If you ask the average person to define the backline at a concert there is a strong chance they will have no idea what you are referring to. If you’re involved in the music world, however, you know that a good backline is crucial to any live performance. It’s the backbone and the foundation of a great live performance.
The definition of backline has evolved over time. Originally it referred to the audio amplification equipment behind the band that pushes the sound out, like the amps and speakers used for guitars, basses, and keyboards. Today the term backline has expanded to include drum sets, amp stands, guitar stands, cables, and even stage equipment like risers. Some will even include guitars, basses, and keyboards in their definition of a backline but that is more on the rare side.
Many touring artists don’t want to have to take backline gear on the road. The equipment is bulky and can be difficult and extremely expensive to transport around the country or even the world. So, artists and tour managers will often rely on backline rentals to fill out the stage. What all is needed will depend on the scale of the tour, the size of the venues being played, what an artist opts to bring on their own, and what the venue is able to provide. Here are some tips to remember when planning out the backline rental equipment you will need for your next tour.
The Players and their Gear
The first thing anyone should do if they oversee planning the technical portion of a tour is to have a firm handle on everyone who will be on stage. Some setups are simple, like a three-piece rock band. Others are not as simple. Some artists may have a couple of guitar players, a bassist, a drummer, a second percussionist, horn players, backup singers, etc. Some artists bring guests out in certain cities when schedules align so the needs of the performance can vary by city. Keeping detailed notes of what the artist is planning for each date will help to remember what is required for each performance.
Once you have a handle on that, it’s time to determine what each performer needs. They will likely have their own instruments, and some may also have certain accessories they like, whether that’s special guitar stands or a specific type of microphone to mic their instrument or use for backing vocals. Work with them to find out what they need to perform that they do not intend to bring.
Next, you’ll want to reach out to venues to see what they might have that you can use for each performer. Be sure to ask questions about the brand, model, and condition of the equipment to make sure it suits your needs. After you get a handle on what they can provide, it’s time to start looking at your music gear rental options.
It’s important to work with a reputable company when planning your music equipment rentals. It will help give you the confidence that the backline equipment you receive will be high quality and reliable.
The Stage Plot
A stage plot is a graphical layout of where everyone will be located on stage while performing. It helps to visualize where everything will be and what is needed to make the performance go as planned. They will show each station where a performer’s home base will be and what is needed at each station. Common elements of a stage plot are microphones, amps, monitors, and they also show where the outlets are located. Venues should have a template you can use as a starting point and there are also apps and software solutions that help you design the stage setup.
One advantage to having a detailed stage plot is that it helps the tour equipment manager keep track of everything that is needed in a visual way. When you can picture what the stage will look like you will have an easier time ensuring that you have every piece of musical equipment the performers need to make a great show. You’ll also be able to visualize the backline better so that nothing gets missed.
The stage plot also provides the person doing the sound for the event a blueprint so they can begin setting up well before the performers arrive. This helps expedite sound checks and allows more time for both the performers and the crew to prepare for the upcoming show.
Depending on the size of your tour the availability of rentals will depend on where you are. If you’re looking for Los Angeles backline rentals you’ll have an easier time finding the gear you need than you would if you’re playing in a smaller city. So, planning out where you will be renting musical equipment from in advance is immensely important and can save you a lot of time and headaches once you hit the road. Some music rental places allow you to take the equipment for longer periods of time. So, if you’re renting musical gear in Los Angeles, you then can take it to other cities around L.A. to save the hassle of finding the right equipment for every venue. Just remember you’ll have to bring it back so plan accordingly!
Finalizing Your Backline Rental Plan
Now that you have your ducks in a row it’s time to finalize what gear you will need to rent for each venue and where you will be renting everything from. Finding one location that offers a variety of quality music rentals is key, so you don’t end up having to piecemeal your backline together from various rental companies. All that does is add confusion and increase the chances for something to get missed. So do your due diligence in finding rental companies with the most complete offering.
If you’re looking for gear for a performance in the Los Angeles area or if your tour is starting in or around L.A., consider On-Stage Rentals to provide a top-quality backline for your next gig. Whether you’re in need of speaker rentals, amplifier rentals, accessories, or any other music equipment the people at On-Stage use their decades of experience to help you plan your events so that they run smoothly and sound amazing.