Pro Tips From A Pro Guitar Tech
Todd Simpson
Oct 5 2021, 09:01 PM
Posts: 23.628
Joined: 23-December 09
From: Atlanta, Georgia, USA
Mr Chris Lawson has worked as a touring guitar tech for some very big acts. Queen, Peter Gabriel, ELO, Robert Plant, etc. He sat down with to answer some questions recently and I thought his answers were quite prescient. To wit!

He was asked how he deals with common problems that every gigging player has to cope with. It’s always an issue with the gear going wrong. Gear doesn’t always travel well and it’s routine to have a crucial piece of kit go down while on the road. The solution is quite simple. Whatever you need, bring two of them. You may have noticed that some touring players have a rack with two of everything in it. It’s not always because they are using two at a time, it’s often to have a spare for when the first unit fails. This is especially true with tube gear, vintage gear, etc. The older, more complicated a bit of kit is, the more likely it can fail. Vintage gear has many points of failure. This is why we have seen the switch to things like the KEMPER and now the QUAD CORTEX for touring musicians. These devices allow for very simple setups and sound great. Bring two and bam, done.

When asked how to keep a guitar “Road Worthy”, his response was straightforward. He suggest to keep things basic as possible and focus on the essentials. Make sure the axe is properly setup, make sure all the screws are tight, make sure the strap locks are solid, make sure nothing is loose and rattling. On the road, guitars suffer a lot of abuse. The tighter and more solid the guitar is before the tour starts, the better. Some tours allow fans to walk though a VIP area and actually touch/play a bands instruments which are displayed on guitar boats/racks. This adds another layer of complexity. The guitars need to be ready when the time comes. This is why we have seen a big increase in the number of touring players using things like the EVERTUNE system. So that no matter what happens, the guitar will be in tune when the player picks it up. He says that it all comes down to preparation. No matter how big or small the venue, the gear needs to be ready and every bit of kit needs a backup, including the guitars.

How about the best way to mic an amp? These days, micing an amp is an art that is slowly going away. With the wide spread use of processors, some touring acts don’t use guitar cabinets at all, so there is no need to mic up. However, many bands still use amps/cabs/etc. For those who do, certain things always come up. Too much bass in the tone or too much volume, will get the player pulled nearly out of the front of house mix. So keeping a lid on stage volume is important. The popular use of “In ear monitors”, many issues have simply gone away. If a player is using a Quad Cortex and in ear monitors, he can avoid many of the issues typically associated with live guitar rigs. Still, some players insist on using a real amp, with a real cab and it needs to be paired with a real microphone. So knowing the pitfalls and potential issues is key.

*Hear is the live rig for Mr May from that little band QUEEN.
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This post has been edited by Todd Simpson: Oct 5 2021, 09:02 PM
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