April 09, 2015
The Essential Gig Gear Checklist for Your New Band
Starting your own band is a blast. There’s no better feeling than playing in front of a live audience and absolutely captivating the crowd. The memories, camaraderie, perhaps even the money built with your new band mates will make it all worth it. That’s not to say that there won’t be any setbacks. But before you’re performing in front of a crowd of thousands, you’ve got to get the fundamentals down and start somewhere.
Your favorite musicians might make it look easy, but trust us when we tell you, each set comes with some serious preparation. Unless you’re a stand-up comedian, there’s simply no winging it when it comes to performing onstage.
You can’t account for everything that could go wrong for your first time band, but that doesn’t mean you can’t try. Besides working on audio issues or spacing on stage, some even more basic things need to be covered. For instance, simply remembering to bring all of your gear. There’s nothing worse than showing up to your first gig only to realize that you’ve forgotten something. Staying organized is key and keeping a checklist of items that you know you’ll need is always helpful.
Let’s take a look at the essential gig gear checklist and some other things you’ll need for your first performance.
It seems only right to start with the PA system. After all, the goal is to get your rocking new sound out into the airwaves. The PA system is essentially an amplifier that’s connected to a speaker, where you’ll insert your microphone. If you’re playing with a smaller band, then an “active” PA system is normally best. When it comes to PA systems there are “active” and “passive” systems. Passive speakers are much more difficult to manage because of their complexity. If you go the passive speaker route, just know that the speakers have to match the correct kind of amplifier.
Cardoid dynamic mircophones are the go-to if you’re playing live. This is going to take some research to discern which brand of microphone would be best for your band. The Beverdynamic, AKG and Sennheiser are always promising. From here you can decide if you want to go wired or wireless. If you plan on doing some seriously mobile action on stage to amp the crowd up, really consider a wireless mic, especially if you plan on hopping off stage and mixing it up with audience members. With that said, wired microphones are generally cheaper and easier to set up.
The guitars we have fun with at home might not be the ones you want to use on stage. Plenty of guitarists have a guitar they use at home, solely for practice or fun. If your guitar’s strings are breaking all the time or you’re constantly having to tune it – it might be time to buy a new instrument. Remember: upgrading an old guitar might outweigh the cost of just purchasing a new one.
Choosing the right bass guitar for your first time band means choosing the one that feels right. Bassists who enjoy going solo might like thin neck models more and extra strings. Also, small scale lengths could be more comfortable for players with smaller bodies.
Whether the venue expects the bassist to bring his own amp or not, it’s best to bring your own to have more control over the kind of sound you want.
You obviously can’t bring your own full drum kit to every performance, but cymbals, a snare drum, a bass pedal and general hardware will normally be expected of you. Hardware are the necessities such as cymbal stands, snare stands, bass pedals and the drum stool.
Planning on doing some heavy rock? Then a double bass pedal might make it even easier. The type of bass pedal you want depends on the type of sound you want. Wood beaters tend to make the sound sharper where as felt ones give a fuller sound.
Cymbals require some research. You can and should do all of the reading up on them as you can, but at the end of the day, you really need to hear the sound of the cymbal before you buy. Here’s an easy tip: light cymbals are best for smaller audiences and heavy ones can distinguish their sound in larger venues.
Next time you see a band live that you enjoy, pay attention to the kind of snare drum they have. Snare drums can be subtle or they can produce a real pop. Once you get down the sound you want to go for, consider a metal or wood shell. Metal shells will have a more harsh sound and wood shells are normally warmer.
Haven’t quite gotten the actual band together? Take a look at this article to have fun this summer and start a band!