The Live Taper's Survival Guide v1.0
Copyright (c) 1995 by Jeff Maggard. All Rights Reserved. Duplication
of this document permitted if and only if (1) this document is not used for
financial gain in any way, and (2) if this document is copied whole,
including this copyright notice.
This is a beginner's guide for taping live music.
First things first: Know your equipment. Know its strengths and its
weaknesses. Know where to set your levels. Know how long your batteries
will last, to the minute. Know how long your tapes will last, to the
second. Practice your tape flips (a good flip in a TCD-D5M can be done in
less than a second!).
Know the equipment you're likely to be patched into. Know if the operator
of that equipment is competent. Is the equipment reliable? Will its
batteries last through the set, the show? Does it pass a signal during the
Know the venue and the sound system. Know where and how to set up your
mics. Know whether or not FOB taping is allowed, and whether you'll get
tossed or have your tapes confiscated if you get caught anyway.
Know the people you're taping with.
The Taper's Checklist:
- mics (bodies and capsules)
- mic stand
- mic mounts
- wind screens (outdoors)
- umbrella (outdoors)
- t-bar and adapter(s)
- power supply
- mic cables, longer mic cables
- PS cables (PS <-> deck)
- power supply batteries
- extra power supply batteries
- duct/electrical tape
- extra batteries
- extra tapes
- patch cords
- patch cord adapters (1/4" mono, 1/4" stereo, 1/8" stereo, RCA, XLR)
- splitters (patch in at the side of the chain vs. the end)
- battery charger, 120VAC deck PS (use when touring)
- more duct/electrical tape
...and something to carry all this crap in!
- flashlight + batteries
- extra flashlight batteries
- pocket knife
- pen and paper (setlists/names/numbers)
- plastic bags (outdoors)
- food, chair, and blanket(s)
- sunglasses and sunscreen
- tickets - "Taper Tickets" are necessary at Phish/Dead shows!
- Did I mention duct and electrical tape?
Borrow (borrowing is free -- well, everyone appreciates a beer ;-) or rent
a battery powered pro portable analog deck like a Sony analog D5
('full-sized' = 2"x8"x10"), a Sony analog D6 (walkman sized), or one of the
pro Marantz models ('full-sized'). It might cost as much as $100 for a
week, or $50 for a weekend to rent, plus deposit. I don't know where to
get one though -- try your local pro music shop and/or the yellow pages or
the dealers listed in the Mic-FAQ.
If you're going to be patching, bring a selection of patch cables. RCA
plugs and 1/8" headphone jack plugs are the most common, but it can't hurt
to bring 1/4" plugs too. I use RCA 'Y' cables, so I can patch into a chain
from the side -- splitting the signal -- it's a lot easier to get higher up
in the chain this way.
Tips (before showtime):
- bone up on your flipping skills (especially in 'concert mental
- bone up on your setup and break-down skills (in 'concert metal
- bring a flashlight.
- bring extra batteries for everything.
- bring extra tapes.
- bring a pen and paper for the setlist.
- get a taper's ticket (if going to a Dead or Phish show ;-).
- if you're going outside: bring RAIN gear, bring a blanket (claim
your space!) and a chair, etc...
- bring food, drinks, etc. (M&M's make friends, beer makes lasting
friends!) Caution: may require smuggling.
Forward to the Appendix
- NO TALKING during the show!
- DO be polite. Everyone in front of you in the chain is your best
friend, and the guy with the mics is your very best friend!
- DON'T get in the way of people setting up their gear -- if you're
patching, you'll have comparatively little to deal with. This
often includes not asking 'dumb' questions -- no question is dumb,
but bothering people who are trying to work IS. Ask 'dumb'
questions during the setbreak.
- DON'T get in the way of people during the show who have to tend to
their gear, flip tapes, replace batteries, etc. This is more of a
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