How to load in faster and get set up faster? – I feel the need, the need for speed!
If you are in the Wedding band, function band or local club scene, you will quickly discover that loading in faster and out quickly is important. Getting set up and tearing down is very important for a number of reasons. If you are playing at a wedding you obviously have a time list for when the wedding starts, the same applies to functions and corporate gigs. Club scenes might have multiple bands on at once so you need to be ready to get on, play your set and get off. So how do you Load in Faster?
We have put together this article with some helpful tips and tricks on how to load in faster (they will also help you tear down faster as well). These can be applied to rehearsals as well, if you are paying for a rehearsal space then you want to make sure you get the most out of your time. So why don’t we crack on with the first tip?
Get on With It!
The first tip I am going to give is to just get on with it. A lot of the time when people say it takes them a long time to load in what they actually mean is “We stood around for ages talking then had little time”. Get to the venue, and unload and load in as soon as possible (or set up as much as you can beforehand, we will talk about this shortly). You will be amazed at how fast you can set up when you aren’t standing around talking.
Once set up you can then relax and have a chat, but aim to get set up straight away, this will also give you more time to iron out any wrinkles as you will find them sooner and have more time to fix them. If you pair this tip with the other below then you will defiantly load in faster.
Help Out where you can!
This is such a small point but one that everyone overlooks, we have all done it, got to a venue and focused on setting up and loading ourselves in. Remember you are a group, a band, a unit! Everyone can help out everyone else! Speak up and ask “Does anyone need a hand”, this way you will know who needs help and who doesn’t! If everyone did this you will soon load in and out! Even if it’s just by carrying a small bag!
Now I know what you are thinking, I can help load in and out but can’t help with set-up because I don’t know. Well, we have a solution for that! Let’s talk about that now!
Draw up a signal plan and label everything!
I find it’s always worth drawing a signal plan and labelling things! Mark your pedals, and amp settings and even go as far as which cable is used where and which end! This way anyone can look at your signal plan and labels and assist you if needed! This really comes in useful for front-of-house sound! Getting the front of the house sorted tends to fall on the sound guy or one member of the band, we’ll draw a diagram, and label and anyone can jump in and help!
Likewise, this works the other way around! The bass player and keyboard player can do the same thing! The drummer can even get a mat, and mark the position of the drums and that way everyone can help everyone set up! You will be surprised at how useful this is!
Practise makes perfect
I would imagine most of us don’t have the luxury of having our own rehearsal space so we have to set up every rehearsal. You can use this to practice and perfect your load in and out! You can make a mental note of what takes a long time, how you can speed it up and kind of practice your packing and unpacking.
I’m not saying you have to get someone to stand there with a stopwatch and time you and try to improve every second, but just being aware of time will help you make things more efficient! One thing I noticed is that I carried a lot of small items, so invested in a bigger bag (more on this shortly) and put all these items in that bag and could carry it in one go! Saved multiple trips and thus saved time.
Give yourself plenty of time
For loading in, you want to arrive as early as you can! This helps in multiple ways, the first one being that it gives you more time to set up, more time to get stuff out of the car and me to the venue. However, what it also does is allow you to be less stressed! More time means you won’t have to worry about timing, meaning you won’t be as stressed and In turn means you won’t make as many mistakes.
How early you can show up will be very venue-specific. Some wedding venues would prefer you to show up early as clubs and bars will prefer you to show up slightly later! It also depends on how early you can show up yourself! You might not be able to show up! Just have to make the best of whatever time you can show up! Remember, things can and will go wrong! So giving yourself plenty of time will help you stay on track even when things do go wrong!
Set up what you can off stage
Doing a festival or a gig with multiple acts? Maybe you are doing a wedding where you can’t unload until a certain time? Well, what you can do is set up as much as you can off stage, or even outside and then when you can you can carry it on stage and do the final set up!
For example, set up pedalboards with all the cables ready to go, guitar amps and guitars on a stand. Then when ready carry in and plug in everything! You can even hang microphones over amps with cables and then just plug in when you get on the stage.
Of course, there will be some things that you will have to set up on stage, like cymbals and PA speakers for example. You will have to make the call on what you should set up and not set up.
Invest in Bags and Trolleys
The biggest thing I can recommend is investing in some bags, cases and trolleys! Having a big trolley means you can load so much gear in one go! This means fewer trips to the truck or car! Invest in some Pelican cases or even some big carry bags. I have recently got the one in the picture from Thomann and it has been amazing! Being able to carry my pedal board, cables, stands and all my accessories is just so much quicker! If you want to purchase one for yourself you can check them out here (This is an affiliate link so I get a small commission if you buy through this link).
As a rule of thumb, I try not to have more than 3 things when I gig, Of course, one is my guitar, and the other is my amp. So that leaves one more thing! So using a bag I can fill it up with stuff and carry it in. Even if I can’t take it all in one go, it will bring the amount of trips down to 1 or 2 trips. Super quick load in! If you are wondering why only 3 things, I can aim to carry everything in one go!
Small bit of advice, if you are going to buy a bag or case, make sure you get one larger than you need! This way you have plenty of room and also have room to grow! If you buy one that is just the right size, you will be shocked how quickly you fill it up.
BONUS TIP: Have a look around before Hand
Now I know we just said arrive and set up straight away, however, a little side thing you might want to do is have a look around, Find out where you’re playing, where you are going to be set up and how you plan to set up. This is aimed more at Function and wedding bands that won’t have a “stage” as such.
Spending a few minutes walking around and getting a mental game plan can preserve some time in setting up. Sometimes you might be able to contact the venue for a floor plan beforehand so you have an idea before you even arrive at the gig. This will save even more time as you will be loading into a familiar location.
So that is our article about how to load in faster. Now, we did go on a few tangents and talk about setting up and planning but all of these tips overlap. We do hope you found this article valuable and can implement some of these tips yourself! As always, if you have any tips of your own then please drop us an email or send us a message over on our Instagram.
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