Best practices to labelling a desk and channel plug-up
A simpler post today ladies and gentlefish you may be pleased to hear! You may be wondering why a blog post on such a basic topic, but these tips might save you some hassle during the time you're setting up and running.
This is primarily for analog desks, digital are another realm: they're colour coded (sometimes with pictures/icons!) and text entry enabled.
1) Come armed with a sharpie (or other permanent marker) and white LX (PVC) tape
Nothing worse than plugging up and not being able to find your stuff to label the desk. Great, maybe 24 channels and no idea which one is which! Not a smart move. Start by laying down some LX across the bottom of the board under the sliders (or above them as on some Yamahas). Don't draw in the vertical lines in case
BONUS TIP! Don't cross out a channel you're not using. Leave it blank in case you plug it up later. You should be able to tell from the one dipped fader and mute light that it's not being used.
2) Give each channel a group
You have 5 vocalists? And some are playing an instrument? OK, problem solved. Abbreviate each instrument category-
- Guitars: A-GUIT / AC GTR & E-GUIT / E GTR for Acoustic Guitar and Electric Guitar respectively
- Drums: DRUMS should be fine...
- Vocals: VOX (shorthand way, saves space and time and much, much effort) & B-VOX for vocals and backing vocals respectively
- Brass: May not have many of these instruments but use your own imagination here
- Keys: Again, don't normally have many keyboardists in a band so the literal "KEYS" is fine. Similary for SYNTH
What you end up with is "VOX JON" "VOX JESS" "BV EM" and "AC GTR JON" "KEYS JESS" etc. Quick and easy to see what you're dealing with.
Obviously it won't be worth doing this if you have a minimal number of channels.
3) Organise channels in banks on the desk
Does it really make sense having the drums spread out across the whole board? Make sure you plug up at snake stagebox end correctly. Something like this is usually very helpful for me as all the main sliders are congregating nearer to the master bus area so it's quick to change the main vocal or instruments or overall out or presenter mics for different people changing over:
Obviously this is just a suggestion as to how it should be laid out and also assuming you're mic-ing up (most) of the drum kit - you could probably use one or two more mics on the kick and snare etc.
4) Label the Aux dial strips on the left hand of the desk and also at the master areas of the auxes as well as matrix outs
Make it clear and concise. What's going to be most helpful when you need to adjust something? People's names most probably or labelled L / R (from your point of view) or if you are used to stage L and stage R then do that.
Hope this helps, will add more tips as I think of them as always!
5) Tape wireless mics easily
Use a very bright coloured tape (eg yellow, bright red, green etc) to be able to quickly tell what mic is what - put a double wrap around on the mic and a corresponding tape on the desk. You can then visually just glance then grab the slider. Also, tape near the bottom of the mic - people don't tend to grip it there very often (ie the bottom of the battery pack is usually visible).
In advance of the gig...
It's always worth writing up a patch list for the bigger events. This is a list of inputs - what channel on the multicore, what mic type, mic stand size, phantom power required, position on stage etc. Makes it much easier and you can hand to other engineers / stage hands around you.