How To Take Care Of Live Equipment

Discussion in 'Microphones (live or studio)' started by stealthy, Apr 11, 2009.

  1. stealthy

    stealthy Guest

    Long story short, I'm running quite a bit of sound lately and I'm finding it difficult, a pain, and risky hauling all of my equipment (speakers, amps, effects, mixer, etc) in the back of my pickup truck. I'm going to start looking into a small 5x8 enclosed trailer that I can pull. My goal is to be able to not only use the trailer to haul everything, but to also store everything as well. What are some tips for keeping everything in good condition while being stored in the trailer (most of the time which will be parked in a garage)? Vents, insulation, what?? I live in Ohio if it matters...
  2. apstrong

    apstrong Active Member

    Feb 13, 2009
    Make security a priority. Storing everything in a trailer makes it that much easier to just drive the whole thing away. It happened to a band I know while on tour - parked at a motel for the night, trailer attached to the van, woke up and no trailer.
  3. stealthy

    stealthy Guest

    Security will be taken care biggest concern is keeping my equipment safe from the elements and whatnot
  4. MadMax

    MadMax Well-Known Member

    Mar 18, 2001
    Sunny & warm NC
    Home Page:
    face it... you got the bug....

    Sorry to hear it...


    Failing that.... (Hey, it happens a LOT!)

    Go ahead and get your local truck trader magazine.

    Look for a good 24 foot straight truck... DIESEL!!

    200,000 miles with a good solid box with e-track should hold ya' for a good 100,000 more.

    Watch out for lifts... REALLY look over the seals. DON'T accept anything that looks like it's an OLD aftermarket, unless it's a heavy duty Tommy Lift.

    Personally, I like Fords... the cab's really are well built and usually with a good engine... pretty dependable workhorse... and you can get em' worked on just about anywhere.

    Watch the weight limits on whatever you're looking at. You don't wanna get stuck in a commercial class vehicle w/o a commercial license.

    But whether you go Class B or not... a good training course will do you and your insurance card a wealth of good.

    Either that or get a seriously built tandem axle 7x14 or 7x16 with a drop gate.

    Reinforce the door hinge plates and the latch plates as well as double bead the tongue to the frame... oh, and don't forget to line the walls with e-track.

    You'll start finding that you need another pair of subs..... then 4 more tops.... oh... and of course 4 more amps... then a new snake trunk... then a mic stand box.... then a cable trunk.... then a monitor console.... then a splitter snake.... then.... you are SO out of room, that you'll be kicking your self when the drop gate falls off when you're doing a load out in the rain... or hatin' the fact that it would be SO much easier to pull up to a dock and actually be AT dock height with a slightly bigger vehicle....

    Heat is more of your enemy than cold.

    Speakers are the least effected by heat, well good speakers anyway, than by the cold. Electronics always prefer cold over heat.

    If you can park in the shade or pull under a decent shelter, you'll only need to pull the most sensitive gear into air conditioning at the hottest times of the year... consoles, FX, inserts...
  5. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    Dec 18, 2008
    Western Pennsylvania, USA
    I agree with Max, you seem to have the disease so you might think twice about a 5x8. Although you might not be ready for the 24ft. box truck, going up a size or two in trailers might serve you better over time.

    Secure the load as much as possible. Get a good snug pack and try to keep your load from shifting with the e-track that's been recommended or something similar. Cases with casters will beat the crap out of everything around them if you don't take care of them.

    I wouldn't worry about insulating your trailer, it isn't going to help that much. If you are able to park it in the garage you won't many worrys about extreme heat or cold. Up here in the Great Lakes region, extreme heat is a little less of a concern than moisture. Something you will have to be aware of in extreme cold temperatures is condensation. If there's a drastic change in temp. or just high humidity I'd suggest you get the core components of your sound & lights connected and powered up as soon as you can. Then power things up and play some music through it softly at 10% - 15% and let it warm up slowly. Let any accumulated moisture disipate before you get too wild with it. Run everything softly for 10-20 minutes while you're doing other things and don't push it until everything is acclimated. A cheap 20-inch box fan will help keep things cool when the venue is hot and also helps with the evaporation when things are frosty. Also if your gear gets wet at an outdoor job, or if a lot of moisture gets in the truck / trailer from loading during the rain - open a door (or roof vent) to give the moisture a way to escape on the next nice day - give it a chance to breath.

    Good luck BJ
  6. stealthy

    stealthy Guest

    Good advice, I guess moisture/condensation was my biggest concern!

    I really think that even with my FINAL idea of what equipment I will end up with should fit in a 5x8 if everything is packed tight. 2 subs, 4 monitors, 2 MAYBE 4 but doubtful mains, and racks for mixer/effects/amps. Along with my totes for cables and junk, bags for stands, and misc stuff should all fit nicely in a 5x8 if you ask me. We will see!
  7. MadMax

    MadMax Well-Known Member

    Mar 18, 2001
    Sunny & warm NC
    Home Page:
    Seriously, I'm sure a 5x8 might hold it... but why deal with such a tight pack and cramped space?

    Here's what fit snug and fine in a 7x14 tandem axle...

    2 - 2x15"/2" Trapazoid Mains
    2 - 1x15"/1" Box Mains
    2 - 1x18" Subs
    6 - 1x12"/1" Monitors
    2 - 1x15"/1" Monitors
    4 - Amp Cubes
    1 - Mic Cable Trunk
    1 - Splitter Snake Trunk
    1 - Splitter Head
    1 - Power Cable Trunk (Feeder and Edison)
    1 - Power Distro
    1 - Mic Stand Trunk (20 Mic stands)
    1 - 40 Channel FOH Console/Doghouse
    1 - 32 Channel Mon Console/Doghouse
    2 - 24 Space Outboard Racks
    1 - 6' Aluminum Ramp

    It was a tight pack too. Granted, nothing was stacked, but having to stack and strap two layers at 3am is a bit more of a PITA than I like dealing with... and there's a LOT of old road dogs that will prolly back me up on this.

    Also, not to slam, but when I see a bunch of totes and milk carton's... I figger a guy's a rookie, or doesn't care enough about his gear to at least knock together a decent roadcase to protect his gear as a professional.

    Pushing a roadcase into a venue really does also give you another benefit... you can set your console's on the dead cases and or amp cubes (well... for Monitor's anyway)

    PLUS, if you're already needing a 5x8, you're in it for the longer haul, which means you'll be getting more gear... which means you'll be running out of space fairly shortly.

    I'm not tryin' to see how much of your money I can spend... I'm just passing on a few years worth of road warrior wisdom.

    Save yourself a bunch of PITA factor and get more room than you currently need... I don't know ANYONE who ever had too much room for a pack. Whether you had to dig through a spare case, flip a console around, pack in the rain, lug a drum kit, lights and controller, etc... Hell, even repairing a mic cable in the trailer is a lot better than having to scrounge up someplace in a crowded venue.
  8. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    Apr 4, 2006
    Blacksburg, VA
    Let me speak as someone with a 5X8 sitting in his yard.

    Got mine several years ago when I was running sound primarily for one band. Had a rig similar to yours. The 5X8 worked great and I got a couple of good years out of it. The band fell apart. The bug wore off. The 5X8 makes a great storage shed (especially if your development has a covenant against storage sheds).

    The key to making the 5X8 work is that I didn't have to satisfy a lot of clients. Is that the way you are going?

    Another issue. How to put this delicately???? A 5X8 can indicate an operation big enough to spend a fair chunk of money but not big enough to make a lot of money. (Where did he get this insight?) This is a bad situation to be in unless you have a day job income to write losses off against and the prospect of looking legit in the eyes of the IRS. Have you written a business plan?
  9. ahavill

    ahavill Guest

    Personally I hate & fear trailers, having toured with one for over a year. First thought: be very careful about packing it too tightly. Most are not designed for this; if you fill it floor-to-ceiling, esp with things like speaker cabs, it gets very top-heavy & dangerous. And, note the load limits of whatever you're using. Trailers are generally designed for light use, so if you pack the thing full of heavy boxes & use it a lot, the wheels/axle/frame/hitch will give out. I have looked out the rearview more than once & seen sparks, its not a good feeling. Also no fun to realize that the flat tire has lowered the trailer frame so far down, that the jack won't fit underneath. Or to find that the ball hitch has been stripped from the tongue, & the trailer is only being held in place by the safety chains. This is what awaits you in the world of trailers.
    Much safer to get a larger trailer & fill it 1/2 or 3/4.
    You might be better off with U-haul trailer rental. You are probably thinking that it's better to just own the thing, that way you pack up after the show, park it, & leave it until it's needed next. Thats true, but...
    Based on my experience, a new 5x8 trailer is at least $2000, and they are hard to find used. Some states require separate insurance. The one I got for a band I was tour managing was $2700 with spare tire, registration, tie-downs installed, hitch. locks, etc. Renting a U-haul for a day is about $30.
    Beyond that, if you really want to invest in something, I'll second MadMax's advice to go for a box truck instead.
  10. stealthy

    stealthy Guest

    Ok, first off, thanks to everyone. Secondly, dont think that I asked for suggestions and am now disregarding someones opinion, I'm not. But, let me say this. I'm 24 years old, surprisingly enough, this is what I do for a living, along with playing gigs. Of course, I barely get by.

    Max, you have aprox. twice as much stuff as I will probably need. I dont have milk cartons, just a few small "totes". Why? Affordable. At this point in the game, paying a few hundred bucks for trunks and cases for misc. things is out of the question (which is what I keep in these totes - CABLES). One day, perhaps. That same day will probably be when I double my equipment, in which case I will have to get a bigger trailer. Sure, I'm a rookie. When I start seeing enough WORTHY gigs and often enough to support a flight case for cables, I may get one. Until then, these $100 gigs 50 miles away just arent supporting that desire. I dont want to over plan and not have things work out. Trust me, I'd love to be in your position and/or the position to be able to have all of this. :(

    Bob, I dont currently have alot of clients. I'd say between my acoustic gigs, and my band I manage, that is probably atleast half of my gigs. Although, I am trying to expand of course, but I work mainly word of mouth. Around here, there arent really any sound guys even up to my level. 30 min away in Columbus, I'm sure there are more, and some much much bigger than I. Sure, I'd love to get into their neck of the woods, but I have to work my way up the totem pole, I know. As I said, this is how I make my living and get paid in cash at the end of the night. "Professional"? Probably not much. Legit to the IRS? Nope. I do not have a business plan, nor do I know anything about this "side" of things. :?

    ahavill, I understand what you are saying about over packing and making it top heavy. I've taken that into consideration as well. Concerning Uhaul, after a year of renting, I could have bought a nice used one. I want to buy my own so that I can set it up for ease and repeated use of my equipment, as well as storing everything on my off days. Loading and unloading is a PITA as it is, so storing it will be of great help. A box truck is a turn off for two reason. Not only will I have entirely too much space, I'm going to be driving a huge truck, that is also a gas guzzler. Like I said before, this really wouldnt be worth $100 gigs 50 miles away. Sure, you say raise my prices....But right now, this is what I'm worth, especially in this area, where venues do not pay much to the band and/or sound guy...I struggle to get what I make now!

    Again, thanks everyone, dont take this as me writing anyone or anything off. I'm taking it all in, dont worry. However, the main reason I have started this thread was to learn how to take best care of the equipment while it is being stored in the trailer. But, my eyes have indeed been opened up to other aspects.

    And just for fun, so you know what I'm working wise:

    (2) 1x15 Mains
    (4) 1x12 Monitors
    (1) 1x18 sub (another one later on)
    (1) 10 space amp rack
    (1) 8 space outboard rack
    (1) 16ch console
    (3) Small totes for cables, extension cords, snake, etc
    (2) Bags for stands-10 mic stands, 2 speaker stands/pole, etc
    (1) Mic case (another coming soon)

    I think thats pretty much it....
  11. MadMax

    MadMax Well-Known Member

    Mar 18, 2001
    Sunny & warm NC
    Home Page:
    Whoa... I didn't say ANYTHING about spending money on buying trunks... I said knocking a couple of trunks together.

    I can make a cable trunk for about $100/each if I make 2 of em'.

    The most you'll spend is $150 for 8 - 2" casters from Northern Tool and Supply. Then $30/ea for a piece of BC, ($24 for CDX) and $9 for a coupla' 2x4x8 studs.

    Rip the ply in half... Cut one sheet into 8 equal pieces.

    Rip the 2x4 in half. Cut it to make the bracing for the tops and inside corners.

    Double the bottom and a single piece for the top.

    Put a metal gypsum corner bead on the corners.

    Paint it flat black....

    Put a couple of pull handle on the sides and one on the top.


    In less than two hours you have two 24x24 road pack, road cases that you'll get 10 years out of, and all your cables are easily handled, sorted, and protected... and again, you have a darn sturdy work table/surface to set all your gear on at a gig.

    If you have a company logo... put that on the side of the trunks and be sure to put your phone number on it. (FREE advertising space!!)

    Mic stand boxes are a bit trickier... Take a mic stand with you to your local Borg Type indoor lumber yard... head straight for the plumbing and electrical sections. Find the PVC pipes... select the smallest size that will let you fit the stand base in it.... (3-1/2" - 4")

    Cut em' into lengths that you think you can manage as a case. You can make it vert or horz loading. I prefer horz loading, but it's a MUCH bigger case. (If screws or knobs fall off, you gotta fish em' out.)

    Stack the "tubes" fairly tight and glue em' together with pvc cement or PL400.

    Again, you can put all your riders in/on the rolling cases...

    This kinda' goes hand in hand with what Bob was alluding to, but I'll just say it... You might think that it's fine to look "rookie"... but it really ain't. You want better clients... look professional. To be professional, you're investing not just in gear... but also your image.

    Looking professional is also part of the gig.

    Again, I wasn't slammin you individually with the milk carton comment... I was speaking in general terms... and commenting even on my OWN experience and situation when I was starting out with tote's, tubby's and milk cartons stuffed with cables and gear...

    Just as you wouldn't show up at a job on Wall Street in blue jeans, t-shirt and a note pad and expect to be treated as a professional. You should show up for a gig as well prepared technically as you can. The more professional you can present yourself, the better you will be perceived... which often leads to better clients and better paying gigs.
  12. stealthy

    stealthy Guest

    Thanks Max, I totally understand and agree with what you are saying. I will take your great suggestion and build those trunks very soon.

    What BC, CDX, and metal gypsum corner bead? I'm not familiar with those terms. Also, do you happen to have pictures of yours? I'm more of a visual person. Seems pretty easy!
  13. Codemonkey

    Codemonkey Well-Known Member

    Dec 11, 2007
    Scotland, UK
    You use tubes? So that's what makes them special.
    Also I assume you take the mic clips off the stands and keep them in either the mic case, or the mic box?

    Not that this really matters, we don't move our gear - it's permenantly set up in the church. Which is worse, the mixer is dusty as hell.
    I've got some contact cleaner so I slap that on every so often.
  14. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    Apr 4, 2006
    Blacksburg, VA
    The point that a bunch of us are trying to make is that you are thinking pretty short term here. A 5X8 is a pretty expensive investment if you are just trying to get through the next year or so. (Especially if we are talking about a lot of $100 gigs.) Now, a 5X8 makes sense if your plan is to do more acoustic gigs or do DJ work or any number of other gigs. But if you want to expand a live sound business, a 5X8 will hold you back. That's why I was talking about a business plan. It doesn't have to be anything elaborate. Just some idea of where you are going.

    Like it or not, you are in a business. You can either run a business or work for someone else. If you are going to run a business you can either run it well or badly. Running one well takes work, planning, and thought. Nothing will go the way you plan it, but you should still plan. Above all, think about it. How much have you made? How much have you spent? How are those numbers going to change? There are resources on the web, at your local library, at local small business associations. Good luck.
  15. stealthy

    stealthy Guest

    Thanks Bob, I hope you are right. I hope that I can get as much work and the kind of jobs that I want to eventually get. I make more money playing music than running sound, but in the end I think I would almost rather run sound at a mid level business of my own. I'm sure, the chances of that happening is much better than being a musician.

    I def. need to start advertising (by any means) more, as well as getting more experience. If you have any tips, I'm more than willing to try it!
  16. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    Mar 20, 2008
    currently Billings
    Truer words never typed. Semper Gumby! By the same token if there is no road map you'll never find your way home from the detours either.

    In the Corps we use the reverse planning method. Start with your end goal and then add the immediate prior step to accomplishing that goal. Now add the immediate prior step to that. Do this all the way back to where you currently are-doing $100 gigs on a week by week basis. It's just one method but even a general plan is better than none.
  17. soapfloats

    soapfloats Well-Known Member

    Aug 28, 2008
    Cincinnati, OH
    Home Page:
    BJ -

    Take it from a musician who entered the world of recording:

    The best way to get a gig of any kind is through networking.
    When you run sound at one gig, approach each band w/ offers to run sound at other gigs. And so on down the chain.

    Also, if you have any kind of rep, look at doing some house gigs. If you've done a lot of sound at a certain venue and have done well, offer your services on a routine basis. If your rates are reasonable, they'd rather have reliable sound than lose customers. Makes networking even easier, too.

    As a musician, your best selling points are "butts in the seat" and alcohol sales. As an engineer, it's almost entirely rep (unless you have recordings to offer). There's no quantifiable number since you don't actually bring people in. If the venue is comfortable w/ you, and the bands are comfortable w/ you, you'll be in demand.

    I hate an unreliable soundman. Why are we paying you if you do the same mediocre job we can do?
    Even if the band sucks, they'll say "BJ made us sound good, and everything went smoothly," and they'll tell their friends. My band did consider the sound setup / engineer when booking gigs. And referrals.

    I also hate sound guys who view and treat bands as peons. Even if you do a good job, being an a-hole doesn't help.

    Be a professional and be a people-person. Those are your best assets.

    Just some thoughts on improving business.
  18. ahavill

    ahavill Guest

    Since I last posted (when we were talking about trailers) you've filled in a lot more info about what you've got going on. I agree your gear is not enough to justify a truck, and won't jam up a 5x8 either.
    As for the business advice... I know how you feel about the IRS/business plan end of things, but think of it like this: if you start thinking about what you should be doing to be a "real" business asap, you'll have a chance of being prepared to take care of it, when you need to. And, you really need to...I certainly didn't take care of all the paperwork when I was younger, but be very careful about trying to dodge the IRS for years & years. They will catch up to you eventually, and they are known to target music-related businesses (due to the high number of guys like you & me.) Even if your business doesn't grow much at all, you don't want to start doing it the right way 5 or 10 years down the road, since you will have to explain those 5 or 10 years to the feds, and if you've got no records at all they will make you very, very sorry.
    Like I said, at least START to think about what you need to do. In fact, the sooner you become official, the sooner you can get the advantages that go along with it. For example, as an LLC (a type of corporation,) you can talk to a bank about getting a business loan or line of credit. Plus you might not have to pay much to the taxman at all, since you could write off lots of a trailer...
  19. stealthy

    stealthy Guest

    Alrighty, I'm pretty good with networking. Everytime I have a gig, I try to pass out business cards and talk to people I dont know to let them know what I have to offer. I guess it just takes some time to get the word out and talk to enough people to get a single gig out of it! Most of my gigs are between a few local bars, so I think its time to get into more bars and clubs with different bands to spread the word more.

    As for my "business", I think I will see how it goes and make a decision by the end of the year as to whether or not it is worth it to make it "official".

    Thanks guys

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