to get the hint.
  14. Yerf Dog

    Yerf Dog

    Jun 29, 2009
    Carol Stream, IL
    That about covers it. Consider it outsourced. Let him get there early and leave late. Let him hire a helper if need be.
  15. baalroo


    Mar 24, 2008
    Wichita, KS
    + large number

    I AM that guy doing the sweeping most nights, and I AM the guy who helps decide who is worth having back. If you bring an average size crowd that my bar can get with a multitude of different bands, but when you play I'm stuck standing around at 3am waiting for you to load all your pointless gear out, you better believe that you've moved yourself further down the list of potential call backs. We judge "professionalism" in a few ways:

    1. Did they show up on time?
    2. Did they have a decent crowd?
    3. Were they clear and concise with what they needed from us?
    4. Did they listen to us when we explained what we needed from them?
    5. Did they load in and out quickly? (we have a GOOD house PA, so our general criteria is anything over 15 minutes is unprofessional. however, I've worked with a PA before and anything over an extra 30 minutes or so for an average bar gig is too long IMO)

    Also I agree with the sentiment of "sound guy moves his own gear." The point of having a sound guy is that you don't have to mess with all of that, if he doesn't want to move it all himself then he needs to get someone else to help him and split his pay with them... if the band is helping him move his gear then he needs to be paying you all equal shares of the equal shares you are paying him (IOW, he doesn't deserve an equal share with the other band members). The rest of the band's responsibility is to learn all of the songs, perform well, and sound good... his only job is essentially to haul the sound gear and stand over the board and stop the mics from feeding back. Although I'm not stupid enough to say it to any sound guy's face, it's really a pretty easy gig and every sound guy I've ever met will tell you (in private and in confidence) pretty much the same thing.
  16. MatticusMania

    MatticusMania LANA! HE REMEMBERS ME!

    Sep 10, 2008
    Pomona, SoCal
    Exactly. Youre paying this guy as an equal member of the band. Does he help set up all the amps, drums, etc? Probably not. If he's the sound guy then the PA is his problem and his problem only. Sure you can be nice and lend a hand, but it isnt your responsibility. I wouldnt pay a sound guy to run sound if I had to set up his gear, I'd run sound from the stage and save my self some bucks.

    Tell him to scale down on smaller gigs, bars dont like it when the bartender cant hear the orders. Or so Ive been told.
  17. MatticusMania

    MatticusMania LANA! HE REMEMBERS ME!

    Sep 10, 2008
    Pomona, SoCal
    I can load/unload all my bass gear and my PA (2 mains, 2 monitors, 1 powered head, cables, stands, etc.) in about 20 minutes.
  18. Goatee220

    Goatee220 Bassist/Photographer/Goalie Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 10, 2009
    Spring City, PA
    Part of being professional is knowing what amount of gear is appropriate for the gig. Sounds like the only reason you guys help him carry equipment is because he's a friend of your guitarist. If he was a stranger, would you all still do it? Not to say you can't lend a hand here and there, but if he's being paid, then he needs to be responsible for his gear. And an hour to set up/break down is way too long.
  19. all that for a three piece band? wow. Just for reference, the sound company I work for does this cover band almost every week. They are a 10 piece, with full horn section, 2 keys, guitar, bass, drums, percussion and 4 vocals. From the smallest venue, up through mid-large size bars and hotel conference rooms the set up is just a sub and a main on each side. Of course the band is all on in-ears, which helps. And a digital console makes load in/out easier.

    Many people say that a good technician can make and system sound good, no matter what size. That's very true (to an extent) and in general more speakers, more volume, and more rack gear is just to cover for a poor mix or not-so-good sound guy.
  20. modulusman

    modulusman Inactive

    Jan 18, 2004
    I'm all for using big PAs when the room calls for it. My band will be using 4 subs and 4 tops at a bar this weekend. I am confused as to why a 3 piece band would need 6 monitors though. :confused:
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