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Tutorial: Tips For Getting Your Best Sounds During Live Shows

By moosers on 11/19/2009 - (Anyone)

Introduction


This tutorial aims to give some experience about how to make the most of what you have during your live shows.  It can often be hectic during the show and a lot of times important things can get lost in the mix or things.  Hopefully this helps to outline some helpful things to remember in preparation and the day of a show.

Step 1

The first thing to remember is to make the most of your instruments and your gear.  Since it is a live show you don't necessarily have access to all of the gear and support that you would have in a recording studio.  A good way to do this is through preparing your sounds before hand.  This means writing down the settings on your amp and pedals, or simply knowing what the best settings are.  During the show it can often be a scramble, so having this reference available can be helpful.  Make sure that your instruments are set up properly and the drums are in tune before hand.  These little things can really add up and if they are not taken care of can also take a lot away from a performance. Also, always try to have extra strings on hand for all instruments as you never know when something is going to break mid set!

Step 2

Another thing to keep in mind about live shows is that depending on where you are at in your career, you might not always have the best house gear to use at the show.  Especially if you are just starting off, most of the time you will probably have to play in less than ideal situations.  Not having proper monitors or a suitable PA can cause your sound to in turn be less than ideal.  It is definitely a good idea to call a venue ahead and see what they will have available.  Having proper monitoring is essential in my opinion, as I always need to be able to hear everything around me.  I always try to do everything in my power to make sure that I'll be able to hear the people that I'm playing with and would definitely recommend that you do the same.

Step 3

Another important feature of making sure that you are getting the best possible sound during a live show would be of course to sound check.  If doing a proper sound check isn't possible, I would always recommend taking a few minutes right before your set to make sure that the levels are correct.  Have someone in your band to step into the crowd to get their perspective of your sound, as that is what matters most.

Step 4

Having a trusted friend in the crowd is also a great thing to have if you want the full band to play together for the sound check as most people will want.  While it might be a little weird to play right after a sound check, for me it is definitely better than starting off the set with unbalanced levels.  It is also a good idea to adjust after a song or two if needed - ask the few trusted friends in the crowd how it is sounding...

Step 5

Lastly, I would suggest either recording or videotaping (or both) your show.  This allows you have some perspective of how it sounded after the show is over.  This can give you a reference and is something that I often find very helpful.  I often get ideas about how to improve on it for the next show, which is after all the name of the game.  It is also great to go back after a long time and watch or listen back to how you sounded!

Conclusion

While these tips will help you gain another person's perspective on getting sound at a live show, the only way to really get better at this is by doing in.  The better you get at it, chances are the less you will have to deal with technical issues because hopeful you can get someone to do it for you!