50 tips – Worship soundchecking

50 tips – Worship soundchecking


Sound checks can be time consuming, but there are ways to make them more efficient and less arduous. Most sound checks have three stages. 1st each instrument is line checked to make sure a signal comes through the desk, 2nd you decide what you want in your monitors and 3rd everyone plays together, stops and then readjusts their levels.

And here lies the problem…. you have no overall volume level reference of where each instrument needs to sit in your mix until the whole band starts playing together. Once they start and you add in acoustic stage volume, everything changes. It’s then very difficult to communicate back to the desk what’s too loud or soft when you are trying to play. When you have stopped you try and remember your list of what was too loud or soft. Adjustments are made and the band plays again but because everyone else’s levels have changed, the mix you hear onstage is different and you need to tweak your monitor again, but you can’t because it’s very difficult to attract the soundman’s attention so instead you try to self mix and everyone’s volume keeps rising…

Here’s an alternative:

  1. Tag team
    Have two people leading the sound check, one at the desk and one on stage with a microphone communicating mix requests to the sound desk.
  2. Go straight from line check into building a layered groove
    Line check everything then get the drummer to drop into a straight simple groove at the volume he is likely to play for a fast song. As he is playing get the sound check leader to stand at each instruments’ wedge and relay to the desk what elements of the kit each member would like in their monitor one member at a time. Don’t stop playing!
  3. Start with drums, then rhythm, textural, lead, un-amplified instruments followed by lead and backing vocals.
    When each member has a drum mix, get the bass guitar to add a one note groove as a layer on top of the drums. Repeat the same monitoring procedure with each member until they have enough bass in their mix and then check all other instruments in the same way. After this the best order is probably rhythm instruments first such as acoustic guitar, then textual sounds like keyboard pads and electric guitar chords followed by single melody instruments such as flutes. Think of it as adding layers to the same one chord groove. Don’t change the groove! It’s probably worth leaving any instrument that doesn’t have its own amplifier such as strings till this point too.
  4. Vocals last.
    Lastly, bring in lead vocals and then backing vocals. Don’t do the BV’s first as they need the lead vocal level to know where their own volume sits in context.
  5. Don’t noodle.
    When the band does stop playing, resist the temptation to twiddle!

Try it this way.
If it takes a while first go don’t worry, as you do it more you’ll speed up and leave much more time for rehearsing

Other posts you may also find helpful:

What you need to run church sound – free survival guide handbook

Worship leaders, you’re killing us

T-Loop feedback whistles

Top 10 mistakes that most churches make when recording their first worship album

From the 50 Tips series so far:

Stage placement

Playing together as a team

Communication skills for worship teams