5 Tips To Help You Soundcheck
Playing a show anywhere at any time can be a nerve-wrecking experience especially if its a big crowd or a venue you’re not familiar with. Any number of things could go wrong and no one wants that to happen, but is there a way to minimise the risks? Having a good soundcheck session before the show is a surefire way to decrease your chances of messing up big time. “Soundcheck-ing” is in essence a dress rehearsal to make sure everything looks and sounds great so you do well in your performance and is crucial to making sure you cover all your bases.
1. Arrive on time. Any musician who’s played enough shows will tell you never to piss off your sound guy. He’s the guy at the console who controls everything from how everything is EQ-ed to how loud of soft your instruments or vocals are. You do not want to leave a bad impression on this guy or even annoy him because with a flick of his finger he could ruin your show. So arrive on time, do what you need to do, let him do his job, thank him and leave.
2. Know what you’re playing for soundcheck. Soundcheck is not the time to full around. You are there to play so that the sound guy knows how to make you sound good when it’s show time. Do not spend this time fooling around or performing as you wouldn’t later during the show. If you decide to sing really softly during soundcheck and down a couple redoubles before the show so you can belt your lungs out it’s going to throw off the sound guy because they’d already made arrangements to make you sound good singing the way you did during soundcheck. Drastically changing your style will affect his ability to make you sound good and hence affect your ability to entertain the crowd or sound good in general.
3. Communicate with your sound guy. As I’ve already stressed, your sound guy can make or break or show. Make sure they understands what you want and need. If you can’t hear yourself through your monitor speakers you need to tell your sound guy. If your drummer needs to be able to hear your guitarist or vocalist your sound guy needs to know. It is crucial that your sound guy knows what you need and want to sound like and what you need to do so in order to help you. Anything from an extra mic for your bassist to having the bass louder for your set needs to be conveyed so your sound guy can help you. A well done soundcheck drastically improves the sound of your live performance so make sure that lines of communication are open.
4. Have a friend off stage. Apart from the sound guy, it is always good to have a friend that has seen you or your band perform on multiple occasions and is familiar with the way you want to sound that can tell you if you if you don’t sound the way you should. This also makes communicating with your sound guy easier as being on stage can sometimes make telling if you sound good difficult. If you have a friend off stage they can easily approach you and tell you they can’t hear what your vocalist is singing or that the drummer is drowning everyone out, at which point you can tell the the sound guy so he knows that’s not what you want or make his assessment to better help you. Having this friend off stage during the show will also help you in making last minute adjustments.
5. Keep things consistent. As I said earlier your sound guy will be adjusting their sound console during a show based solely on your soundcheck then tweaking later only when necessary. Last minute ideas should be approached with caution as they can make or break or show. In some cases if someone is suddenly playing or singing too loud a well placed booster pedal can make all the difference for a guitar solo. Knowing when to use or not to use such tactics will depend a fair bit on what your friend off stage has to say, otherwise you also have the option of just trusting your gut, but you do so at your own risk. Make sure you practice enough so performing consistently does not become an issue during a show or during sound check as this helps everyone do their job better.
In essence, shows are always unpredictable but it helps to work hard, know your stuff and think ahead. I hope these tips help you the next time you have a show!