Your sound engineer most likely isn’t the first thing you think of when you’re getting ready to play an important show, but people in this position wield an incredible amount of power that can make or break the sound of your performance. A smooth soundcheck will ensure that everything sounds the way it should on and off the stage, but also that you feel comfortable in your performance. But for some artists new to live performing, proper soundcheck etiquette has to be learned the hard way. Here are three tips to help ensure you get the best soundcheck you possibly can on stage.
Yes, your job as a performer is difficult and unique, but have you ever put yourself in the shoes of your sound guy/girl? Their jobs are always crucial and often grueling, and they get a fraction of the recognition and adoration that performing does. Whether you’re on the fast track to becoming an international superstar or are about to play in front of a small crowd of your friends, treating your sound engineer with respect, patience, and politeness is paramount. This means being attentive and polite when you ask for things like level adjustments, and realizing you’re just one out of multiple musicians that are most likely performing that night. Something you’ll learn over the years is that there’s a direct correlation between a band’s venue etiquette and how they’re treated in return by said venue, so make sure to be kind to your sound engineer.
Goofing off with your bandmates or scrolling through something on your phone will put your sound engineer in a bad mood in a jiffy. Your soundcheck will be better and a whole lot quicker if you and your bandmates are attentive during the process. This is because different levels, monitors, and amps are checked and tweaked during soundcheck, and if you aren’t paying attention the whole thing takes longer. It can feel nerwracking to stand around waiting for something to do, especially if you’re checking right before you play, but your sound engineer will have a much easier time if you pay attention.
Show up with your gear ready to go
Soundcheck is not the appropriate time to do things like try out new gear, restring your guitar, or reconfigure your drum setup. Your soundcheck will be a frustrating slog for everyone involved if your instruments and equipment aren’t out and ready to play in a reasonable time. This sounds like common sense (it is), but every now and then inexperienced musicians see soundchecking as something it’s not––another chance to rehearse, an opportunity to make last minute changes to the set, etc. The only purpose of the soundcheck is to make your band sound as good as possible. Everything else can wait for another time.
For many bands, soundchecking happens right before they play, so by making sure soundchecking is quick, efficient, and to the point, you’ll be making the process better not only for you, but for the venue and your fans as well.
Patrick McGuire is a writer, musician, and human man. He lives nowhere in particular, creates music under the name Straight White Teeth, and has a great affinity for dogs and putting his hands in his pockets.