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The physical side of a band

SOTSDO

Old King Log
Staff member
CE/Moderator
#1
As some of you may know, I've put a couple of articles together in the past, one on a horn stand that I've been using for the past fifteen years and another on how to create a band book. I think that they can be found somewhere on here, but just where I can't tell you.

Well, I'm at it again, this time putting together the definitive version of my group's logo on our "fronts" (music stands). As the presentation this time has come out "stunning" (my wife's term) and really have a lot of visual "pop" (in graphics arts "newspeak"), I took the trouble of taking photographs of the whole process as it was being executed and putting them together with a narrative.

Look for an upload early next week. After running a scroll saw for about seven days, we've finished producing the components (all one hundred and seventy one of them), and we'll start assembling them this weekend, so I can produce a set of "after" photos, showing all three styles side by side.

If you had told me that I was heading towards a linear mile of packaging tape, a hundred dollars of glittery plastic, and complicated payroll issues when I started in with the group back in 2003, I would have told you that you were crazy. Having a band is less about music and more about putting up and tearing down and a myriad of other little chores that have very little to do with producing the notes.
 
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Ed

Founder
Staff member
Administrator
#2
Looking forward to seeing the final product. I have yet to build your stand but may yet do so based on what I have to play in various ensembles.
 

SOTSDO

Old King Log
Staff member
CE/Moderator
#3
My next effort is going to be with the PA system, putting the head, our submixer board, and the wireless microphone receivers into an all in one unit, complete with the black carpeting covering and removable lids.

I tried a $299 unit that was prefabricated, but there was just a hair too little clearance to get the powered head in and secured (without tearing the whole thing apart). It was also a bit larger (in height) than I cared for, as well as weighing a ton or so.

I don't know where I'll get the hardware (for the latches and suchlike), but the box (a joined shell of 1/2" or 5/8" Plywood should be easy enough to fabricate, and the rack mount on top for the submixer can be improvised if I can't find the metal strips.

I've decided that I can buy a powered USB hub, disassemble the sockets from the hub, and install them through the sides of the "box" to provide outlets for flexible neck LED lights for the top and front of the device. (I'm also adding a power adaptor for my Palm PDA, which I use for a set timer when up on the bandstand.)

I'm also planning to mount a metal plug strip in the unit, so as to lose about six individual power cords in the bargain. Anything to drop a few cords during the setup.

It's still well in the future, however. Too much else going on right now.
 

saxhound

Moderator
Staff member
CE/Moderator
#5
Terry,

Too bad the pre-fab didn't work out. I did mention on the "other" forum that it might be a tad heavy? You're probably better off building it yourself.

I'm pretty back side retentive about my PA set-up. I have 2 stackable 6 space SKB units for my rack mount gear - one for mains and one for monitors. Everything is connected via TRS cables, and I bought varying lengths from 12" to 3' so I don't have any excess cable hanging loose inside. I get to the gig, stack them up, put the mixer case on top (it's an SKB too, and the grooves on the case hold it in place). All my send & return cables are the exact length I need and already hooked up inside the rack cases, labeled and velcro tied. I have a Furman power conditioner with lights in the top rack, and everything plugs in there. I can hook it all up in less than 5 minutes.

The time consuming thing for me is running 16 channels of mic cables. I bought one of those rolling tool / utility boxes at Home Depot for cables. All my cables are velcro tied and have colored electrical tape around the connectors. I try to keep them sorted by size. I start at the far end of the stage with the long cables, and roll the thing across to the near end as I progressively run the shorter cables, then set it next to the mixer as an auxiliary table when I'm done. I've also bought the Atlas quick connects for the mic stand adapters.

I've sold all my big box unpowered speakers and amps, and gone strictly with the lighter weight powered ones - even the sub-woofer. That saves a ton of time and lifting - especially not having to carry those shoulder busting power amps in the heavy duty Grundorf boxes.

I'm always looking for ways to shave time and weight, but I think I am running out of ideas, other than to hire someone to do it for me!

Bob
 

Carl H.

Distinguished Member
Distinguished Member
#6
Terry,

I have a Furman power conditioner with lights in the top rack, and everything plugs in there.

Bob
Excellent suggestion, far better than a metal power strip.
 

SOTSDO

Old King Log
Staff member
CE/Moderator
#7
I finally went with a snake at the beginning of this year (for performances) and have been quite satisfied with the result. It wraps up and fits in one of my filing tubs (for loading into the trailer or van), and every send and return is centralized between my two alto players. From there, it's just a matter of running single cables to the mike stands in the group. With my main vocal mikes now being wireless ones, the on the stand clutter is reduced by about half. The only long cables that I run now are the mains to the cabinets (which are run off to the sides and then across the stage to the other cabinet).

I did the color code thing from the very beginning, and have every color of electrical tape that 3M ever made. I use "dots" (now punched from the tape) on the plug in points, and have further coded the vocal mikes as a single color and the instrumental ones as single colors over white (using the wider hockey tape for the white background; "green stripe white" is the nomenclature).

The snake sure cuts down on set up and tear down time, not to mention problems with bad connections.
 

Dave Dolson

Distinguished Member
Distinguished Member
#8
Oh, I just can't resist.

When I go to a gig, I put my horns on a stand, put the reeds on the mouthpieces, make sure my horns are tuned to the on-site source (like the piano), turn the microphone away from me (or unhook it) if there is one in front of my spot, and play. Sure is easy.

I know, this wasn't helpful to the discussion, but like I said . . .

DAVE
 

SOTSDO

Old King Log
Staff member
CE/Moderator
#9
We've got a few guys like that. Most, however are too busy helping set things up.

One or two have been so blunt as to refuse to lift their music box from the dance floor up onto the stage. They don't get called again...

On a typical Friday or Saturday night, our "day" runs from about 1:00 PM (when we eat a good sized meal) to 1:00 AM (when we are finally into the vehicles and on our way home. In between, we move (counting all of the lifts) about two tons of stuff, and move by hand carts (in our worst case scenario) about an eighth of a mile through parking lot, kitchens, elevators and carpeted hallways (the worst), the whole mess.

It's a full three hour job for my lovely wife and me to set the band up from a bare stage, and any help we can get makes it all the more bearable for us. Then we get ready to perform, hopefully with enough time left over to bolt down the meal.

And, at the end of the evening, we've got to strike it all and get it in the trailer or van, in addition to getting everyone paid.

All this for a share for my wife (who also sings backup) and the leader's share for me...

As I often say, I used to think that having a band was all about making music. That's the very least of it - the vast majority is heavy lifting, personnel issues, and making sure that something doesn't get left behind when it's needed the most.

And, the shutting off the mike thing works just fine in a small club, but in a large venue (we did one last month that was spec'd for a thousand people - the room was positively huge) if you do that, you might as well have stayed home. The sound folks frown on that sort of thing, since a portion of the harmony is then lost from their feed.

I don't like playing with amplification either, but sometimes it's absolutely necessary.
 
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Dave Dolson

Distinguished Member
Distinguished Member
#11
Well, I'm not opposed to physical labor, but the description of the electronic equipment you shlep to a gig and then have to set up and break down seems overwhelming to me (an acoustical player). I HAVE carried equipment and moved pianos from back-rooms to raised stages, etc., etc., but I MUCH prefer the acoustic environment where I do as I described in my post.

My previous post was meant tongue-in-cheek . . . and I recognize that some venues require a lot of electronic power. Fortunately I don't play at places like that. DAVE
 

pete

Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Administrator
#12
I used to carry timpani -- copper ones -- up and down two flights of stairs when I worked as an assistant to the director.

I named my first hernia after him.
 

Carl H.

Distinguished Member
Distinguished Member
#14
Unless you're the timpanist. When we'd do a drop into the pit, I'd have two crew members above to lower them, and I'd "catch" them myself in the pit.
 

SOTSDO

Old King Log
Staff member
CE/Moderator
#15
It is if you have two of those men there when you need them. Otherwise, you just have to get it done.

Generally, the most helpful band members that we've seen have been those who are (or have been) band directors in real life. They have a real world appreciation of the problems involved.

Me, well I'm more than used to heavy lifting, having grown up in a contracting family. (In addition to being a union bricklayer, I also spent my summers from age 13 to 20 building, stocking off with materials, and tearing down scaffolding for brick, block and stone work.) Hefting a hod or a scaffold board on your shoulder isn't directly analogous to musical work, but flipping a thirty pound brick tong for five hours a day does make for some arm and hand strength.

But, that was then and this is now. As you age, those old lifts start to look more and more formidable. The 98 pound sack of cement that was nothing but a nuisance when unloading our dump truck as a teenager is a thing of the past. These days, a twenty pound baritone case is about my upper lifting limit.

Then too, I have a serious, saxophone related injury that makes my right arm almost useless when lifting anything with my upper arm extended away from my body. Humping heavy stuff like the piano and the vocalist monitors onto the carts isn't that hard, but lifting up onto the stage or deep into the trailer most certainly is.

We don't ask for help with loading and unloading and setup. But, we are very grateful for what help we receive.
 

pete

Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Administrator
#16
Dude, a timpani is a two-man carry! :???:
And I give a nod to Terry's post ....

Generally, I'd have to dismantle the orchestra/band myself. The only things I didn't carry upstairs myself were the stand racks full of metal stands and the tubular chimes: I'd wait for the janitor or the director.

One of the computer jobs I had was as "Asset Management Technician". One large part of the job was to get in new equipment, set it up and test it. This is how I know the Mitsubishi Diamond Pro 91TXM (19" viewable) weighs 105lbs -- we got enough boxes of those in to make an indelible stamp on my memory. And, after schlepping a few pallets full of those, my body was a tad bit more chiseled than it is now.

A lot of people don't understand that a lot of computer equipment and printers are heavy.
 

Ed

Founder
Staff member
Administrator
#17
That's why I love the move to LCD's. They're lighter and they take less energy. I believe it's also a more environmental friendly solution than the CRT.

I'm lucky that I basically get to show up and play. Even when things are being broken down I'm normally breaking down my equipment. I've noticed that a lot of players don't use stands in the classical ensemble I play with. I can't understand it.
 

SOTSDO

Old King Log
Staff member
CE/Moderator
#18
Looking at it from a player's perspective, I know quite a few guys that don't like to tote around the extra weight that a stand entails. In addition, most cases don't allow for so much bulk inside, so the payload is more awkward as well as you have to tote another item in addition to the one or two cases already in your hands.

Since my normal load is at least a baritone sax, a bass clarinet, and a soprano clarinet, I'm already in cart territory, so throwing a stand on top of it all is no big deal. Having said that, if someone offered a traypack case for baritone and clarinet, I'd be the first person in line to buy one.

Got half of the stand fronts put together today; I should have them all finished off by tomorrow night. (We've got cutting the lawn tomorrow morning, followed by lunch with one client and a meeting with a prospective second one.) Article to follow on Tuesday night.
 

Ed

Founder
Staff member
Administrator
#19
I carry an additional large bag for the stand, music, and various other items that occasionally come in handy. The protec contoured case that I use doesn't allow me to easily carry music or much else besides some reeds and mouthpieces.

I am looking forward to seeing photos of the new project.
 
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