The Live PA Event Checklist


What to pack in your gig bag.

The Scouts motto is “Be Prepared”.    This is equally true when it comes to running a PA  system.  Here’s a checklist of things to take that just might help avoid a minor hiccup or a  major disaster at your event.   This list is primarily for the PA system operator but a  knowledge of these may also be valuable for the event organizer, performer, guest speaker,  celebrant or venue manager.

Gaffer Tape This has to be #1 on the list.  There’s no limit to the number of problems that can be solved with gaff tape.   Expect to pay $15 for a quality roll.
Digital Multi Meter Useful for checking cables & batteries.  These can be bought for around $10.
Wedges Timber or plastic wedges can be used to prop equipment on uneven surfaces. You can also use rubber door stops that the supermarket sells.
G-Clamps Useful especially when you are running cables & there’s nothing to hang them on such as ceiling rafters.
Tarp A small tarp or plastic sheet can be quickly thrown over equipment in the event of rain.
Chair Remember you might be sitting there for long periods.  A light weight fold up chair can be very handy.
Towels or Foam Blocks When packing equipment in your vehicle it’s important to prevent items rubbing together & damaging them or your vehicle.   Some towels or foam blocks are great for wedging between them.
Thin Rubber Door Mats For covering cables in walkways.
Table Don’t assume the venue will necessarily have a suitable table.  Ideally you want a light fold up table just large enough to fit your mixer & any effects units.   Often you’ll need to fit into a tight space.
Music stand Useful not only for musicians but in place of a lectern too.
Batteries Always keep a selection.  You can buy them cheap in bulk at the supermarket.
Clothes Pegs or Bulldog Clips For outdoor events papers or music can be clipped to the lectern or stand in the event of wind.
Sun Screen If your doing an outdoor show you’ll probably be out in the sun for more than enough time to burn so best protect yourself.
Umbrella For sun or rain.  Make sure there’s some way to stand the umbrella up such as a bracket attached to a table.
Jelly Babies These keep well & give you energy when you need it at the end of a long show & you have a lot of equipment to pack up.
Water It’s possible you many not be able to leave your equipment unattended to get refreshments.  It’s worth having a bottle of water handy.
Black Drapes A black drape or tablecloth can be used to cover from view messy areas of cables & prevent public access.   A black bed sheet is the cheapest per square meter & is already hemmed.
Pen & Paper Useful for taking notes & labeling the mixer & cables.
Power Boards Always need a few of these.
Extension Leads Always need a few of these.
iPod cable So much music is played from iPods it pays to have a few of these.  The 3.5mm plug also suits laptops, iPads & many phones.
Spare Cables Have at least 1 spare of each.   Cables are the weakest link in any PA system.
Desk Lamp Even during the day some events are going to have low light levels such as live theatre.   Make sure the globe you use isn’t too bright else it may disturb the audience around you.   You can get 15w oven globes.
Key Ring Light Even in the day it can be difficult to see into the back of your equipment rack.   Have an LED key ring light ready in your pocket.
CD Player or iPod This is a good sound source for testing your PA system.
Background Music Having the appropriate background music at event can really create the right atmosphere particularly as people arrive.
Tool Kit I’d include a shifting spanner, multi grips & a selection of screwdrivers.
Fuses Find out what fuses your equipment takes & have spares.


The above is all about preparing yourself for an event.   What about helping others such as musicians, performers, speakers & event organisers?   What small things could you do to help them & why should you?   Firstly, it’s just plain good to help others when you can.  Secondly, it’s something that will make you stand out.  What if you saved the whole show simply by having a $3 battery spare?    Would that be a good investment?  The next time the event promoter or band needs a PA system, who are they going to think of?

Batteries 9v & AA are the most common.
Extension Leads
Power Boards
Music Stand
Music Stand Light A clip on desk lamp can be bought from the supermarket for about $10.   Use the smallest globe you can, ideally 15w.
Guitar Lead A Jack to Jack lead can be used for many instruments.
IEC Power Lead Otherwise known as a “kettle” lead.  So many devices use them & they are plentiful.