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What Are Your Live Sound Fails?


Most of us have heard the horror of feedback, and a fair few of us would admit to annoying the sound technician – we ask our Facebook community to share their stories.

So, what have live sound lessons have you learned the hard way?

Betty Garred Sale shares this crazy story:

Never sing with your mouth on the microphone in a thunderstorm. The club got struck by lightning, the PA blew up, and I got knocked backwards into the bass players amp by lightning coming through my mic! It took me several months to get over being afraid to get close to my mic after that….

Other wise commentators advised we always double check the plugs and make sure our electrics are grounded properly.

Nunzio Mastrangelo doesn’t mince his words:

A sound engineer once told me “please tune the instruments right and have care of your sound because if your sound is bad, I will make a sh*t, if your sound is good, I will make a diamond!”

So, tune your instruments and really get to grips with your effects pedals people!

Harry Rivadeneira reminds us this obvious truth:

Bring your own mic and cables.

And Neil Edgson expands:

And if it’s not your mic lay off the smelly crisps etc. before you sing into it!

It is an unfortunately common standard to turn up to a venue and be provided with crumbling cables, wayward stands and rusty microphones (with uncountable layers of other people’s breath, lipstick and germs!) So, invest in your own!

Jane West reminds us to protect our gear with our lives:

Carry your own equipment and don’t take other people’s help (especially when alcohol is involved). Once I watched someone I was playing playing with drop one of my speakers down three steps, pick it up, and he NEVER told me he dropped it. Little did he know that I saw the whole thing, and called him out about it on the next gig. So carry your own equipment, and don’t trust anyone to help you, this stuff is expensive.

Alan Ray Runion asks the ages old question:

Who the heck is Mike TestOneTwo?!? He attends EVERY SINGLE show!

Neil Edgson explains:

 It’s actually the magical phrase that gets the mics working. If you don’t say it correctly they either don’t work or make you sound rubbish. The official version, for my kit anyway, is ‘one two testing one two’.

But he also says what’s required of the singer….

The actual singer needs to have a go to ensure good sound. Best things are a bit of your loudest tune and your quietest.

Shane Griffiths recounts his extreme nerves:

Don’t, when scoring a support gig in a local hotel for a touring legend, decide to have 4 cigarettes after having given up about a month prior and then decide on the spot to change your guitar settings drastically for no logical reason 5 minutes before playing!

Keep it together backstage so you can let loose on stage. Get to know your nerves and how they affect you, and treat them accordingly with calming breath exercises and mindful rituals.

Noah Peterson reminisces…

The joy of static on your wireless when batteries die…I picked up radio chatter near an air force base once.

Get involved on our Facebook page. Next month we ask you What’s the WORST piece of advice you have heard for keeping your voice healthy? Should be a corker!

You may also be interested in: Top Troubleshooting Tips for Live Sound and Top Solutions for Stage Fright


  • Franco

    I heard a singer utter this gem to a bandleader… “I didn’t know if I should bring a microphone, so I didn’t…”

  • FL-Wolf

    With my 8-piece band, I once tried out a new amp, named “Dynamite”. A small, but very powerful amp. I sat it on top of something behind me on the stage. At the time I used a Wah Wah pedal. At some point I hit some high note while using the Wah pedal. The sound was so strong that my hearing left me for a while. I saw the others sing and play, but all I could hear was deeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee, or something similar. I was scared to death, thinking I’ve lost my hearing!

  • FL-Wolf

    Later in my long career, I worked as a solo entertainer in clubs and lounges. I sat on a bar stool with my guitar and played tracks from a professional CD player, sitting next to me on a stand. All went well, until one night, my knee touched the “Stop” button in the middle of a song – and the song stopped abruptly. It’s a horrible experience when this happens while people listen to you and/or dance. Absolutely brutal!