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11 comments / Posted by Bruce Ohms

Band's Stage Setup

Keeping your band’s onstage setup organized will not only make you look professional, but it can also help every band member focus on playing their best. Just like how a messy desk can reduce productivity and efficiency for an office worker, a messy stage can seriously throw a wrench into your band’s machine!

Here are some common stage organizational issues that really put a damper on your live show and what you can do about them.

A rat’s nest of cables. If you have 2-3 guys in your band playing electric instruments, there are going to be cables everywhere. If going wireless is not an option, the most important thing you can do to minimize cable clutter onstage is to use the right lengths of cables for the stage size and/or wrap up any excess cable. If you're playing on a small stage, you don't need to use a 40 foot cable, and using one would have a negative effect on your sound anyway! You can also use cable wraps to coil up excessive cable length and keep it out of your way. These handy wraps are available in packs at your local hardware or electronics store for about five bucks.

Carvin Audio C20PR 20-foot Right Angle Guitar Cable

Carvin Audio's C20PR Right Angle Guitar Cable

Right angle cables like Carvin Audio’s C20PR are indispensable in a live setting, as they provide snug connections between your instrument, effects pedals, and amplifier. The low profile nature of their connectors also makes it so you (or your clumsy singer) don’t step on the cable and unplug your instrument mid song.

Learn to coil a cable properly. The home power cord method of quickly wrapping your cables over your forearm or through your hand and around you elbow is not going to cut it. No one looks professional untangling cables on stage. It uses up your setup time and can shorten the life of your cables. The proper way to wrap a cable is to be aware of the twist in the cable and turn it in your fingers as you coil it in the other hand. There are several methods, but the key parts are maintaining the relaxed coils and stacking layers from one end to the other. This allows you to pull the cable from your bag, lay it on the ground and pull one end as needed. As a bonus the cable will lay down on the floor without loops standing up to trip over. If it is just your band on stage, you may not need to tape the flat laying cables.

Too many amps and not enough space. Sometimes the stage is so small that running out of space is unavoidable, but if possible, your band can try stacking the amps. Just make sure that the amps stack securely and you're good to go. This is more difficult with heads and cabs, but still a very helpful tactic to save space.

The PA speakers are getting in the way. If your band provides its own PA system at gigs, make sure that the PA speakers are equipped with the proper stands, such as Carvin Audio’s SS20. Not only does this reduce the overall stage footprint of the speakers, but it elevates them up to six feet, for a much better projection than you would get with the PA speakers on the floor. If you have not seen the trend of column speakers, this is one of their big benefits. The Carvin Audio TRC active column array system’s column section is only 5-inch wide. This really helps on small stages and wide rooms where traditional mains speakers would block a large portion of the stage.

Carvin Audio TRC400A 5,000 Watt Active Column Array System

TRC400A 5,000w Active Column Array System

Too much space and not enough band members. If you are a small band playing on a large stage, don't feel like you need to take up the whole stage. It can be difficult to communicate well as a band when each member is forty feet apart, so don't hesitate to set up closer to each other and move your amps closer to the drummer where all members can hear them clearly. This will also give your live show a more intimate feel.

The drum kit takes up most of the stage. If the guy who set the world record for the biggest drum kit with his 813-piece drum kit joins your band, or the stage is especially small, chances are there isn’t going to be enough room onstage for everyone once the drums are set up. This usually happens in smaller venues or those that don’t usually accommodate full bands. When this happens, all band members can set their amps back where the drummer is and stand on the floor in front of the stage. This may actually make your live show more engaging as most of the band members will be in the audience’s space, so don’t be afraid if the venue dictates this setup.

Properly organizing your stage setup is an essential skill for every band or group and helps both the band and audience enjoy the experience. Do you have any stage setup tips and tricks? Let us know in the comments!


  • Posted On July 12, 2016 by Sol

    Good points. although speaker stands actually take up more floor space then a stack of speakers and even smaller subs. But packing stands into a small car is much easier than the ladder.

  • Posted On June 17, 2016 by Larry

    Our guitar players and bass player each have a small throw carpet to stand on. They cover all the floor cables so the only loose cable is the one in the guitar or bass.

  • Posted On June 17, 2016 by Joe T

    Big or small stage- you set up the same way every time as much as possible. There is no reason to spread out and take up as much room as can. This keeps the band sound consistent and less chance of surprises.

  • Posted On June 17, 2016 by Raymond Arthur Woyak

    I one of the Best Sound System designers labels the cables. Our setup has Red Cables for drums, labeled with the CH# & DRUM, all monitor related cables are Orange, Vocal Cables are Black and instrument Cables are Blue. On Instrument cables that are to & from Direct Boxes & Amps have a small Arrow decal indicating the signal direction. Monitor Cables are numbered 1-6 which corresponds to each numbered cabinet which also has the band member’s name on it. All Speaker Cables are labeled where they originate (AMP-CH 1) & terminate (SUB-L) ect. All Cases are labeled F.O.H. / MONITOR / MAINS-SPKRS, so everybody in the band knows what cables and stuff goes where.(Most of the time) Hope this helps a little. Ray in AZ

  • Posted On June 15, 2016 by Richard Mead

    Another cure for the drummer with the 813 piece drum kit in a small space is to bring all the amps you can find and set them up in front of the drummer. We did that once, and never had to do it again!

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