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Author Topic: Where does the musician end and the sound company begin?  (Read 9323 times)

Gordon Brinton

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Where does the musician end and the sound company begin?
« on: April 21, 2016, 08:08:55 am »

I can't tell you how many dozens of times I've had musicians ask me to borrow instrument cables to get from their instrument to the DI box. Perhaps I am wrong, but I've always felt that that is part of their instrument. Acoustic guitar players, key board players, and bass players alike really should own at least one instrument cable and bring it to the show. Shouldn't they???

I've even lost a few cables over the years because I was distracted at the end of the show and failed to gather it up. Perhaps I should be renting them instead of loaning them.
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Ray Aberle

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Re: Where does the musician end and the sound company begin?
« Reply #1 on: April 21, 2016, 08:26:27 am »

I can't tell you how many dozens of times I've had musicians ask me to borrow instrument cables to get from their instrument to the DI box. Perhaps I am wrong, but I've always felt that that is part of their instrument. Acoustic guitar players, key board players, and bass players alike really should own at least one instrument cable and bring it to the show. Shouldn't they???

I've even lost a few cables over the years because I was distracted at the end of the show and failed to gather it up. Perhaps I should be renting them instead of loaning them.

I know many sound techs who don't rent or loan the cables (or extra git strings, drum sticks, a fresh roll of gaff tape, 9V batteries, etc) -- they sell them.

Your mileage may vary-- I do think they should have their cable to get to the DI box, but at the same time, I also wouldn't necessarily expect a vocalist who brings her own microphone to bring a mic stand or XLR cable for it. I bring 1/4" cables with me, as I Deliver Results, Not Excuses.

Labeling cables can be your friend, in this case. Best done with either clear heat shrink over a label, or getting customer printed shrink tubing, and when you're making the cable. You can also order printed labels when buying them from CBI, Rapco, etc.

Gaffing the cable to the DI box may also help. Ordering 1/4" cables in bright pink with cute "Hello Kitty" printed on it would also suffice. :)   (I want to find a source for custom print gaff tape that I can get with Hello Kitty on it, in bright pink, so when someone needs to 'borrow' some tape, "HERE YOU GO!")

-Ray
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Geoff Doane

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Re: Where does the musician end and the sound company begin?
« Reply #2 on: April 21, 2016, 08:51:01 am »

I can't tell you how many dozens of times I've had musicians ask me to borrow instrument cables to get from their instrument to the DI box. Perhaps I am wrong, but I've always felt that that is part of their instrument. Acoustic guitar players, key board players, and bass players alike really should own at least one instrument cable and bring it to the show. Shouldn't they???


Personally, I feel that a musician should be carrying everything he needs to do the gig if there wasn't a sound system provided (unless it's the kind of gig where backline is provided).  So, a keyboard player should have a stage amp and a 1/4" cord to go between his keyboard and it.  Same goes for bass: if he has an amp, he should have everything else he needs to make noise on stage.  Acoustic guitar is a bit of a special case, since they wouldn't normally have an amp on stage, but having a cord seems like a good idea to me anyway.

As an acoustic bass player myself, when most gigs don't have a PA, I have two long cords in the bass bag, and one or two shorties for linking out of the tuner.

What I'm prepared to provide as the sound guy is one 1/4" cord per direct box channel, since an extra cord will usually be needed to link out of the DI and into their amp.  My cords are high quality of course, and covered with snakeskin, so they're easy to spot at teardown.  They're also only 5-6 ft. long, which makes them much less attractive to the musicians.  If an acoustic player shows up without a cord, that is just barely long enough to get from the guitar to the DI on the floor, but he's on a short leash.

For the larger cable kits, there usually is a longer 1/4" cord buried down at the bottom of the case, but I don't mention it to anybody unless it looks like it might be a show stopper.

GTD
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TJ (Tom) Cornish

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Re: Where does the musician end and the sound company begin?
« Reply #3 on: April 21, 2016, 09:00:08 am »

I know many sound techs who don't rent or loan the cables (or extra git strings, drum sticks, a fresh roll of gaff tape, 9V batteries, etc) -- they sell them.
I think it's a bit silly for musicians to expect the sound co to have drum sticks and guitar strings, but 6" of gaff tape, a 9V, or the use of a 1/4" cord seem reasonable accomodations.  For a $150 bar gig maybe asking the band to pay $2 for a 9V is worth it; for the shows I do, that would be pretty insulting and a great way to piss off the people I want to hire me next time.

I Deliver Results, Not Excuses.
Yep.  A small token of helpfulness that relieves stress on the talent and makes the show go on may or may not be specifically remembered, however an incident where the sound co turned down a reasonable request to "not be taken advantage of" will definitely be remembered, and not in a good way.  It's one thing to say "I'm sorry - I don't have a XYZ".  It's another thing to say "No, you can't have this piece of tape".

If your business model or mental balance is jeopardized by small stuff like this, you're either in the wrong business, or you're doing it wrong. 

RE losing a cable or two - I find this to be about a wash with what I gain.  Over the years I've collected at least one guitar tuner and a couple 1/4" cables, a few drum sticks and a drum key, and other odds and ends.  If I have such an item in my box and someone asks for it, I'm not going to turn them down, but I'm also not going to go out and buy parts to be a mini-store.
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Ray Aberle

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Re: Where does the musician end and the sound company begin?
« Reply #4 on: April 21, 2016, 09:12:30 am »

The times I have heard of selling the supplies, it's been when they (the tech) are working for the larger sound company, and they are //personally// purchasing and having those supplies available. In the case of a 9V battery, for example-- I have one channel of ULXP wireless that uses 9V; everything else in our inventory is AA. So, I rarely have to send 9V batteries out onsite. We most likely would not have any there, unless you (the client) specifically ordered them, or they were called for in a rider. If one of my employees happened to have some fresh ProCells in his workbox, I'd expect that he gets appropriately compensated for helping out the band member, out of his personal stock. (And if it was a high profile enough event that it'd make us look like an ass to ask the band member to pay for it, then I get to buy my tech new batteries. Haha.)

Gaff tape is certainly a consumable, and for the most part I don't have any problem letting the musicians use it. It's when they're using half a roll to tape up the side of their broken guitar case, or something else weird like that. That's not something I want to pay for...

At bridal shows (when I was a DJ) I always had vendors come up to me asking for tape. Usually they'd ask for my duct tape. Haha. I started bringing one or two fresh rolls with me, and when they wanted to "borrow" it, I was always happy to sell them a roll for $20. Then I wasn't worried about going to find them to get it back! (Lost a few nearly full rolls that way, before I learned my lesson.)

-Ray
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Chuck Simon

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Re: Where does the musician end and the sound company begin?
« Reply #5 on: April 21, 2016, 09:18:26 am »

Tom makes some good points.  Over the years in "festival type" gigs I have probably gained more stuff left behind by bands than I have lost.  Of course if an expensive piece of gear is left behind I imagine the band would contact me or I would make an effort to track them down, but the small stuff is there for the next band that needs it.
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TJ (Tom) Cornish

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Re: Where does the musician end and the sound company begin?
« Reply #6 on: April 21, 2016, 09:45:40 am »

The times I have heard of selling the supplies, it's been when they (the tech) are working for the larger sound company, and they are //personally// purchasing and having those supplies available. In the case of a 9V battery, for example-- I have one channel of ULXP wireless that uses 9V; everything else in our inventory is AA. So, I rarely have to send 9V batteries out onsite. We most likely would not have any there, unless you (the client) specifically ordered them, or they were called for in a rider. If one of my employees happened to have some fresh ProCells in his workbox, I'd expect that he gets appropriately compensated for helping out the band member, out of his personal stock. (And if it was a high profile enough event that it'd make us look like an ass to ask the band member to pay for it, then I get to buy my tech new batteries. Haha.)

Gaff tape is certainly a consumable, and for the most part I don't have any problem letting the musicians use it. It's when they're using half a roll to tape up the side of their broken guitar case, or something else weird like that. That's not something I want to pay for...

At bridal shows (when I was a DJ) I always had vendors come up to me asking for tape. Usually they'd ask for my duct tape. Haha. I started bringing one or two fresh rolls with me, and when they wanted to "borrow" it, I was always happy to sell them a roll for $20. Then I wasn't worried about going to find them to get it back! (Lost a few nearly full rolls that way, before I learned my lesson.)

-Ray
One possible middle ground is to tear off a 12" strip and hand them the strip instead of the roll.  Sometimes people go a bit crazy, not realizing the cost of real gaff tape. 

If handing a tape strip doesn't work because they need more than that, I might mention to the borrower to go easy, telling them the roll of tape costs $15. 

If it's the caterer needing to tape down 100' of warmer cord, that might be a situation where I would sell a roll rather than give.  That's not my problem.
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Mike Monte

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Re: Where does the musician end and the sound company begin?
« Reply #7 on: April 21, 2016, 09:57:21 am »

I know many sound techs who don't rent or loan the cables (or extra git strings, drum sticks, a fresh roll of gaff tape, 9V batteries, etc) -- they sell them.

Your mileage may vary-- I do think they should have their cable to get to the DI box, but at the same time, I also wouldn't necessarily expect a vocalist who brings her own microphone to bring a mic stand or XLR cable for it. I bring 1/4" cables with me, as I Deliver Results, Not Excuses.

Labeling cables can be your friend, in this case. Best done with either clear heat shrink over a label, or getting customer printed shrink tubing, and when you're making the cable. You can also order printed labels when buying them from CBI, Rapco, etc.

Gaffing the cable to the DI box may also help. Ordering 1/4" cables in bright pink with cute "Hello Kitty" printed on it would also suffice. :)   (I want to find a source for custom print gaff tape that I can get with Hello Kitty on it, in bright pink, so when someone needs to 'borrow' some tape, "HERE YOU GO!")

-Ray

I always supply the extra three foot-long 1/4" shielded cable to go from the DI box to the amp.  I bring four of such cables to sound gigs to facilitate the DI channels.  If a guitarist needs a cable a three-footer is all that I have.

FWIW: I provided the rig for a multi-band fundraiser a couple of years ago and one band brought 7 (yes, seven) guitarists.  Four of which did not bring amps and expected to go through the system.  Two of them didn't bring cords to use!!  I had brought four DI channels and was already using one for keyboard.. 
I looked at the organizer (who didn't know that this band was huge) and said "oh well...."  All of the guitarists didn't play (they were all comping the same cords anyway - sheesh!!).

The guys without cords couldn't use my 3 footers....(sob). 

The organizer was totally cool and has since hired me for several more events.

Mike M   
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Dave Barker

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Re: Where does the musician end and the sound company begin?
« Reply #8 on: April 21, 2016, 10:24:22 am »

I understand your concern over a musician not bringing a cable pisses me off also.  I usually carry 5 or 6 cables with me.  I have put "lime green" heat shrink over the end of cable/connector and mark it with our name.  Had one guy say something about the green color one time and wanted me to cut off the color that was next to his guitar, I just asked for the cable back.  He seemed to be able to use it then.
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Scott Olewiler

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Re: Where does the musician end and the sound company begin?
« Reply #9 on: April 21, 2016, 10:38:13 am »

If I'm providing the DI, I provide the 1/4" cables.  That way I know it works.  I get a lot of "I'm impressed" reactions doing that as well when I point out there's a cable already hanging on the mic stand waiting for them. For some reason that little service gets lot of positive comments.

But they are usually the first thing I gather up.

If the talent provides the DI, I expect them to have a cable to connect to it, and so far they always have.

When a guitarist forgets to bring a cable to go between his amp and his guitar, if I have it extra I graciously hand it over. No reason to cause any more embarrassment that he already feels knowing he forgot it.

I don't want to be the reason the show did not go well.  I feel I'm providing customer service as much as I'm renting the gear.

The bad blood created by requesting more cash from the client isn't worth it. IMHO.

I've gotten surprise repeat business from shows that did not go well, and I think the little things like that may tipped the scales in my favor to use me again.
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Re: Where does the musician end and the sound company begin?
« Reply #9 on: April 21, 2016, 10:38:13 am »


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