Posted by: Jon | July 27, 2007

The Importance of a Simple Equipment Setup

Well folks, you are not hallucinating!  Jon Chema (aka Worship Bass Guy) is back on the scene again after a unnecessarily long blogging hiatus! In today’s post I want to talk about the importance of simple equipment setup.  Now if you think I’ve gone nuts hang with me for a second. As a musician, we all know the importance of quality equipment, unfortunately quality equipment also comes with the price of being a hassle to cart around.  I know this especially well after playing at my church’s Saturday night service with Gerry (WGG).  Playing at SNS has taught me to build my setup as simple as possible. Simple equipment setups can lead to faster setup time, which in turn gives you more time to practice, tweak your tone, and fix issues that our sure to arise.  (Yes, gigs rarely go completely as planned) Anyways, below I have listed some tips as to how you can simplify your gig setup.

usr4.jpgFlight cases
I know it sounds a little unrealistic, but your brand new $1,500 amp will eventually get beat up….that is…unless you protect it with some sort of case.  A case not only leads to better equipment protection, but also allows you to organize your gear, and makes it easier to carry and move stuff around.

zip_ties.gif Zip Ties
Zip ties can become your best friend if your setup has a bunch of cords and cables. By keeping everything properly and neatly organized, you will spend much less time detangling cables, and more time playing your instrument!

6784508.jpgColor Coding
I know your not a kindergartner, but most fellow musicians have the IQ of one (cheap joke, laugh it up!). Joking aside, color coding your gear not only makes it easy to set up, but simple to tear down as well. I use colored electrical tape, and place it on cable jacks on my amp and cab, and the cables themselves. That way, when im in a hurry, all i have to do is plug the colored cord into the matching jack.

simple concept= simple setup

Guitarists…Size does not always matter
rocker_30_hires.jpgFor bassists, this normally doesnt apply unless your are running through a D.I. or amp modeler, but guitarists listen up! When considering an amp to use for gigging, look no further than a combo tube amp! I know it may be small, but actually quality, lower wattage, “small” amps will normally give you much better tone when cranked, then a full stack! (Marshall lovers, save the punches reserved for me later 😉 A smaller amp will be much easier to haul around, and will probably take less of a beating than a larger, and bulkier amp. And I will let you in on a little secret: Next time you are watching a rock concert video and see the guitarist plastered in front of a gigantic wall of amps, realize that he is usually only playing thru one of them, or even a smaller combo amp hidden behind stage.

Bottom line: If you didn’t comprehend any of the above, just remember that a smaller size/wattage amp will normally sound better than a larger one in a normal church setting, and will be easier to haul around.

All of the following tips, if followed, will lead to a much easier setup and tear down the next time you are playing. Fellow musicians please feel free to chime in if you have any other suggestions…



  1. Also for guitarists … Pedalboards (w/ power units)! Less cables to mess with and well, you get the picture.

  2. Good point Brian, I don’t have a power supply “built in” to my board, but I’ve mounted a voodoo lab pedal power underneath my rear riser, and it makes things sooo much nicer. No cable mess or worrying where to plug everything in at!

  3. Is that your Orange amp? What wattage is it?

  4. Yeah, a simple setup is essential. Our church is small, but we have 3 congregations, all with their own worship teams, using the same sanctuary every week, so we have to get in and out fast. Since I’m not a “tone purist”, I don’t even use a guitar amp. My smallish pedal board, which includes a modeling processor, has 3 cords to plug in: AC power, output to a DI and input from my guitar. Very quick, simple and versatile. Plus, it sounds great.

    I also carry an Alesis drum machine and a tiny pedal board for it, just in case our drummer doesn’t show (it happens). Here, I’ve got the cables from the 2 foot switches, the line out and the power from the wall wart all bundled together in split loom tubing, with color-coded tape on all plugs and corresponding jacks on the machine. Sets up in about a minute.

  5. That amp’s actually mine. It’s an Orange AD-15. They quit making them a couple of years ago, I suspect reliability issues and manufacturing costs had something to do with it.

    The tone from them is absolutely beautiful!

  6. […] recently came across a post on the benefits of a simplified instrument setup for the worship musician, by Jon Chema at the Worship Guitar Guy blog. The guitar guy(s) there always have insightful posts, […]

  7. […] recently came across a post on the benefits of a simplified instrument setup for the worship musician, by Jon Chema at the Worship Guitar Guy blog. The guitar guy(s) there always have insightful posts, […]

  8. One of the simplest setups I have used is my custom strat into my Fender Blues Jr. Set the preamp level fairly hot and use the volume control on the guitar… Clean to crunchy in a second and mmm… tone for years…

  9. I play autoharp, and hope you won’t throw me out for that! LOL. I use a Fender AmpCan to plug in my autoharp pickup and a microphone. It works pretty good….. but I know NOTHING about sound systems. I can adjust volume and tone separately for each jack. Sometimes I get a sqwak and not sure what to do to overcome that other than moving things around a bit.

    Our little church is not large and unfortunately nowadays there are seldom very many attending. I sometimes play without any amp or mic and no one ever complains. Ummmm

    Nice forum you built here….
    God bless you,

  10. I have a question….
    Is it better to place a mic in front of my medium sized fender tube amp so that I can route my guitar through the house sound system (Band New) or run a cable directly from my pedal board into the sound system?



    • through the amp everytime. ive run direct from my pedal to the house before and it absolutely destroys your tone

  11. Gday people,

    I’ve heard people say that it’s better for your signal to go through an amp with a mic in front of it than a cable from your pedal board, so you get the characteristics of your amp. Also, i’ve read briefly that different mics have different characteristics as well.

    I recently read of a guy who uses a “Route 66” overdrive, and plugged that straight in the mixer:

    here’s the link:

    Also too, for all those people who are interested in Hillsong, United, here’s a link to a page about some of the guitarist’s gear by some of the muso’s themselves:

    The link on their site to Timon Klein Industries has some pictures of some of the guitarists setups, and limited photos of their pedals and gear.

    Choose life , choose Christ,

    cheers, Mark

  12. So great insight Mark, as far as deciding to play through a pedal board that ties directly into the P.A. system or through an amp that is mik’d it is really about the venue that you a playing in. In a larger venue, you can normally get away with a medium sized amp mik’d, but the smaller the venue generally the more problems you will have with live guitar amps as room acoustics come into the picture. Like I mentioned earlier, however, the room really does play a role in your choice. Out of two equally sized rooms, a guitar amp is bound to sound better in a acoustically sound (no pun intended!) auditorium than a flat surfaced gymnasium or field house.

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