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Cheap Advice On Live Sound
48 Tips To Make Your Band Sound Better
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Use A Packing Checklist For Live Shows

12:10 pm Live Sound

If you are the sound man for a band, or a band member who has been recruited to store all of the group’s “sound stuff” and bring it to the gigs, you have probably had the experience of discovering at the last minute that some crucial (and usually obvious) item has been forgotten, left on the kitchen table or the studio floor and now desperately needed with 20 minutes left till showtime. “How could I have forgotten the power cable for the mixer?” is not a question you want to be asking yourself at a time like this!

As the sound man for Rusty Strings, I have committed one or two gaffes of this kind myself, usually leading to sad, desperate searches for workarounds. To avoid this problem, I have established two rules for myself:

(1) Always bring everything I have ever needed at any previous gig. Sure, this means a gradually increasing load as I add in small items that someone asked for but I didn’t have, but I think it’s worth it. (Wait till next time the guitarist forgets his capo - I’ve got one!)

(2) Use a packing checklist. How else can I be sure I have every last thing? Airline pilots use checklists; now I do too.

Pack Pack Pack

As a public service, I would like to share my actual Rusty Strings Live Packing List with you! It’s unlikely that you will want to pack this exact collection of items, but I’ll bet there are a few things on the list that you haven’t thought of or needed - yet.

Just to set the stage, the basic things I take to each Rusty gig are:

  • Card table and chair
  • AC extension cord on reel
  • 10′ and 20′ XLR cables, plugged end to end, on reels
  • Snake
  • Black duffel bag
  • Blue duffel bag

Inside the black duffel bag is a small zippered black pouch for the “little stuff” so it doesn’t all get lost. (It gets worse. Inside the black pouch is a Ziploc bag containing all of the medical and first-aid items!) Also, inside the blue duffel bag, which is designated as the “cable bag,” is a small zippered blue pouch with all of the smaller cables in it.

OK, here’s my list. (Extra annotations for your info are in italics.)


  • Mixer & power supply
  • Rack box (power amp & effects unit)
  • Microphones
  • Microphone stands & clips
  • Power strip
  • Microphone cord reels - 10′, 20′
  • Snake
  • AC extension cord on reel
  • Card table
  • Folding chair
  • Cap


  • Small (18″) microphone stand
  • Goosenecks (2)
  • Flashlight
  • Tool kit
  • Gaffer’s tape
  • Masking tape
  • Small amp (intercom, see this Mini-Tip)
  • Headphones
  • CD Player & cable
  • Intermission CDs
  • Notebook
  • Direct boxes (3)
  • Washcloths (2)
  • Stereo bar (mic mount)
  • Trash bag for rain cover
  • Camera


  • Carpet protectors
  • Mic clips (2+)
  • Mic windscreens
  • XLR adapters
  • 3-prong AC adapters (2)
  • AC tester
  • Batteries - AA (4), 9v
  • Velcro cable wraps
  • Capo (spare, for guitarists)
  • Metal slide (ditto)
  • Instrument tuner
  • Dark glasses
  • Magnifying glass
  • Scissors
  • Pens
  • Pocket recorder
  • Sweatband
  • Pepcid
  • Advil
  • Band-aids


  • Spare power cable
  • TRS cables - 6′ (4)
  • 1/4″ cables - 6′ (4)
  • 1/4″ guitar cords - 3′ (2)
  • Other cables as needed
  • Insulated lunch box (blue) (for water & soda pop)

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