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Sharing backline


only4

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The band I’m in has been asked to headline a small charity festival and as the last band on we’ve been asked to let all other bands use our amps and drums.

The core of the band has been together for 30+ years and our age has afforded us the privilege of owning some nice gear, but to be honest I’m not sure how I or the rest of the band feel about the idea.

I know there’s nothing unusual about this format but I just wondered how other people feel about this sort of arrangement.

Edit 

I suppose I should add that my son who plays bass in a much bigger band than me was in a similar situation where his 8 x 10 SVT rig was being used by everyone at a big festival, but when it came to his turn to use it, the amp went off after 2 songs and he had to play his set through a little backup amp!
He had to pay for his SVT to be repaired, but he says it’s never been the same since.

Edited by only4
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I confess I never have a problem with this. I present the other bass player with a cable with a silent jack and they can let loose. They are not going to damage my rig without having deafened themselves first.

I did, once, suggest a cut in volume, but that was for the balance rather than any fear of damage.

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6 minutes ago, only4 said:

... how other people feel about this sort of arrangement.

Nice gear or not, the principle is the same. Some folk are precious about sharing, others less so. It helps if one knows the other bands, including their style of music. It's very often, for small affairs, run by non-professionals, that there's no space nor time to change a whole backline between acts, so sharing is far more practical. We (as a band...) have often been in both positions, as headliners and support acts, and have no issues with sharing. On the other hand, I play drums 'lefty', so would normally insist that my set be used, even as support band, and that others switch the hi-hat and snare/floor tom to suit them, as my kit is probably the best there on the night. 'breakables' are not shared, though (cymbals, snare, bass drum pedal...). For amps, our bass rig is up for anything (200w Hiwatt valve amp, 2x15 HH cab...). Our First Guitar is rather more difficult, as it's a complex MIDI-driven Mesa 2-90/Triaxis rig, so unless the guitar just wants one, simple straight-through sound, he/she is going to have to have their own pedal board, and not touch the amp at all.
We have no qualms about our gear being 'high-end', as we'll be there at all times anyway, and it's all robust, tried-and-tested that has already given us satisfaction for decades. A little charitable spirit for such events helps, too. :friends:

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I've shared kit at a lot of the gigs I've done, in fact I'd say the majority of gigs have involved in some sharing.

I'm not aware of any problems my bandmates have had, and none of my equipment has ever been damaged, and I was bought many a pint as thanks.

Edited by ahpook
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Having done many gigs like this, in the main it works along the lines of letting them use cabs & drum shells/stands. They’ll need to bring amp heads, cymbals, snare drum, kick drum pedals. 

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I've provided a backline for a jam night for many years and a couple of times I have had to get on stage to turn people down. While most players take care, some people, even friends, take no care at all when using the gear I've provided. Away from the jam night environment I never lend any gear at all.  

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Got no problem sharing gear.  I've never had an issue with it, as of course I will be there watching the other band(s) play anyway.  Never actually had to tell someone to keep drinks off my amp, everyone I've let use my amp has been respectful.  Maybe I've been lucky, but until someone gives me a reason to sour my attitude, I'll still be helping out if I can.

What I do object to is one band having to provide EVERYTHING.  How is that fair?  We drew the line when one time we were asked to do all the backline for a multi band gig.  I said no.  I loaned the bass amp but insisted that one of the other bands does the drums.  So we do everything including the setup and tidy up so that the rest of you so-and-sos can just rock up, play then get pished?  And get paid peanuts anyway?  Don't think so.  It's a DIY gig, not a get everyone else to do it gig.

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47 minutes ago, only4 said:

The band I’m in has been asked to headline a small charity festival and as the last band on we’ve been asked to let all other bands use our amps and drums.

The core of the band has been together for 30+ years and our age has afforded us the privilege of owning some nice gear, but to be honest I’m not sure how I or the rest of the band feel about the idea.

I know there’s nothing unusual about this format but I just wondered how other people feel about this sort of arrangement.

Edit 

I suppose I should add that my son who plays bass in a much bigger band than me was in a similar situation where his 8 x 10 SVT rig was being used by everyone at a big festival, but when it came to his turn to use it, the amp went off after 2 songs and he had to play his set through a little backup amp!
He had to pay for his SVT to be repaired, but he says it’s never been the same since.

I would have to wonder what anyone could do to something as robust as an SVT when it's static on a stage. Drinks on top maybe? Otherwise I would expect the amp to handle anything that got thrown at it. Not that I'm any kind of expert!

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I’ve shared my gear and had no problems. We’ve even garnered some goodwill with other bands. One lot turned up to one of our pub gigs and we agreed to support each other etc etc. Must admit that I’d think differently if I had a bad experience.

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If it is sorted out in advance I am generally fine with it. Bands walking up just expecting to get gear handed to them without so much as a heads up is a no-no but even then I am more likely to just give them a 'why didn't you ask in advance?' query. Much like Steve Browning above, the chances of damaging my gear via excessive volume is much less than my gear damaging ears via excessive volume (in both cases I think the gear is a Mesa amp and cab...). 

However, in these days of ultra-lightweight amps which can be bought for a pretty economical price, I think that it is reasonable to expect most bassists to bring their own amp heads.

It isn't like the old days when I generally had to liaise with three different bassists on a bill in terms of deciding which one of us was going to lug their heavy Trace/GK/Ashdown/Ampeg rig to the gig, though it would sometimes lead to some truly amusing shared set ups we would throw together for a laugh, with a combined Hartke 4x10, Trace Elliot 1x15 and old WEM PA head being my all time favourite combined bitsa rig. 

 

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36 minutes ago, Steve Browning said:

I would have to wonder what anyone could do to something as robust as an SVT when it's static on a stage. Drinks on top maybe?

Years ago before the smoking ban I found a cigarette smouldering away on the edge of my cab after someone (a friend!) had just finished his spot on the jam night! It hadn't burnt the cab, but since then I get up and check the gear after every jammer.

Being expected to supply free gear hire is taking a liberty, and no one is going to replace anything that they break, or even contribute to the repair, so it just isn't worth it.

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Whenever I’ve lent my rig I’ve told the people using it of the rules, no blowing it up, no drinks to be put on it. I have walked on to the stage mid-set to remove a drink that was on my amp. 

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I'm usually fine with sharing my cabinet (but I do check with the other bassists if their amp output power and impedance match), but generally don't like sharing my amp. Like @thodrik, I do expect the other bass players / bands to ask in advance. 

 

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In general I don't mind and have done this many times.

One time I got pretty annoyed at the sound guy of a very famous Glasgow venue, when in an attempt to try make another bands bassist sound half decent was being very heavy handed with my GenzBenz shuttles EQ. He didn't quite understand that little adjustemts went a long way, and was going from one extreme to another quite frantically. 

I had to step in and explain the EQ before he twisted all the knobs off... 

Edited by Crawford13
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It depends.

Chances are it's ok, but it is a thankless job: you show up the first and leave the last... fine if it's by choice but you'll be hostage once you accept. That alone puts me off a bit.

There's also the possibility of damage, so who is responsible? If I know the organisers well enough and I talk to a specific individual whom I trust, it can be ok. Otherwise, I don't think so. One thing is letting another band use your gear, which I've done many many times, and another to provide your gear for everybody to use over a whole day. I'm unlikely to be there all day watching so I'd probably say no in that case.

edit: when I talk about damage, it's not amps/cabs blowing or something, which is a possibility but rare. What I see very often 'though is people being careless with drinks, mud (festivals!) and all sorts of behaviour that I don't want around my gear which ends up back in my room at home. While the majority of people are fine, I don't want to give that significant minority a chance and I want to enjoy the festival too. It's not like they wear T-shirts announcing "yup, I'm the silly billy you've been looking for".

I don't understand what's so difficult about either 1) for the organisers to provide equipment, or 2) for people to bring their own. Any event incurs some costs, add equipment hire to the list: they'll pay others, why would they expect bands to offer free hire? Also it doesn't take much effort or time to set your own amp in place, usually less time than it takes for the drummer to set all their cymbals and adjust the kit, so the whole 'saving time' just doesn't cut it for me. 

It really depends who is asking and the circumstances, really, but generally no, because generally it is a lazy excuse and nobody is really going to be responsible for your gear should anything go wrong.

Edited by mcnach
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5 hours ago, only4 said:

as the last band on we’ve been asked to let all other bands use our amps and drums

The arrangement as detailed above simply licenses the other bands to leave the premises once they've played their set. 

A more equitable arrangement would be to invite each participating band to provide an item of equipment for the whole night.

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Just now, skankdelvar said:

A more equitable arrangement would be to invite each participating band to provide an item of equipment for the whole night.

We usually do exactly that, so that each band provides something and is consequently just as captive invested as the rest. Obviously if a band has travelled a long way and needs to get going before the end of the show in order to drive several hours home, then sense must prevail; I'd rather lend an extra cab than send somebody off to pilot a van full of their mates home whilst nodding off.

I don't think I've ever played a multi-band gig without some sort of gear share, but it's always been cabs and shells only - rarely stands and never heads unless it's to cover an equipment failure. Bring your own breakables has always been the norm, and combos have generally been classed as breakables.

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Some random thoughts occur: if it's a headline gig would want to play through someone else's gear? Would it be practical to have a complete teardown and set up between each set? Would you trust the promoter to hire in appropriate gear? Would a small charity gig be able to stretch to the hire costs? Is there enough room in the venue to store multiple drum kits and amps throughout the evening?

I've never minded sharing gear but the stuff I take to gigs is deliberately bulletproof. I've also got to play through equipment I otherwise wouldn't have done and have subsequently added to my ever-growing shopping list. It's a double-edged sword.

To be honest I'm that jealous of the gigging opportunity, I'm not sure my judgement is to be trusted.

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2 hours ago, pete.young said:

That would be an absolute no for me, and I wouldn't play the gig if it came to it. The organisers should be hiring backline if thats how they want to run things.

This. It appears the organisers are trying to save money by getting others to donate their gear.

7 minutes ago, hooky_lowdown said:

We had one rule in these situations, you damage or break it - YOU pay for it! 😎

Fine in principle, but enforcing it is another matter entirely.

1 hour ago, skankdelvar said:

A more equitable arrangement would be to invite each participating band to provide an item of equipment for the whole night.

.Good idea and the best option if there really has to be only one lot of equipment on stage.

Personally, I don't lend my gear apart from at the jam where I'm in the house band. Like only4, I'm ancient and have nice stuff and quite a lot of money tied up in it. It's also lightweight and compact, so the "Sharing will prevent delays between acts" argument doesn't apply. I can be onstage, set up and ready to go in a couple of minutes. Give the engineer a DI and away we go.

Everyone is free to decide what they do, of course, but I sense only4 is not happy with the suggestion and is looking for views on whether he would be reasonable to decline. I think he would be.

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I don't remember ever, over several decades, and thousands of venues, seeing an amp or cab broken by being used, or even abused. I'm excepting, naturally, stuff such as the Townsend Toreador act on a cab, or the Moon Mania of literally blowing up the drums, but musicians playing gear doesn't, of itself, bust it. Failures, yes, and dozens, but could have happened to anyone, whoever owned it or was playing at the time. Terry Bozzio had to use the main kit at the Paris Zenith 'Zappa Plays Zappa' gig, as his own bass drum broke. He did his stuff (admirably...) on the kit set up for the regular drummer until his was repaired, then came downstage to carry on. Incidents happen all the time, and a failure can happen even when playing one's own gear. Maybe I've just seen lucky acts, but breakdowns are rare enough; breakage I've never seen. B|

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