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Gear redundancy and risk management stories ...


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It's so hard to have a contingency as most of us can't afford an replacement rig for all of our gear. It can be scary. It's something you have to work around live sometimes.

"Danny, ci manchi a tutti. La E-Street Band non e' la stessa senza di te. Riposa in pace, fratello"

 

 

noblevibes.com

 

 

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Korg M3 would not boot, like at all, 40 minutes to go-time. Gig was about a 20-minute drive from home.

 

Pretty straightforward set--just AP/EP/AP+Pad stuff, and I had just purchased a Kurzweil PC3 a couple of weeks before.

 

I asked the bandleader to buy me a couple of minutes, raced home, grabbed the PC3, raced back, plugged in, and five minutes later hit the first note. Thank goodness for Quick Access mode! I might have rushed my timing on the first couple of tunes. ;)

 

(The Korg was SUPER dead, as an entire circuit board needed to be replaced ...a whole other saga.)

 

If I were gigging consistently, I would keep a sub-$1000 swiss-army board (Casio PX5S, Yamaha MX?) in a case near the stage. Screw "finger-to-ear" connection and all the other stuff we go on about... I'd just want to be able to get it done. Then I could face the cold, hard truth that I could have gotten it done, with the sub-$1000 board anyway. Don't tell my wife.

I make software noises.
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the biggest issue I had was a gig where I powered on my PC1x only to find out the internal battery was so low that all my user setups were gone !!!! - didn't have a backup file to load from laptop, etc at the time .. so the evening was spent with "splits on the fly" and some songs minus all the layers and parts I had - luckily was not too of a high profile gig, so all was (kind of ) ok ... new SP6 now and if that ever happened again, think it would be a quick load from a backed up USB storage key

PC1x, Hammond XK1c, Deep Mind 6, MS500 (gig rig)

Kurz PC4, Mini Moog Model D, Little Phatty, Hammond M3, Leslie 145, viscount op-3, Behringer model D, Roland GAIA.. (home studio)

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I haven't had a piece of gear completely die on stage, but have experienced the occasional 'freeze-up' of a keyboard / module. If that happened at a critical time - right before a solo, or signature keyboard part - the only recourse has been to jump to a second instrument and play whatever I can grab quickly. For band gigs I almost always have a second keyboard available, either in the stage rig or waiting in the wings.

I don't have the luxury of owning duplicate instruments, but over the past several years have compiled or programmed a block of mission-critical patches that are covered by several different instruments. So if my RD-2000 blows up, the Kronos 61, etc. could cover most of the sounds needed.

 

Seeing this topic reminded me of the only catastrophic stage failure I've experienced; definitely not electronics related, but messy nonetheless. Before the days of A-frame stands I stacked a Rhodes Stage on the flat top of an RMI. The front of the Rhodes leaned forward, toward me, and the slightly elevated back legs provided solid support - even with my lead synth sitting on the Rhodes lid. However, one day the coupling in one of the telescoping Rhodes legs failed, and the entire stack toppled backwards. The guitarist helped me grab the rig, and somehow we managed to wrestle it into a pile off to the side (it had been heading for a ten foot drop into an empty orchestra pit). This was mid-song, so I grabbed the Yamaha drawbar organ that remained and finished the set on that. The piano parts that followed were certainly 'different', but I was at least able to finish the gig. It now makes me grateful for modern ROMplers.

'Someday, we'll look back on these days and laugh; likely a maniacal laugh from our padded cells, but a laugh nonetheless' - Mr. Boffo.

 

We need a barfing cat emoticon!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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In my teenage "school band years" I had external power supplies break all the time. I haven't forgotten that lesson.

 

I posted recently how I had a failure of my controller 88 board, and had to complete a festival gig on a single board.

 

The other example I can remember is years ago. Somehow my Ensoniq SQ2 (or KS32, I can't remember which) had factory-reset itself. All my patches and setups were gone. I had a backup on a memory card, and instructions on how to restore, but I also had a headache and a case of the shakes from the panic. Meanwhile everyone around was squeezing past me with cables, speaker poles, monitors, power distribution - not conducive to an operation requiring care and concentration.

 

I remember cupping my hands around my mouth and shouting "I NEED COMPLETE SILENCE ON STAGE NOW". I was able to concentrate on the task at hand and run the restore-from-backup. I got through the gig - although for some reason my sustain pedal assignments were messed up. That was for another day...

 

These days I have spares of everything except my Nord. The Controller is a Yamaha Piaggero, so I could limp through on that if I had to.

 

Cheers, Mike.

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Tales of the laptop rig:

 

1 - I tried using a USB3 flash drive as a sample streaming disk. It worked great for a year then failed on a gig. It was right before a drum solo, so I had time to swap in my spare SSD drive & restart my host software.

 

2- My MOTU MicroBook IIc blinked out during a tune. This was the only time the music was affected. It took about a minute to switch to my old setup of using my laptop's headphone output and restarting my VI host software.

 

I now use a real SSD and carry a spare one too. I also have temporarily retired the Microbook IIc and use the laptop's headphone out with a Rolls mixer for my in-ears. I carry a MOTU midi interface and Korg NanoKontrol if anything happens to my Roland controller and I need to use a backlined keyboard du jour anything that transmits midi on channel 1 will work in that case. The USB jack failed on my old A800 Pro on a gig last year but it happened during an afternoon sound check so I was able to get a keyboard and the show went on.

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I had a high-profile organ rental the other day. Dropped the organ on stage, fired it up, and did my usual tests.... 5 1/3 drawbar on upper B preset is out. #($*&(*!!!!

 

Thank God I left myself ample time between arrival and sound check.... so I got out the soldering iron and panicked the promoter.

Hammond: L111, M100, M3, BC, CV, Franken CV, A100, D152, C3, B3

Leslie: 710, 760, 51C, 147, 145, 122, 22H, 31H

Yamaha: CP4, DGX-620, DX7II-FD-E!, PF85, DX9

Roland: VR-09, RD-800

 

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I got paranoid when I thought that if my mixer failed I would be SOL or down to a single board, so I started shopping for a back-up mixer. But then I realized I could send my Electro into my FA and send that to the sound man/PA. So that is my contingency for mixer failure. :cool:
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I'm playing and mixing at a wedding. 16 channel mixer takes a tumble at load in, and the result is mixer won't turn on. Panic. We plug lead singer's mics into separate powered speakers and play softer. Audience doesn't notice the extreme compromise.

 

When I got home, I discovered the "tumble" had merely toggled off the on-off switch, which is hidden underneath the rack. (gig stress causes you to lose 10-15 IQ points, IMHO).

 

In spite of user error, ever since that episode, I bring a one rack space inexpensive Rolls mixer to every gig as a backup. I have "get through the gig" redundancy already in the rest of my gear.

Barry

 

Home: Steinway L, Montage 8

 

Gigs: Yamaha CP88, Crumar Mojo 61, A&H SQ5 mixer, ME1 IEM, MiPro 909 IEMs

 

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I guess I'm naive cause I never had backup plan keyboard that traveled with me. Besides, my wallet would not permit it. For the past 5 years I've made sure I had thumb drives with patch backups and latest firmware for both boards. Last summer I got caught in some bad AC (outside gig at a mall) and my PX5s got confused and would not boot (it wanted a firmware update to run even though it had the latest update installed). Thank goodness for the thumb drive! When the AC got straightened out, I was up & running in about 5 minutes.

 

I've been gigging with the PX5s and a clonewheel (XK1c) . If either board gave up the ghost, it would either be a "no organ" gig, or an "all organ" gig.

Formerly âChiefDanGâ - nobody calls me chief anymore.
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I understand not being able to afford a back-up of your main rig, but even an entry-level 61 key porta-rompler would get you by in a pinch.

 

Make a cheat sheet of the presets from the back-up keyboard that would work for your set and tape it on there.

 

Yeah zone splits and super-special sounds may not be there, but it's a cheap insurance policy. The show must go on.

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I understand not being able to afford a back-up of your main rig, but even an entry-level 61 key porta-rompler would get you by in a pinch.

 

Make a cheat sheet of the presets from the back-up keyboard that would work for your set and tape it on there.

 

Yeah zone splits and super-special sounds may not be there, but it's a cheap insurance policy. The show must go on.

 

I hear you. I've been thinking of the Numa 2x, mainly for gigs "in the city" (Nashville or Franklin) where load-in and/or stage space is an issue. It might be perfect for that and as a backup plan. Of course, it doesn't exist quite yet and its overall quality is a bit unknown. Plus, $700 really isn't a helluva lot.

Formerly âChiefDanGâ - nobody calls me chief anymore.
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As a keyboard player, I cannot stomach showing up at a gig with only one source of sounds. Playing a tambourine all night doesn't cut it for me. You only make this mistake once.

 

Heck, I find it easy to get through a gig playing nothing but AP, EP, or organ on songs that I've painstakingly developed splits and layers on one keyboard. In fact, these unfortunate episodes prove (for me) that the playing and emotional connection is so much more important than the particular sound-alike patches.

Barry

 

Home: Steinway L, Montage 8

 

Gigs: Yamaha CP88, Crumar Mojo 61, A&H SQ5 mixer, ME1 IEM, MiPro 909 IEMs

 

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Wonderful stories. :thu:

 

I feel your pain. This is interesting for me, because I only had one synth go out on me in all the years I've played. I had a multi keyboard rig. I was able to switch sound sources and carry on. Generally I have been fortunate to play in places with good power. Going forward, perhaps the best and highest purpose for my RD-64 will be to serve as insurance. Like an evil understudy, she can live in my trunk, resenting my regular rig and wishing it would fall off stage, breaking it's neck. :evil::D

 

Thanks everyone.

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Laptop failures multiple times. The last one forced me to play the entire gig on AP sound only, which ended up to be one of better gigs I played during that season. Forced me back to hardware-only, now and into the foreseeable future.

 

Only other risk management stories come from dodgy power and the oh-so-long Kronos boot time. Enter the UPS in the schlep.

 

Frankly, most of my gigs these days will not implode if I'm forced to retreat to AP and EP in the face of catastrophe. But so far knock wood, the rig is stable and sturdy enough to be...reliable.

..
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Back when I did That 80s Band my rig was a Fusion and a Triton. Fusion handled samples, VA, any sequences (maybe 15% of the songs) and sent PCs to the triton to switch combos for the song. I kept a complete duplicate fusion but left it st home. One night the fusion just started continually power cycling during the first set. We switched to our more guitar oriented songs and anything I could just pull up patches on the triton to get through. I texted a buddy who has a key to my house. He picked up my backup and had it there by the end of the first set. Swapped it out during break and finished out the night.

 

Currently my Kronos is my only sound source live and I have no backup. If it died, I would be dead in the water, though I do back it up digitally. So if I could get my hands on another Kronos I could theoretically make it the same if i overwrote everything

Dan

 

Acoustic/Electric stringed instruments ranging from 4 to 230 strings, hammered, picked, fingered, slapped, and plucked. Analog and Digital Electronic instruments, reeds, and throat/mouth.

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I've had MainStage die on me twice, once 2 mins before we started a gig, the other during the show. A new laptop appears to have helped but I also have a second keyboard where I can play 90% of the songs off the bat if Mainstage and and/or its MIDI controller keyboard dies.
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I've told this one before: We are doing a July 4th show in a minor league stadium holding 10,000 people when all stores are closed and we are hours from home. Our bass player's bass is completely dead. Out of the blue, our SUBSTITUTE female vocalist exclaims that she has her son's bass in the trunk of her car. Talk about ridiculously dumb luck.

 

I'm amazed by how frequently guitar and bass players don't even bring extra cables, let alone extra guitars.

Barry

 

Home: Steinway L, Montage 8

 

Gigs: Yamaha CP88, Crumar Mojo 61, A&H SQ5 mixer, ME1 IEM, MiPro 909 IEMs

 

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The other risk management truth is that venues and clients demand that bands sign documents and provide liability coverage protecting the clients/venue. However, the only incidents I've ever witnessed in 50 years of playing involve bad power or drunken guests, resulting in damage to the band's equipment. No recourse there, as protection never seems to flow in the opposite direction.

Barry

 

Home: Steinway L, Montage 8

 

Gigs: Yamaha CP88, Crumar Mojo 61, A&H SQ5 mixer, ME1 IEM, MiPro 909 IEMs

 

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I've told this one before: We are doing a July 4th show in a minor league stadium holding 10,000 people when all stores are closed and we are hours from home. Our bass player's bass is completely dead. Out of the blue, our SUBSTITUTE female vocalist exclaims that she has her son's bass in the trunk of her car. Talk about ridiculously dumb luck.

 

I'm amazed by how frequently guitar and bass players don't even bring extra cables, let alone extra guitars.

.

 

My experience is the opposite - they tend to bring multiple guitars, sometimes with different tunings. I even play in a band where the guitar player has a pedal board and 3 amps that he switches between. One night one of the amps crapped out. He was panicking - I couldnt tell the difference.

Dan

 

Acoustic/Electric stringed instruments ranging from 4 to 230 strings, hammered, picked, fingered, slapped, and plucked. Analog and Digital Electronic instruments, reeds, and throat/mouth.

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Many moons ago, I lost all of my custom Setups in my K2600X approximately 20-30 minutes before showtime. Never happened before or again afterward, and I never figured out what caused the problem. Fortunately, I had the Setups saved to a floppy disk and copies of the pages from the manual containing the instructions on how to load them into the keyboard. I completed the installation about one minute before downbeat. I recall being very frazzled afterwards but settled down after a couple of songs. This experience reinforced making sure that I always have my programs backed up, now on USB sticks, with me at every gig.

 

If either my Kronos or Jupiter-80 went belly up in the middle of a gig, I could get by with either keyboard, although I would be without some key programs in either case. If the problem occurred before we started, since my band doesnt play too far away these days, I would race home and get another keyboard, or perhaps my entire B rig that I use for low-scale gigs.

"We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing."

- George Bernard Shaw

 

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Back in the '92-'97 era when I was touring regionally 15-20 nights a month, my main axe was a Hammond XB-2 (the industry standard clonewheel of that era) MIDI'd to an offstage rack.

 

I had two gigs in direct sunlight and something about the heat and sun caused the XB-2 to completely freeze up and I was screwed. The first time it happened it was near the end of the show and I just stopped playing for a song or two. I chalked it up as a fluke, but then picked up the pattern the next time it happened. I had one of our stage hands take it back and run a fan on it and this brought it back to life, but that was not sustainable.

 

I immediately bought a second XB-2 and every single outdoor show from that day forward, I had my backup XB-2 waiting in the wings. And it got its fair share of use in those hot/sunny gigs.

 

That experience freaked me out enough to where I've always tried to have some kind of direct backup rig. I have multiple NS2 units now and I often carry a second one to gigs with me.

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