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Gig Tips

Archtop EddyArchtop Eddy Manitou Springs, ColoradoModerator
edited June 2006 in Archtop Eddy's Corner Posts: 589
It’s funny. Now that I’m playing “acoustic” music (i.e., Gypsy Jazz), it seem I'm carrying around more gear than ever before.

Ever been to a gig where you had everything you need from the PA system to spare ink pens, and you realize you forgot your guitar?! I have; not fun.

Anyways, I thought I’d jot down a few tips I learned by setting up and tearing down a gahzillion gigs. I hope you can pipe in with your tips as well.



-- When you arrive at a gig, be polite and respect the business that hired you. First impressions are important. It’s possible to lose your next gig without playing one note...

-- When loading in gear, don’t clutter your stage area with guitar cases, gear bags, clothing etc. Keep all that stuff off to the side while you set up your gear. And introduce new gear to the stage only as you need it. (Hint: The last thing you need on your stage is your guitar…)

-- Set up the PA first; then check it out with an iPod or CD player. There’s no bigger drag than being on stage, ready to go, and finding out your PA isn’t working.

-- Second, set up your mic stands and mics. Quickly check your mics. Then set up your music stands, chairs and guitar stands.

-- Tune up your guitars AT LEAST 15 minutes prior to the first set. This is my best tip! Nothing steals the thunder from your show like badly tuned instruments and having to stop and tune once the gig begins. If you don’t make it a point to tune up your guitar 15 minutes prior to the first set, you risk forgetting to do it since things often get crazy right before the gig starts.

-- Leave your guitar cases off the stage. After everything is set up, THEN bring your guitars to the stage. Quickly check your volume, and then stay still and quiet while others go through their sound check.

-- Don’t fidget with licks while sitting on stage between sets or while waiting for the band to get ready. Respect the stage. It is where you perform; use it only for your performance (except for very short sound checks). Anything you do on stage will be observed by your audience.

-- Finally, the time you spend on stage is why you do what you do. All the headaches setting up gigs, dealing with clubs and restaurants, promotions, emails, moving equipment, practicing material, etc., are endured for the small moments you are on stage. When you are on stage, leave everything else behind. You can deal with all your others issues 3 sets later when you’re on your way home. Those issues will still be waiting for you; at least you’ll have a good gig behind you.


So, how’z about it? Anyone else have some tips?


A.E.
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Comments

  • CalebFSUCalebFSU Tallahassee, FLModerator Made in USA Dell Arte Hommage
    edited June 2006 Posts: 557
    Archtop Ed, great thread. Considering I have my first (since new years at least) Gypsy Jazz gig on friday; this was a great thread to see. I don't have anytips except (and I have dealt with this) Show up EARLY!!!!! I hate to deal with tardy musicians. It makes the entire group look unproffesional. even if everyone else is on time. Oh and if someone is late make shure there are somethings you can play untill they show up. People having dinner that are expecting live music don't give a damn if your Bass player is stoner and is never anywhere on time. They just want entertainment.
    Hard work beats talent, when talent doesn't work hard.
  • Posts: 145
    Bring a spare for everything... Batteries for all your equipment, strings, backup amplification if you can, guitar, etc. Anything can go wrong...
  • JackJack western Massachusetts✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 1,911
    AE,

    Great topic!

    --To add to your notes on tuning, I'd say if you're the type that changes strings for every gig, do it early, if possible the night before, so they have time to settle. The tuning between every song routine is torture. Also, invest in a tuner that lets you tune quietly, so when you do have to do it it's not running through the PA.

    --When you are onstage, don't forget the crowd. Too often I've been guilty of focussing so much on the music I've forgotten that people have come to hear it...interacting with an audience can really help push your music, and that in turn gets them excited.
    -- When you arrive at a gig, be polite and respect the business that hired you. First impressions are important. It’s possible to lose your next gig without playing one note...

    --And when you're done playing, don't just pocket your money and run out the door, even if you haven't been home all day and just want to get back, sit there in your undies and check out what you missed on the Djangobooks forum. Not that I do this... Thank your hosts, have the free drinks, and let them know how glad you were to play at their place. They'll be more likely to ask you back.

    --Do not get drunk.

    --If you or your bandmates hit a clinker, SMILE. This comes from my friend Bill, who's been a gigging musician for almost sixty years, and it's great advice (trust me, I've used it!). Seeing musicians glare or frown at each other is no fun for anyone, and more often than not most of the audience will assume the clinker is some sort of musician's secret...

    --If you're playing an outdoor gig or somewhere insanely hot, have an extra shirt in the car. I played a wedding last year in insane heat/humidity, and after changing shirts during a break I was a new man.

    --If we're including promotion in this: Be sure to let everyone know how to find you in the future. Mention your website, bring business cards, email signup sheets, etc. If the venue has tables, leave individual email signup sheets on each table; we've gotten a lot more responses this way-people can just drop it in the tip jar with their cash.

    --Which reminds me: Have a tip jar!

    We're playing a bunch of gigs this weekend; I'm sure I'll be back to tell you everything I did wrong...

    Best,
    Jack.
  • Tom ConwayTom Conway Maui, HawaiiNew
    Posts: 30
    Great tips, guys! Here's another one to consider. If you gig with a gypsy style guitar and don't normally bring a backup guitar it may be a good idea to have an extra tailpiece in your case. I've had three break on me, usually where they bend over the guitar body. Twice it happened right before a gig and the guitar was unplayable. Luckily I had a backup! Not sure why they've broken - perhaps it's the Maui weather here...

    Regards,
    Tom
  • MichaelHorowitzMichaelHorowitz SeattleAdministrator
    Posts: 5,815

    -- Don’t fidget with licks while sitting on stage between sets or while waiting for the band to get ready. Respect the stage. It is where you perform; use it only for your performance (except for very short sound checks). Anything you do on stage will be observed by your audience.

    .

    Thanks for mentioning that....pre-show riffing on stage is a real pet peave of mine!

    'm
  • JackJack western Massachusetts✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 1,911
    Agreed, though I'll often play a soft A section loop of Artillerie Lourde while our soloist is telling the audience about this or that aspect of the music...or tuning, the bum!

    Best,
    Jack.
  • JackJack western Massachusetts✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 1,911
    Man...more things come to mind every second: Keep your extra strings & picks out of your case and near your chair; if you end up needing them, you won't be wandering all over the stage trying to find them.

    And from a recent gig: If someone in the audience decides they want to join in on, say, spoons, have a way prepared to make them stop. End the tune quickly, thank them for their contribution, and mention how you're going to go back to playing as a trio (or quartet, etc.). Be firm, or they'll join in on the next tune.
    Thanks for mentioning that....pre-show riffing on stage is a real pet peave of mine!

    This reminds me: If you bring promotional materials, double check the spelling. It's a real pet peeve of mine!

    Best,
    Jack.
  • CuimeanCuimean Los AngelesProdigy
    Posts: 265
    If you're playing somewhere that has a sound engineer, make a point of going up to them before you play, introducing yourself, and asking their name. They'll usually be a bit more attentive while you're playing. Plus, if you need something you're not getting while you're up on stage, it sounds much more cordial and communal for the audience when they hear a band member say, "Dave, can I have more of my guitar in the monitor?" rather than, "Hey, Sound Guy! Turn me up."
  • Archtop EddyArchtop Eddy Manitou Springs, ColoradoModerator
    Posts: 589
    Thanks everyone for your great responses! Got a couple of gigs this weekend; this gonna give me some good stuff to remember. Two other simple things come to mind: I label all my PA board inputs and outputs clearly and with bright colored tapes. This minimizes set-up errors, surprises, and wasted time. I also carry a small snap-top plastic box full of every type of jack adaptors I might need (such as RCAs to 1/4 inch; 1/4 inch to minijack; stereo to mono; etc.) -- and a small flashlight!

    Let's see some more tips fellas!

    A.E.
  • Josh HeggJosh Hegg Tacoma, WAModerator
    Posts: 622
    The "spoons" player situation can also be used for a sound man that does not know what he is doing. We played a gig a week ago with a sound man that didn't know how to run sound for acoustic instruments and kept fidgeting with all the knobs and making really bad feed back at times. We had to end at least one song fast just to save face.

    - Get to the gig early enough to get to know your sound man a bit and do a good sounds check. When it sounds good make sure and let your sound man know that you like it and hope that he will not do undue "adjustments" during the gig.

    - Have an extra pick handy so if you drop it you can grab the other. Just keep an eye on the one you drop so you can get it quickly between songs. White picks are easier to see on stage then black.


    - If a lady start to belly dance during Dark Eyes just smile and let he go.

    Cheers,
    Josh
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