Professional Sound - Indepth

Preparing To Tour From A Sound Engineer's Standpoint by David Norman

Long before the band comes in for the final tour dress rehearsals, they should have rehearsed on their own so that the time for production rehearsals can be used to get the band and crew on the same page on the look, design and flow of the show.

The production rehearsals should be used for several different things; making the final list of equipment that will be needed BEFORE the tour starts, making an equipment manifest, learning the show for sound cues, becoming familiar with the song order, working on making work tapes for all concerned for light programming and mixing purposes and there’s tons more.

Make sure to have all road cases colour-coded, stenciled, numbered and listed with Destination (Dressing Room, Stage Left, Stage Right, Production, Do Not Tip, Up/Down Arrows, etc.). The order of the truck pack can be easily identified with numbering of each case.

During these rehearsals, the sound crew should have as many cables as possible loomed together and labeled clearly. This reduces patching on a daily basis, because patching often has to done with limited lighting and space in dark corners on and under the stage. The crew should also have all consoles clearly labeled per their respective input channels and all outboard gear should also be programmed and tested for each particular song. Rehearsal time also should be used to get the crew working together as a team. The setup schedule should be discussed so that everyone knows how each day of the tour will progress. The lead in these conversations will usually be with your Production Manager and your Stage Manager. The time taken for brief meetings with all crewmembers saves arguments or discussions during setup.

During rehearsals, make sure you have huge poster boards to write the songlist down so that everyone can see it. Tape it pretty high. That way, you don’t have to have several set lists lying around that people are constantly losing. Make sure to record all of the rehearsals as well.

A final drafting of a stage plot and input list should be done during rehearsals so that you can give to your production manager and/or send to venues in advance so they’ll know what to expect with regards to your setup.

David ‘5-1’ Norman has tour managed and/or production managed and mixed such acts as; Ani DiFranco, Aaron Neville & The Neville Brothers, Roger Daltrey, The British Rock Symphony, John Tesh, They Might Be Giants, Arrested Development, Better Than Ezra, B.B. King, The Fugees, Wyclef Jean and many others. He is currently off the road and doing freelance production work for Concert/Southern Promotions as Production Manager and has worked shows with ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic, Ratdog and Megadeth. He can be reached online at or you can check out his web site at

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About Andrew King
Andrew King is the Editor-in-Chief at Professional Sound. He is also a co-host of Canadian Musician Radio and NWC Webinars’ series of free music and entertainment industry webinars.
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