August 12, 2022
The soundcheck is where the magic happens – at least according to some. There’s no denying that a solid soundcheck is the best way to ensure everything works and sounds like you want come show time. But soundcheck is often an afterthought, and sometimes there’s very little time to get one in. So, it behooves any band to know how to make the most out of a short time for working out the kinks. Here are just a few ways to maximize your sound check.
Although setup, line check, sound check, and rehearsal are three distinct events, they’re often smushed together into one crunched-up time for doing everything. So, the first thing to do to get the most out of the soundcheck portion of not enough time is to minimize setup time. Build systems, practice, and streamline your setup so you can spend the least time possible on this initial step.
There are a couple of reasons you need to get warm ahead of time. First, you’ll need to be ready to play your loudest parts for sound check. If you’re a singer especially, this means you’ll need to be warm and able to sing loud without compromising your voice. Even drummers may need a little warm up before they really go at it.
Even if you’re a guitar or bass player though, you’ll still probably want to loosen up your chops, and although it’s not hard to play loud before warming up, you don’t want to be warming up on stage when you should be quiet. That brings us to the next tip.
The first step of any sound check is the simple line check, and although the best house engineers will have at least rung out the lines for any problems before you hit the stage, they’ll still want to check each element alone to rough in tone and make sure everything is indeed routed right. This is next to impossible if other players are making noise. This scenario can be frustrating, but mostly it makes things take longer.
So, once you’re on the stage, don’t noodle, warm up, jam out, scat, talk, or otherwise make noise until it’s your turn.
Great communication is the key to everything. So, make sure you talk to the engineer(s) about everything. Having a tech rider is super helpful because you can hand that to them ahead of time (even email it days before) and eliminate the time it takes to explain your setup. Communication doesn’t stop there though. Let the engineer know about any potential surprises or anything special you need and listen for anything you need to do to help things along.
When it’s finally time to play through a song, communicate about what you need to hear differently on stage, and don’t be afraid to keep communicating throughout the show. Of course, as you communicate, make sure you keep in mind that you’re all on the same team, and keep things respectful and professional.
It’s hard to relinquish control, but the best thing you can do to maximize time spent on sound check is to do your job well and listen for what you need on stage. You can’t really hear what it sounds like out front from there anyway, so don’t waste time asking for changes to the house mix as opposed to changes to your stage or in-ear monitor mix.
In addition, it’s best to trust someone – probably the engineer – to be the boss of sound check. Letting one person run the show just makes things a lot faster and easier.
There’s an art to choosing which song to use for the full song run-through. Obviously, it should be something that’s emblematic of your root sound and should use all the band’s elements. But it should also have some variety. For example, the song where you all play as loud as you can for the whole entire song with no dynamics isn’t the best for sound check. Rather, the song which uses everything you got for a while, breaks down a bit, pulls in another element, then returns to an everybody plays crescendo might be better.
And as a pro tip for creating a great show, pay attention to the timing and who’s in the room. If you’re lucky enough to do sound check well before the doors open, it doesn’t matter. But if you have to sound check moments before showtime and some of the audience is already straggling in – don’t ruin the surprise by using your opening song for sound check! Maybe use a song that appears later in the set or not at all. Some bands have a dedicated sound check song that’s arranged specifically to ring out the sound but isn’t part of the show.
It can be hard to get a great sound if you don’t have enough sound check time, but if you’re diligent about maximizing that time, you’ll need a lot less of it, and that will improve your odds of achieving a consistently awesome sound.
September 15, 2023
August 18, 2023
It’s not like the guitar is ever boring. But sometimes you just want to branch out and see what else you can accomplish. This is true if you’re in a noise band or hyper-experimental act, but it’s also true if you’re in a straight-ahead rock band looking to add a few crazy moments to your show or record. So, let’s look at a few advanced effects you can try for that experimental vibe.
July 31, 2023
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"Make a joyful noise unto the Lord all of the earth; make a loud noise and rejoice and sing praises. Sing to the Lord with the harp and the voice of the psalm." - Psalm 98:4-5