As much time as you spend in your rehearsal space perfecting your sound, it won’t mean anything if it’s botched coming out of the PA. All the money you spent on new pedals, amps, guitars and strings doesn’t matter if the mix is off in the club.
The sound guy (or gal) is the most important component of your show that most bands don’t really think about. He (going with he for this piece out of ease – and most are men) can break your set (few sound guys can actually MAKE your set if you suck). So, you have to know how to approach sound guys right and get them on your team for the short amount of time that you have with them.
Get His Name
The first thing you should do is introduce yourself to the sound guy when you arrive. Shake his hand, look him in the eye and exchange names. Remember his name – you’re most likely going to need to use it many many times that night and possibly a couple times through the mic during your set. If you begin treating him with respect from the get go he will most likely return this sentiment.
Respect His Ears
All sound guys take pride in their mixing. Regardless of the style of music they like listening to in their car, they believe they can mix any genre on the spot. However, most sound guys will appreciate hearing what you, the musician, likes for a general house mix of your band’s sound. Don’t be afraid to tell him a vibe or general notes (“this should feel like a warm back massage” or “we like the vocals and acoustic very high in the mix” or “we like keeping all vocal mics at about the same level for blended harmonies” or “add lots of reverb on the lead vocals, but keep the fiddle dry”). He’ll appreciate knowing what you like and will cater to that. He is most likely a musician himself, so treat him as one – with respect. He knows music terms – don’t be afraid to use them.
Don’t Start Playing Until He’s Ready
Set up all of your gear but don’t start wailing on the guitar or the drums until all the mics are in placeand he’s back by the board. Pounding away on the kit while he’s trying to set his mics will surely piss him off and ruin his ears. Get there early enough for sound check so you have plenty of time to feel the room out (and tune your drums).